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...
Artefact added : 18th September 2010