I'm sure a lot of you know about all about Ross Allen from his show on GLR/BBC London. Since then, he's moved on to Ministry of Sound radio where he does a brilliant weekly show on a Monday. You can either listen live or, as we do, download when he sends out his weekly newsletter (subscribe by emailing him: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Download the show here >>
Anyhow, the other week he did a Jay Strongman special on the show. This is what Ross had to say about Jay and his own early experiences going out in London during the 80s when Jay ruled the capital:
Well I'm back... I'm going to keep it brief this week as I only got off the plane yesterday morning and there is a lot to do. Don't worry I will be filling you in on my exploits and musical ruminations on Malawi and the South eastern part of Africa next week, in the show and in the missive. So all those of you that can't be bothered with my long winded witterings are saved for a week. Needless to say that it was the best Lake Of Stars festival that i have been to and I have to take my hat off to all the organisers and volunteers that put it together it was ace and was bigger and better organised than ever. No mean feat when you are over 5000 miles from home in a pretty remote part of Africa. Still, as I said, more of that next week. There were some great live acts and DJs too.
Still back to the now and the show we broadcast whilst I was away was a real treat for me to record. Prompted by the imminent release of DJ History's - Catch The Beat book, a compilation of the great late 80s/early 90s fanzine Soul Underground. Frank B rang me and asked if I would be interested in interviewing one of the contributors Jay Strongman. I don't think he realised the significance of this man in my musical life - the answer was yes and the above show is the result. I loved every minute of it.
To give you the history when I was a youth in South London listening to electro, soul and trying to find out about Hip Hop's component elements - breaks etc, listening to pirate radio, Pete Tong and reading Blues & Soul and Echoes - I gradually began to realise that beyond my suburban confines there was a whole world out there that centred around the West End and was a lot more open minded and cosmopolitan than my corner of south-east London/north-west Kent offered - not that difficult in hindsight. Anyway that door was opened in part by reading the Face & i-D, hearing about Warehouse parties, and reading a column in The Face by the above mentioned Jay, other articles/writers also contributed to the attractiveness of this other world but month in month out Jay would be talking about the music that was hot, old or new - and to me it was almost all new. Then we got it together to go into the West End and get involved - We (my mates from home and I) ventured into the West End - full of fear and excitement - the door policies back in the day were notorious - if you didn't look right you wouldn't get in. The first night in the West End we went to The Raid @ The Wag, Gary Haisman stopped the notorious doorman Winston from stopping us getting in and the door was opened. We were out in the West End and wanted more. Next stop the Mud Club - the door there was tight - manned (?!) by Philip Sallon. It was even more of a mission to get in there so we thought but we got in and a whole other world opened up - an odd mixture of BBoys, trendy's, gays and freaks - that Leigh Bowery crowd dressed to the next level - more art installation than fashion. It was another world and I was amazed - Sarah Stockbridge doing Vivienne Westwood fashion shows and Mark Moore and Jay Strongman playing the most amazing music - everything chucked in the pot - funk, hip hop, early house, go go, hi-NRG. I loved it - i think the die was cast then.
I never met Jay then as I was always a bit in awe of all those DJs and too busy dancing and learning. To me these DJs were my new teachers - with a knowledge that I was desperate for. What were those records? Where could you ever get those tracks? and collect such a mad bunch of people to dance to them, with those clothes and stylings. So, you can see why all these years later I said yes to the interview. It, as you will hear, is a great show - Jay is a lovely guy - just into the music. The acid house explosion took the light away from this style of clubbing, and as great as that was and the fun I had in those clubs and parties and what went after, I have always loved those initial nights out where it was all so new, and diverse to me. So when getting the show together I thought I'd just get Jay to play me some of his classics from The Mud and preceding that the legendary warehouse party The Dirt Box, and preceding that his days on the dance floor. What you get is a great take on the the foundations of a great time in London nightlife. There was a lot to get through but i think we touched on a lot of the important bits in his musical journey plus his work in fashion with the shop Rockatcha. Check it out, its like the roots of The Meltdown...
Junior Mance - I Believe To My Soul - Atlantic LP
Fatback Band - Keep On Stepping - Polydor 7"
War - Me & Baby Brother - United Artists 7"
Jimmy Castor Bunch - Potential - Atlantic 7"
Peoples Choice - Do It Anyway You Wanna -
Tommy Stewart - Bump & Hustle Music - Abraxis LP
Johnny Bennet - Train Keep A Runnin' - Coral 7"
Hank Mizzel - Jungle Rock - Phillips 7"
Lil Junior - Feelin Good - ??
Bunker Hill - Hide & Seek - Norton 7"
Machine - There But For The Grace Of God - RCA 12"
Liquid Liquid - Cavern - 99 Records 12"
Peech Boys - Don't Make Me Wait - West End 12"
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - Super Rappin No 5 - Enjoy 12"
Trouble Funk - Trouble Funk Express - TTED 12"
Mantronix - King Of The Beats - Capitol 12"
John Carpenter - Assault On Precinct 13 (Remix) - White 12"
Augustus Pablo - King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown -
Billy Hawks - Ooh Baby I Believe I'm Losing You - Prestige LP
Tommy Neal - Going To A Happening - Vault 7''
Hank Ballard - From The Love Side - Polydor 7"