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Voice35Years: Voice helps youth hit the big time

TOP OF THE POPS: Musical Youth were enjoying their fame

WHEN THE sixth edition of 'The Voice' newspaper reached the newsstands on October 9, 1982 it was heralding the news that the five young boys from Birmingham, which made-up the group Musical Youth, had taken the coveted number one in the UK pop charts with their hit single Pass the Dutchie.

The headline read:

"Pass the Dutchie reaches No 1 – just like The Voice, accompanied with a large image of the group members, Kelvin, Michael, Patrick, Junior and Dennis. The Voice took some of the credit for helping the song to hit the top of the charts after it had featured a cartoon of the group’s adventure on the Young Voices page in its earlier editions.

The response from the readers persuaded the radio stations to give full air play to the song. The Voice editor at the time, Flip Fraser, who had interviewed the group and whose story appeared in the same edition, was confident they could handle their new found fame. Fraser’s in-depth interview with the group, which appeared on page 22, highlighted the fact that the boys’ rise to stardom was no mistake.

He wrote:

“It is the result of two years’ hard work and planning by the management and family of the five youngsters, whose version of the Mighty Diamonds’ Pass the Dutchie has sold over half a million copies to earn the group a gold disc for the fastest selling single of 1982.”

The other story promoted on the front cover was a hard-hitting expose on the high unemployment figures which had reached 3,404,000 under the Conservative government led by Margaret Thatcher, with the black community among those suffering the most.

TROUBLE: Thatcher’s Tories faced some tough questions

The incisive feature by Deborah Bain spread over pages 14 and 15 carried the headline:
"Unemployment – The waste of a generation" with a strap line saying which said, "Unemployment has become the bane of Britain, the unacceptable face of Conservative rule."

The article noted that the proposed closure of a coal mine or steelworks had the nation in uproar, but it also asked the questions, 'What about Brixton’s already vast and fast increasing number of black unemployed? What is being done for them? Unemployment in Lambeth among young blacks has risen by 79 per cent over the year and figures show that black people make up 17 per cent of the borough’s jobless total of 22,377'.

The feature concluded, “that in Britain, being without a job has become a part of life and the number of black people facing this hardship is disproportionate to the number of black people living in the country. There is no immediate solution; the only thing to do is make the most of what is available.”

The lead story on page 2 carried the headline:

"Hair care kits danger – can cause blindness" and revealed that a number of hair-straightening or relaxing kits being sold in shops had been found not to comply with safety regulations.

The story said the principal problem was that where the kits contained sodium hydroxide as an essential ingredient, the carton did not carry the warning ‘Avoid contact with eyes. Can cause blindness’. The kits were generally the types imported from America.

Also on the page was a story that Hackney Council for Racial Equality has strongly urged Race Relations Minister Sir George Young to include a community group representative in his department. The CRE letter said:

“If one of the major concerns of your department is for race relations, then you ought to have a person in your department from the black groups who can reflect and advise you on the feelings, anxieties and needs of people in the black community.”

The lead story on page 3 carried the headline: "Tory advisor member NF?" which said that it was alleged in a national paper that one of Mrs Thatcher’s advisors in Downing Street Policy Unit was once a National Front member in the 1970s. The Voice tried to get a comment from the advisor, who denied the allegations.

Another story on the page reported that the Liberal MP for Croydon North West, Bill Pitt, had called for the disbandment of the Met Police Special Patrol Group, which had a hand in the Brixton Riots the previous year. The Liberal MP was quoted as saying:

“The police service nationally and more especially in London and other cities is losing the confidence of the public.”

Over in The Buzz section, which listed the music charts, Musical Youth were on top of the reggae singles with their aforementioned hit single, while Gregory Isaacs topped the album charts with Night Nurse. In the soul charts, Shalamar led the singles with There It Is while Imagination still held the number spot among the albums with In The Heat Of The Night.

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