Alf already DJ’d Brazil and CarWash nights at Man Alive and Dale DJ’d CarWash and Pure nights at the club.
Winston (Mr Lowe) was a friend of Roy, the club owner, who had previously worked at the Wigan Casino (I was told) and often played records in the Man Alive. Roy was worried about rap and hip-hop attracting trouble to the club; he wanted Winston to counteract this by playing hi-life and carnival music, which added a bizarre twist to the playlist! Left to their own devices, Alf & Dale favoured hip-hop, rap and Jamaican dancehall with acid-jazz and rare groove thrown in. These are some of my favourite FunkyMutha tracks but there were many others:
Mica Paris – I Should’ve Known Better (K-Gee’s Smooth Mix) (1990)
Carlton – Cool With Nature (1990)
Martine Girault – Revival (1992)
Shinehead – Try My Love (1992)
Warren G – Regulate (1994)
FunkyMutha also broadcast on Frontline Pirate Radio, based in Whalley Range. Frontline was originally a reggae station but the organisers branched out into soul music with a sister station called FLR Soul.
Like many DJs, Alf & Dale spent most of their takings each week buying new records; they aimed to be up-to-date with American imports and any new music out of London. Before YouTube, club DJs were an important source of new music for the rest of us.
Unfortunately the rap and hip-hop did attract bad boys and there was occasionally trouble. I remember one night when there was some kind of clash between two men in the middle of the dancefloor – the music stopped and the doorstaff intervened. Alf put a Spearhead track on to diffuse the tense atmosphere (Spearhead were a rap band who opposed violent rap culture) but the track he chose began with a shriek and for a horrible moment we all thought someone had been stabbed…
Spearhead – People In The Middle (1994)
Roy, the club owner, preferred the CarWash nights because the bad boys never came down to that one.
FunkyMutha stopped when Roy sold up and moved to Jamaica in 1996. The FunkyMutha DJs switched to the Revolution Bar on Oxford Road, which opened that year. Their move reflected a general trend towards DJs in bars and away from independent club nights; controversies involving doorstaff, intimidation and drug-dealing had made running independent club-nights a major headache. And later bar licenses, granted during Euro ’96 and then extended, made bars a more attractive alternative.
Goodbye dancefloor… hello shuffling around between tables and chairs. Atleast they had a good shiny wooden floor in Revolution. I can’t bear dancing on carpet.