Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Live at the Soul All Dayer of the Century (Raiders, 1987)

UK hip hop's first recorded live showcase
For this post I have gone all Puff Daddy on you and straight jacked the work of another, better, far more knowledgeable hip hop writer than myself. For those who don’t know, James McNally wrote for HHC for many years and cemented his reputation as the foremost UK hip hop geek in the business. Anyone who took the trip up to Manchester’s Urbis earlier this year for the incredible ‘Homegrown , the Story of UK Hip Hop’ exhibition’ (which he co-curated), will testify that this guy has got knowledge and crates that run very deep. This article was one of my favourites he wrote for HHC simply because it turned me on to what is now one of the best slabs of wax in my collection. ‘Live at the Soul All Dayer of the Century’ is way more old-school than most records that will be featured on this blog but for anyone wanting to understand the roots of the 'DJ Yoda-style' or the Soundsystem Culture that spawned this music we all love - it is essential. It certainly took a very long time to find but the quest was worth it and it turned out to be everything the ‘Ancient Britain’ writer had described.

The Original McNally's Ancient
Britain Article in HHC#205 Oct06  
The following article was written by James McNally for his Ancient Britain column in HHC#205 October 2006...

So what’s the weirdest record I own? Peruvian singer Yma Sumac rocking five-octave tonal glissandos over library-style grooves? Nope. Jazz singer Leon Thomas yodelling ‘The Creator Has a Master Plan’ over a carpet of unlistenable free-jazz screeches and squawks? Hell no. Maggotrons’s helium pitched ‘Pillow Talk’ bouncing sex perv sweet-nothings off a bed of erotically bumping 808s and downy duvets of heart flutter synths? Hell no jehri kurl.

The weirdest record I own also has to be one of the best – a record with cover art so confusing, and a title containinng so many sub-clauses, that you’re never quite sure what it’s called. My best bet is ‘Live at the Soul All-Dayer of the Century” – though it could also be called ‘Hammersmith Of The Century Acton 1.187 Sold Out. What is certain, however, is that this live session released on London Reggae label Raiders in 1987 is neither strictly soul, and nor is it reggae.

In fact, recorded at Hammersmith and Acton Town Halls over two days way back at the beginning of 1987, this record is an important historical document that captures London’s nascent hip-hop scene at a key moment of transition – and remember, in terms of recorded hip hop, London’s 1987 was equivalent to about 1982 in New York’s history. It’s certified old school.

A side of Soul All Dayer Label
Essentially a series of squeeze-as-much-as-you-can-into-five-minutes scratch attacks from hip hop sound systems TNT, Beat Freak and Main Attraction. I could – if you’ll indulge me a minute – suggest that this record is to post hip hop black British music what Afrika Bambaataa’s Death Mix’ was to early rap – and perhaps even more. And, if you’ll indulge me another minute, that it says as much about black British music’s unique history and, more importantly, its future as Bambaataa’s did that of black America.

It’s perhaps telling that ‘Soul All Dayer’ came out on a reggae label and Bambaataa’s on one owned by R&B veteran Paul Winley. The black British music economy in the early ‘80s was the reggae economy, just as black New York’s pre hip hop music economy was largely set up around the R&B market. And as the music of Bambaataa’s Death Mix engaged with the R&B tradition, so did ‘Soul All Dayer’ with that of reggae.

B Side reads "promotion copy not for sale"
So when the opening crackle of ‘Soul All Dayer’ gives way to a young Mike West – later the Rebel MC but then the black brogue wearing mix man for Beat Freak – spinning the theme from ‘Singing in the Rain’, he armour plates it with a mid-80s cut of the classic reggae riddim ‘Heavenless’ (to a unified command from the massed air horns of South London posse in the hou-ou-ouse! for a rewind) It’s surely one of the most strangely beautiful openings to any record in the rap pantheon.

And when DJ Ron – now a successful jungle deejay, but then the lightening fingered scratch master for TNT – drops ‘Planet Rock’ only to cut Pablo Gad’s militant UK reggae perennial ‘Hard Times’ beat-perfect into it – and here we should point out he does so at proper tempo which works out at half-time to ‘Planet Rock’ – the trails to black British music are clear.

Back cover artwork includes pics of the sound
system crews and cover artwork for more
Raiders Live releases
For what you hear when you listen to ‘Soul All Dayer of the Century’ all the way through is not just a hip hop scene at a point where it was still happy to embrace ‘Jack The Groove’ spliced into LL Cool J, or Joseph Cotton married to the Beastie Boys – or even to have its breakbeats softened by Mary Poppins – but also a record that in many ways offers a hint of what was to come. For in this invaluable record you’ll hear hints of everything from Prodigy-style happy hardcore and early 90s Junglism to Yoda-style mash-ups and hip-house, even the hip hop soul of Soul II Soul. And that’s to say nothing of reggae rap. That is, if you can find a copy. Internet rumour puts its complete pressing at just 150 copies.

Note from Postie: In my two year hunt for a reasonably priced copy of this record I discovered that it was pressed as both a promo and general release. The only discernable difference is that the Promo copy has “Promotion Copy – Not for Sale” clearly printed on the B-Side – other than this both the record and the sleeve are exactly the same on both versions. At the time of writing one copy was for sale on Ebay at a buy it now price of £139.99 with the following information in the item description… “Britain's first soul & hip hop sound-systems. Live recordings from hammersmith & acton town halls 1.1.87 and 24.4.87. Reported to be only 80 copies pressed of which only 12 made it out to the public, the rest went to dj's and producers.” There are none for sale on Discogs so there is no price history but I got my copy for ten quid!!!.
Enjoy the listen – and the inevitable treasure hunt that will follow.
Peace, Postie

Live At The Soul All Dayer of The Century - side 1 

Live At The Soul All Dayer of The Century - side 2


  1. Boom! Never heard of this, but your description makes it sound dope! Thanks for sharing, can't wait to hear this

  2. 'Big shout to Wurzel Gummidge in the dance'.....

    Ledge status stuff, I remember a mate playing me the Pablo Gad and Planet Rock mix and it took years off my hair-line...This has eluded me since then, during the early 90s, I never remembered what it was called or who it was by, so thanks Postie, top work

    BTW. McNally got it slighty twisted, it was Adonis No Way Back Instrumental, as opposed to Jack The Groove...

    Seems like the price has come down on the Bay recently

    Again, top man, cheers

  3. Wonderful to find this after all these years. I have a copy buried away somewhere. Its bought back many good memories. Many Thanks !

  4. Yes had an original copy, now 'missing' and found this article trying to track down a copy.

    Knew it was a bit rare not this much though !!

    Agree with the article UK sound system kicked it all off....


  5. Folk I've got two copies from an old Our Price in Bromley about 87. I scratched the shit out of one and its now a poster in me room the other I love
    Proper hip hop this totally turned me on to Boogie Electro hip hop funk and just the art of mixing. This is a piece of history and I'm so happy I have a copy. Even tho my mate tagged the back cover grrrrr

  6. Also spent decades trying to find what this was called and listening to it again now 25 years later is a bit scary :)
    Mate got a copy possibly from Our Price branch in Aylesbury and it blew our minds

  7. I bought my copy from MiPrice records, Croydon, in 87.

  8. got my first copy in 1987 in beggars in Kingston which got trashed...then was luckt to find a copy in beanos pound shop about 10 years back,,,,,but I was lucky to find another copy yeaterday at Denham car boot ....the plastic digger

    1. Denham Car Boot!! Haha! Nice find in a small world. I live adjacent to the car boot field and featured as a DJ in one the sound systems supporting this event. DJ Marky B from the MRS Mix Syndicate :)

    2. ... and still got my copy too :)