REISSUES OF THE WEEK
GRANDMASTER FLASH, MELLE MEL. Adventures on the Wheels of Steel. SUGARHILL CLUB CLASSICS. TREACHEROUS THREE. Turn It Up. WEST STREET MOB. Break Dance - Electric Boogie. SUGARHILL GANG. Rapper's Delights. POSITIVE FORCE. We Got the Funk (Sugarhill/Castle). Ten CDs, at mid price, chronicling the roots of rap and hip hop from a label which can legitimately claim to be as influential as Tamla Motown. Without these releases it's hard to imagine how black music would sound today. In 1979 the music business was a different world. Punk had recently drawn a line in the sand in the UK and in the States a similar revolution was happening in the streets and ghettos of the inner cities. As the punks had bought cheap guitars and learned to string together three chords, so the roots of hip hop were born with two turntables and a microphone.
Sylvia and Joey Robinson spotted the raw energy and talent and the Sugarhill label was launched. The first seismic blast of this new music came in the 15 minute Rapper's Delight by the Sugarhill Gang, an innocent rhyming tour de force. It was quickly followed by Grandmaster Flash's Adventures on the Wheels of Steel - one of those rare records that really do change the world. This demonstrated Flash's deck prowess and opened the ears of thousands.
Suddenly being a DJ was cool. Flash followed this up with The Message and White Lines, made with the lrrical input of Melle Mel, and finally hip hop came of age. These two tales of urban horror and drug dependency sound as powerful today as they did 20 years ago. All these and more are collected on Sugar Hill Club Classics ***** a compilation that no record collection is complete without. The three volume set by Grandmaster Flash **** is great too. In the studio the DJ's records were replaced by the in-house Sugar Hill band, a funky tight outfit wich would later form the bones of Tackhead.
The Sugar Hill Band double CD HHH runs the gamut from hip hop to soul, the later cuts a shadow of their former majesty. Positive Force, The Treacherous Three and West Street Mob each warrant a HHH. Positive Force were the funky party band on the label and their seminal We Got the Funk is still played out by the likes of Darren Emerson, while the West Street Mob were the electro arm of the outfit. Their material sounds pretty dated today.
form the bones of Tackhead. The Sugar Hill Band double CD HHH runs the gamut from hip hop to soul, the later cuts a shadow of their former majesty. Positive Force, The Treacherous Three and West Street Mob each warrant a HHH. Positive Force were the funky party band on the label and their seminal We Got the Funk is still played out by the likes of Darren Emerson, while the West Street Mob were the electro arm of the outfit. Their material sounds pretty dated today.
Treacherous Three featured the legendary Kool Moe Dee and have been overlooked by rap historians. Listening now, their influence has been immense and bloodlines can be drawn between them and today's gold-toting gun-loving rappers.
Ironically it was the rise of gangsta rap that sealed Sugar Hill's fate, but this handsomely-packaged series of CDs stand as testament to the artists' genius.
GALAXY WEEKEND Boy George & Allister Whitehead. (Galaxy): Fine mix set celebrating the region's best loved dance station which steers clear of the humdrum sameness which marks other DJ-spliced sets. Boy George supplies the chart-friendly mix which will appeal to the casual punter with recent hits by Underworld, Mr Oizo and Fatboy Slim, together with some more commercial slices of bouncy house and techno. Allister Whitehead's set is what the more knowledgable raver will seek out. His excellent mix is a seamless trip through funk and filtered disco that's superb for slamming in the car stereo and piling down the motorway. It's nicely packaged too and a fine indication of the state of dance at the moment. HHHH Andrew Cowen