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From Bow E3 to MBE, grime’s ascendancy has been seismic and ferocious. Sam Willis explores the story behind the UK’s 21st-century punks…

Every punk fan will remember the January 1977 issue of Sideburns in which the fanzine taught its readers three chords – A, E and G – and told them: “Now form a band”. That DIY self-governance resulted in one of the most influential forms of music ever created on either side of the Atlantic. Fast-forward to East London at the turn of the millennium and an unlikely descendant of punk was being forged – in a melting pot of poverty, disaffection and a similarly belligerent selfdetermination – and heralded by many as the most original frontier of UK urban music for decades: grime.

2017 was the peak of what many called a renaissance in the genre and, after a significant dip in quality and consumption at the tail-end of the 2000s and into the early 2010s, the numbers certainly seem to prove that it has arrived once again, with a vengeance. Last year saw grime streams reaching an all-time high of one billion a week and a 109% increase in physical album sales, according to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Although many of these second-generation releases were predominantly CD and download only, they are now also widely available on wax, reflecting the format’s renewed authority.


In the same year, we also witnessed the first ‘pure grime’ UK No. 1 in Stormzy’s Gang Signs & Prayer, and a Drake album – More Life – celebrating grime through featured artists, foregrounding its sonic footprint and the typically West Indian dialectal reference points that have become synonymous with grime and the wider culture.

So, how did we get from Bow tower blocks to Wiley receiving an MBE, and an album that generated 89.9 million Apple Music streams on its first day of release and went on to breach the Top 10 album charts in five countries? Culturally and socially, the story starts with the arrival of the Windrush Generation in 1948 – but sonically, the genre is undoubtedly rooted in UK garage.

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About Long Live Vinyl

The Godfather, Super Fly, Blade Runner, Purple Rain, Clockwork Orange, The Graduate, The Wicker Man, Pulp Fiction, Help!… In issue 17 of Long Live Vinyl we salute soundtracks, round up 50 of the greatest film classics ever committed to vinyl and talk to the good people at Invada Records, who brought us the Stranger Things and Drive soundtracks. Elsewhere this issue, in our packed interviews section we speak to Creation Records founder Alan McGee about the albums that shaped his incredible career in vinyl, working with an astonishing array of bands that included Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream, Oasis and The Libertines. Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reflects on travelling the world to write the band's best new album in years, Islands, and Gruff Rhys tells us about his own new record Babelsberg. The ever-outspoken John Lydon completes our artist line-up, telling us why he's happier in Public Image Ltd than he ever was in the Sex Pistols. You'll also want to dig into our feature on Grime, arguably the most exciting and fresh musical movement to emerge from British shores since Lydon's punks shook up the 70s. The Trip pays a long-overdue visit to the record shops of Birmingham, while we wish Kate Bush a happy 60th birthday as our Classic Album series turns the spotlight on her 1985 masterpiece, Hounds Of Love. The Who fans, meanwhile, are in for a treat as our Essential feature rounds up the 40 records by Townshend, Daltrey, Moon and Entwistle that every collector should own. We meet the people behind Hypergallery, visit Newport's Diverse Vinyl and, if all that's not enough, you'll find the widest range of new release, reissue, turntable and accessory reviews anywhere on the newsstand, plus essential hi-fi buying advice. Long Live Vinyl is THE magazine for vinyl lovers! Enjoy the issue.