‘Sound Business’ TV Documentary (1981) – Sir Coxsone & Lion Charge Sound Systems

Proper rough rip this, coming from a battered VHS to begin with we have to assume, but timeless and important viewing none the less. Originally aired in 1981, Sound Business is a UK documentary focusing on Sir Coxsone and Lion Charge sound systems – a mixture of talking heads giving history, digging deeper in to doing what they do and giving us insight in to sound system culture living.

Led by Lloyd Coxsone, the Coxsone Sound System were eighteen years established in the UK at the time of shooting. Talking about it being a team and family thing, as well as their individual roles and the constant need to stay on top, drives home that sound system operation is a lifestyle choice, not a hobby. Over thirty years on and Sir Coxsone is still in the game, now with Sir Coxsone the Outernational system.

From their same block in Wandsworth we meet Lion Charge (notably the name of the new whites label that released some killer edits from Ipman & Killawatt) who are a younger system starting out, but each still with their own roles and still sprouting a less weightier dedication chat to their sound system. To be honest, not sure where these guys ended up, but the dedication at the time was more than believable.

It’s not just the the live footage of the deejay and engineer that contributes to the vibes on this; watching the sound men hunting down a tape, then creating the version from the tape to cut the dub plate from as well as building speaker boxes then loading and unloading stacks in to a truck are the most interesting parts of the tv documentary.

Narrated by the one Mikey Dread, this is critical viewing. Genuinely surprising was how in-depth the directors went and the ease and accessibility of the what they offer up. When you think about it though, when it comes to dubplate culture those that know already know, and everyone else doesn’t really care. Still, it’s nice to see them talked about and documented openly in an engaging way.

With an interesting mixture of Brit and Jamaican accents to varying degrees, you’re definitely seeing UK sound systems and even South-West London through different eyes by the time the credits roll. It even features younger David Rodigan talking about the difference in recording reggae to a white pop groups, something the fans of Ram Jam will enjoy checking.

Sound Business captures the sound system tradition and way of life. It’s a culture that’s as much about it’s history as being able to win a dance on the night. Interesting that it was released the year after Babylon – unsure whether it was a documentary reaction to the scripted movie or if due to the later release it was overshadowed by the classic Franco Rosso film.

The full 45 minute documentary is available to watch below, big ups all involved in