“A record made from nothing but other records'” writes Frank Broughton on his djhistory.com site. The innovations that this record introduced have become so commonplace that it almost sounds clichéd: the Good Times riff, the scratching and ‘found’ recordings. But try to imagine this crackling from the speakers in 1981. This is where it started baby-boy!
We were used to dancing the simple, knees-bend, white-boy skank of Two-Tone, and along comes this record where half the music isn’t there at all. Eventually, you discovered you could dance through the breaks. The beat (ahem) goes on.
I’ve always believed the “Why don’t you tell me a story'” section comes from a Danny Kaye film, but scouring the Internet I find no justification for this belief. Answers on a post-card, please.
Finally, this record is a tribute to John Peel, inevitably the only person who would play it on the radio. Like so many other landmark records of that period, it was featured nightly over a period of a week or two, mingled with boring bands from Belgium, until it got so deep into you, you just had to go out and buy it. After John died I was limp with grief for weeks.
The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel. Buy it here
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