Monday, 28 April 2008

The Writer's Bench

I was watching Style Wars again last night but with the commentary as a sort of tribute to Tony Silver who sadly passed away very recently.

It made me wonder what the impetus is for young writers these days.
Back in the early mid 1970's an artist could spend as much time as he liked creating a masterpiece on a train and bring down his lunch and a transistor radio without fear of capture.

Those days disappeared with more and more onus on the NY authorities to crackdown on the 'graffiti epidemic' and they subsequently buffed each and evety train. As soon as a train was even tagged it was taken out of service so that the message given was that graffiti was not to be tolerated any more.

Maybe I'm viewing the past with rose-tinted specs but like pretty much every new idea, once the masses get involved it can never be quite the same again.

Anyway it's always good to watch this film again and I always seem to find something new when I do. In case you missed it check further down the blog for the movie in one of my first posts.

Here's some related linkage:

Style Wars Official Website


Saturday, 26 April 2008

Main Source - Breaking Atoms

Moving slightly out of the mid-80's hip hop comfort zone now and stomping into the 90's, I present to you a very personal album.

Quite simply one of the best hip hop albums ever recorded from a group who, though not strictly one-hit wonders (they did kind of release another album after Breaking Atoms entitled Fuck What You Think but due to the group disbanding it got put on the back burner in 1994) gave the world their one solid LP.

Everything from the production to the logo to the cover art to the actual guest rappers (Nas, Akinyele) screams perfection. I rate it up there with A Tribe Called Quest's Low End Theory and that is saying something. The Source magazine even gave it 5 mics at the time.

It is another example of music from hip hop's great Golden Age (roughly 1988-92) which is a million miles away from most of the crap which passes for hip hop at the moment.

If you haven't heard this album yet then I implore you to find some time to just relax and listen to it in one sitting. What I would give to be able to do that again!
(n.b. Peace Is Not The Word To Play seems like it has been ripped from a dodgy cd as playback results in a jittery, skippy mess. The rest of the album is fine.)

Friday, 25 April 2008

The demise of Morgan Khan's Street Sounds label

It was a sad day when Streetsounds closed down, or to quote from Morgan Khan, "it ceased trading, in a word". Numerically incorrect wording aside, Morgan looks like a broken man putting on a brave face and who can blame him when there were probably scores of debt collectors knocking on the Streetsounds office door.
I found a stash of The Street Scene mags at a car boot once. That was a nice find as prior to that I had only ever bought one copy and that was the one with Doug E Fresh on the cover. Well I say Doug E Fresh, it was a crudely drawn sketch of him like something off Crimewatch. C'mon Khan, no wonder your company went down the drain if you can't even afford to buy a camera.

Check out the clip above which features some very rare footage of the legendary Groove Records in London.

And Terry Jervis. Nice jumper and tie combo, son. Like it.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Mike Allen

Touching again on this legendary man. There are a small number of 30/40 year-olds who remember the name with warm nostalgia. There is an even bigger number of people who don't know who the hootin' heck he is.

He is the one and only Mike Allen. The Boss in London. Allen's Army On Maneouvres.

Yes, Friday and Saturday nights were spent listening to this dj on London's Capital Radio 95.8FM around 1984-1987. He introduced a unknown multitude of kids to this new sound out of America simply called hip hop. However I will always use the name Electro as that was what he primarily played, either East Coast or West Coast, Bambaataa or Egyptian Lover he played it.

I since heard years later that the radio station wanted to get in on this new music and bizarrely stuck a thirty-nine year-old white guy with no former knowledge of hip hop to present it. Can that really be true?

I thought Mike's delivery was unique as there was no real style to derive from as there had not been a British hp hop dj on the airwaves prior to this. He would have a great enthusiasm and continually drop Alan Partridge-style one-liners into his patter and not be afraid of making the odd mistake. And he used to scratch, too. Not with any great finesse, but he had a go.

Fridays would feature the Groove Electro Sales Chart which took the best-selling singles from the West London store, Groove Records on Greek Street, W1. Saturday would have a Top Ten of that week's most popular songs as voted for by the listeners who would phone in and leave a message on Mike's answer machine (which unfortunately broke down one week!).

Later on in the show there would be a feature called Kiss In The Car which needs no explaining. Suffice to say I never listened to this section, being a 13-year old who was more interested in Star Wars figures than girls.

Mike eventually was headhunted and after a brief break emerged on another London station, LBC. While it was good to hear him again it was never the same as the audience had now grown and Mike was now more regimental in his presenting style.

Mike can now be heard at Smooth FM where he presents a talk show and doesn't play hip hop. He still though retains his sense of humour as evidenced on his Smooth FM Bio.

Strangely enough he did do a one-off special for BBC Xtra a few years ago where he talked about his time at Capital. If anyone has a copy I'd love to hear it again.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Electro: The Ultimate Boxed Set

I don't know about you but when I was a lad the only way to hear the latest Electro (rock/funk) tracks was by listening to 'The Boss in London', Mike Allen on Capital Radio.

I used to tape some of his shows and although these cassettes are badly edited (by a younger Benzini) they still have a special place in my achy-breaky heart.

The only other way to hear Electro back then was to purchase the essential Streetsounds' Electro series on vinyl or cassette. I've long since collected the whole series from the Crucials to the UK special but so far these have never made it onto cd.

Until now that is. You can get the whole lot in a fancy, spanky package with the same old classic design on the front. I just wonder if it will still sport the immortal slogan, 'Electro is aural sex'?

Grandmaster Flash interview Feb 1st 2008

Now I used to idolise Flash. In fact his was the first 'rap' 12"record I ever bought. I say I, it was actually me Dad who purchased it, from WH Smith back in the days when they used to sell vinyl.

The Message was the longest record I had ever heard and used to play it endlessly, over and over again until I knew the words off by heart. Although it wasn't until a few years ago that I decided to find out just what the last line of the first verse actually was. Thanks to the internet it is either:

"A man with a tow truck reposessed my car".

or the slightly more abstract;

"The man from Prudential reposessed my car".

So I'm none the wiser.

Anyway, as I began today's Blog, I stated that I used to idolise Flash. Past tense. This is because I've heard some pretty bad stories about him and his behaviour to younger hip hop artists and also his diva-like antics and hefty performance fees.

No disrespect to him as he is still a legend and a pioneer. But I prefer Bam. Good old Bam. Cuddly old Bam. He's like the grandad you wish you had, isn't he? "Sit here on Granpappy Bam's knee, son, and I'll tell you all about the time I whipped Flashes ass at Bronx River in '78".

So here's an interview with Grandmaster Flash from earlier this year.

It's an mp3 rather than a zip file so good times!

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Test - Meat Beating

Meatbeating by Me

Richie Rich Scream

Style Wars

To start with let's go back to New York City,1982.

Or 1983, Huddersfield, Channel 4.


Yep, sorted now.
3 blogs deep and still no tunes. Stick with me, it's coming.


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The links to MP3 files provided in these posts are to be used for previewing only. AGEING B-BOYS UNITE ™ does not keep the files here, this Blog is merely a gateway, an Information Desk if you will, to point you in the right direction. Once downloaded, all files should be destroyed within 7 days.