Friday, December 17, 2010

Lewisham - Home of Sound System Culture

Another good post by Seb Wheeler at Tropical Waste, this time on Lewisham as THE HOME OF SOUND-SYSTEM CULTURE, interviewing Les Back and Lez Henry about South East London reggae in the 1980s, with a particular focus on Jah Shaka and Saxon sounds.

You can read it yourself, but to give a flavour here's a couple of great quotes:

“Lewisham is the home of sound-system culture. I don’t think it’s too much of a big claim to say that the way in which the whole culture of sound-system performance and enjoyment developed is so centrally connected to the story of this part of London... The sound-system men were businessmen; they were running dances but they were catering to an audience that wasn’t being catered to, not only in mainstream society, but in the context of this part of London. A part of London that is deeply implicated in the history of empire and relations between here and elsewhere, Africa and the Caribbean, amongst others” (Les Back)

“We set up sound-systems wherever we could. We were using warehouses and garages. We’d capture houses. You name it. White people did not generally hire out their clubs to us. That’s the bottom line. So we used to appropriate spaces and perform. We would say we’re gonna have a dance today in 407 New Cross road. We’d set up in there, the police would come and raid it. Someone else would say ‘there’s another house down the road.’ We’d go down and string up in there and move the dance there. That’s how we used to do it.” (Lez Henry).

See also: New Cross Reggae Shops and Labels; South East of the Thames Border Infection Mix

There's loads of great soundtapes from this era on youtube, particularly at the Vibez4All channel. For instance, here's an extract from Saxon vs. Radics at the Moonshot Club in New Cross on 25 August 1984:

1 comment:

Tom said...

Check this link for an mp3 of Saxon vs Ghetto-tone October 21st 1983 at Lewisham Boy Club with Papa Levi vs Leslie Lyrics

http://www.readplatform.com/marcus-from-hyperdubs-six-favourite-pre-internet-mixes/