The impact of ‘ Sound Systems’ on UK culture is immense. For example before sound systems, many venues had small ‘Rock & Roll’ style systems & poor facilities. The ‘Sound System’ influence has subsequently caused the demand for both bands on the road and clubs to want to hire/install high powered, multi-amplified PA Systems. The UK Sounds (without question) have raised people’s expectations in the nightclub arena, as well as being instrumental in the rise and prevalence of ‘urban’ music in the mainstream media today. Many successful UK artists started on ‘Sound Systems’ and the ‘Modern Superstar Club/Radio DJ’s owe much to the influence of ‘Sound Systems’ in general.
Sound systems arrived in Britain with the first wave of Jamaican immigration in the 50s and 60s, providing a link to “home” as well as the backdrop and the soundtrack to the social life of black Britain. By the 70’s & 80’s every area of London & every City with a West Indian population had their own crop of 'Sounds'. Historically, it was important for guys to group together to ‘build a Sound’. One man would mainly buy music, another had an interest in electronics and there was always one who liked to MC (talk on the mike), not forgetting young members (or the apprentice) learning about the equipment and how to ‘play the sound’. Apprentices also had the status of being a ‘box boy’ whose particular job was to lift the heavy speaker boxes at the beginning and end of the dance‘. Sound men’ took pride in their achievement, to the point of Sound Systems challenging each other to a competition or ‘cup clash’ where each ‘Sound’ sought to win over the crowd with their musical presentations.
Today, there are many and varied ‘Sound Systems’ in existence, run by both men and women from different backgrounds and cultures. All playing a selection of varying musical genres. US/UK Garage, House, Hardcore, Techno, Trance, Drum & Bass, Miami-Bass, Hip-Hop, Swingbeat, Dub Reggae, Roots Rock Reggae, Ragga, Revival, Lovers Rock, Soca, Calypso, Jazz, Jazz-Funk, Fusion, R&B, Disco, Soul/Funk from & 70s/80’s/90’s, Rare groove, Latin, Pop, Ska, Rocksteady. The choice is yours.
For many, sound systems are a way of life, a heritage and a culture. Sound boys old and young, male and female, celebrate the extraordinary story of the sound systems – an analogue force still going strong in a digital age of downloads and live streaming.