80s Hip Hop – a top 10

Back in the 1980s, American Hip Hop really captured the imagination of Strand Records‘ Dave. In fact, as the photo below shows, he fancied himself as a bit of a B-Boy with his Kangol hat, Darryl ‘Run DMC‘ Mc Daniels’ glasses, Campri ski jacket, adidas trackie and sneakers.


For folks of Dave’s pedigree, there had been some limited exposure to American rap music very early in the 1980s, via records such as Sugarhill Gang – Rapper’s Delight (1979), Kurtis Blow – The Breaks (1980), Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five – The Message (1982) , Afrika Bambaataa – Planet rock (1982), Melle Mel – White lines (1983), etc. Famously, there had also been Debbie Harry’s rap in Blondie’s Rapture from 1980.

But, it was from c.1986 that rap really started to hit home with many more music listeners in Britain. Dave’s top ten reflects this particular era of rap. The sound seemed to get a bit edgier and urgent somehow. Of course, any Hip Hop top 10 of that era could be made up of Public Enemy records alone but in the interest of variety . . .

  1. South Bronx – Boogie Down Productions (1987)
  2. Saturday night – Schoolly D (1986)
  3. Public Enemy no.1 – Public Enemy (1987)
  4. Follow the leader – Eric B. & Rakim (1988)
  5. My philosophy – KRS1 & Boogie Down Productions (1988)
  6. Jack the Ripper – LL Cool J (1988)
  7. Express yourself – N.W.A. (1989)
  8. Peter Piper – Run DMC (1986)
  9. Paul Revere – Beastie Boys (1986)
  10. Kool Keith housing things – Ultramagnetic MCs (1988)

So there we have it, all tracks from 1986-1989. By c.1990 onwards, American rap seemed to increasingly move into a rather formulaic ‘gangsta’ direction and some of the inventiveness of the mid-late 80s seemed to get lost, although artists such as Ice Cube continued to offer challenging beats for a while and clearly Dr Dre/Snoop caused quite a stir. For Dave, the glory days had past and he hung his Kangol hat up for good. It should be mentioned though that 1980s respect is also due to various tracks by Stetsasonic, Ice T, Spoonie Gee, The Jungle Brothers, EPMD, De la Soul, Mantronix, Big Daddy Kane, Original Concept, etc. Manchester’s Ruthless Rap Assassins also deserve a mention for hip hop this side of ‘the pond’.

Ticket hip hop





The Beatles top 10?

Compiling lists of top 10 albums, songs, films, books, etc. is notoriously difficult as we are all (hopefully) evolving, which means that our tastes develop. With a top 10, it is not easy to be true to yourself. How do you balance, for example, songs that meant a terrific amount to you as a young person with those tracks that increasingly resonate with you as a, erm, not so young person?

Anyway, these difficulties are greatly accentuated when dealing with a band like The Beatles who were not only one of the most important popular music artists of all time, but who recorded in excess of 200 songs. Well, I (Strand Records’ Dave) am going to try anyway because The Beatles are the first band I collected records by and they remain my favourite ever band. As an attempt to prove my long-standing love of the fab four, here is a snap of me in 1981 with one of my Beatles’ posters (I had lots) and the photos from the White album, (oh, and a Bad Manners’ poster too!).

Dave Beatles

  1. In my lifeflawlessly made, right down to the harpsichord solo from George Martin
  2. We can work it outharmonium-propelled perfect pop
  3. Let it bejust so powerful, and also poignant given the timing of this recording
  4. No replywhat an album opener – so downbeat for a band on ‘top of the world’
  5. Here there and everywhereExquisite
  6. Strawberry fields forever – still sounds other worldly and futuristic to me
  7. The Long and winding road – the ballad of the band
  8. Don’t bother mehigh-octane beat track from George Harrison
  9. I’ll be backone of many beautifully crafted ’64 tracks, it has no chorus BTW!
  10. Don’t let me downit’s the rooftop concert, it’s a big sound

Whilst compiling this top 10, a lot of anxiety was generated. I mean, where on earth is; Penny Lane, Ticket to ride, Blackbird, Nowhere man, I am the Walrus, Rain, Hello Goodbye, Glass onion, Tomorrow never knows, Yes it is, For no one, Here comes the sun, I will, Mother Nature’s son, I’m only sleeping, Hey Bulldog, A Day in the life, What you’re doing, Sexy Sadie, There’s a place, etc. etc. etc.

Maybe I would have been better off assembling a Fab Forty instead!

CD Apple