SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN
Champion sound! When Huddersfield ruled the British reggae scene
Forget big cities such as London and Birmingham. In the 1970s and 80s, this West Yorkshire town was the unlikely capital of UK sound system culture
Reggae fans didn’t need to go to Jamaica to hear the best music in the 1970s and 1980s. They didn’t even have to live in big cities such as London or Birmingham. In Huddersfield, West Yorkshire – the hometown of Harold Wilson – it was once possible to see international stars performing live at the West Indian Club on Venn Street, or skank the night away to one of 30 or so sound systems from the town.
"Gregory Isaacs, Burning Spear, Jimmy Cliff, Sugar Minott, Desmond Dekker … everybody played at Venn Street," remembers Claston Brooks, aka Danman, who ended up getting a job at the West Indian Club so he could see the gigs for free. "The artists might do one other show in Birmingham or London, but more often than not they would come from Jamaica direct to Huddersfield. They’d stay at the George Hotel, which is still there, play their show and boom, back to Jamaica. Sound systems would come over from Kingston to play Venn Street. That’s how big it was."
The influence of sound systems on British music, from trip-hop to dubstep, is well documented. However, Huddersfield’s role in this culture has been largely overlooked. Now, a new book is paying overdue tribute to the town’s achievements. Part of a heritage project put together by historian Mandeep Samra, Sound System Culture: Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems, compiled by Al Fingers, is filled with beautiful archive photography and includes a detailed written history of the scene.
"Artists would come to Huddersfield because people were friendlier and more broad-minded than in many areas of Britain in the 1970s," explains Paul Huxtable, builder and operator of the Axis sound system, who wrote the main text of the book. "People would say to [reggae superstar] Dennis Brown: ‘We’re having a christening tomorrow. Why don’t you come along?’ I heard of people putting stars up at their houses. You didn’t get that in the cities. Every town with a large black community had a sound system scene, but Huddersfield’s was vastly out of proportion to the size of the place."
Reggae sound systems are mobile discos on which selectors (DJs) play popular records on huge speakers, with vocal accompaniment known as “toasting” provided by deejays (MCs). They originated in Jamaica in the 1950s and were brought to Huddersfield in the 1960s, when the first wave of Caribbean immigrants arrived to work in the town’s textile mills.
The first sound systems in Huddersfield were simple affairs, playing rocksteady records at all-night “blues parties” held in people’s houses. Then a younger generation began using a similar template to play heavier dub and reggae tunes.
As the first black boy to be born in the town’s Princess Royal hospital, Stephen “Papa Burky” Burke of the Earth Rocker sound system found himself at the vanguard of this changing culture. “I built my first boxes [speaker cabinets] out of cardboard when I was 16,” he says. “It sounded brilliant in my bedroom, but when I took it into a bigger hall the amplifier started smoking. I realised there was a bit more to it …”
The sound systems that evolved were complex feats of engineering. Because commercially available speakers were prohibitively expensive and could not provide the bass needed to fill a large venue, kids such as Burke learned joinery in order to build their own. Then came the electronics. Earth Rocker’s electrical work was carried out by local man Pete “Woody” Wood, who went on to work with Ultravox and a number of other 1980s bands.
However, other sound systems were less professional. Brooks is full of tales of system builders stealing wood from timber yards or loudspeakers from garage forecourts. He even claims to have forgone wearing underpants and socks to save the cash for electrical cables. “To get big you need to build,” he says. “Once you’re big enough, you don’t need to do dem things.”
The rush to keep ahead of rival sounds systems often meant driving in the dead of night to Nottingham, where the latest Jamaican reggae imports or pre-releases were exchanged at clandestine meetings held in car parks. Once they were safely back home, the sound system operators would scribble over the record labels with marker pens so their competitors would not be able to see what they were playing.
"It was all about having the freshest records and the biggest sound," says Huxtable. "So they’d have echo chambers, syn-drums, wardrobe-sized cabinets with 18in drivers. Everything was geared to getting the maximum power from the amplifiers. Reggae sound systems always run in the red, so things have to be highly engineered so you don’t burn things out."
Although every system sounded different, a common link could be found in shape of the Matamp. Hans Alfred “Mat” Mathias was a Holocaust refugee who started an electronics shop on King Street. Eventually, he found himself hand-building amplifiers for the local sounds, who preferred valve systems to transistors because of the warmer bass they produce. Pictured in the book, wearing a crisp white shirt and tie, Mathias looks more lab technician than reggae man, but his company became internationally renowned.
"Mat was a German Jewish man making amplifiers for West Indians in Yorkshire," says Ian Smith, whose band the Inner Mind recorded in a tiny studio that Mathias operated near his shop. "You couldn’t make it up. He sold chocolate, cigarettes and amplifiers."
A white man, whose reggae band were happily accepted in Caribbean clubs, Smith typifies the era’s cheery openness. Although racism did exist in Huddersfield, anyone – black, white or Asian – was welcome in clubs such as Venn Street and Arawak. The reggae clubs even accepted punk bands: Burke remembers curiously venturing in to see Adam and the Ants at Venn Street.
As the scene expanded, shops including Steve’s Records and Music City sprung up. Local band Jab Jab provided backing for Dave & Ansell Collins on Top of the Pops in 1971, when the Jamaican duo reached No 1 with the classic Double Barrel. When another Huddersfield group, the Groovers, recorded a cover version of Bob Marley’s Bend Down Low during a trip to London, the man himself paid them a visit in the studio.
But, for many young black men, sound system culture provided something deeper than entertainment or the chance of financial success. It offered empowerment, education and a voice.
"With a sound system and a microphone, you can become a history teacher," says Armagideon’s Donovan Brown aka D.Bo General. "You can tell people things that aren’t on the television. It’s about identifying yourself and waking people up to what they can achieve."
Today, there is little left of this vibrant scene. Venn Street was demolished in 1992 to make way for a car park, and more sound systems faded away with the closure of other key venues.
However, Huxtable has recently shipped a custom-built valve system from his Huddersfield workshop to Jamaica. Meanwhile, some of the scene’s originators are stringing up their speakers once again.
"When Gregory Isaacs played in Venn Street supported by a sound system, so many girls fainted that they had to call ambulances," says Brooks, who now performs as an MC for the Leeds-based Iration Steppas. "When that club closed, it was like part of Huddersfield had died. If I had a piece of land, I’d build it up again."
By Dave Simpson
http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/jul/31/champion-sound-huddersfield-ruled-british-reggae-scene

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

Champion sound! When Huddersfield ruled the British reggae scene

Forget big cities such as London and Birmingham. In the 1970s and 80s, this West Yorkshire town was the unlikely capital of UK sound system culture

Reggae fans didn’t need to go to Jamaica to hear the best music in the 1970s and 1980s. They didn’t even have to live in big cities such as London or Birmingham. In Huddersfield, West Yorkshire – the hometown of Harold Wilson – it was once possible to see international stars performing live at the West Indian Club on Venn Street, or skank the night away to one of 30 or so sound systems from the town.

"Gregory Isaacs, Burning Spear, Jimmy Cliff, Sugar Minott, Desmond Dekker … everybody played at Venn Street," remembers Claston Brooks, aka Danman, who ended up getting a job at the West Indian Club so he could see the gigs for free. "The artists might do one other show in Birmingham or London, but more often than not they would come from Jamaica direct to Huddersfield. They’d stay at the George Hotel, which is still there, play their show and boom, back to Jamaica. Sound systems would come over from Kingston to play Venn Street. That’s how big it was."

The influence of sound systems on British music, from trip-hop to dubstep, is well documented. However, Huddersfield’s role in this culture has been largely overlooked. Now, a new book is paying overdue tribute to the town’s achievements. Part of a heritage project put together by historian Mandeep Samra, Sound System Culture: Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems, compiled by Al Fingers, is filled with beautiful archive photography and includes a detailed written history of the scene.

"Artists would come to Huddersfield because people were friendlier and more broad-minded than in many areas of Britain in the 1970s," explains Paul Huxtable, builder and operator of the Axis sound system, who wrote the main text of the book. "People would say to [reggae superstar] Dennis Brown: ‘We’re having a christening tomorrow. Why don’t you come along?’ I heard of people putting stars up at their houses. You didn’t get that in the cities. Every town with a large black community had a sound system scene, but Huddersfield’s was vastly out of proportion to the size of the place."

Reggae sound systems are mobile discos on which selectors (DJs) play popular records on huge speakers, with vocal accompaniment known as “toasting” provided by deejays (MCs). They originated in Jamaica in the 1950s and were brought to Huddersfield in the 1960s, when the first wave of Caribbean immigrants arrived to work in the town’s textile mills.

The first sound systems in Huddersfield were simple affairs, playing rocksteady records at all-night “blues parties” held in people’s houses. Then a younger generation began using a similar template to play heavier dub and reggae tunes.

As the first black boy to be born in the town’s Princess Royal hospital, Stephen “Papa Burky” Burke of the Earth Rocker sound system found himself at the vanguard of this changing culture. “I built my first boxes [speaker cabinets] out of cardboard when I was 16,” he says. “It sounded brilliant in my bedroom, but when I took it into a bigger hall the amplifier started smoking. I realised there was a bit more to it …”

The sound systems that evolved were complex feats of engineering. Because commercially available speakers were prohibitively expensive and could not provide the bass needed to fill a large venue, kids such as Burke learned joinery in order to build their own. Then came the electronics. Earth Rocker’s electrical work was carried out by local man Pete “Woody” Wood, who went on to work with Ultravox and a number of other 1980s bands.

However, other sound systems were less professional. Brooks is full of tales of system builders stealing wood from timber yards or loudspeakers from garage forecourts. He even claims to have forgone wearing underpants and socks to save the cash for electrical cables. “To get big you need to build,” he says. “Once you’re big enough, you don’t need to do dem things.”

The rush to keep ahead of rival sounds systems often meant driving in the dead of night to Nottingham, where the latest Jamaican reggae imports or pre-releases were exchanged at clandestine meetings held in car parks. Once they were safely back home, the sound system operators would scribble over the record labels with marker pens so their competitors would not be able to see what they were playing.

"It was all about having the freshest records and the biggest sound," says Huxtable. "So they’d have echo chambers, syn-drums, wardrobe-sized cabinets with 18in drivers. Everything was geared to getting the maximum power from the amplifiers. Reggae sound systems always run in the red, so things have to be highly engineered so you don’t burn things out."

Although every system sounded different, a common link could be found in shape of the Matamp. Hans Alfred “Mat” Mathias was a Holocaust refugee who started an electronics shop on King Street. Eventually, he found himself hand-building amplifiers for the local sounds, who preferred valve systems to transistors because of the warmer bass they produce. Pictured in the book, wearing a crisp white shirt and tie, Mathias looks more lab technician than reggae man, but his company became internationally renowned.

"Mat was a German Jewish man making amplifiers for West Indians in Yorkshire," says Ian Smith, whose band the Inner Mind recorded in a tiny studio that Mathias operated near his shop. "You couldn’t make it up. He sold chocolate, cigarettes and amplifiers."

A white man, whose reggae band were happily accepted in Caribbean clubs, Smith typifies the era’s cheery openness. Although racism did exist in Huddersfield, anyone – black, white or Asian – was welcome in clubs such as Venn Street and Arawak. The reggae clubs even accepted punk bands: Burke remembers curiously venturing in to see Adam and the Ants at Venn Street.

As the scene expanded, shops including Steve’s Records and Music City sprung up. Local band Jab Jab provided backing for Dave & Ansell Collins on Top of the Pops in 1971, when the Jamaican duo reached No 1 with the classic Double Barrel. When another Huddersfield group, the Groovers, recorded a cover version of Bob Marley’s Bend Down Low during a trip to London, the man himself paid them a visit in the studio.

But, for many young black men, sound system culture provided something deeper than entertainment or the chance of financial success. It offered empowerment, education and a voice.

"With a sound system and a microphone, you can become a history teacher," says Armagideon’s Donovan Brown aka D.Bo General. "You can tell people things that aren’t on the television. It’s about identifying yourself and waking people up to what they can achieve."

Today, there is little left of this vibrant scene. Venn Street was demolished in 1992 to make way for a car park, and more sound systems faded away with the closure of other key venues.

However, Huxtable has recently shipped a custom-built valve system from his Huddersfield workshop to Jamaica. Meanwhile, some of the scene’s originators are stringing up their speakers once again.

"When Gregory Isaacs played in Venn Street supported by a sound system, so many girls fainted that they had to call ambulances," says Brooks, who now performs as an MC for the Leeds-based Iration Steppas. "When that club closed, it was like part of Huddersfield had died. If I had a piece of land, I’d build it up again."

By Dave Simpson

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2014/jul/31/champion-sound-huddersfield-ruled-british-reggae-scene

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE BOOK REVIEW ON FRED PERRY BLOG
Following their success with Clarks in Jamaica, One Love Books release their latest book, Sound System Culture, which celebrates the rich musical history of the small market town, Huddersfield. Nestled within the Pennine Hills of West Yorkshire, Huddersfield seems the most unlikely location for Reggae culture, however has been a stronghold of the British Jamaican scene since its arrival in the 1960s. For the first time in print and featuring a wealth of previously unseen archive material, this book documents the subculture’s history from the initial immigration of Jamaicans to the UK after World War II, to the pioneers and early adopters that solidified the sound’s presence in Europe.
Sound system culture first became popular in the 1950s, in the ghettos of Kingston, Jamaica. It began simply as a way of playing amplified music to outside gatherings. The first sound systems initially consisted of a small gramophone and speakers on a street corner or private land to entertain friends or attract business to commercial establishments. 
The mass immigration of Jamaicans in the 1960s and ‘70s brought the culture of the sound system to the UK. At the time reggae was increasingly popular with the UK’s black working-class youth, its message of Rastafari and overcoming injustice struck a chord with those on the receiving end of racism, prejudice and poverty. It was also very popular with white working class youth, as the two groups often lived, went to school or worked together.
Speaking about the project, developer and historian Mandy Samra says: “If you came to Huddersfield now you would never think it was once home to a thriving sound system scene. I felt it was important to document the stories of the people involved and to capture some of the magic of the past before it was lost forever. Watching elders look through the book now, I see that magic coming back to them and feel happy that those stories have finally been recorded, and that Huddersfield is back on the sound system map.”
http://www.fredperry.com/blog/

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE BOOK REVIEW ON FRED PERRY BLOG

Following their success with Clarks in Jamaica, One Love Books release their latest book, Sound System Culture, which celebrates the rich musical history of the small market town, Huddersfield. Nestled within the Pennine Hills of West Yorkshire, Huddersfield seems the most unlikely location for Reggae culture, however has been a stronghold of the British Jamaican scene since its arrival in the 1960s. For the first time in print and featuring a wealth of previously unseen archive material, this book documents the subculture’s history from the initial immigration of Jamaicans to the UK after World War II, to the pioneers and early adopters that solidified the sound’s presence in Europe.

Sound system culture first became popular in the 1950s, in the ghettos of Kingston, Jamaica. It began simply as a way of playing amplified music to outside gatherings. The first sound systems initially consisted of a small gramophone and speakers on a street corner or private land to entertain friends or attract business to commercial establishments. 

The mass immigration of Jamaicans in the 1960s and ‘70s brought the culture of the sound system to the UK. At the time reggae was increasingly popular with the UK’s black working-class youth, its message of Rastafari and overcoming injustice struck a chord with those on the receiving end of racism, prejudice and poverty. It was also very popular with white working class youth, as the two groups often lived, went to school or worked together.

Speaking about the project, developer and historian Mandy Samra says: “If you came to Huddersfield now you would never think it was once home to a thriving sound system scene. I felt it was important to document the stories of the people involved and to capture some of the magic of the past before it was lost forever. Watching elders look through the book now, I see that magic coming back to them and feel happy that those stories have finally been recorded, and that Huddersfield is back on the sound system map.”

http://www.fredperry.com/blog/

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE BOOK REVIEW IN JAMAICA GLEANER
Sound System Culture takes spotlight in new book
Back in April, the Sonos Studio in Los Angeles announced the introduction of a ground-breaking exhibition highlighting the sound system element of Jamaican music culture. Now, just a few months later, the country’s sound systems are back in the spotlight, following the publication of a new book.
Sound System Culture, Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems, is the title of the literature written by Paul Huxtable, a sound-system operator from Huddersfield, United Kingdom. The book which was published earlier this month, was conceived by co-editor Mandeep Samra, and explores the unique and rich culture of Huddersfield’s sound systems.
The book traces the origin of reggae sound systems in Jamaica, to their establishment in the UK and beyond, specifically focusing on the Huddersfield scene. As part of the efforts to educate people on the sound system scene established in the United Kingdom, a documentary was also made.
Documentary
The documentary revisits an era when Jamaican settlers in the UK held dances at the historic Venn Street club, a venue which established Huddersfield as an essential destination for touring Jamaican musicians, helping to catapult the town on to the developing British reggae map.
In addition, the project includes a photographic exhibition and interactive sound installation, consisting of a custom-built sound system, Heritage HiFi, a turntable, and a stack of 10-inch dubplates featuring sound bites from the oral histories recorded for the project.
To mark the release of this book, a launch was held in the UK recently. The book, published by One Love Books, is available for purchase online (www.onelovebooks.com) and was produced as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund/Arts Council England project, developed by historian Samra.
Huddersfield played a major part in the UK’s Caribbean music scene during the 1970s. Burning Spear and Gregory Isaacs are two of the many artistes who would often play in the town. The sound system concept first became popular in the 1950s, in the inner-city areas of Kingston, Jamaica, and disc jocks would set up turntables and huge speaker boxes at street parties in these communities. At first, the disc jocks would play American rhythm and blues music, but as time progressed, and the local music scene started to develop, the sound took on a more local flavour.
Review by Shereita Grizzle
http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140728/ent/ent3.html

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE BOOK REVIEW IN JAMAICA GLEANER

Sound System Culture takes spotlight in new book

Back in April, the Sonos Studio in Los Angeles announced the introduction of a ground-breaking exhibition highlighting the sound system element of Jamaican music culture. Now, just a few months later, the country’s sound systems are back in the spotlight, following the publication of a new book.

Sound System Culture, Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems, is the title of the literature written by Paul Huxtable, a sound-system operator from Huddersfield, United Kingdom. The book which was published earlier this month, was conceived by co-editor Mandeep Samra, and explores the unique and rich culture of Huddersfield’s sound systems.

The book traces the origin of reggae sound systems in Jamaica, to their establishment in the UK and beyond, specifically focusing on the Huddersfield scene. As part of the efforts to educate people on the sound system scene established in the United Kingdom, a documentary was also made.

Documentary

The documentary revisits an era when Jamaican settlers in the UK held dances at the historic Venn Street club, a venue which established Huddersfield as an essential destination for touring Jamaican musicians, helping to catapult the town on to the developing British reggae map.

In addition, the project includes a photographic exhibition and interactive sound installation, consisting of a custom-built sound system, Heritage HiFi, a turntable, and a stack of 10-inch dubplates featuring sound bites from the oral histories recorded for the project.

To mark the release of this book, a launch was held in the UK recently. The book, published by One Love Books, is available for purchase online (www.onelovebooks.com) and was produced as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund/Arts Council England project, developed by historian Samra.

Huddersfield played a major part in the UK’s Caribbean music scene during the 1970s. Burning Spear and Gregory Isaacs are two of the many artistes who would often play in the town. The sound system concept first became popular in the 1950s, in the inner-city areas of Kingston, Jamaica, and disc jocks would set up turntables and huge speaker boxes at street parties in these communities. At first, the disc jocks would play American rhythm and blues music, but as time progressed, and the local music scene started to develop, the sound took on a more local flavour.

Review by Shereita Grizzle

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20140728/ent/ent3.html

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE BOOK REVIEW @ PROPERMAG.COMIf the roles were reversed and a load of Yorkshire folk found themselves emigrating to the Caribbean, it’s hard to imagine they’d have had as deep and long lasting musical impact as the sound systems have on these fair isles.Though the beautiful bass driven melodies of reggae are now so embedded in British culture that it gets a (double) name check on one of our most popular condiments it wasn’t always that way. The Windrush generation and those that followed not only helped British industry get back on its feet after the war but also taught us how to get together and celebrate in proper style via the culture of the sound system The best record player you could get your hands on, the biggest bass shaking speakers, a clued up selector, a bottle or two of rum, a big bag of sensei and some like minded souls were all the ingredients needed to bring a bit of yard to Yorkshire. By the late 1970s and throughout the 80s the combined skills of various talented carpenters, electricians and musicians in Huddersfield had turned what started out purely as remedy for homesickness and to forget about xenophobic vibes into a must stop destination for world famous artists and reggae fans alike. Just like Al Fingers previous One Love Books (Clarks in Jamaica) Sound System Culture: Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems provides a well researched and enthralling history of a unique Anglo-Caribbean Culture alongside some brilliant photos and quotes from the key players. If you love reggae as much as me then I can’t recommend this book highly enough and if you don’t like reggae then you need to go to Huddersfield and sort you head out bredren.
http://www.propermag.com/site/sound-system-culture-one-love-books-2014-07

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE BOOK REVIEW @ PROPERMAG.COM

If the roles were reversed and a load of Yorkshire folk found themselves emigrating to the Caribbean, it’s hard to imagine they’d have had as deep and long lasting musical impact as the sound systems have on these fair isles.

Though the beautiful bass driven melodies of reggae are now so embedded in British culture that it gets a (double) name check on one of our most popular condiments it wasn’t always that way. The Windrush generation and those that followed not only helped British industry get back on its feet after the war but also taught us how to get together and celebrate in proper style via the culture of the sound system The best record player you could get your hands on, the biggest bass shaking speakers, a clued up selector, a bottle or two of rum, a big bag of sensei and some like minded souls were all the ingredients needed to bring a bit of yard to Yorkshire. By the late 1970s and throughout the 80s the combined skills of various talented carpenters, electricians and musicians in Huddersfield had turned what started out purely as remedy for homesickness and to forget about xenophobic vibes into a must stop destination for world famous artists and reggae fans alike. Just like Al Fingers previous One Love Books (Clarks in Jamaica) Sound System Culture: Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems provides a well researched and enthralling history of a unique Anglo-Caribbean Culture alongside some brilliant photos and quotes from the key players. If you love reggae as much as me then I can’t recommend this book highly enough and if you don’t like reggae then you need to go to Huddersfield and sort you head out bredren.

http://www.propermag.com/site/sound-system-culture-one-love-books-2014-07

MUSICALLY MAD - UK SOUND SYSTEM DOCUMENTARY (2010)

REGGAE MUSIC - DESMOND FOSTER

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE BOOK REVIEW @ DIRTCHEAPMAG.COM
Sound System Culture is a book which documents Huddersfield’s rich history of reggae music, in particular the sound systems and Blues parties/Dancehalls of the 1970′s – 80′s. Featuring a selection of superb photography which gives a rare, insiders look at the people and indeed the beautifully hand-crafted equipment which powered the scene; this book is a real gem.
The book has been very well received, with reviews in national newspapers such as The Independent and in respected culture blogs such as It’s Nice That, and with good reason, the book has been produced with a real reverence and attention to detail, not surprising when Al Newman’s (designer/publisher) previous books include the revered ‘Clarks in Jamaica’.
Conceived by Mandeep Samra and written by Paul Huxtable (Axis Sound System, and Valv-a-tron hand-made valve amplifiers), with wonderfully intimate photography, the book is equally enjoyable to the uninformed and audio-geek alike.
http://dirtcheapmag.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/sound-system-culture/

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE BOOK REVIEW @ DIRTCHEAPMAG.COM

Sound System Culture is a book which documents Huddersfield’s rich history of reggae music, in particular the sound systems and Blues parties/Dancehalls of the 1970′s – 80′s. Featuring a selection of superb photography which gives a rare, insiders look at the people and indeed the beautifully hand-crafted equipment which powered the scene; this book is a real gem.

The book has been very well received, with reviews in national newspapers such as The Independent and in respected culture blogs such as It’s Nice That, and with good reason, the book has been produced with a real reverence and attention to detail, not surprising when Al Newman’s (designer/publisher) previous books include the revered ‘Clarks in Jamaica’.

Conceived by Mandeep Samra and written by Paul Huxtable (Axis Sound System, and Valv-a-tron hand-made valve amplifiers), with wonderfully intimate photography, the book is equally enjoyable to the uninformed and audio-geek alike.

http://dirtcheapmag.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/sound-system-culture/

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE BOOK REVIEW IN THE INDEPENDENT
Sound System Culture by Paul Huxtable, Al Fingers and Mandeep Samra
 It’s strange to think of Huddersfield – so evocative of Yorkshire that you could call it onomatopoeic – as an outpost of Caribbean culture. Yet this industrial town in West Riding was a destination for post-war West Indian migrants in the same way as the biggest British conurbations.And in reggae music circles, Huddersfield always punched above its weight. So it’s appropriate that it is the setting for this elegantly-produced study of the sound system, the elaborate and towering edifices through which Jamaicans have for decades chosen to play their music in public. While British parties of the Seventies and Eighties shuffled to the discreet mobile disco, the West Indian sound system crews operated on another scale entirely. Their constructions of piles of speaker boxes stretched from floor to ceiling.The ambition for thunderous noise is reflected in some of the names in the roll call of Huddersfield sounds: Armagideon, Assassin, Earth Rocker, Mr Tremble. But as Paul Huxtable makes clear, there’s more to this than maximising decibel levels. It is about the arrangement of the hand-crafted boxes, with their distinct audio frequencies of bass, middle and “tops”, into a formation that will produce the optimum sound.It’s a fiercely competitive world. “Who sounded the heaviest? Who sounded the sweetest?… Who had the best music? Who was the most innovative?” Huxtable observes.The culture permeated West Indian life in Britain for decades. “Most Caribbean families had a member who was a sound man, or knew a sound man,” we are told. “Sound system dances, be it in the dance halls or blues parties, were present in many minds all the time. During the week you would be looking forward to one, at the end of the week you would be preparing for one, at the weekend you would be at one, and you would start the working week with the memories to savour…”It brought back my own memories of all-night shebeens and “Blues” house parties, where a sound would string up in the darkness of the back room and splashes of rum in plastic cups were sold through the kitchen hatch. The king of the Blues party in Huddersfield was Bernard Clark. “When I [held a Blues] up Sheepridge, most of the time I have to make breakfast because they won’t leave. That’s how good it was.”Another of the heroes of this book is the German Jewish refugee Mat Mathias, an electronics wizard who settled in Huddersfield and supplied the local sound systems with his “Matamp” amplifiers.The town’s Venn Street nightclub (variously known as Cleopatra’s and Silver Sands) became a favourite for touring reggae stars such as Burning Spear and Gregory Isaacs. There’s something elegiac about this story. Sound system culture – although it has inspired modern adherents around the world – has been relentlessly undermined by changes in technology and noise abatement officers.Venn Street was bulldozed to build a car park but Huddersfield’s West Indian story applies to many manufacturing towns, such as Reading, Northampton and Bedford, places rarely included in descriptions of multicultural Britain. With so much British Caribbean history told through the prism of Notting Hill Carnival this is a valuable document.
Review by Ian Burrell
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/sound-system-culture-by-paul-huxtable-book-review-huddersfields-loud-and-proud-reggae-history-is-revealed-9626078.html

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE BOOK REVIEW IN THE INDEPENDENT

Sound System Culture by Paul Huxtable, Al Fingers and Mandeep Samra

It’s strange to think of Huddersfield – so evocative of Yorkshire that you could call it onomatopoeic – as an outpost of Caribbean culture. Yet this industrial town in West Riding was a destination for post-war West Indian migrants in the same way as the biggest British conurbations.

And in reggae music circles, Huddersfield always punched above its weight. So it’s appropriate that it is the setting for this elegantly-produced study of the sound system, the elaborate and towering edifices through which Jamaicans have for decades chosen to play their music in public. While British parties of the Seventies and Eighties shuffled to the discreet mobile disco, the West Indian sound system crews operated on another scale entirely. Their constructions of piles of speaker boxes stretched from floor to ceiling.

The ambition for thunderous noise is reflected in some of the names in the roll call of Huddersfield sounds: Armagideon, Assassin, Earth Rocker, Mr Tremble. But as Paul Huxtable makes clear, there’s more to this than maximising decibel levels. It is about the arrangement of the hand-crafted boxes, with their distinct audio frequencies of bass, middle and “tops”, into a formation that will produce the optimum sound.

It’s a fiercely competitive world. “Who sounded the heaviest? Who sounded the sweetest?… Who had the best music? Who was the most innovative?” Huxtable observes.

The culture permeated West Indian life in Britain for decades. “Most Caribbean families had a member who was a sound man, or knew a sound man,” we are told. “Sound system dances, be it in the dance halls or blues parties, were present in many minds all the time. During the week you would be looking forward to one, at the end of the week you would be preparing for one, at the weekend you would be at one, and you would start the working week with the memories to savour…”

It brought back my own memories of all-night shebeens and “Blues” house parties, where a sound would string up in the darkness of the back room and splashes of rum in plastic cups were sold through the kitchen hatch. The king of the Blues party in Huddersfield was Bernard Clark. “When I [held a Blues] up Sheepridge, most of the time I have to make breakfast because they won’t leave. That’s how good it was.”

Another of the heroes of this book is the German Jewish refugee Mat Mathias, an electronics wizard who settled in Huddersfield and supplied the local sound systems with his “Matamp” amplifiers.

The town’s Venn Street nightclub (variously known as Cleopatra’s and Silver Sands) became a favourite for touring reggae stars such as Burning Spear and Gregory Isaacs. There’s something elegiac about this story. Sound system culture – although it has inspired modern adherents around the world – has been relentlessly undermined by changes in technology and noise abatement officers.

Venn Street was bulldozed to build a car park but Huddersfield’s West Indian story applies to many manufacturing towns, such as Reading, Northampton and Bedford, places rarely included in descriptions of multicultural Britain. With so much British Caribbean history told through the prism of Notting Hill Carnival this is a valuable document.

Review by Ian Burrell

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/sound-system-culture-by-paul-huxtable-book-review-huddersfields-loud-and-proud-reggae-history-is-revealed-9626078.html

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE BOOK REVIEW @ QMAGAZINE.COM
New book Sound System Culture has just been published and was launched at Rough Trade East on Thursday 24 July 2014. Conceived by Mandeep Samra and written by Paul Axis of Axis Sound System, it looks at the unique and rich culture of Huddersfield’s Sound Systems. 
Sound System Culture is an arts and heritage project exploring the vibrant sound system culture of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, once home to over 30 reggae sound systems.
As part of the project, a book was produced, entitled Sound System Culture, Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems, that traces the origin of reggae sound systems in Jamaica to their establishment in the UK and beyond, with special focus on the Huddersfield scene. A documentary was also made, revisiting an era when Jamaican settlers ran dances at the historic Venn Street club, a venue which established Huddersfield as an essential destination for touring Jamaican musicians, helping put the town on the British reggae map.
In addition, the project includes a photographic exhibition and interactive sound installation consisting of a custom-built sound system, Heritage HiFi, a turntable and a stack of 10-inch dubplates featuring sound bites from the oral histories were recorded for the project.
http://www.qthemusic.com/4276/gallery-guest-column-the-reggae-sound-systems-of-huddersfield/

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE BOOK REVIEW @ QMAGAZINE.COM

New book Sound System Culture has just been published and was launched at Rough Trade East on Thursday 24 July 2014. Conceived by Mandeep Samra and written by Paul Axis of Axis Sound System, it looks at the unique and rich culture of Huddersfield’s Sound Systems.

Sound System Culture is an arts and heritage project exploring the vibrant sound system culture of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, once home to over 30 reggae sound systems.

As part of the project, a book was produced, entitled Sound System Culture, Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems, that traces the origin of reggae sound systems in Jamaica to their establishment in the UK and beyond, with special focus on the Huddersfield scene. A documentary was also made, revisiting an era when Jamaican settlers ran dances at the historic Venn Street club, a venue which established Huddersfield as an essential destination for touring Jamaican musicians, helping put the town on the British reggae map.

In addition, the project includes a photographic exhibition and interactive sound installation consisting of a custom-built sound system, Heritage HiFi, a turntable and a stack of 10-inch dubplates featuring sound bites from the oral histories were recorded for the project.

http://www.qthemusic.com/4276/gallery-guest-column-the-reggae-sound-systems-of-huddersfield/

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE ARTICLE IN ECHOES MUSIC MAGAZINE BY JOHN MASOURI (JULY 2014 ISSUE)