Remember that amazing book about people in Jamaica wearing Clarks shoes? Well the makers of that spectacular publication are back with another subculture study, this time looking at the sound systems created in Huddersfield by the migrant Jamaicans who had recently arrived after World War Two. “The market town of Huddersfield, nestled within the Pennine Hills of West Yorkshire, has made a remarkable contribution to UK sound system culture,” the press release states. “From Armagideon to Zion InnaVision, the Arawak club to Venn Street, Matamp to Valv-a-tron, this unlikely location has been a stronghold of the British scene, yet has remained largely overlooked.”
Intriguing, no? We caught up with Al Newman who designed and edited the book to find out a little more about this recently unearthed, rich history. “My involvement started when Mandeep Samra, a historian and sound system enthusiast based in Huddersfield, approached me to design a book she was producing as part of a heritage project documenting the history of Huddersfield’s sound systems, from the initial migration of Jamaicans to the UK after World War Two to the pioneers who established the town as the reggae sound system capital of northern England in the 1970s and 80s,” Al tells us. “I loved the subject and ended up getting much more involved, ultimately publishing the book under my imprint, One Love Books.”
Any sound or tech nerds out there are going to have a field day with this book. As well as being chock-full of old photographs of questionable but fabulous 1970s style that I melt over, it goes into admirable detail about the ins-and-outs of the technology behind the sound systems. “The main text was written by local sound man Paul Huxtable, who operates Axis sound system out of Huddersfield, and hand-makes valve amplifiers under the name Valv-a-tron. Huxtable custom-built a sound system for the project, named Heritage HiFi and consisting entirely of locally manufactured equipment: Vintage Fane 18” bass speakers, 15” mids, compression driver and bullet tweeters, as well as vintage Matamp amplifiers and mixer, all made in west Yorkshire.”
Whatever you’re into, be it design, music, heritage or subculture, this informative and well-designed book is a truly joyous study of days gone by and a slice of history that is at once inspiring and truly, truly weird.