Luke Owen of Death Is Not The End has just today released a new volume in his compilation series collecting pirate radio ads from the '90s. Here's my blurb for Pause for the Cause: London Rave Adverts 1991-1996 Vol. 1.
"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 old skool 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 raving 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."
Here hear - and buy - Pause for the Cause, which is available digitally and as a limited-edition cassette.
Death Is Not The End has a regular NTS Radio show and this Sunday Luke will be playing a batch of radio ads not on the new compilation (including a few more of mine). It broadcasts at 8pm GMT on Sunday 10 July, then will be available on the archive via this link sometime early next week.
And here's a longer interview I did with Luke about his label and the interest in pirate radio transmissions.
Since then Death Is Not The End has out a collection of a different era of pirate radio - Brooklyn Pirates: Neighbourhoods in the Sky, 2014-2021 - compiled by David Goren, an audio archivist based in Brooklyn.