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Rockin' Black Country Beats The Wolverhampton Art Gallery crate diggin' show, Black Country Beats

Rockin' Black Country Beats

The Wolverhampton Art Gallery crate diggin' show, Black Country Beats

by LamontPaul, Founder & Publisher
first published: June, 2022

approximate reading time: minutes

The list of influential bands and musicians that made it out of the area over the decades is impressive

Black Country Beats
Wolverhampton Art Gallery
7 May 2022 - 4 September 2022

logoI always love just meandering around the Wolverhampton Art Gallery. I love the neo classical, almost baroque exterior, dominating the city center space; and the interior, such a calm bubble. The gallery constantly features the most idiosyncratic and illuminating work. Recently, British Art Show 9 was unmissable, packed as it was with art stars and amazing pieces, and a cabinet of ceramic cats, anyone? I very much think so. And if the cats aren’t part of the traveling show… Should be.


The recently opened, Black Country Beats casts its eyes and ears back across 50 years or so of the rich history of hit record makers from this part of the midlands. As part of the cultural push supporting this summer's Commonwealth Games, the show spotlights the iconic artists whose styles were influenced by the unique heritage of the region and by the social and political change that happened in the black country during their formative years.

Much of the Black Country music scene emerged alongside the early teenagers, and was informed by the post-war Black Caribbean diaspora. Slade are where I come in as a little kid. Their string of hit singles, going straight into the charts at number one, the clothes, the racket. The raw power of Noddy Holder’s voice, only slightly less mesmerising for a child than his mirrored top hat, or Dave Hill’s ‘SuperYob’ guitar and silver platform boots. Dave Hill. Fringe.

Slade had been a prototypical cult skinhead band, raw barely defines the brilliance of their Get Down and Get With It. Had they been American that'd probably be remembered alongside Kick Out The Jams. Slade smoothly segued into pop superstars, while etching the next chapter of the generation gap - readily embraced by Britain’s bored youth - with their outrageous and sometimes androgynous glam rock styles and music and spelling no parents could countenance. Of the many great things I remember about my dad, him calling Slade “puppets” when they played their hit, Mama Weer All Crazee Now clad in sparkles on Top of the Pops, echoes down the years, so when my daughter and I watch Harry Styles and I try my best to be my best retro dad. “The only thing I like about the glitter pantsuit is the tailored pocket for his headphone monitor radio transmitter.”

That was neat, that pocket, and held the transmitter perfectly even during his most peculiar yampi dancing. You should know Harry is from Redditch. 

Black Country Beats also features material from the Elvis of heavy metal, Robert Plant, who is still known to drop into area pubs to jam with his friends. This is such beautiful thing, people having their pints interrupted in the Billy Wright by the most famous rock singer still alive and probably telling him to keep it down.

Irrepressible DJ, film star and former Bjork boyfriend and former Naomi Campbell fella too, Goldie is featured - the Walsall born member of the Wolverhampton B Boys breakdancing crew and critically acclaimed graffiti artist, has created some of the greatest and most adventurous music to emanate from the region. Breathtakingly brilliant and amazing RnB legend Beverley Knight features too.


The list of influential bands and musicians that made it out of the area over the decades is impressive, Weapon of Peace, Capital Letters and solo artists like Macka B and Sister Aisha are represented. 90s Ned’s - Atomic Dustbin, The Wonder Stuff, Pop Will Eat Itself, the Mighty Lemon Drops and chart-topping bands Babylon Zoo and Cornershop have shoehorned their ephemera in here too. 

Black Country Beats wends it way to a close by highlighting the rise of bhangra music in Wolverhampton with the bands such as the Sahotas.

There's something some say, sadly, about great art coming out of adversity and if that is so, just maybe, in these straightened times, the musical future of the Black Country will be at least as bright as this past. Who knows, maybe.

Essential Info
Black Country Beats
Wolverhampton Art Gallery
7 May 2022 - 4 September 2022
Wolverhampton Art Gallery Website

Thanks to Laura from the Wolverhampton Art Gallery for so much information and the images too. Except the cat cabinet, that is all mine.

Founder & Publisher

Publisher, Lamontpaul founded outsideleft with Alarcon in 2004 and is hanging on, saying, "I don't know how to stop this, exactly."

Lamontpaul portrait by John Kilduff painted during an episode of John's TV Show, Let's Paint TV

about LamontPaul »»



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