Boomkat Product Review:
DJ Old Rat is the alias of Steve Barker, legendary broadcaster of the On The Wire radio show - and inestimable digger of reggae, dub and far beyond - here furnishing Ossia’s RWDFWD a deadly 90 minutes of deep and psychoactive pickings.
*Spinback & FX* Let’s take it from the top, and 1984, when Steve Barker first transmitted his On The Wire show via BBC Lancashire in the sodden post-industrial landscapes of North West England. While it wasn’t his first broadcast - that was on Radio Blackburn in 1978! - his maiden On The Wire show was the start of the longest running alternative music show on UK radio, with a regular 3 hour slot that would notably give first plays of forward Black music from Derrick May and Kevin Sanderson alongside the first radio turns of ‘Pacific State’ by their spiritual descendants/parallels 808 State.
Hopping between deepest, upfront Black music and its echoes in punky British bands and beyond became a hallmark of Barker’s shows as much as the clubs down the road in Manchester, reflecting styles emerging from the likes of The Reno and The Nile in Moss Side that were fostering the first strains of music made by artists with dual heritage, often Afro-Caribbean and Irish, that were also found in the working class communities of London and Bristol.
DJ Old Rat’s ‘RWDFWDMIX011’ is a killer selection rooted in that formative early ‘80s era and resounding for the ages. It features many artists previously highlighted over the years on Barker’s radio show (John John, Jazzbo, Shabba, Pablo, Jnr Reid, Mighty Two, Phil Pratt, the Observer, Sylvan Morris, Phillip Fulwood, Tubby, Far I, Winston Riley and the mighty "Cough & Spit Out" versioning the Meters), and likely covered in his writings for The Wire magazine, highlighting dusty cuts from his heaving shelves in a spellbinding sequence of tunes played start-to-finish, just how they used to make and play them before DJ egos had to be seen in operation (not behind the scenes like this G).