Playlist - On the Wire – Hardcore Beats - 5th July 1987
Trouble Funk – The Beat - Jamtu
Afrika Bambaataa – Death mix – Winley
Grandmaster Flash – Wheels of steel – Sugarhill
Special Request – Salsa smurf – Tommy Boy
Afrika Bambaataa – Perfect beats - Polydor
Afrika Bambaataa – Planet rock – Tommy Boy
Malcolm X - No sell out – Tommy Boy
Spoodge Boy – D-bop – Memo
B-Boys – Cuttin’ Herbie – Streetsounds
DST – Crazy cuts – Island
Hashim – Naafyish – Cutting
Double D and Steinski - Payoff mix - Tommy Boy promo
Double D and Steinski - Lesson 1 - Tommy Boy promo
Double D and Steinski – Lesson 2 - Tommy Boy promo
Flying Lizards – Machine sex – Statik
Master D.C and Krazy Eddie – Masters of the Scratch – Next Plateau
Fat Boys – Human Beat Box – Sutra
Run DMC – Rock Box – Profile
DJ Red Alert – Hip hop on wax vol.2 – Vintertainment
DST & Jalal – Mean machine dub – Celluloid
DJ Cheese & Word of Mouth – King kut – Beauty & the Beat
Beastie Boys – Rock hard – Def jam
MCA & Burzootie – Drum machine – Def Jam
Rick Rubing – Dust cloud – Island
DJ Born Supreme Allah – Two three break – Vintertainment
Masterdon Committee – Get off my tip – Profile
K Rob – I’m a homeboy – Profile
Skinny Boys – Rip the cut – Warlock
LL Cool J – Rock the bells – Def Jam
Schoolly D – Free style rapping – Place to Be
Tackhead – Megamix – On U Sound / World
The JAMS – Next - KLF
Ask 20 people what the Golden Age of Hip Hop was, and you’ll get 20 different answers.
Although On The Wire has produced many specials over the years, the Hardcore Beats Special from 5th July 1987 is possibly unique in being the only one that wasn’t a reggae special (to my memory at least). It was produced at a pivotal time — for the Hip Hop scene, for On The Wire, and for me personally. At the time when hip hop had started to come out from the underground, this programme represented a brief slice through the foundations from which Rap’s early megastars had just started to grow into the mainstream: Run DMC, The Beastie Boys, LL Cool J. On The Wire had been going strong for some years in its classic three hour Sunday afternoon slot on FM. And for me, it falls right in the middle of my own Golden Age of Hip Hop.
To place the show into its historical context then, the previous year, 1986, featured the release of “Licenced To Ill” by Beastie Boys. 1987 saw Boogie Down Productions’ “Criminal Minded” — and the violent death of Scott La Rock — and by 1988 Hip Hop went completely mainstream with “Yo! MTV Raps”, the rise of NWA.
The premier Hip Hop labels of the era are well-represented as you’d expect: Def Jam, Tommy Boy, Profile, Celluloid; along with some smaller earlier independents. These days much of this stuff has been issued and re-issued on compilations and retrospectives - even the once considered never-releasable ground-breaking Double D and Steinski Lessons have been on countless CDs (legit and less so), including his own “What Does It All Mean” retrospective from 2008. Having said that, I think to this day the only place you can get Rick Rubin’s “Dust Cloud” (other than YouTube of course) is from the “Masters Of The Beat” compilation LP from 1985, and never re-issued.
It finishes with a contemporaneous track, “Next” by the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, from the ill-fated “1987” album released that summer. That is preceded by a specially commissioned Tackhead megamix performed by fellow Radio Lancashire DJ, Gary Hickson. Along with his sports presenting and production duties, the next year or so Gary went on to present what might be considered a companion to On The Wire, the Sunday Big Beat dance music show, the shows bookending the simulcast of the UK Top 40 from Radio One. For many years the original 1/4” tape reel of the Tackhead megamix lived on the shelves at Radio Lancashire, until that fateful day in the early ‘90s when someone decided to have a clear out and threw in the skip about 15 feet of irreplaceable On The Wire archive reel shelving - interviews, special tapes (there was at least an early Keith LeBlanc tape with a track that only got released in a partial form), Funkology’s Go Go special, and no doubt many other things that I never investigated. Fortunately, the tape of the last interview with Ian Curtis from Joy Division before his suicide had already been preserved elsewhere.
The following should be noted:
1. This is from an off-air FM recording as broadcast, on not particularly high quality tapes. While some of the noise has been removed, there are still some pops and interference, but hopefully they do not detract too much. And, there’s the added bonus of a local travel report. I have deliberately retained the Radio Lancashire jingles and outro.
2. Annie Anxiety Bandez’ lovely vocal drops throughout, especially produced for the programme by Adrian Sherwood probably around the time of recording her Jakamo album.
3. One of the two cassettes got mangled one time, so a section was spliced out many years ago. This affects part of one of Double D and Steinski’s Lessons, and the Tackhead megamix. There also appear to be bits missing from Run DMC’s “Rock Box”.
4. For reasons I can’t quite remember, Mastodon Committee’s “Get Off My Tip” is omitted. It might be that for some time I actually hated that song… I came around to it a few years later though.
5. And, if anyone can tell me from whence the human beat box after the track of the same name by the Fat Boys, I would be eternally grateful. Steve used to play it all the time, but doesn’t appear to remember the source any more!
Enjoy this slice of history.
Jethro, erstwhile On The Wire engineer.