Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Talking 'Bout a Revolution

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Talking 'Bout a Revolution

Article excerpt

DJ Norman Jay reveals how he was once booed for breaking a carnival taboo IT was 1979 and Notting Hill Carnival felt different. I was 21 and watched enviously as the great sound systems filled the thronging streets with the refrains of sweet reggae music from Jamaica. As I wandered around that August bank holiday, listening to the traditional steel bands and watching the costume parades, I thought: "If only the sound systems would play some real funk or soul, something a bit, well, different to lighten the mood. Maybe then the atmosphere would really go off."

I left feeling frustrated at the lack of "my sort" of music. No one played any James Brown-style funk or the rousing R&B of Aretha Franklin, nor any of the popular Philadelphia disco hits of the day.

Raised in and around Notting Hill, my younger brother Joey and I had set up Good Times sound system just a few months earlier. Encompassing a broad range of sounds from roots, reggae and dub to jazz, funk and soul.

I had the conviction that Good Times would one day be playing at carnival and spent the following year working out exactly how.

Our salvaged equipment was held together with sticky tape, but I managed to convince Joey that going to carnival could be the making of us. Our ambition, however, was tempered by our fear of losing all our gear and prized dub records to territorial sound men, who dished out violent retribution to any newcomers who strayed onto their turf.

It was imperative that we arrived early enough at next year's carnival to stake our claim. Our young crew of six nervous Good Timers arrived at 7am in my dad's Ford Cortina, the boot packed with drinks, speakers and records.

We set up in an old halfway house owned by the Notting Hill Housing Trust at Cambridge Gardens, Ladbroke Grove, and paid five quid as down payment for the day's electricity plus several large cans of Watney's Party 7 beer. …

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