Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Before Imperial Music moved into 58 Park Street, it was the home of Tony’s another great record shop which moved from it's smaller location in the basement of Focus in Clifton village. Tony himself is a former rock n’ roll musician who staffed the place with people who would go on to becoming luminaries of the Bristol music scene such as Si John and John Stapleton. As such it was one of the places at the forefront of selling records from the emerging New York Hip-Hop scene to the impressionable young people of Bristol.

In those days (early 80’s) Hip-Hop was more about sharp electro beats and breaks than boasting about all manner of things (guns, drugs, treatment of women), which sadly most of it has become today. That’s not to say that you can’t still find brilliant Hip-Hop as albums by the like of Madvillian and Masta Killa have proved this year. So it seems right that one of the last new release albums that we are taking in any quantity before Imperial Music moves into the history books and 58 Park Street stops selling music for ever, is a wonderful compilation called “Dread meets B-Boys downtown – The Hip-Hop sound of New York 81-82".

I was never cool enough to be a B-Boy, but I did pick up my share of 12” singles around that time. I well remember my amazement when I first heard the Grandmaster Flash – “Adventures on the wheels of steel” record on the John Peel show. It’s hard to imagine now, but we really had no idea how records like that could be made. It really sounded like music from another planet rather than continent. As soon as I tracked down a copy myself, I forced everyone I knew to listen to it, even my poor confused mother! I’m not sure what people who are in their 20’s will make of the music now, but to me it all sounded fantastic yesterday as we pumped it out in the shop. It was one of the things that fired my fascination with New York and helped to prompt the excitement that resulted in my first visit to NYC in 1984.


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