O.k. computer....game on!Time for a bit of a Sat’day session...
Sandra Cross was huge in Reggae World and crossed over with some commercial success;this at a time I believe when, to get to No. 1 in the English reggae charts, you would sell maybe 2000 or so 12" (or Discomix copies),but being of the young persuasion at that time I liked The rootsier/steppers side of things rather than the Lover’s Rock (as sung about by The Clash on their double album,gatefold “concept “ offering ,London Calling).Scottsman was on Piccadilly Radio,along with Mike Shaft on a Saturday evening.It wasn’t quite The Dread Broadcasting Corporation but it all helped .All the major cities had their own sound systems and three I remember from M/c were:Baron Hi Fi,President and Sword Of Jah Mouth;others too,but their names escape me.There’s a fantastic track by Y.T.(a young English white kid), called “England Story” about all the English soundsystems of the early eighties and Baron Hi Fi get a big-up on it;it gave me goosebumps first time I heard it.(I think it’s on a release on the Soul Jazz label;love their work...).Sometimes,if it was a hot Summer’s day ,they used to set their sound system up at a lock-up garage near The Royce pub on Bonsall st., Hulme,for an afternoon session;a rare event indeed!
I’m not sure if these sound systems shouldn’t be classed under a band or a d.j. outfit.They were their own entity,with a selector,operator and M.C....and of course sound systems are still going strong universally to this day.
One sound clash I particularly recall was at The Moss Side Centre,not long after the summer riots of ’81,between,I think Baron and a Cheetham Hill crew;big rivalry involved.Anyway there were scuffles sporadically breaking out during the evening’s proceedings culminating in an all-out battle,with stacks of speakers getting trashed;tables,chairs flying and seeing a guy who’d only just interviewed me for a job at the centre a couple of weeks earlier, running around with a hammer in his hand trying to break it all up!.Sound system clash indeed....;would have done The Who proud!We ran the gauntlet of the rival gangs, on the way out through the car-park with bottles,rocks flying and ,for the most part escaped unscathed.I can laugh about it now but at the time....The next day the shopping centre looked a little worse for wear.It was a mad summer that summer,throughout the U.K.
I know reggae isn't to everybody's liking;it wasn't then and,for the most part,still isn't now,beyond the Bob Marley/U.B.40 style influences ('nuff respect to Bob though!)..I suppose like a lot of people at the time,hearing reggae alongside punk,funk and other styles of music had a big influence and I wanted to follow that path to it's natural conclusion;I still buy the odd reggae imports;and although the riddim -driven thing can be very hit and miss,when it's good it still gets this old codger very excited!
Well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it...
Featured in the following MDMArchive online exhibitions:Moss Side Stories
Artefact added : 18th September 2010