Home Read Now Hear This: Pause for the Cause | London Rave Adverts 1991​-​1996,...

Now Hear This: Pause for the Cause | London Rave Adverts 1991​-​1996, Vol. 1 + 2

I've never been to a London rave. But these exhaustive compilations of entertaining, freewheeling pirate-radio adverts from the early ’90s is surely the next best thing.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Back in the early ‘90s, whenever the pirate radio MC announced “a pause for the cause”, I usually pressed pause on my cassette recorder. That’s something I would regret years later, when ad breaks had become cherished mementos of the hardcore rave era.

“Luckily, back in the day I often left the tape running while I went off to do something else. So a fair number of ad breaks got captured accidentally for my later delectation. Not nearly enough, though. So in recent years I started combing through the immense number of pirate radio sets archived on the internet. Sometimes the tracklists would note “ad break” or “ads”, helping to narrow the search. But often I’d just stumble on a bunch in the middle of a pirate show preserved on YouTube or an oldskool blog.

“A few of my original unintended “saves” and latterday “finds” are included in this wonderful collection by audio archaeologist Luke Owen. It’s the latest in his series of compilations of UK pirate radio advertisements, with this volume focusing on the audio equivalent of the rave flyer: MCs breathlessly hyping a club night or upcoming rave, listing the lineup of deejays and MCs, boasting about hi-tech attractions like lasers and projections, mentioning prices and nearest landmarks to the venue, and occasionally promising “clean toilets” and “tight but polite security” (“sensible security” is another variation).

“Some of these ads are etched into my brain as lividly as the classic hardcore and jungle tunes of that time. (Most rave ads incorporate snippets of current music, of course — big anthems and obscure “mystery tracks” alike). Names of deejays ring out like mythological figures: who were Shaggy & Breeze, Kieran the Herbalist, Tinrib, Food Junkie?

“Putting on my serious hat for a moment, I think these ads are valuable deposits of sociocultural data, capturing the hustling energy of an underground micro-economy in which promoters, deejays and MCs competed for a larger slice of the dancing audience. But mostly, they are hard hits of pure nostalgic pleasure, amusing and thrilling through their blend of period charm, endearing amateurism, and contagiously manic excitement about rave music’s forward-surge into an unknown future. The best of these ads give me a memory-rush to rival the top tunes and MC routines of the era.”

— Simon Reynolds, author of Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture.