For the last day of March, here’s something a little left of centre. This is a pause tape, for those unaware, a pause tape is like a tangible ‘vintage’ version of Soundcloud, and something that was created when the middle-agers of 2014 were young, and probably created while they shouldve been doin their homework. Way back when, before hashtags and laughing gas, the working class youth of the 70s, 80 and 90s had string, sticks, cassettes and magazines to keep them occupied.
Across the UK, we also had the radio, we’d tune in to specific shows, patiently hovering over the play and record, waiting to unleash the pause button like an impatient butchers blade. We’d tune in to hear the music we wanted to hear, while enduring the sounds being broadcast that we werent so keen on. Resigned to the fact that we’d have to wait another 20 minutes to hear something interesting and before we could release the pause button again, we’d then capture the sounds to replay in the playground or behind the bike sheds the next day. When Rap radio appeared in the late 80s across Britain, the game done changed. When we werent outdoors playing football, discovering spin the bottle or stealing BMXs, we’d be at home, taping specific styles within the genre, avoiding the burgeoning sound of poppy crap Rap. If you had a 90 minute cassette, you could create the soundtrack for the Summer, or at least a trip to the local forest park. The other bonus was gettin to know the lyrics way ahead of owning the record. If you remembered and could any part of the raps months later when a pal owned and played the 12″, you had preeminence amongst plebians, even though you may have still been in your teens.
The tapes were shared across peer groups, names and styles were forged and standards of quality control werent cemented. They usually had launch parties outside local swimming pools, or when the dogs were taken on a ‘long walk’ for Mum & Dad. And usually got played on ghetto-blasters or re-played while huddling round Sony Walkmans with built-in speakers, temporarily ‘borrowed’ from someones Dad. We patiently created personalised compilations of lovingly edited music and sounds from a variety of sources; radio broadcasts, movie dialogue, random soundbites, comedy and cartoons.
This tape was made for a friend in 1989, its stitched together from bits of Dave Pearce on GLR [Greater London Radio] and Tim Westwood radio shows from Capital circa March 1989. There are also some segments of a Manchester radio show with presenter Stu Allan. Featured on this tape are a phone call from WNYUs P-Fine, keeping the transatlantic listeners in tune with all the hot talk of the time [Twitter aint got nothing on 30 year old phone calls contained week old gossip]. Also on the tape are the winning DMC UK Championships session from Cutmaster Swift and DJ KCJ dropping an 83-84 themed mini-mix. East-Londons Overlord X drops into the studio on Side B and rocks up a rage with a live version of Rough in Hackney and there’s another live set, this time from Salt n Pepa, also from Manchester. Lookout for the Slayer ‘Version Excursion’ on the ‘Break to the Beat Competition’ [a highlight], and congrats to Steve H for the winning entry. Get your spits ready for Rapline competition, the subject tonight is the Tyson/ Bruno fight.
The original tapes were sent to me in 1989, by a ‘graff writer pen-pal’ by the name of Lyrical from Manchester in England, they worked in radio in Manchester in later years and by all accounts mightve been christened Helen at birth. If anyone knows were this person is today, dont hesitate to get in touch.