I always feel such a sense of euphoria when I hear a track like Althea and Donna’s Uptown Top Rankin, just for the fact that it is here in London, at its festivals, that I see people like Althea and Donna, where I get the feeling that I can connect with the community from which this song came, this song which provided the soundtrack to the life of a young boy, some hundreds of miles away from a village in England, and millions of miles away culturally. I feel like I’m tracing the music back to its source, and the tune that meant so much to me as a young boy, is now being enjoyed with the community from which it came. It is in some sense romantic bullshit, but somehow I feel at home, I feel like I’ve come home, at least to Althea and Donna, to the music inside of my head. I feel a sense of home in London, because the music of my boyhood, which means so much to me, means so much to these people around me.
I got a similar moment of ecstacy one evening towards the end of Notting Hill Carnival when walking back along Portobello Road as the night drew in, a group that I was with was drawn to a small gathering some fifty strong gathered around a sound sytem, playing classic dance tracks, Playing With Knives by Bizarre Inc and all of a sudden I felt euphoria, a sense of deep significance. Again a memory from my childhood, is thrust out into the skies of Notting Hill, not now just inside of my head and heart, but felt and adored by a mass of people, of similar age, thirty and forty somethings who continue to act like they are twenty-something, united by a shared point in time, a shared history, which none of them shared together, but which they are all sharing twenty years later. I don’t know why, but music transports you into a dreamland, a fantasy version of reality, that only exists within the realm of your musical head, which can never really be bought into fruition in real life, in interaction, in the way you emotionaly relate to one another. Its just that some of my best memories and sensations of London are held in my head, inside a musical track.
Superstylin from Groove Armada would be for me the quintessential London track, something, which encapsulates the beat, the energy, the creativity, the roughness, the surviving like a rat, the sexiness, the athleticism and dynamism. The Jamaican rapping, the breaks and beats, the urban scenes in the video, taking in Hoxton and Shoreditch, the black and the white. I just remember hearing the track for the first time in a squat party on Kingsland Road, in what used to be a pub on a corner of Kingsland Road, and thinking anything could happen hear, its in these places where the rule of law, the customs and traditions don’t apply, moments in London that feel truly liberating. The summer London festivals, are always called to mind when I hear Superstylin, organic flower power hippy freaks, hipsters, rastas, socialists, fans of the old school reggae and dub, gentrified bohemes, jeans and a t-shirt, fag in the hand, can of Carlsberg, unshaven, unusual sunshine. Its all bought to mind by Superstylin.
Superstylin, organic flower power hippy freaks, hipsters, rastas, socialists, fans of the old school reggae and dub, gentrified bohemes, jeans and a t-shirt, fag in the hand, can of Carlsberg, unshaven, unusual sunshine. Its all bought to mind by Superstylin.