Friday, September 16, 2011

Pirate radio rave tapes: 'You can't Google this stuff'

Happy hardcore, jungle, garage – as 90s pirate radio cranked it out, Mike Finch soaked it up on thousands of cassette tapes. Dan Hancox marvels at a treasure trove that's truly massive:

"It was the sound of London when I was doing my GCSEs," says 31-year-old Mike Finch. "I remember in 1994 and '95 you would walk down Oxford Street and the stalls there would all have jungle playing; that Congo Natty ragga sound. It was there in the air anyway, and all you needed was a little radio to tune in." In many ways, Finch is not unusual – a rave everyman who had his life changed for ever by the music of the pirate radio stations. What makes him different is that the legacy he carries with him is also a tangible one: Finch has what must be Britain's largest archive of 90s pirate radio tapes. It's a combination of thousands of home-recorded C90 cassettes, and hundreds of "tape packs", the semi-official collections of recordings of major jungle, drum'n'bass, happy hardcore, garage and grime raves. It's music that scarcely exists in any industry-recognised recorded form.

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