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.

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