Irie Promotes

Scientist Sound System:

From Birmingham UK and with over thirty years experience Scientist Sound System continues to be a leading Sound System on the International Reggae Circuit.

Recently back from their tour of Poland the scientists are currently preparing for Irie Music's 21st Birthday Party.

Since 1979, the year of the birth of Scientist Soundsystem in Sparkbrook, Robbo Dread has continued to follow the progression of modern dance music to today’s conclusion - where commercial pop music has replicated the essence of the soundsystem by way of its presence in contemporary dance rhythms as heard on Radio 1, the BBC MOBO awards, MTV-style television programming, and in the Supermarket and... Public Houses.

Today in South Birmingham the Scientist Soundsystem is being rebuilt and new programmes of activity are being devised. Roy P is designing and building the cabinets and Nicky designing the electronics and building the pre-amplification to drive the speakers of their turntable-based sound system. They and Robbo are preparing for their 25th anniversary year in the business, and creating new events, in new markets as they proceed. The art of playing a soundsystem will once again be able to be witnessed by new younger generations of audience.
The first Scientist Soundsystem was built for Robbos regular school disco. Roy P and Nicky, his brothers, helped create an embryo sound system that was foreČrunner to that first 8-bin set up that outperformed the systems of the day in Birmingham and other UK cities. Scientist Sound ‘killed’ them all. “A BAD little sound”2 Robbo recalls.

The core members were then Roy P Nicky D-Man, Flux, Beaver Militant, Big John (2004 Juggler, Galaxy FM Host), Bond, Little Sess, Cooperman, African Yardie (Galaxy), Kojak lrie, and Scoobie Banton.

“Being a child of the 60s’ I can remember on a Sunday afternoon, when my father used to open the front room play his early Blue Beat, imported, 7” singles on his Blaupunkt Radiogram, and do his rude-boy, sharp-like-a-razor, player dance.”2

“In 1977 I got a chance to actually witness first-hand many soundsystems from across Birmingham by attending Monday night Youth Club sessions at Claremount Road, open to all ages. “2 Those from Birmingham alone included Hital Hi Fl, King Iwa, Bismark, Count Niya, Tremor, Niya Esquire, Jah Massigan, Orthodox, Quaker City, Duke Wally and particularly Zion Sound and Mafia Tone with whom he served my self-structured apprenticeship.

• Mafia Tone was owned by the late, great Stafford, a lesser-known Jamaican music producer based in Handsworth. His labels Now Generation, Art & Craft, stand testament to the mans’ extensive released and unreleased catalogue. ‘This man especially was responsible for demonstrating to me the ‘inside’, the mechanics of the reggae music business.”2
• Zion Sound owned by Alfred Paddyfoot, known to friends as Paddy, was at the time, owner of one of England’s most influential emporium of reggae records and merchandise - Zion Records on Villa Road, Handsworth. ‘Zion’ was a carpenter by trade, honourable by nature, and always paid promptly, next day, which was an exception during hard times, and low budget productions. Zion dealt with obscure, rare, pressings on 7” and 12”, of Jamaican reggae music, and remained based in Handsworth, until his shop was robbed in the 80s. • Quaker City, operated by a man known to me as Carl, was the rival ‘system to Mafia and Zion. He also owned a record shop and label on Lozells Road called Orbit Records. I have observed in Digbeth Civic Front Hall (now the much maligned Sanctuary Nightclub) Quaker played bass-lines that would pull so much power from the electricity supply that the house lights would blink and dim, starved by the valve amplification he used. He would drive 20, six-foot tall, varnished, wardrobe-sized, speaker cabinets, each loaded with 4, 18-inch speakers. Carl promoted some of the biggest and best-attended concert performances by reggae artists visiting Birmingham and without doubt these became inspirational moments for music lovers, which in turn helped shape our current dance music landscape.

“Soundsystems have played a major influence in the way I have analysed reggae music, from standing outside Claremount Road Community Centre, Sparkbrook and hearing the vibration of the bass, coming from the Duke Alloy and Studio City’s sets. Not being able to afford the gate fee, but more importantly not being old enough to enter. I imagined being in the dance and waited patiently outside until curfew.”2

Lloyd Blake, a noted reggae music impresario, was to empower me outside of the schoolhouse of soundsystems in Birmingham at Winson Green Community Centre, 212 Winson Green Road, Winson Green. He was handing out leaflets for his next promotion – I looked across at him and asked if I could hand out some posters for him. It was a key moment when he said “yes” and I got a job distributing the posters, and so free entrance to his shows for me - and both of my brothers.