The line-up at Parklife is diverse; it crosses genres and over four decades of music history. Older artists aren’t in the mix solely for nostalgia, they represent the music that is part of our music culture here today in 2017. We mentioned in the preview that we’re coming up to a decade of Parklife/Mad Ferret (one year shy) and how festival culture here in the UK has evolved from raves, warehouse parties and soundsystems and merged to form the current festival culture, particularly in the UK. We also looked at that maiden line-up from 2008. This year the musical mezze of acts spans electronic music, hip hop, R&B, drum and bass, UK garage, dub and reggae and the artists that represent those evergreen steelos (yea I’m hip) have histories of recording or performing music stretching back as far as 1978. So this is where it gets a bit Rick and Morty, or more accurately, Doc Brown and Marty McFly: imagine if you could jump in a 1983 DeLorean and go back in time to start your own festival, using only acts from this year’s Parklife line-up, Parklife prequels if you like? Well guess what? You don’t have to because we’re gonna do it for you, each week, until Parklife, starting with Parklife ’87. (Tell me any one of these would not be #LitAF!)
Chaka Khan – Congo Natty – David Rodigan – Norman Jay – Pete Tong
The headline on the main stage would undoubtedly be Chaka Khan. Already a Grammy Award winning artist with ‘70s groups Rufus, over a decade after ‘You Got the Love’, Chaka was an established solo artist and cameo in a major Hollywood motion picture by 1987. That’s not to mention having a list of collaborations from Stevie Wonder to Quincy Jones and being the first R&B singer to make a crossover hit featuring a rapper under her belt. A 1987 version of me (there was actually a one year old version of me in 1987 but we’ll ‘llow that) would be gassed at the prospect of catching the by then five-time Grammy Award winner at Heaton Park.
Away from the main stage, up the hill and down the other side, what would start as a low rumble would open out to another, altogether different stage. A stage with speakers stacked almost as high as the summer sky, spilling sub-low frequencies and the echoing toasts from the deejays. Before the digital age, in the golden era of soundclash culture, the man dem got their kicks, and their bass, by way of dub. From Brixton to Bristol, Chapletown to Moss Side, kids from the inner city to the suburbs were bunning absolute dog shit weed and drinking cheap lager at parties, clashes and radio shows brought to them by man like Congo Natty, Norman Jay MBE and David Rodigan MBE. And yep, we still are. By 1987 Rodigan had grown from selling roots records in Putney to shows on the likes of Capital FM, keeping the nation warm n easy. Born in Notting Hill, Norman Jay had built up a credible international reputation starting in the late ‘70s at block parties in New York at a time when the city was beginning to churn out the music we live by today. When disco was red hot, when hip hop and house were being born and the Big Apple’s large West Indian communities were getting down to new, exciting waves of sounds of the islands. Associated with the emerging careers of Trevor Nelson, Giles Peterson, Jazzie B from Soul II Soul, Judge Jules and Danny Rampling, by the time of the (hypothetical but jeez you should have got this by now) Parklife 87 came around he was Mr rare groove himself and synonymous with the London incarnation of the then-pirate KISS FM.
But this was the ‘80s. Technology had provided musicians with new tools to their armoury, new, electronic tools, and so we go, over to the house tent. This was just slightly before acid really took off, a year (or two) before the second summer(s) of love, and four years before the Essential Selection first aired on Radio 1, but nevertheless, Pete Tong was a well-established ‘dance’ DJ and radio presenter, particularly in the capital.
I’d go to that festival today, never mind back then. Also, there’s another name worth a mention. They hadn’t released their debut album yet, or even had someone listen to their demo, but A Tribe Called Quest might have had a cheeky feature on an up-and-coming slot, having been formed in 1985, but their time will come when we visit Parklife 97 next week.
Anyway, back to reality…
Parklife 17 updates: New act announced!!
I was surprised when they weren’t included in the initial line-up but the announcement coming just as tickets were pretty much sold out seems more like a thank you than a stub-shifter, okay I’m stalling, I’ll get on with it… The latest announcement is… a bashy, energetic, anthemic collaboration between Brooklyn rapper El-P and ATL’s Killer Mike. Yep it’s Run the Jewels. Hyped.