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... your heart out

skimming stones ...


“WE ARE IN A SOCIETY WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS EVERYTHING AND IT LOOKS LIKE IT IS A SHAME TO SAY

I DON’T KNOW.” - ARSENE WENGER, DECEMBER 2010

I LIKE THE STATE OF ‘NOT KNOWING’. IT CAN BE A SPRINGBOARD TO DISCOVERY, WHICH HELPS PIECES OF INFORMATION FIT TOGETHER IN ENLIGHTENING WAYS. IT CAN ALSO BE A SOURCE OF WORRY, WITH PIECES OF A JIGSAW TURNING UP UNEXPECTEDLY TO BEFUDDLE AND BEMUSE. THIS IS, THEREFORE, AN EXERCISE IN “JUST TAKE FOR INSTANCE …” AMONG THE TREASURES IN THE MAD PROFESSOR’S ARIWA ARCHIVES IS A SERIES OF ROOTS DAUGHTERS COMPILATIONS, HIGHLIGHTING SOME OF THE LABEL’S MORE ‘CONSCIOUS’ RECORDINGS FROM ITS FEMALE ARTISTS. VOLUME 4 IN THIS ESSENTIAL SERIES FEATURES A COUPLE OF GREAT TRACKS FROM THE LONDON COLLECTIVE ABAKUSH. ONE DAY WHILE LISTENING TO THEIR TRACKS I WAS STRUCK HOW I WAS VAGUELY AWARE OF THE NAME ABAKUSH (OR ABACUSH OR EVEN ABBAKUSH) BUT REALLY DIDN’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE GROUP. I ALSO HAVE TO CONFESS I GOT THEM ON OCCASIONS SOMEWHAT MUDDLED UP WITH ANOTHER PIONEERING LONDON FEMALE REGGAE GROUP AKABU, THINKING THERE WAS SOME CONNECTION. THIS AMOUNT OF ‘NOT KNOWING’ BOTHERED ME, AND SET ME ON A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY. IT DOESN’T REALLY EXCUSE MY CONFUSION, BUT THERE IS A DIRECT LINK BETWEEN AKABU AND ABAKUSH IN THAT THEY HAVE FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS BEEN PART OF A REGGAE NETWORK, KNOWN AS SISTA, THAT FIRST CAME TOGETHER AT THE END OF THE ‘90S AND UNITED SOUTH WEST LONDON’S ABAKUSH WITH NORTH WEST LONDON’S AKABU, ALONG WITH A NUMBER OF KINDRED SPIRITS, FOR A SERIES OF CONCERTS AND RECORDINGS SHOWCASING AND CELEBRATING WOMEN IN REGGAE, VIA MUSIC AND THE SPOKEN WORD. START YOUR SEARCHING IN A DIFFERENT DIRECTION

AND YOU WILL FIND OTHER CONNECTIONS BETWEEN THE

ABAKUSH AND AKABU CAMPS. BOTH OUTFITS APPEARED ON A PEOPLE UNITE ‘IN PROGRESS’ COMPILATION, WHICH I WOULD DEARLY LOVE TO FIND A COPY OF. STUMBLING ACROSS DETAILS OF THIS COLLECTION, AND INDEED SEEING A TEASING GLIMPSE OF THE RECORD ITSELF ON YOUTUBE, BROUGHT IT HOME TO ME HOW LITTLE I REALLY KNEW ABOUT THE PEOPLE UNITE SET-UP AND MISTY IN ROOTS, THE GROUP BEHIND THE LABEL WHICH SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN EARLY SUPPORTERS OF BOTH ABAKU AND ABAKUSH .


OF COURSE WE ALL KNOW ABOUT MISTY IN ROOTS, THE REGGAE LEGENDS FROM SOUTHALL, AND ANYONE WHO GREW UP IN THE ‘70S AND ‘80S WILL KNOW HOW PASSIONATE JOHN PEEL WAS ABOUT THE GROUP. BUT APART FROM THE LEGENDARY LIVE COUNTER-EUROVISION SET HOW MANY MISTY IN ROOTS RECORDINGS ARE WE FAMILIAR WITH? WE MAY BE AWARE OF THE PEOPLE UNITE LABEL THE GROUP RAN, AND HOW THE FIRST RELEASE WAS THE RUTS’ IN A RUT, WHICH PEEL PLAYED MANY TIMES, BUT WHAT OTHER ARTISTS COULD WE SAY RECORDED FOR THE LABEL? WE PERHAPS KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT THE TRAGIC EVENTS THAT TOOK PLACE AFTER THE NATIONAL FRONT WAS ALLOWED TO MARCH IN SOUTHALL IN 1979 AND HOW THE ANTI-RACIST PROTESTOR BLAIR PEACH WAS KILLED, MISTY’S COMMUNITY CENTRE HQ SMASHED UP, AND THEIR MANAGER CLARENCE BAKER ATTACKED BY POLICE. BUT HOW MUCH DO WE KNOW OF THE MISTY IN ROOTS STORY AFTER THAT? LOOK IN ANOTHER DIRECTION AND YOU’LL FIND THAT ABAKUSH AND AKABU ARE UNITED BY THE MAD PROFESSOR. THE GROUP AKABU WAS KNOWN INITIALLY AS MWANAMKE MWFRIKA OR AFRICAN WOMAN ABROAD, AND IT SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN UNDER THAT NAME THEY RELEASED A FANTASTIC DEBUT LP IN, I BELIEVE, 1982 PRODUCED BY THE MAD PROFESSOR. AND IF ALL THIS SOUNDS HORRIBLY VAGUE, THEN THERE IS A VERY GOOD REASON FOR THAT AS I AM TRYING TO STITCH SNIPPETS OF INFORMATION TOGETHER. AGAIN, I WOULD DEARLY LOVE TO OWN A COPY OF THIS RECORD, SO I’LL KEEP HOPING FATE DEALS ME AN UNEXPECTED HAND. IN THE MEANTIME, I RECOMMEND SEIZING ANY OPPORTUNITY TO HEAR THIS GREAT LOST LP. THE NEXT SIGHTING OF AKABU SEEMS TO BE IN 1984/1985 WHEN THEY COLLABORATED WITH ADRIAN SHERWOOD AND STEVE BERESFORD ON A SINGLE CALLED WATCH YOURSELF WHICH EXPERIMENTED WITH AN ELECTRO DIRECTION. IT ONLY SEEMS TO HAVE APPEARED AS A RELEASE IN THE US, WHERE IT WAS EDITED BY STEINSKI & DOUBLE DEE. AS CREDITS GO THAT HAS TO BE ONE OF THE MOST IMPRESSIVE COLLECTIONS. JUST AS IMPRESSIVELY IT APPEARED ON A SUBSIDIARY OF TOMMY BOY RECORDS, AND APPARENTLY WAS THE LABEL’S FIRST RELEASE TO ORIGINATE FROM OUTSIDE THE US. ONU LEGEND HAS IT THAT WHILE IN NEW YORK TO WORK ON THE MIXES OF WATCH YOURSELF ADRIAN SHERWOOD FIRST MET KEITH LEBLANC. THAT’S THE START OF ANOTHER STORY. I BET MARK STEWART HAS HIS OWN VERSION OF THAT ONE. ANOTHER AKABU TRACK OF THE SAME VINTAGE APPEARS ON THE FIRST OF THE ON-U SOUND PAY IT ALL BACK COLLECTIONS. AKABU THEME IS ANOTHER ELECTRO MASTERPIECE THAT FITS PERFECTLY ALONGSIDE OTHER TRACKS ON THE SET FROM ON-U’S HEAVY HITTERS LIKE MARK STEWART, DUB SYNDICATE, NEW AGE STEPPERS AND AFRICAN HEADCHARGE. ANOTHER OUTSTANDING TRACK IS THE CIRCUIT’S LOUDSPEAKER, AND I THINK I AM RIGHT IN SAYING THE CIRCUIT WAS A VIRTUAL VEHICLE FOR STEVE BERESFORD VERY MUCH IN THE ON-U TRADITION OF IMAGINARY GROUPS LIKE VOICE OF AUTHORITY, MISSING BRAZILIANS AND PLAYGROUP. BERESFORD IS ONE OF THE MORE INTERESTING PERIPHERAL FIGURES OF THE POST-PUNK ERA, WITH LINKS TO THE LONDON MUSICIANS COLLECTIVE (LMC) IMPROV TRADITION ALONGSIDE DAVID TOOP AND DAVID CUNNINGHAM WITH WHOM HE WOULD COLLABORATE IN GENERAL STRIKE AND FLYING LIZARDS.


IT’S BEEN MENTIONED BEFORE IN YHO HOW BERESFORD HAS BEEN A SERIAL COLLABORATOR. HIS PARTICIPATION IN THE SLITS, FOR EXAMPLE, LED TO THE OPPORTUNITY TO RECORD A COUPLE OF IMPROVISATIONAL SETS FOR Y RECORDS, WITH CELLIST TRISTAN HONSINGER (A POP GROUP COLLABORATOR TOO) AND OTHERS. BERESFORD WOULD ALSO ASSIST ADRIAN SHERWOOD IN THE RECORDING OF PRINCE FAR I’S CRY TUFF DUB ENCOUNTER CHAPTER 3, BRINGING A SENSE OF THE RIDICULOUS TO THE PROCEEDINGS. THE LINK WITH SHERWOOD WOULD LEAD TO BERESFORD BEING INVOLVED WITH A VARIETY OF THE EARLIER ON-U OUTINGS BY THE NEW AGE STEPPERS, AFRICAN HEADCHARGE, DUB SYNDICATE AND PLAYGROUP. MOST OF THE THE CIRCUIT RECORDINGS FOR ON-U SEEM TO HAVE GONE MISSING. THERE WAS TO HAVE BEEN A SERIES OF SINGLES BACKING THE VERY YOUNG SHARA NELSON, FOR EXAMPLE. LONG BEFORE HER SCENE STEALING PERFORMANCES WITH MASSIVE ATTACK SHARA APPEARED ON A SMATTERING OF ON-U CLASSIC RECORDINGS SUCH AS IN ANOTHER WORLD BY VOICE OF AUTHORITY, WHERE HER VERY ENGLISH LOVERS ROCK VOCAL STYLE FITS PERFECTLY THE DISORIENTATING BACKING, AND THE ASTONISHING SAVANNA PRANCE BY THE MISSING BRAZILIANS. THERE WAS AN LP RECORDED BY THE CIRCUIT BUT APPARENTLY THE MASTERTAPES WERE LOST EN ROUTE TO AMERICA WHERE IT WAS TO BE RELEASED BY THE CASSETTE LABEL R.O.I.R. WHO HAD ALREADY RELEASED DUB SYNDICATE’S ONE WAY SYSTEM.

IN THE EARLY DAYS OF ON-U ITS RECORDS WERE OCCASIONALLY LEASED TO OTHER LABELS, THE MUCH MALIGNED CHERRY RED, FOR EXAMPLE, PUT OUT AN INVALUABLE SERIES OF ON-U TITLES, AND THE ASSOCIATES’ TEMPORARY HOME SITUATION TWO DID ITS BIT. SINGERS & PLAYERS’ WAR OF WORDS APPEARED ON THE IMPECCABLY COOL NEW YORK LABEL 99 RECORDS AS PART OF THAT INCREDIBLE ROSTER WHICH FEATURED ESG, LIQUID LIQUID, BUSH TETRAS, GLENN BRANCA AND VIVIEN GOLDMAN. WHICH ADDS TO THE FUN WHEN PIECING THE LABEL’S STORY TOGETHER.

SINGERS AND PLAYERS ALSO FEATURE ON THE SOUNDTRACK OF SMITHEREENS, WHICH MEMORABLY HAS RICHARD HELL AND SUSAN BERMAN SLOW DANCING TO DEVIOUS WOMAN, THE OPENING TRACK ON WAR OF WORDS, WITH BIM SHERMAN ON VOCALS. ESG’S MOODY IS PLAYED IN THAT SAME BAR SCENE. AND THE SOUNDTRACK ALSO FEATURES THE FEELIES, RAYBEATS AND RICHARD HELL AND THE VOIDOIDS. IT’S ONE OF THE GREAT ROMANTIC NYC FILMS OF THE EARLY ‘80S, AND RICHARD HELL IS PARTICULARLY EFFECTIVE IN HIS ROLE AS A DISSOLUTE, WAYWARD POP FIGURE/CHANCER/LOSER.

HIS CO-STAR

SUSAN BERMAN SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN SHOCKINGLY UNDERUSED BY THE FILM INDUSTRY CONSEQUENTLY.


I UNDERSTAND SINGERS AND PLAYERS FEATURE ON THE SOUNDTRACK OF THE LATE ‘80S DENZEL WASHINGTON FILM FOR QUEEN AND COUNTRY. I’VE NOT SEEN IT, I HAVE TO CONFESS, BUT APPARENTLY IT HAS A COUPLE OF TRACKS FROM THE WONDERFUL STAGGERING HEIGHTS LP WHICH FEATURES AN ALLSTAR CAST INCLUDING CONGO ASHANTI ROY, PRINCE FAR I, MIKEY DREAD AND BIM SHERMAN, WITH HARMONIES FROM VALERIE SKEETE AND VYRIS EDGHILL OF AKABU. THIS WAS ONE OF A NUMBER OF ONU AND NON-ON-U RECORDS THE SINGERS AND PLAYERS OF AKABU CONTRIBUTED BACKING VOCALS TO, INCLUDING MEMORABLY DUB SYNDICATE’S STONED IMMACULATE WHERE THEY DO THEIR SUPREMES YOU KEEP ME HANGING ON THING WHILE COMPETING WITH ‘THAT’ JIM MORRISON SAMPLE. IT WOULD BE IN 1995 THAT AKABU GOT THE FULL ON-U SOUND LP TREATMENT WITH THE EXCELLENT WARRIOR QUEEN SET, PRODUCED BY ADRIAN SHERWOOD AND SKIP MCDONALD. IT COVERS AN INCREDIBLE AMOUNT OF GROUND, AND ITS UNASHAMED VERSATILITY AND GLORIOUS POSITIVITY HAS MADE IT A PARTICULAR FAVOURITE OF MINE AMONG THE ONU CATALOGUE. THE UPLIFTING POP/GOSPEL FEEL IS ESPECIALLY APPEALING AND IT IS EASY TO IMAGINE SEVERAL OF THE SONGS FEATURED ‘CROSSING OVER’ AND BECOMING FIRM FAVOURITES ON DAYTIME RADIO IN THAT ILLOGICAL WAY REGGAE HITS HAVE TAKEN OFF IN THE PAST. IT IS JUST AS EASY TO IMAGINE THE MORE HARDCORE ON-U DEVOTEE FINDING THIS ONE OF THE MORE ‘DIFFICULT’ RECORDS TO LOVE. PROMINENT AMONG THE SONG WRITING CREDITS ON AKABU’S WARRIOR QUEEN IS OUR COVER STAR SYLVIA TELLA, A TRUE BRITISH REGGAE LEGEND (NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH THE BRAZILIAN SINGER SYLVIA TELLES) WHO NEVERTHELESS IS PERHAPS BEST KNOWN FOR HER SUCCESSFUL COLLABORATIONS WITH THE BLOW MONKEYS WHERE DR ROBERT WITH GOOD GRACE ALLOWED HIMSELF TO BE SPECTACULARLY UPSTAGED. BUT THEN SYLVIA IS A LITTLE DIFFERENT THAN MOST OF THE FEMALE REGGAE SINGERS FROM THE HEYDAY OF LOVERS ROCK. WHERE MANY LOVERS ROCK VOCALISTS HAVE AN ENDEARING SHRILLNESS ABOUT THEM SYLVIA HAS THE RANGE AND PRESENCE OF THE GREAT GOSPEL/SOUL SINGERS. HER STORY IS A GREAT ONE TOO: HAVING BEEN ‘DISCOVERED’ AS A KID SINGING IN A MANCHESTER CLUB BY BONEY M SUPREMO FRANK FARIAN, AND TOURING AS A BACKING VOCALIST FOR THE GROUP BEFORE BEING INTRODUCED TO REGGAE GREAT LLOYD CHARMERS WITH WHOM SHE RECORDED HER CLASSIC DEBUT LP, SPELL, IN THE EARLY ‘80S. THROUGHOUT HER CAREER SYLVIA SEEMS TO HAVE SHOWN A WILLFUL STREAK OF INDEPENDENCE, GETTING VERY INVOLVED IN THE SONG WRITING AND PRODUCTION SIDE OF THINGS TOO. BUT OH THAT VOICE. IT IS ALWAYS FASCINATING HEARING ARTISTS WORK OUTSIDE THEIR CHOSEN SPHERE, AND IT CAN

BE PARTICULARLY INTRIGUING THE WAY A ‘SOLO STAR’ WORKS AS PART OF A COLLABORATIVE PROJECT. IN THE CASE OF SYLVIA TELLA THE VERDICT WOULD BE A RESOUNDINGLY POSITIVE ONE ON THE BASIS OF

ERNEST RANGLIN’S MODERN ANSWERS TO OLD PROBLEMS WHICH SHE WAS INTEGRALLY INVOLVED IN THE MAKING OF, ALONGSIDE TONY ALLEN, DENYS BAPTISTE AND COURTNEY PINE. ACTUALLY IT IS SYLVIA’S WRITING AND SINGING, WHERE SHE EXPLORES HER NIGERIAN HERITAGE, WHICH RAISES THIS SET ABOVE A PLEASANT AFRO/JAZZ/REGGAE FUSION WORK INTO SOMETHING VERY SPECIAL INDEED.


ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE WIDER SISTA FAMILY WITH CLOSE LINKS TO SYLVIA TELLA WAS THE ‘SILENT POET’ JAYZIK, WHO RELEASED ONE LP, PROBLEM CHILD, ON THE MAD PROFESSOR’S ARIWA LABEL IN 2002. I’M NO EXPERT ON JAYZIK BUT SHE STRIKES ME AS HAVING BEEN A LITTLE IN THE ARI UP OR NENEH CHERRY EXUBERANT ‘WILD CHILD’ MOULD. IF YOU TRACE HER STORY ACROSS THE WEB IT IS ONE THAT IS AS COLOURFUL AS YOU COULD IMAGINE, BEING THE DAUGHTER OF DR NNAMDI AZIKIWE, COMRADE ZIK, THE FIRST PRESIDENT OF AN INDEPENDENT NIGERIA. SHE THEN HAD WHAT MAY BE CALLED A DIFFICULT TIME GROWING UP IN THE UK. IT IS THESE EXPERIENCES THAT COLOUR MUCH OF THE MATERIAL ON HER PROBLEM CHILD LP WITH ITS ATTACKS ON, FOR EXAMPLE, THE SOCIAL SERVICES AND THE EDUCATION SYSTEM. AND IF JAYZIK’S FACE SEEMS FAMILIAR IT’S POSSIBLE YOU WILL HAVE SEEN HER ROLLERSKATING IN THE VIDEO FOR DIRE STRAITS’ SKATEAWAY, FROM THE START OF THE ‘80S WHEN THE SONY WALKMAN CASSETTE PLAYERS AND ROLLERSKATING WERE AT THE CUTTING EDGE OF THE COUNTER-CULTURE, OR DANCING IN THE PROMO FOR SOUL II SOUL’S BACK TO LIFE. ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE SISTA COLLECTIVE WHO HAD AN LP OUT ON ARIWA IS THE DANCEHALL/ROOTS MC THRILLER JENNA (OR TRILLA JENNA AS SHE SEEMS TO PERFORM NOW). I AM GUESSING SHE WAS PRETTY YOUNG WHEN THE THRILL DEM WITH IT LP CAME OUT IN 1992, BUT IT’S A FANTASTIC RECORD. JENNA TACKLES SOME TOUGH OLD ISSUES TOO ALONG THE WAY, INCLUDING THE DISPROPORTIONATE NUMBER OF BLACK PEOPLE IN THE UK WHO HAVE MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS, MALE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, AND SLACKNESS IN GENERAL. THE THRILLER JENNA LP OPENS WITH THE WONDERFUL DON’T CRY MUMMY, TOLD FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A STRUGGLING SINGLE MOTHER WITH LOW SELFESTEEM WHOSE KID IS TRYING TO LIFT HER SPIRITS: “LOOK HOW YOU HAIRSTYLE PRETTY LIKE WA. LOOK HOW YOU WALK LIKE MOVIE STAR. AND DE GARMS WHAT YOU HAVE ON LOOK A MILLION DOLLAR. AND YOU FULLING OUT AND BUSTING OUT WITH CHARACTER. HAVE TOO MUCH PERSONALITY. LOOK HOW YOU HOLD MAN DOWN WITH THE ABILITY.” THE LP CLOSES WITH THE CHILLING CRACK, A THEME WHICH AKABU WOULD ALSO TACKLE ON THEIR WARRIOR QUEEN LP. JENNA SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN RIDICULOUSLY UNDER-RECORDED IN THE MANY YEARS SINCE, BUT GEMS ARE SCATTERED AROUND SUCH AS HER TRACK FOCUS ON THE SISTA PRESENTS BLESSINGS COLLECTION, WHICH WAS ITSELF A TRIBUTE TO THE LATE VYRIS EDGHILL OF AKABU. DOING HER JACKIE MITTOO THING FOR SISTA ON THAT BLESSINGS SET IS CAROLINE WILLIAMS, CAROLINE IS ALSO KNOWN AS RHYTHM QUEEN AND IN 1985 RECORDED THE ELEMENTARY LP WITH HORACE ANDY FOR ROUGH TRADE. AND IF ANYONE THINKS MASSIVE ATTACK DRAGGED HORACE INTO THE MODERN AGE WITH A DIGITAL TWIST ON LOVERS ROCK THEY SHOULD TRACK ELEMENTARY DOWN TO UNDERSTAND JUST WHY HORACE FITTED IN SO WELL. INDEED I BELIEVE ONE LOVE IS A SONG OF HORACE AND CAROLINE’S THAT PREDATES BLUE LINES. WHO PLAYED WITH AKABU FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS.


SO YOU SEE HOW THINGS FIT TOGETHER. BUT I’M NOT SURE IT LEAVES ME TOO MUCH WISER ABOUT THE BACK CATALOGUE OF ABAKUSH/ABACUSH. I’VE PICKED UP A HANDFUL OF TRACKS HERE AND THERE, LIKE THE GLORIOUS SUNSHINE ISLAND 12”, AND KNOW OF OTHERS I’M MISSING. THE SAME APPLIES TO AKABU. THERE SEEM TO BE A FEW SINGLES AND ANOTHER LP I’VE NOT HEARD. SO THE THING SEEMS TO BE THAT THE MORE YOU LEARN THE MORE THERE IS TO LEARN. OR AS SUBWAY SECT SUGGESTED ‘TO LEARN YOU’VE GOT TO UNLEARN’. “WHERE WAS THE ALBUM RECORDED? GOOSEBERRY STUDIOS IN CHINATOWN. THAT’S WHERE THE WITH

PISTOLS HAD RECORDED SOME DEMOS. THAT’S HOW WE KNEW ABOUT IT. THAT WAS

MARK LUSARDI. LINDA LUSARDI'S BROTHER. YEARS LATER I TELEPHONED MARK

LUSARDI AND HE TOLD ME THE OWNER OF THE STUDIO HAD MOVED IT TO SOUTH LONDON. HE SAID A LOT OF THE TAPES HAD GONE WITH HIM. AND A BLOKE SAID

I WENT OUT THERE AND KNOCKED ON THE DOOR

“I'VE JUST BOUGHT THE HOUSE. THERE WAS A STUDIO IN THE BASEMENT AND

THERE WERE LOADS OF TAPES, BUT

I JUST PUT THEM IN THE SKIP LAST WEEK.” – ROB SYMMONS

FOR MANY PEOPLE THE LOST SUBWAY SECT LP FROM 1978 IS POP’S HOLY GRAIL. I’VE SEEN THE GROUP’S GUITARIST ROB SYMMONS REFER A COUPLE OF TIMES TO THE LP BEING RECORDED WITH MARK LUSARDI. THE MOST RECENT OCCASION, IN AN INTERVIEW WITH PHIL KING FOR BUCKETFUL OF BRAINS,

WAS WHEN IT FINALLY DAWNED ON ME THAT THERE ARE QUITE A FEW RECORDS IN MY COLLECTION THAT HAVE BEEN ENGINEERED BY MARK LUSARDI.

I AM NEVER QUITE SURE ON THE ACTUAL DEFINITION OF THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ENGINEER AND PRODUCER IN THE MUSICAL CONTEXT. FROM MY OWN LIMITED EXPERIENCE I WOULD SUGGEST THE DEMARCATION VARIES WILDLY DEPENDING ON THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND THE MUSIC BEING MADE. PEOPLE TEND TO FOCUS ON PRODUCERS, BUT IF SOMEONE HAS BEEN THE ENGINEER ON SO MANY VITAL RECORDINGS THEY MUST HAVE SOMETHING SPECIAL. IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT WAS GOOD ABOUT THE 20TH CENTURY THE PERFECT ARTEFACT TO EXAMINE IS THE PRESSURE SOUNDS REISSUE OF PRINCE FAR I AND THE ARABS’ CRY TUFF DUB ENCOUNTER CHAPTER ONE. LOOK AT IT FROM WHATEVER ANGLE YOU CHOOSE AND YOU’LL FIND SOMETHING SPECIAL AND SIGNIFICANT. PRESSURE SOUNDS ITSELF WAS THE REISSUE OUTLET OF ADRIAN SHERWOOD’S ON-U SOUND EMPIRE, AND ON THIS OCCASION THE TEAM SALVAGED PART OF ITS OWN HERITAGE BY REISSUING A NEAR-MYTHICAL RECORD ORIGINALLY RELEASED ON HITRUN RECORDS BACK IN 1978. HITRUN WAS WHERE THE YOUNG REGGAE OBSESSIVE SHERWOOD WOULD FIRST INDULGE HIS ENTREPRENEURIAL AND PRODUCTION SKILLS, AND FATE PRESENTED HIM WITH THE PERFECT OPPORTUNITY TO ACT OUT A FANTASY AND CREATE A BOLDLY ADVENTUROUS DUB SET WITH THE LEGENDARY PRINCE FAR I.

THE BOOKLET ACCOMPANYING THE REISSUE HAS A PHOTO OF ADRIAN WITH THE PRINCE IN 1978 WHICH IS WONDERFUL, WHILE THE NOTES MENTION HOW SHERWOOD SOUGHT TO BRING INFLUENCES FROM THE LIKES OF BEEFHEART AND THE FALL TO THE PRODUCTION PROCESS.


PRINCE FAR I HIMSELF HAS A UNIQUE PLACE WITHIN PUNK FOLKLORE WITH THE CLASH’S REFERENCES TO UNDER HEAVY MANNERS AND THE MENTION IN JAIL GUITAR DOORS. WHILE HE IS REVERED FOR HIS RUMBLING ‘VOICE OF THUNDER’ DJ DELIVERY HE IS EQUALLY WORSHIPPED FOR HIS DUB EXCURSIONS LIKE THE CRY TUFF TITLES. I GENUINELY LIKE THE FACT THAT THE PRINCE WAS PREPARED TO TAKE A GAMBLE AND MAKE THE RECORD WITH A YOUNG UNKNOWN. IT’S ALSO INTERESTING HOW WHAT AT THE TIME MIGHT HAVE BEEN BLASPHEMY NOW IS A POWERFUL PLUS. THAT IS, A SERIES OF OVERDUBS AND MUSICAL PARTS WERE ADDED AT LONDON’S GOOSEBERRY STUDIOS BY A POOL OF MUSICIANS THAT WOULD FORM CREATION REBEL. ALONGSIDE THE PRINCE AND SHERWOOD AT THE CONTROLS OF THE ASTONISHING FIRST CHAPTER OF CRY TUFF WERE DENNIS BOVELL AND MARK LUSARDI. BOVELL AND LUSARDI WOULD ALSO BE INVOLVED IN THE RECORDING OF SOME OF THE EARLY REMARKABLE CREATION REBEL RECORDINGS WHICH SET THE SCENE FOR ON-U SOUND. I MISSED RECORDS LIKE DUB FROM CREATION AND REBEL VIBRATION WHEN THEY WERE FIRST RELEASED ON HITRUN, AND ONLY CAUGHT THE LATER THREAT FROM CREATION ON CHERRY RED AT THE TIME FOR ITS NEW AGE STEPPERS/SLITS/PIL CONNECTIONS.

THE MID-TO-LATE ‘90S THANKFULLY SAW A WAVE OF COMPILATIONS AND REISSUES FROM THE ON-U SOUND ARCHIVES, OFTEN WITH EXCELLENT LINER NOTES FROM THE DJ AND JOURNALIST STEVE BARKER. AMONG THESE WERE A COUPLE OF VOLUMES OF CREATION REBEL’S HISTORIC MOMENTS, WHICH WOULD BE WHERE I FIRST HEARD THE REMARKABLE STARSHIP AFRICA SET. I KNOW THERE ARE THOSE WHO THINK MOST DUB SETS SOUND THE SAME, BUT THERE IS SOMETHING VERY SPECIAL ABOUT THOSE EARLY CREATION REBEL DUB SETS.


FROM A PUNK PERSPECTIVE THE PRODUCTIONS OF ADRIAN SHERWOOD HAVE AN ENDURING

APPEAL FOR THE SPECIAL BALANCE BETWEEN EXPERIMENTATION AND A LOVE FOR REGGAE TRADITION. SUPPOSE FROM THAT POINT OF VIEW IT IS ONLY APPROPRIATE DENNIS BOVELL WAS INVOLVED AS HE

I

BROUGHT THE SAME ‘ANYTHING GOES’ APPROACH TO HIS OWN WORK, FROM PIONEERING LOVERS ROCK TO THE SLITS/POP GROUP AXIS.

BOVELL’S OWN LATE ‘70S RECORDINGS ARE ANOTHER PLACE WHERE YOU

WILL FIND MARK LUSARDI AND GOOSEBERRY STUDIOS AMONG THE CREDITS, INCLUDING I WAH DUB AND THE 4TH STREET ORCHESTRA’S YUH LEARN! WHICH CONTAINS SOME OF BLACKBEARD’S FINEST LONDON

‘LOVERS DUB’ MOMENTS SUCH AS GRUNWICK AFFAIR AND NEW KENT ROAD.

ANOTHER OUTSTANDING BOVELL/GOOSEBERRY PRODUCTION WORK (WAS LUSARDI INVOLVED WITH THIS ONE?) THAT MUST BE MENTIONED IS ROY REID (AKA I ROY) AND HIS REMARKABLE WHAP’N ‘N BAP’N, WHERE IN THE TYPICAL BLACKBEARD WAY THE MUSICAL FORMATS ARE ALL OVER THE PLACE AS THE GREAT DJ TACKLES RAP AND FUNK ALONGSIDE THE MORE EXPECTED REGGAE CUTS. IT REALLY IS GLORIOUS, ILLOGICAL STUFF. FAR MORE LOGICAL AND FOCUSED ARE THE LINTON KWESI JOHNSON RECORDS WHICH BOVELL WAS INTEGRALLY INVOLVED WITH, WITH MARK LUSARDI ALSO AMONG THE CREDITS ON SOME OF THESE. MARK LUSARDI’S NAME IS PERHAPS MOST STRONGLY ASSOCIATED WITH THAT OF JAH WOBBLE. THEIR OFF/ON PARTNERSHIP DATES BACK TO THE EARLY DAYS OF PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED. I STILL HAVEN’T READ JAH WOBBLE’S MEMOIRS, AND I REALISE THERE MAY BE PLENTY IN THERE ABOUT THE CHEMISTRY BETWEEN WOBBLE AND LUSARDI. BUT SOMETIMES YOU CAN KNOW TOO MUCH. WHAT I SUSPECT IS THAT THEY FIRST WORKED TOGETHER DURING THE RECORDING OF THE

FIRST PIL LP WHEN THE GROUP WAS BOOKED INTO GOOSEBERRY STUDIOS ONCE THE BUDGET WAS RUNNING OUT.

AND THEN DURING THE METAL BOX SESSIONS WOBBLE TOOK ADVANTAGE OF THE GROUP’S INACTIVITY TO START WORKING WITH LUSARDI ON TRACKS FOR HIS SOLO CAREER.

CLOSE EXAMINATION OF THE CREDITS ON WOBBLE’S EARLY WORK REVEALS HOW CLOSELY INVOLVED MARK LUSARDI WAS, FROM BLUEBERRY HILL TO THE REMARKABLE HOW MUCH ARE THEY? FROM THE EP WITH HOLGER CZUKAY AND JAKI LIEBEZEIT. I UNDERSTAND THE IMMENSE AFFECTION THAT HAS GRADUALLY GROWN FOR ARTHUR RUSSELL’S WORK, BUT I BELIEVE WOBBLE’S EARLIER SOLO RECORDINGS ARE RIGHT UP THERE WITH ANYTHING RUSSELL PRODUCED, AND AS A BODY OF WORK WOBBLE’S SOLO WORK IS HORRIBLY UNDERRATED. I THINK THAT THE EARLY YEARS TWO CD SET HELPED TO REDRESS THIS, AND SOME OF THE SKELETAL DISCO/DUB TRACKS IT INCLUDES ARE FANTASTIC. A NUMBER OF THESE WERE RECORDED AT THE (MARK ANGELO) STUDIO MARK SET UP IN CLERKENWELL AFTER MOVING ON FROM GOOSEBERRY. ARGUABLY WOBBLE’S FINEST MOMENT IS THE FADING/NOCTURNAL DOUBLE HEADER WHICH IS PHENOMENAL. THE TWO TRACKS ARE DECEPTIVELY SIMPLE, BUT THERE IS SO MUCH GOING ON WITHIN THE SONGS, SO MANY LAYERS TO EXPLORE, AS WOBBLE AND LUSARDI SPIN A WEB OF SOUND THAT’S MORE IN KEEPING WITH THE SPIRIT OF METAL BOX THAN ANYTHING PIL ITSELF SUBSEQUENTLY RECORDED.


THE EXTRAORDINARY NATURE OF PIL INEVITABLY ENCOURAGED OTHER YOUNG GROUPS TO MOVE IN ITS SHADOWS. KILLING JOKE, IN ITS EARLIEST OF DAYS, WAS AMONG THESE. NOW I AM NEVER GOING TO CLAIM TO BE THE WORLD’S GREATEST KILLING JOKE FAN. INDEED PROBABLY MY FAVOURITE THING ABOUT KILLING JOKE IS THE STORY BILL DRUMMOND TELLS IN 45 ABOUT HOW HE CAME TO AUDITION FOR THE VACANT POST OF LEAD SINGER WHEN JAZ COLEMAN DISAPPEARED TO ICELAND. NEVERTHELESS THE FIRST COUPLE OF KILLING JOKE RELEASES ARE ASTONISHING, SCARY AND INCREDIBLY EXCITING. THERE IS A FANTASTIC ‘ALTERNATIVE’ ACCOUNT OF THE KILLING JOKE STORY ON THE KILL YOUR PET PUPPY SITE FROM A MALICIOUS DAMAGE OPERATIVE. IT TELLS HOW THEY “BOOKED GOOSEBERRY STUDIO, WHICH AT THAT TIME WAS LOCATED IN A CELLAR IN THE CHINATOWN AREA OF LONDON, OFF SHAFTESBURY AVENUE. WHY DID WE GO THERE? BECAUSE IT SAID ON THE BACK OF THE PUBLIC IMAGE LTD LP THAT WAS WHERE THEY HAD RECORDED THAT RECORD AND WE WANTED OUR RECORD TO SOUND A BIT LIKE THE PUBLIC IMAGE LTD LP. THERE WAS ALSO A RECORDING ENGINEER WHO WORKED THERE CALLED MARK LUSARDI. HE TURNED OUT TO BE A BUDDING DUB GENIUS LATER TO BE INVOLVED WITH SHAKA SOUND SYSTEM CLASSICS SUCH AS HARD TIMES BY PABLO GAD AND THE DUB CONFERENCE IN LONDON LP. THE BAND CUT A SINGLE OVER A WEEKEND.” THIS WAS THE TURN TO RED EP WHICH STILL SOUNDS FRIGHTENINGLY INVENTIVE AND INTENSE. THE TITLE TRACK IS A FANTASTIC EXAMPLE OF APOCALYPTIC DUB, WHICH THE GROUP CERTAINLY NEVER BETTERED. KILLING JOKE WAS NOT THE ONLY GROUP TO BE PART OF THE MALICIOUS DAMAGE SET UP. IN SKI PATROL AND RED BEAT THE LABEL HAD TWO OTHER EXCELLENT GROUPS THAT SEEMED TO SHARE A SIMILAR APPROACH TO THEIR POP MUSIC. RED BEAT SPECIFICALLY WERE ALSO BOOKED IN TO GOOSEBERRY STUDIOS TO WORK WITH MARK LUSARDI ON THEIR DEBUT 12” EP, WHICH AGAIN STILL SOUNDS REMARKABLE AND ALLOWED MARK AND THE GROUP A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY TO INDULGE IN SOME GRATUITOUS DUB EXPERIMENTATION. THERE WEREN’T TOO MANY GROUPS AT THE TIME BRAVE ENOUGH TO ATTEMPT AN 11-AND-A-HALF MINUTE TRACK. IT’S CERTAINLY ONE OF THE MOST AMBITIOUS DEBUTS OF THE POST-PUNK ERA, THOUGH IT IS NOT WIDELY CELEBRATED. THE GROUP WOULD WORK AGAIN WITH MARK LUSARDI ON THE DREAMS/DREAMS DUB 12”, WHICH AGAIN STILL SOUNDS FANTASTIC. THE DUB CONFERENCE IN LONDON RECORD THE MALICIOUS DAMAGE OPERATIVE REFERS TO IS AN LP BY THE SIMEONS WHICH IS ONE OF THE BEST EXAMPLES OF A LATE ‘70S UK DUB LP. IN THE WORDS OF ITS SLEEVE CREDITS IT WAS MIXED IN LONDON BY MARK LUSARDI, THE “HARDEST WHITE ENGINEER IN THE BUSINESS”. INDEED ONE OF THE TRACKS WAS CALLED MARK AT THE CONTROLS, I ASSUME AS A TRIBUTE. I CAN ADD LITTLE ABOUT THE SIMEONS, OTHER THAN YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS RECORD. THEY DO SEEM TO HAVE BEEN THE REGGAE FAMILY ROBINSON, AND I THINK I AM ON FAIRLY SAFE GROUND IN SUGGESTING THEY ARE THE SAME PEOPLE AS ONE BLOOD, WHO MADE A LOT OF GREAT (OFTEN LOVERS ROCK STYLE) SIDES, MANY OF THEM COVERS, INCLUDING THE FANTASTIC VERSION OF BE THANKFUL FOR YOU’VE GOT WHICH APPEARED ON HUSTLE, THE SOUL JAZZ COLLECTION OF REGGAE DISCO.


PAUL ROBINSON FROM ONE BLOOD/SIMOEONS WOULD BE CLOSELY INVOLVED WITH THE FASHION LABEL TOO, WORKING IN ITS A-CLASS STUDIO, AND RECORDING AS BARRY BOOM. INCIDENTALLY THERE WAS ANOTHER DUB CONFERENCE LP IN 1979, WHICH WAS CREDITED TO BLACKBEARD AND WINSTON EDWARDS AND TITLED DUB CONFERENCE AT 10 DOWNING ST, WITH SOME FANTASTIC LONDON-CENTRIC TRACKS SUCH AS FLEET STREET COVER-UP AND WHITEHALL SCANDAL. WINSTON EDWARDS HAS A SPECIAL PLACE IN MUSICAL HISTORY AS THE PRODUCER OF KING TUBBY MEETS THE UPSETTER AT THE GRASS ROOTS OF DUB WHICH WAS RELEASED ON HIS OWN FAY LABEL INITIALLY IN THE UK. IT WAS THE DUB LP THAT REALLY CAUGHT THE IMAGINATION OF MANY YOUNG PUNKS, OFTEN BEFORE THEY EVEN HEARD IT. HARD TIMES, THE PABLO GAD TRACK REFERRED TO IN THE MALICIOUS DAMAGE OPERATIVE’S STORY HAS TO BE ONE OF THE MOST

REVERED OF UK REGGAE TRACKS. ITS REPUTATION HAS SOARED IN RECENT YEARS THANKS TO IT BEING HEAVILY

SAMPLED, INCLUDED ON COMPILATIONS,

REISSUED, AND SPREAD AROUND ON THE

INTERNET IN AN ENTHUSIASTICALLY VIRAL MANNER.

I HAVE TO CONFESS THAT I AM NOT EXACTLY SURE OF MARK LUSARDI’S

ROLE IN THE MAKING OF THIS SINGLE AND ITS ACCOMPANYING LP, OR INDEED ANY OTHER PABLO GAD RECORDINGS.

I REALLY AM NO EXPERT ON PABLO’S WORK, BUT ROOTS RECORDINGS I’VE ACCUMULATED BY HIM ARE WITHOUT EXCEPTION PHENOMENAL.

I RATE HIM UP THERE WITH

THE LIKES OF JUNIOR DELGADO, AND INDEED THERE IS SOMETHING OF A TOTTENHAM CONNECTION IN THEIR WORK (BROADWATER FARM/BLACK BEFORE CREATION).

THE MORE PLAYFUL SIDE OF GAD IS CAUGHT ON THE SINGLE NURSERY RHYME, AND THE DUB OF WHICH BUBBLING ANGELO JUST MAY BE A REFERENCE TO MARK ANGELO LUSARDI.

IF YOU TRACE REFERENCES TO MARK LUSARDI’S WORK AS AN ENGINEER/MIXER ON REGGAE RECORDS YOU WILL COME ACROSS SOME FANTASTIC LPS BY THE LIKES OF JUNIOR ENGLISH, HONEY BOY, LION YOUTH, H.T. SPLIFF, AND REVELATION. ONE LP OF PARTICULAR INTEREST, MORE FOR ITS WEALTH OF CONNECTIONS THAN ITS EASY LISTENING JAUNTINESS, IS MERRIE MELODIES BY MASSIVE HORNS ON TOP NOTCH, A SUBSIDIARY OF FASHION RECORDS. MASSIVE HORNS, I BELIEVE, WAS THE IN-HOUSE BRASS SECTION FOR THE FASHION LABEL, AND THEIR LP WAS PARTLY RECORDED WITH MARK LUSARDI AND CHRIS LANE AT MARK ANGELO STUDIOS AND PARTLY AT FASHION’S OWN A-CLASS STUDIOS (HENCE THE TITLE THEME FROM A-CLASS).


PLAYING TROMBONE WITH MASSIVE HORNS WAS ANNIE WHITEHEAD, A NAME THAT SHOULD INSTANTLY HAVE A FAMILIAR RING FOR ANYONE WHO LOVES THEIR MUSIC. I THINK I FIRST CAME ACROSS HER VIA HER PARTICIPATION IN WORKING WEEK. I GUESS IN RECENT YEARS SHE IS BEST KNOWN FOR HER WORK WITH ROBERT WYATT, ON CUCKOOLAND FOR EXAMPLE. BACK IN THE EARLY ‘80S SHE WORKED WITH JAH WOBBLE AS WELL. HER OWN DEBUT SET FROM 1984, MIX UP, IS VERY MUCH A RECORD WORTH TRACKING DOWN. I COMPLETELY MISSED IT AT THE TIME, BUT IT’S A WONDERFUL THING AND APPROPRIATELY TITLED. IT CAPTURES PERFECTLY THAT ERA’S COLLUSION ETHIC OF ‘ANYTHING BUT ROCK ‘N’ ROLL’S FINE’ IN EXUBERANTLY EMBRACING JAZZ, LATIN, AFRICAN, REGGAE, SOCA, SKA, FUNK AND EXPERIMENTAL POP SOUNDS, OFTEN IN THE SAME (CARNIVAL) SONG. THE MASSIVE HORNS LP WAS

OVERSEEN BY CHRIS LANE, YET ANOTHER

NAME FROM THE STORY OF UK REGGAE THAT

SHOULD BE ENSHRINED IN FOLKLORE, BUT ABOUT WHOM I DON’T KNOW ENOUGH.

I KNOW THAT GROWING

UP IN THE SKINHEAD ERA HE BECAME A HUGE REGGAE FAN, GOING ON TO BECOME A JOURNALIST, GOING OUT TO JA TO INTERVIEW THE BIG PLAYERS, AND THEN BECOMING INVOLVED IN STARTING UP THE

ORIGINAL DUB VENDOR SHOP AND LATER THE PIONEERING AND INCREDIBLY SUCCESSFUL FASHION LABEL.

VOCALS FOR MANY OF THE LABEL’S FAMOUS SIDES WERE RECORDED IN THE A–CLASS STUDIO, IN THE BASEMENT OF THE DUB VENDOR SHOP IN CLAPHAM, BUT I THINK I’M RIGHT IN SAYING MANY OF THE RHYTHM TRACKS WERE LAID DOWN ACROSS TOWN AT MARK ANGELO STUDIOS, OFTEN USING THE TOP PLAYERS AROUND. WINSOME, FOR EXAMPLE, IS A GREAT LOVERS ROCK SINGER WHO HAD A NUMBER OF SUCCESSES WITH FASHION (OR ITS SUBSIDIARY FINE STYLE) AND SHE MENTIONS HOW THE GUYS FROM ASWAD PLAYED ON HER EARLY SINGLES, SUCH AS HER COVERS OF AM I THE SAME GIRL? AND BORN FREE. WINSOME WOULD SOME TIME LATER IN THE MID-‘90S MAKE A WONDERFUL LP, STORY OF A BLACK WOMAN, FOR SIR GEORGE/PURE SILK, WHICH WAS RUN BY ANTHONY BRIGHTLY.

BRIGHTLY HAD BEEN A MEMBER OF BLACK SLATE, ONE OF THE BEST KNOWN OF THE UK’S REGGAE

GROUPS FROM WHAT I CALL THE PUNK ERA. IRONICALLY, THEIR REPUTATION HAS SUFFERED SOMEWHAT FOR THE SUCCESS OF THEIR SINGLE AMIGO WHICH BECAME A HUGE HIT IN THE REAL WORLD.

I GUESS AT THE TIME THE BLACK SLATE SOUND SEEMED TOO SLICK AND TOO POP. ACTUALLY THE FULL AMIGO SET SOUNDS FANTASTIC, AND IT’S HARDLY A SELL-OUT LP IN TERMS OF SUBJECT MATTER, WHEN YOU LISTEN TO TRACKS LIKE SIRENS IN THE CITY. AND IF IT GOT PEOPLE DANCING AROUND THE WORLD, THEN GREAT, THAT’S GOT TO BE A GOOD THING. MARK LUSARDI WAS CLOSELY INVOLVED WITH THIS AND OTHER BLACK SLATE RECORDS, INCLUDING OGIMA THE EXCELLENT DUB VERSION OF AMIGO. AND INTRIGUINGLY ON AMIGO/OGIMA JOHN SPRINGATE IS ALSO LISTED ON THE CREDITS AS ENGINEER. IS THIS THE JOHN SPRINGATE WHO HAD BEEN IN THE GLITTER BAND? I HOPE SO.


ANOTHER ‘SUCCESS’ MARK LUSARDI WAS INVOLVED WITH WAS THE SINGLE ANOTHER BITE THE DUST BY CLINT EASTWOOD & GENERAL SAINT AND THEIR TWO BAD DJ LP ON GREENSLEEVES, A PARTICULAR FAVOURITE, WHICH THE DUO VOICED AT MARK ANGELO STUDIOS. I SUSPECT THAT THERE ARE TRACKS FROM THIS RECORD THAT HAVE SEEPED INTO

MANY PEOPLE’S CONSCIOUSNESS WITHOUT THEM REALIZING. IT REALLY IS A WONDERFUL THING, AND THE RIGHT BALANCE OF PROFUNDITY AND NONSENSE, WITH THE BEST OF JAMAICAN AND

UK PRODUCTION. MIND YOU THE DOWNSIDE IS THAT THE LP DOES ENCOURAGE THE LISTENER TO INDULGE IN MIMICKING THE DUO’S DJ TRICKS OF THE TRADE WHICH CAN GET A BIT EMBARRASSING IN COMPANY. MARK LUSARDI’S NAME HAS TURNED UP IN SOME FASCINATING PLACES, INCLUDING ON THE

LEGENDARY MANCHESTER DJ/PRODUCER GREG WILSON’S SITE WHICH CONTAINS A NUMBER OF FASCINATING INSIGHTS INTO UK ELECTRO/FUNK HISTORY.

MARK’S NAME CROPS UP IN CONNECTION WITH (IN GREG’S OWN WORDS FROM 2004): “THE STORY OF THE GROUNDBREAKING SOUTH LONDON PRODUCER, TONY WILLIAMS, HAS NEVER BEEN TOLD. HE’S THE TW BEHIND TW FUNKMASTERS, WHOSE (MONEY) NO LOVE/LOVE MONEY, HAS BEEN AN ENDURING UNDERGROUND ESSENTIAL, ON BOTH SIDES OF THE ATLANTIC, FOR CLOSE ON A QUARTER OF A CENTURY, WHILST SOUNDING JUST AS UNIQUE TODAY AS IT EVER DID.” MARK WAS THE ENGINEER ON THIS FANTASTIC RECORD, WHILE THE TONY WILLIAMS IN QUESTION IS PERHAPS BEST KNOWN AS A REGGAE DJ ON RADIO LONDON. I REMEMBER HIS SHOWS VERY FONDLY, ALONG WITH THOSE OF DAVID RODIGAN ON CAPITAL. INDEED THERE WAS A RODIGAN VS WILLIAMS SOUNDCLASH LP, WHICH IS WONDERFUL (THERE’S A SCIENTIST CONNECTION), THOUGH I SUSPECT THE TITLES LIKE 206 SPECIAL AND 194 KILLER WILL MEAN LITTLE TO THOSE WHO WEREN’T LIVING N LONDON DURING THAT ERA. THERE WAS A LATER FUNKMASTERS CLASSIC, IT’S OVER, WHICH WAS SIMILARLY WAY AHEAD OF ITS TIME. SO GIVEN TONY WILLIAMS’ REGGAE PEDIGREE IT IS PERHAPS A LITTLE EYEBROW RAISING THAT HE IS SO REVERED FOR WHAT ARE ESSENTIALLY PIONEERING ELECTRO OR DUB DISCO TRACKS. BUT PERHAPS LOVE MONEY WORKS SO WELL BECAUSE OF ITS DIY/INDEPENDENCE AND SENSE OF ‘LET’S GIVE IT A GO’ ADVENTURESOMENESS, NOT LEAST IN USING REGGAE MUSICIANS IN A WAY THEY WOULD NOT ORDINARILY WORK IN THEIR ‘DAY JOBS’. IT IS MAYBE THAT SENSE OF LOPSIDEDNESS THAT HAS CONTRIBUTED TO MAKING NO MONEY THE ENDURING CLASSIC IT IS FOR MANY PEOPLE WHO LOVE DISCO MUSIC.


“I FEEL IT WOULD BE A FUTILE EXERCISE TO TRY AND WRITE SONGS OR PRODUCE MUSIC IN BRITAIN WITH EXACTLY THE SAME SOUND AS JA RECORDS. THE JAMAICANS LIVING IN BRITAIN HAVE A DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENT FROM THOSE BACK HOME.

IT AIN’T TRENCH TOWN HERE, IT’S

BRIXTON AND BIRMINGHAM. SO THE MUSIC I’VE BEEN PRODUCING IS MUSIC WHICH IS REGGAE WITH AN AUTHENTIC FEEL ‘CAUSE

I FEEL THAT RHYTHM, BUT MUSIC WHICH RELATES TO THE

BRITISH AND AMERICAN SITUATION. SONGS ABOUT LOVE AND HEARTACHE, LYRICS THAT ANYBODY CAN RELATE TO, PLUS A HIGH STANDARD OF MUSICIANSHIP WHICH CAN BE LACKING IN SOME

JA RECORDS. I’VE HAD THE VISION TO PUT BRITISH REGGAE ON AN INTERNATIONAL

THING, AND NOW

I’VE GOT THE OPPORTUNITY." – MIKE DORANE

THE DISCO DUB BAND’S FOR THE LOVE OF MONEY IS ONE OF THOSE SPECIAL RECORDINGS THAT GENUINELY WAS WAY AHEAD OF ITS TIME WHEN FIRST RELEASED ON THE MOVERS LABEL BACK IN 1976. AND IF EVER A PROJECT WAS APTLY NAMED IT WAS THE DISCO DUB BAND. INFORMATION OVER THE YEARS HAS BEEN SCARCE, BUT THE CREDIT FOR DAVITT SIGERSON ON THE LABEL HAS ALWAYS BEEN A PERFECT FIT. THE RECORD SOUNDS LIKE IT COULD BE THE FIRST ZE SINGLE, AND SIGERSON DID GO ON TO RECORD FOR ZE, HAVING BEEN SIGNED BY MICHAEL ZILKHA. AT THE TIME OF THE DISCO DUB BAND SINGLE

SIGERSON WAS A WIDELY RESPECTED WRITER BASED IN THE UK, CONTRIBUTING ARTICLES ON SOUL MUSIC IN ITS WIDEST SENSE TO VARIOUS PUBLICATIONS, INCLUDING BLACK MUSIC AND MELODY MAKER. THERE ARE, FOR EXAMPLE, TERRIFIC CHIC AND HOT CHOCOLATE ARTICLES HE WROTE FOR THE MELODY MAKER IN EARLY 1979 WHICH ARE REALLY WORTH TRACKING DOWN. I THINK I AM RIGHT IN SAYING THE EDITOR OF MELODY MAKER AT THE TIME WAS RICHARD WILLIAMS, AN EARLY SUPPORTER OF THE POP GROUP AND NOW CHIEF FOOTBALL WRITER FOR THE GUARDIAN. IT WAS ONLY RECENTLY THANKS TO THE WONDERFUL TANGENTS INTERNET SEARCH ENGINES I WAS SEARCHING FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE LOVERS ROCK SINGER T.T. ROSS WHEN I CAME ACROSS MENTIONS OF MIKE DORANE ON REGGAE SITES. I KIND OF RECOGNISED THE NAME FROM COMPILATIONS, BUT THAT WAS ABOUT IT. SEARCHING FURTHER I CAME ACROSS A TONY CUMMINGS ARTICLE FROM APRIL 1976 IN BLACK MUSIC ALL ABOUT MIKE DORANE AND HOW WITH SUPPORT FROM ISLAND RECORDS HE WAS STARTING TWO LABELS, ROCKERS FOR REGGAE RELEASES AND MOVERS FOR THE MORE SOUL/FUNK/DISCO RELATED ONES. THE FEATURE FOCUSES HEAVILY ON MIKE DORANE AS MULTIINSTRUMENTALIST AND STUDIO VISIONARY WHO IS GOING TO CHANGE THE FACE OF MUSIC. AND, YES, MOVERS WAS THE LABEL THAT PUT OUT THAT DISCO DUB BAND SINGLE BY BLACK MUSIC CONTRIBUTOR DAVITT SIGERSON. RICHARD WILLIAMS, WHO WAS THEN WORKING WITH ISLAND RECORDS, IS CREDITED AS THE PERSON WHO TOOK MIKE DORANE TO CHRIS BLACKWELL. TAKE YOU OFF ON THAT I AT LAST FOUND OUT MORE ABOUT THE DISCO DUB BAND SINGLE.


INTRIGUINGLY I ALSO FOUND VIVIEN GOLDMAN WROTE IN A FEBRUARY 1979 MELODY MAKER FEATURE ON INNER CIRCLE AND THE REGGAE/DISCO INTERFACE: “THE FIRST INSTANCE OF DISCO DUB I CAN RECALL EMANATED FROM DAVITT SIGERSON. AT THAT TIME, TONY CUMMINGS, A JOURNALIST WHO WAS LATER TO BECOME EDITOR OF BLACK MUSIC MAGAZINE, WAS OPERATING A RECORD LABEL CALLED ROCKERS TOGETHER WITH REGGAE MUSICIAN MIKE DORANE. THEY HAD A DISTRIBUTION DEAL WITH ISLAND – IS INCEST BEST? ANYWAY, DAVITT AND DORANE BROUGHT THIS DISCO DUB FUSION CONCEPT TO THE SEEDY CHALK FARM BASEMENT STUDIO THAT HOUSED ROCKERS RECORDS. THEY CUT A VERSION OF GAMBLE/HUFF'S FOR THE LOVE OF MONEY AS MO 1, THE FIRST RELEASE ON THE MOVERS SUBSIDIARY OF ROCKERS. IT SOUNDS PRETTY KINKY EVEN TODAY – THE HORNS KEEP ON PHASING ON THE DISCO, NOT THE REGGAE, BEAT, AND THE TWO STYLES ARE MASHED TOGETHER IN A WAY I'VE NEVER HEARD REPEATED. ONE TO SCOUR THE SECONDHAND BOXES FOR, AS IT SANK WITHOUT TRACE SHORTLY AFTER RELEASE.” AND YET THAT BLACK MUSIC ARTICLE, AND A VERY SIMILAR ONE BY CLIFF WHITE IN THE NME, IS TOTALLY INTOXICATING TO READ EVEN NOW. CHRIS BLACKWELL WAS CERTAINLY CONVINCED ENOUGH BY DORANE’S VISION OF MAKING A COMPLEX REGGAE RHYTHM THE HEART OF A NEW INTERNATIONAL POP MUSIC. WHILE THE ROCKERS/MOVERS CATALOGUE MAY HAVE VANISHED IT IS EASY TO SEE AND HEAR DORANE’S IDEAS IN THE SUCCESS OF THIRD WORLD AND GRACE JONES, FOR EXAMPLE, AND IN PARTICULAR IN THE WHOLE COMPASS POINT APPROACH WHERE BLACKWELL PUT TOGETHER THAT POOL OF MUSICIANS LIKE WALLY BADAROU AND STEVE STANLEY. THE OTHER PART OF DORANE’S VISION THAT SEEMS TO HAVE LINGERED ON IS THE FIRST RELEASE ON ROCKERS WHICH WAS FITZROY HENRY’S CAN’T TAKE MY EYES OFF YOU, AND IF EVER A SONG PREDICTED THE FUTURE IT’S THIS ONE. IT REALLY IS AN ASTONISHING RECORDING, WITH A LOVELY DEEP DUBBY SLY STONE/WAR LOVERS FEEL. MIKE DORANE’S OWN STORY IS A FASCINATING ONE, TOO. OF A NATIVE AMERICAN BACKGROUND, HE HAD SOME SUCCESS ON THE WONDERFULLY STRANGE ‘60S EURO POP/SOUL FRONT, AND THEN BECAME INVOLVED IN THE UK REGGAE SCENE WHEN HE MOVED TO LONDON AT THE START OF THE ‘70S. HE WORKED ON SESSIONS FOR THE PAMA LABEL, BUT THEN A LOT OF PEOPLE WORKED WITHIN THE UK REGGAE INDUSTRY IN THE LATE ‘60S AND EARLY ‘70S WHEN VARIOUS LABELS WERE CHURNING OUT TRACKS. I REMEMBER READING, FOR EXAMPLE, HOW DAVID TOOP PLAYED ON A NUMBER OF ROCKSTEADY SESSIONS AT A SMALL CHALK FARM STUDIO. AND CERTAINLY GROUPS LIKE THE CIMARONS PLAYED ON MANY, MANY SESSIONS FOR PAMA AND TROJAN. IT IS IN COLLABORATION WITH THE CIMARONS ON THE TRACK PENGUIN FUNK THAT PERHAPS MIKE DORANE IS BEST KNOWN. IT’S THE JBS MEET JA AT ITS VERY BEST, VERY RAWEST AND MOST INFECTIOUS. THE CIMARONS’ OWN VERSION OF THE FATBACK BAND’S WICKY WACKY IS VERY MUCH IN THE SAME VEIN. THOSE GUYS WERE PROFESSIONALS, AND HAD BEEN ROUND THE BLOCK SO MANY TIMES BY 1978 WHEN THEY TOURED WITH SHAM 69 AT THE HEIGHT OF THEIR NOTORIETY (OR RATHER THEIR AUDIENCES’) THAT THEY PROBABLY JUST SHRUGGED THEIR SHOULDERS EACH NIGHT AND GOT ON WITH THE JOB. THEY WERE A GREAT GROUP THE CIMARONS, CAPABLE OF MOMENTS OF INCREDIBLE GENIUS WHICH JUST MIGHT BE PLACED NEXT TO A STRAIGHT REGGAE COVER OF OVER THE RAINBOW.


GIVEN THAT MIKE DORANE DIDN’T SET THE WORLD ALIGHT WITH THE OUTPUT OF ROCKERS/MOVERS, IT’S INTRIGUING TO TRACK WHERE POSSIBLE SOME OF THE THINGS HE DID SUBSEQUENTLY. HE CERTAINLY PLAYED GUITAR ON A FEW OF THE EARLY JAH SHAKA LPS, INCLUDING REVELATION SONGS AND COMMANDMENTS OF DUB CHAPTER TWO. SO FROM MAJOR LABEL’S GREAT POP

HOPE TO A TRUSTED SESSION MUSICIAN WITH THE SOUND SYSTEM LEGEND OFTEN VIEWED AS THE MOST UNCOMPROMISING, EXTREME, EXPERIMENTAL FIGURE IN REGGAE MUSIC.

I’M POSITIVE SHAKA DIDN’T HAVE JUST ANYBODY PLAYING ON HIS RECORDINGS, SO THIS FITS QUITE NICELY. I SUSPECT MANY OF US WILL NOD

REVERENTIALLY WHEN SHAKA’S NAME IS MENTIONED, AND WILL READILY

ACKNOWLEDGE HIS IMPORTANCE AND

INFLUENCE, EVEN IF WE ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH ALL HIS WORKS.

I AM NO EXPERT, BUT I LOVE HIS USE OF DISTORTION, ECHO AND SPACE AND FIND HIS LPS FROM THIS PARTICULAR EARLY ‘80S PERIOD HAVE AN INCREDIBLE MYSTICAL, RESTORATIVE POWER. OR AS VIVIEN GOLDMAN DESCRIBED THE SHAKA SOUND: “ALL THAT MIGHTY, AWESOME THUNDER AND NOISE OF GREAT RUSHING WATERS”.

I LIKE THE CONNECTIONS TOO, WITH THE FIRST LP COMING OUT THROUGH ROUGH TRADE, AND BEING RECORDED WITH THE MAD PROFESSOR IN HIS ARIWA STUDIOS. THERE WAS A LOT OF CROSSOVER BETWEEN THE SHAKA AND ARIWA CAMPS, WITH THE LIKES OF PEPPER (GARNETT CROSS), BLACK STEEL, VICTOR CROSS AND TONY BENJAMIN PLAYING ON VARIOUS SHAKA TITLES. PEPPER GOT TO MAKE HIS OWN LP WITH SHAKA, AND THE FIRST OF THE SHAKA MEETS MAD PROFESSOR TITLES MIGHT JUST BE THE BEST THING AROUND. MIKE DORANE (USING HIS ALIAS OF MICHAEL DAN) WOULD ALSO BE CLOSELY INVOLVED AS AN

ENGINEER AND MUSICIAN OVER A NUMBER OF YEARS WITH THE TWINKLE BROTHERS,, WHO AGAIN WERE

VERY MUCH PART OF THE ROOTS UNDERGROUND AND PART OF THE JAH SHAKA/MAD PROFESSOR SPHERE.

DORANE’S WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH THE TWINKLE BROTHERS STARTED WHILE THEY WERE STILL RECORDING FOR VIRGIN’S FRONT LINE SET-UP, AND HE WAS THE MIXING ENGINEER ON THE EPIC DISCO MIX OF JAHOVIAH. THE LIAISON CONTINUED LONG AFTER NORMAN GRANT MOVED TO THE UK AND CONTINUED WORKING WITH THE TWINKLE BROTHERS NAME PRETTY MUCH ON HIS OWN. I SUPPOSE YOU COULD ARGUE THE TWINKLE BROTHERS ARE A BIT LIKE THE FALL IN THAT THERE ARE AN AWFUL LOT OF RECORDS OUT THERE THAT THEY’VE RECORDED WHICH BEGS THE QUESTION JUST HOW MANY DO YOU NEED? I DO, HOWEVER, LIKE THE FACT THEY HAVE CARRIED ON REGARDLESS.


YOU CERTAINLY NEED SOME OF THE TWINKLE BROTHERS’ TITLES, AND YOU CAN’T REALLY GO WRONG WITH LPS LIKE BURDEN BEARER, UNDERGROUND, AND ENTER ZION. EVEN BETTER IS THE COLLABORATION WITH JAH SHAKA FROM 1984, THE RIGHT WAY, WHICH FOLLOWED ON FROM THE FIRST OF THE DUB MASSACRE SETS WHICH THETWINKLE BROTHERS, JAH SHAKA, MAD PROFESSOR, AND MIKE DORANE WERE ALL INVOLVED IN THE CREATION OF. BY 1987’S RESPECT & HONOUR THE TWINKLE BROTHERS WERE PRETTY MUCH JUST NORMAN GRANT AND MIKE DORANE. THIS PARTICULAR LP IS WORTH TRACKING DOWN FOR THE FANTASTIC MOB FURY. SHORTLY AFTERWARDS GRANT WOULD FRESHEN THINGS

UP CONSIDERABLY BY GETTING INVOLVED WITH THE TRADITIONAL POLISH SOUNDS OF THE TREBUNIA-

TUTKA FAMILY AND COMING UP WITH SUCH ESSENTIAL WORKS AS 1992’S DUB WITH STRINGS, ONE OF MY FAVOURITE THINGS EVER. THERE IS AN INTERESTING TRADITION OF REGGAE IN POLAND, WITH THE ALLGIRL VOCAL GROUP JOINING UP WITH THE GROUP TAJFUNY TO RECORD SOME UNIQUE TWISTS ON JAMAICAN SKA BACK IN 1965. IT SEEMS THAT AT SOME STAGE T.T. ROSS AND MIKE DORANE BECAME AN ITEM, AND LIVED TOGETHER ON THE SOUTH COAST UNTIL CANCER CLAIMED THE LOVERS ROCK LEGEND. I CAME ACROSS THIS INFORMATION VIA A POST BY REGGAE WRITER PENNY REEL ON A FORUM. A SIMILAR FORUM SUGGESTED MIKE HAD BEEN STRUGGLING FOR SOME YEARS TO FIND WORK WITHIN THE INDUSTRY, WHICH IS RATHER SAD. THESE POSTS SENT ME OFF IN ALL DIRECTIONS TRACKING DOWN INFORMATION ABOUT MIKE, BUT IN THE MEANTIME I WASN’T REALLY ANY THE WISER ABOUT T.T. ROSS. HER NAME WILL BE FAMILIAR FROM MANY A LOVERS ROCK SIDE. BUT IT WASN’T UNTIL RECENTLY THAT I REALIZED SHE WAS WHITE. MY CONCEPT OF A LOVERS ROCK SINGER WAS VERY MUCH A YOUNG, BLACK LONDON GIRL, SO THERE YOU GO. BACK IN A REGGAE ROUND-UP FROM 1976 THE WRITER CARL GAYLE SAID: “IT`S HARD TO TELL HOW COMMITTED SHE IS TO REGGAE SINGING, BUT SHE HAS A GOOD VOICE AND HER RECORDS ARE POPULAR. BEING WHITE AND ENGLISH IS AN ADVANTAGE NOW BUT EVENTUALLY IT MAY BE A DRAWBACK.” WHILE IN MY MIND THE NAME OF T.T. ROSS IS MOST CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH THE LOVERS ROCK STORY AND THE BROCKLEY BASEMENT STUDIO WHERE DENNIS HARRIS AND DENNIS BOVELL RECORDED, HER ASSOCIATION WITH REGGAE MUSIC GOES BACK TO THE START OF THE ‘70S. I WOULD NOT ENVY ANYONE TRYING TO PUT TOGETHER A DEFINITIVE DISCOGRAPHY AS SHE SEEMS TO HAVE RECORDED

SINGLES FOR A WHOLE HOST OF LABELS, UNDER A VARIETY OF NAMES, INCLUDING PAMA, CRAB, MAGNET,

DIB, EVE, LUCKY, AND SO ON. THERE WAS A DENNIS HARRIS CONNECTION TO THE DIB AND EVE LABELS WHICH HAD A STRONG LOVERS ROCK TRADITION BEFORE IT WAS KNOWN AS SUCH, AND AS SHE HAD BEEN RECORDING COVER VERSIONS OF CONTEMPORARY SOUL AND POP NUMBERS FOR SEVERAL YEARS I SUPPOSE IT WAS ONLY NATURAL SHE WOULD BE PART OF THE LOVERS ROCK SET UP.


I MUST ADMIT I HAVE SEEN VERY FEW PICTURES OF T.T. ROSS. I SUPPOSE THE MOST FAMOUS IMAGE IS THE COVER PAINTING FROM HER 1976 LP ON THE THIRD WORLD LABEL, WHICH WAS PRODUCED BY BUNNY LEE IN KING TUBBY’S STUDIOS. HER FRIENDS ARE PRETTY IMPRESSIVE ONES IT HAS TO BE SAID: HORACE ANDY, CORNELL CAMPBELL, DERRICK MORGAN, GREGORY ISAACS AND LINVAL THOMPSON. ODDLY SHE DOESN’T GET TO DUET WITH THESE GREAT STARS IN THE WAY SHE DID BACK HOME WITH THE GREAT GENE RONDO ON FOR EXAMPLE THEIR LOVELY COVER OF MISS GRACE. GENE RONDO IS ONE OF MANY ARTISTS ON MANY LABELS MIKE DORANE SEEMS TO HAVE WORKED WITH OVER THE YEARS. IT IS A BEWILDERING MAZE TRACKING THE RECORDINGS DORANE HAS MADE, BEEN BEHIND AND BEEN INVOLVED WITH. IT’S FRUSTRATING COMING UP AGAINST DEAD ENDS, BUT INFINITELY REWARDING WHEN ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER AND PIECES FIT TOGETHER. THERE ARE, FOR EXAMPLE, SCATTERED FRAGMENTS OF DISCOGRAPHIES FOR HIS ROCKERS AND MOVERS LABELS. BUT WHEREAS YOUTUBE HAS A NICE SELECTION OF T.T. ROSS TRACKS POSTED, WE’RE NOT SO LUCKY WITH MIKE’S WORKS. THERE IS NO POST FOR CAROL WILLIAMS’ YOU GOTTA SAVE ALL YOUR LOVE, SADLY, OR ANY OF THE BIG ROY OR SHEBA TRACKS. AND IT LOOKS LIKE FOR NOW IT WILL REMAIN UNCERTAIN IF THE VIVIEN WEATHERS WHO RECORDED IS THIS THE WAY ON MOVERS IS IN ANYWAY CONNECTED TO THE VIVIAN WEATHERS WHO RECORDED THE ASTONISHING HEAVY WEATHERS LP FOR FRONT LINE IN 1978 AND WORKED CLOSELY WITH LINTON KWESI JOHNSON. THESE THINGS MATTER. APART FROM THE ROCKERS/MOVERS EPISODE TRACES OF DORANE CAN BE FOUND IN SOME INTRIGUING PLACES. IN HIS BEAUTIFUL DENNIS BROWN BOOK PENNY REEL REFERS TO A 1976 DORANE SINGLE ON THE TRENCHTOWN LABEL AFTER THE INFAMOUS NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL TROUBLES CALLED POLICE TRY FE MASH UP JAH JAH CHILDREN. THERE WERE ALSO SINGLES SCATTERED AROUND ON LABELS LIKE ASHANTI, ACKEE, DIP, MAGNET, AND HORSE, AS WELL AS COLLABORATIONS WITH SINGERS LIKE SWEET LITTLE BUNTY, STRECKER DECKER, AND EM JAY & THE PLUMBERS ABOUT WHOM I KNOW NEXT TO NOTHING. IN HIS 1976 REGGAE STATE-OF-THE-NATION ADDRESS IN BLACK MUSIC CARL GAYLE WROTE: “WHAT BRITISH REGGAE NEEDS NOW IS FOR ONE OF ITS ARTISTS TO MAKE A CHART HIT, NOT JUST WITH THE KIND OF SOUND THAT YOU WOULD CALL ‘ROOTSY’, BUT ONE WHICH IS ALSO DISTINCTLY BRITISH. SOMETHING LIKE LOUISE MARK`S CAUGHT YOU IN A LIE THAN T.T. ROSS’ LAST DATE. SOMETHING LIKE MIKE DORANE`S THE GHETTO, SOMETHING BIG AND BOLD TO BREAK DOWN THE BIG BARRIER THAT STANDS DIRECTLY IN THE WAY OF RESPECT AND SUCCESS FOR BRITISH-MADE REGGAE. SOMETHING THAT WILL REMIND THE REGGAE, I MEAN POP, COMPANIES THAT THINGS ARE HAPPENING HERE TOO. SOMETHING TO PERSUADE THE WHEELERS AND DEALERS TO TAKE A CAB TO DALSTON, THE BUSH, OR BRIXTON, INSTEAD OF A PLANE TO KINGSTON. YES THERE`S TALENT HERE TOO AND IT`S ABOUT TIME WE STARTED PAYING ATTENTION TO IT.”


CARL’S BIG TIPS FOR THE TOP AT THE TIME FROM THE UK SCENE WERE GINGER WILLIAMS AND SHARON FORRESTER, WHO LOOKED POISE TO CAPITALISE ON THE SUCCESS OF SUSAN CADOGAN. SOMETIMES THINGS REALLY DON’T WORK OUT AS THEY SHOULD, THOUGH. THERE ARE PLENTY OF GINGER’S RECORDINGS POSTED ON YOUTUBE, BY THE WAY, WHICH ARE WONDERFUL. AND, RATHER NEATLY, SHE APPEARS SINGING BACKING VOCALS ON HEART, THE LP BY BONJO I AS NOAH HOUSE OF DREAD ON ON-U SOUND. ONE PROJECT MIKE DORANE (AS MICHAEL DAN) WAS INTEGRALLY INVOLVED WITH IN 1977 WAS THE STUDIO INCARNATION OF MERGER WHICH RECORDED THE EXILES INA BABYLON LP. MERGER BECAME ANOTHER UK REGGAE OUTFIT CLOSELY ALIGNED WITH THE PUNK

SCENE, AND THEY APPEARED ON THE

TV SHOWS OLD GREY WHISTLE TEST AND REVOLVER AT THAT TIME. IN A STRANGE TWIST OF FATE THEY ALSO PLAYED AT A MASSIVE OPEN AIR IN JULY 1978.

EVENT AT BLACKBUSHE AIR FIELD AT

THE SPECIAL REQUEST OF BOB DYLAN

I’VE SEEN PENNY REEL DESCRIBE HOW: “ONE TIME I WENT DOWN THE 100 CLUB ON A TUESDAY NIGHT TO SEE THEM AND NANDA LESLIE SAID TO ME AS I WALKED IN, ‘BOB DYLAN'S INSIDE.’ THERE WERE ABOUT 10 PEOPLE IN THE CLUB, INCLUDING THE BAND. I WENT TO MY USUAL PLACE AND LOOKING ACROSS AT THE OTHER BAR SAW BOB DYLAN STANDING THERE FONDLING A DRINK. I WANTED TO WALK UP TO HIM AND SAY SOMETHING BUT FELT TOO AWED TO DO THIS. TWO WEEKS LATER, BOB HAD MERGER HEADLINING FOR HIM AT SOME CONCERT HE DID IN A FIELD IN LEICESTERSHIRE OR SOMEWHERE.” IN THE MELODY MAKER AT THE TIME ROBERT SHELTON DESCRIBED DYLAN’S VISIT TO THE UK: “SPEAKING OF EDUCATION, AS SOON AS DYLAN ARRIVED IN LONDON, HE TOOK A CRASH COURSE IN THE CURRENT BRITISH MUSIC SCENE, WITH A FEW SEMINARS IN NEW WAVE AND REGGAE. HE LISTENED TO RECORDINGS BY THE SEX PISTOLS, WIRE, JOHN COOPER CLARKE, ELVIS COSTELLO AND OTHERS. DYLAN AND ELLY WENT TO HEAR MERGER, THE REGGAE BAND, AT THE 100 CLUB. IMPRESSED WITH THEIR WORK, DYLAN ASKED THAT THEY BE ADDED TO THE BLACKBUSHE BILL. AT DINGWALLS, DYLAN ALSO HEARD A SET BY THE GUTSY BLUES BAND GEORGE THOROGOOD AND THE DESTROYERS. ON WEDNESDAY, JUNE 14, AFTER ENDURING A SMALL CBS EXECUTIVE PARTY IN HIS HONOUR AT THE NEXT DOOR CLUB IN COVENT GARDEN, BOB AND ELLY STARTED CRUISING THE MUSIC HAUNTS AGAIN. FROM CLOUDS IN BRIXTON (CLOSED), TO THE FOUR ACES IN DALSTON (OPEN, BUT NOT SWINGING), THEY PROCEEDED TO THE MUSIC MACHINE IN CAMDEN TOWN. THERE, DYLAN HEARD ROBERT GORDON AND LINK WRAY.”


THE 1977 LP EXILES INA BABYLON IS REALLY A LOST CLASSIC FROM THE INDEPENDENT REGGAE ARCHIVES. THE NAME MERGER CAME FROM THE IDEA OF MESHING A VARIETY OF MUSICAL STYLES, AND WHILE LYRICALLY THE RASTA THEMES ARE FAMILIAR THE MUSIC IS ANYTHING BUT. AT TIMES THE GROUP WORKS UP A HYPNOTIC GROOVE THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PIN DOWN, SUGGESTING A STRONG FUSION OR AFRO ROCK INFLUENCE, AT TIMES CLOSER TO THE WONDERFUL WORKS OF OSIBISA OR WAR THAN THE STRICT ROOTS SOUND OF THE TIME. I ADORE THE FLUTE ON IT, WHICH IS A STROKE OF GENIUS AND VERY WELCOME FOR FANS OF HUBERT LAWS AND SO ON. IT’S CERTAINLY NOT A RECORD FOR THE REGGAE PURISTS, BUT THEN IT’S NOT A SHAMELESS ATTEMPT AT POP CROSSOVER EITHER. KNOWING WHAT WE KNOW NOW IT’S POSSIBLE TO ARGUE THAT THIS IS THE SOUND DORANE’D BEEN DRIVING FOR, WITH ALL SORTS OF ELEMENTS MIXED IN WITH HIS BELOVED REGGAE. INCIDENTALLY AS FAR AS I CAN TELL EXILES INA BABYLON SEEMS TO BE THE ONLY RECORD WHERE DORANE GOT HIS PHOTO ON THE COVER. I HAVE A COUPLE OF OLD COPIES OF ZIGZAG (BOTH WITH DEBBIE HARRY ON THE COVER) WHERE KRIS NEEDS WRITES FEATURES ON MERGER. THE FIRST IS FROM EARLY 1978 SHORTLY AFTER THE LP WAS FIRST RELEASED ON THE SMALL INDEPENDENT LABEL SUNSTAR. THE ISSUE ALSO RUNS THE FIRST FEATURE ON THE FALL, BY DANNY BAKER WHICH HE USES AS A CLASS WAR INVECTIVE AGAINST JON SAVAGE AND OTHERS. THE FIRST MERGER ARTICLE, WITH BARRY FORD DOING A LOT OF THE TALKING, COMES VERY MUCH FROM THE ANGLE OF A LOOSE MIX OF MUSICIANS FROM DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS BECOMING A REAL GROUP AND GETTING OUT THERE TO PLAY FOR WHOEVER WILL LISTEN.

THE SECOND

MERGER FEATURE BY KRIS IS IN THE SEPTEMBER 1978 EDITION. THE SAME ISSUE CONTAINS INTERVIEWS WITH CULTURE AND THE ABYSSINIANS. THERE ARE ALSO A COUPLE OF THE WEST COAST US PUNK FEATURES BY TERI MORRIS THAT ZIGZAG RAN AT THE TIME, BUT OF COURSE THE NARRATIVE NOW IS THAT NO ONE IN THE UK FEATURED THE SF/CALIFORNIA SCENES UNTIL JON SAVAGE ENLIGHTENED US. THIS TIME THE MERGER FEATURE IS VERY DIFFERENT, WITH THE FOCUS ON WINSTON BENNETT WHO IS CARRYING ON WITH THE GROUP WITH THE OSEI BROTHERS AFTER A FEW LOCAL DIFFICULTIES WHICH RESULTED IN BARRY FORD HEADING OFF TO JAMAICA. AS WELL AS KEEPING THE MERGER FLAME BURNING WINSTON AND THE OSEI BROTHERS PLAYED ON THE GREAT VIVIEN WEATHERS LP. WHEN HE WENT TO JAMAICA BARRY FORD GOT INVOLVED IN A

NUMBER OF RECORDINGS, INCLUDING MAKING A GREAT SINGLE WITH

PAM NESTOR CALLED HIDING AND SEEKING (NO MORE), WHICH WAS MIXED BY DENNIS BOVELL FOR A UK RELEASE ON TEMPUS WHICH WAS THEN PICKED UP BY CHRYSALIS. PAM HAD WORKED WITH MERGER AS A BACKING VOCALIST ON EXILES INA BABYLON, AND HAD APPEARED ON THE OLD GREY WHISTLE TEST WITH THE GROUP. SHE, HOWEVER, IS BEST KNOWN AS THE LYRICIST FOR JOAN ARMATRADING AT THE START OF HER CAREER, THOUGH THE PARTNERSHIP WAS I BELIEVE DISCOURAGED BEYOND JOAN’S EXCELLENT WHATEVER’S FOR US DEBUT. I’M NOT SURE WHAT HAPPENED WITH PAM AND THE WORLD OF MUSIC. SHE CERTAINLY PLAYED LIVE ON THE LONDON SCENE IN THE LATE ‘70S, AND SHE MAKES AN APPEARANCE IN A BIZARRE NICK KENT FEATURE ON JOAN ARMATRADING FROM THE START OF 1977 WHICH MAKES FOR UNCOMFORTABLE READING, IN WHICH THE REVERED WRITER DESCRIBES PAM THUS: “THEY WERE CLOSE FOR QUITE A TIME: FOUR YEARS IT MUST HAVE BEEN, THINKS PAM WITH THE GORGEOUS EBONY PICKANINNY FACE-AND-PHYSIQUE AND THE NATTY LOCKS SO PERTLY HANGING IN INTRICATE PLAITS.”


AMONG THE TRACKS BARRY FORD RECORDED IN JAMAICA WERE ONES THAT WOULD APPEAR ON THE SOUNDTRACK OF LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE FABULOUS STAINS. AND I SUSPECT NOW BARRY IS BEST KNOWN FOR HIS ROLE OF LAWN BOY IN THE FILM. I HAVE TO CONFESS I HAD NEVER EVEN HEARD OF THE FILM UNTIL 1997 WHEN I READ THE FANTASTIC FEATURE BY THE LATE FILM-MAKER SARAH JACOBSON IN THE SIXTH ISSUE OF GRAND ROYAL, WHICH WAS AT THE TIME THE COOLEST THING AROUND. SHE INTERVIEWS SCRIPT WRITER NANCY DOWD AND A MIXTURE OF THE OTHER PEOPLE CONNECTED WITH THE FILM LIKE LOU ADLER, PAUL COOK, AND CAROLINE COON. THERE IS ALSO A WHOLE HOST OF GLOWING TESTIMONIES WHICH ILLUSTRATE HOW MUCH THE FILM MEANT TO PEOPLE WITHIN THE THEN CURRENT RIOT GRRL MOVEMENT.

I CANNOT RESIST MENTIONING THAT ONE OF THE FILM’S STARS, LAURA DERN, WAS IN THE DAVID LYNCH FILM, WILD AT HEART, WHICH WAS BASED ON THE BARRY GIFFORD STORY OF SAILOR AND LULA. THE SOUNDTRACK FEATURES AFRICAN HEAD CHARGE’S FAR AWAY CHANT FROM THE EARLY ON-U SOUND PRODUCTION MY LIFE IN A HOLE IN THE GROUND. BONJO I AND ADRIAN SHERWOOD’S MAGNIFICENT MUSIC MAY SEEM A LITTLE INCONGRUOUS IN THAT PARTICULAR SETTING, BUT IF IT HELPED PEOPLE INVESTIGATE AFRICAN HEAD CHARGE THAT HAS TO BE A GOOD THING. ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE FABULOUS STAINS WAS DEE PLEATED, PLAYED BY MARIN KANTER WHO IS AN ACTRESS ALSO SHOCKINGLY UNDERUSED BY THE FILM INDUSTRY. SHE, HOWEVER, DOES APPEAR MEMORABLY AS TELENA IN KATHLEEN BIGELOW’S THE LOVELESS, WHICH IS ANOTHER OF THE GREAT AMERICAN FILMS OF THE EARLY ‘80S. IT ALSO HAS ONE OF THE BEST SOUNDTRACKS OF ALL TIME, LARGELY COURTESY OF ROBERT GORDON WHO LOOKS SO

FANTASTIC IN THE FILM ITSELF.

IN THE

LATE ‘70S AFTER

HE LEFT MERGER A

BARRY FORD TRACK REBEL (ABOUT JOHNNY ROTTEN, I BELIEVE) APPEARED ON A

ROCK AGAINST RACISM ‘GREATEST HITS’ COMPILATION WHICH FEATURED TRACKS FROM ELVIS COSTELLO, CAROL GRIMES, MATUMBI, GANG OF FOUR, THE CIMARONS, X RAY SPEX, ASWAD, SLF, STEEL PULSE, MEKONS, MEMBERS, AND THE TOM ROBINSON BAND. A VERSION OF MAGGIE’S FARM, CREDITED TO BARRY FORD & THE NEW BREED APPEARED AT THE END OF 1979, WITH A SPECIALS CONNECTION VIA RICO. WITH THE TORY SUCCESS IN THE 1979 ELECTION THE SONG HAD TAKEN ON A NEW SIGNIFICANCE. THE SPECIALS THEMSELVES RECORDED THEIR OWN INTERPRETATION OF THE DYLAN CLASSIC SHORTLY AFTERWARDS.


LONG BEFORE HE WAS IN MERGER BARRY FORD WAS IN DEMAND AS A DRUMMER. AT THE START OF THE ‘70S HE WAS A MEMBER OF NOIR, WHO ARE HAILED AS THE UK’S FIRST ALL-BLACK ROCK GROUP. THEIR ONE LP, WE HAD TO LET YOU HAVE IT, FROM 1971 MAY NOT HAVE ALL THE JAZZ EMBELLISHMENTS OF THEIR CONTEMPORARIES DEMON FUZZ WONDERFUL AFREAKA! LP OR THE

PHENOMENAL POLYRHYTHMS OF OSIBISA

(WHO AT THE TIME WERE PRODUCED BY

TONY VISCONTI AND HAD ROGER DEAN DESIGNED SLEEVES), BUT IN THE CONTEXT OF THE HEAVY PROGRESSIVE/PSYCH CREAM-INFLUENCED MUSICAL WORLD IT’S A PRETTY SPECIAL LP. EVEN ON CD IT’S RIDICULOUSLY RARE, BUT TRACKS ARE POSTED ON YOUTUBE FOR THE CURIOUS TO INVESTIGATE. FROM WHAT I’VE READ THE GROUP WAS LESS THAN HAPPY ABOUT THE WAY THE RECORD SOUNDED WHEN DAWN RELEASED IT. CURIOUSLY THIS ECHOES THE SENTIMENTS OF DEMON FUZZ ABOUT WHAT DAWN DID WITH THEIR OWN AFREAKA! LP WHICH NEVERTHELESS HAS BECOME A MUCH-LOVED RECORD SINCE IT EMERGED ON CD. THE GUITARIST IN NOIR WAS GORDON HUNTE, WHO WOULD MUCH LATER BE PART OF SADE’S BEFORE THAT, THOUGH, HE WAS A STALWART OF THE LEGENDARY LONDON FUNK ENSEMBLE GONZALEZ. AS WONDERFUL AS THE FIRST COUPLE OF GONZALEZ LPS ARE IT’S TEMPTING TO SPECULATE ABOUT HOW WONDERFUL THE GROUP MUST HAVE BEEN LIVE PLAYING THE LONDON CIRCUIT IN ITS PRIME WITH AN EVER-CHANGING POOL OF MUSICIANS KEEPING FRESH AND VERY FUNKY. IT’S IRONIC THAT THE GROUP IS BEST REMEMBERED FOR ITS GLORIA JONES WRITTEN/PRODUCED HIT HAVEN’T STOPPED DANCING YET, WHICH WAS A MASSIVE DISCO FAVOURITE. AS GREAT AS THIS SONG WAS IT’S THE FIRST COUPLE OF GONZALEZ RECORDS YOU REALLY NEED. THE SELF-TITLED DEBUT AND 1975’S OUR ONLY WEAPON IS OUR MUSIC ARE FIERCELY FUNKY, WITH VERY STRONG JAZZ AND LATIN FLAVOURINGS WHICH IN MORE RECENT YEARS HAVE BEEN FIRM FAVOURITES ON JAZZ DANCEFLOORS. AND THE TRACK NO WAY FROM THE FIRST LP IS AS HARD AS THEY COME, MUSICALLY AND LYRICALLY WITH ITS ATTACK ON HOW THE POOR LIVE IN LONDON: “EASTERN MYSTICS MAY BE WISE. THEY MEDITATE. YET THEY DON’T KNOW THE HANG-UPS ABOUT THIS CALLED WELFARE STATE. POLITICIANS WONDER WHY THEIR SYSTEMS WE REJECT. WITH UNION DUES AND TAX ON FOOD .” BAND.

BARRY FORD MEANWHILE SEEMS TO HAVE SPENT A LITTLE TIME WITH KILBURN & THE HIGH ROADS, AFTER INTRODUCTIONS FROM CHARLIE GILLETT, BUT HE WILL HAVE SPENT RATHER MORE TIME IN THE GROUP CLANCY IN THE MID-‘70S. THERE IS A RECEIVED WISDOM THAT THE PRE-PUNK LONDON PUB ROCK SCENE WAS ABOUT BEER, SWEAT AND R ‘N’ B, BUT THINGS WERE A LITTLE MORE PLEASANTLY COMPLICATED THAN THAT. THERE WERE ALL SORTS OF STYLES OF MUSIC BEING PEDDLED ON THE LIVE CIRCUIT, FROM JAZZ FUNK TO COUNTRY ROCK, WITH MUSICIANS FROM ALL SORTS OF BACKGROUNDS TRYING TO MAKE IT, WHICH IS ONE REASON WHY THE BLOCKHEADS, SAY, WERE MUSICALLY LIGHT YEARS AHEAD OF THE PUNK GROUPS HAVING SERVED A VALUABLE APPRENTICESHIP.


CLANCY WAS A BIT OF A MIXTURE OF STYLES, SOUNDING RATHER BLUE-EYED SOUL MEETS COUNTRY ROCK IN A STEVE MILLER BAND KIND OF WAY. THE GROUP WAS FORMED OR FRONTED BY ERNIE GRAHAM, WHO HAD BEEN IN THE PSYCHEDELIC OUTFIT EIRE APPARENT WHOSE ONE GREAT LP WAS PRODUCED BY JIMI HENDRIX. ERNIE ALSO RELEASED A GREAT SOLO FOLK ROCK LP AT THE START OF THE ‘70S. THE CATALYST FOR HIM STARTING CLANCY WAS MEETING THE WONDERFULLY NAMED COLIN BASS, WHO HAD BEEN PLAYING IN ONE OF THE LATER LIVE INCARNATIONS OF THE FOUNDATIONS. ONE DAY A DEFINITIVE LIST OF MUSICIANS WHO PASSED THROUGH THE FOUNDATIONS’ RANKS SHOULD BE DRAWN UP. IT WOULD CERTAINLY INCLUDE JOHN SPRINGATE OF THE GLITTER BAND, BONJO I OF AFRICAN HEAD CHARGE, AND IVAN JULIAN OF THE VOIDOIDS. I REALLY LIKE MUSICIANS LIKE COLIN BASS BECAUSE THEIR

CAREERS DEFY COMMON SENSE OR RATHER CONVENTIONAL CAREER LOGIC.

HE, FOR EXAMPLE, PLAYED WITH CAMEL FOR A LONG TIME, BUT THEN WENT ON TO BE PART OF JOHN PEEL FAVOURITES 3 MUSTAPHAS 3. HE PRODUCED (ANOTHER PEEL FAVOURITE) THE PIONEERING ZIMBABWEAN MUSICIAN AND SINGER STELLA RAMBISAI CHIWESHE’S CHISI, HER FIRST RECORD I THINK OUTSIDE AFRICA. AND HE PLAYED BASS ON THE MALIAN SINGER AND MUSICIAN OUMOU SANGARE’S WONDERFUL KO SIRA ON WORLD CIRCUIT IN 1993. ALONG THE WAY HE BECAME AN EXPERT IN INDONESIAN AND GAMELAN MUSIC.

THE MOST REMARKABLE RECORD COLIN BASS HAS BEEN INVOLVED WITH IS PERCUSSIONIST GASPER LAWAL’S AJOMASÉ LP FROM 1980. ONE TRACK FROM THIS HAS BEEN GIVEN A NEW LEASE OF LIFE IN RECENT YEARS AS KITA KITA WAS INCLUDED ON THE MUCH LOVED AND MASSIVELY INFLUENTIAL STRUT COMPILATION NIGERIA 70. SINCE THE REVELATORY APPEARANCE OF THAT COMPILATION THERE HAS BEEN AN AVALANCHE OF SALVAGED SOUNDS FROM NIGERIA, AND IT’S BEEN DIFFICULT TO KEEP UP. BUT I DON’T THINK AJOMASÉ IS IN GENERAL CIRCULATION, WHICH IS A REAL CRIME. PERHAPS BECAUSE IT WAS RECORDED IN LONDON AT THE START OF THE ‘80S THE RECORD HAS A UNIQUE FEEL IN THAT IT SEEMS TO REACH OUT IN ALL SORTS OF DIRECTIONS. THE TRACK KITA KITA HAS A REAL DISCO DUB FEEL, FOR EXAMPLE. AND IT HAS TO BE SAID COLIN’S BASS PLAYING IS REMARKABLE, AND HIGH IN THE MIX NOT UNLIKE JAH WOBBLE’S WORK WITH PIL. APPROPRIATELY I REMEMBER READING HOW THE GUY WHO RUNS THE EXCELLENT NO CONDITION IS PERMANENT SITE BOUGHT HIS COPY OF AJOMASÉ IN THE 99 RECORDS STORE IN DOWNTOWN NYC. IT REALLY FEELS AS THOUGH IT COULD HAVE BEEN PUT OUT ON 99 OR OUR OWN EQUIVALENT Y RECORDS. THE LINK BETWEEN GASPER LAWAL AND COLIN BASS GOES BACK TO THE MID-‘70S WHEN THEY THERE ARE OTHER GREAT LINKS AND CONNECTIONS ON AJOMASÉ TO EXPLORE TOO. IS THE JIMI HAYNES LISTED IN THE CREDITS THE ASWAD GUITARIST, FOR EXAMPLE? THE SLEEVENOTES ARE BY CHRIS MAY OF BLACK MUSIC, AND MENTION MANY OF THE PEOPLE GASPER HAD PLAYED WITH WHILE LIVING IN THE UK. PLAYED TOGETHER WITH BARRY FORD AND ERNIE GRAHAM IN CLANCY.


AND HEAVILY INVOLVED

IN THE PRODUCTION PROCESS

WAS JONI HAASTRUP, ANOTHER NAME I FIRST CAME ACROSS ON THE NIGERIA 70 COLLECTION, WHICH FEATURES HIS GROUP

MONOMONO AND A TRACK FROM THE LATER AND TOTALLY

INSPIRATIONAL WAKE UP YOUR

MIND SOLO LP. THE CURIOUS AMONG US WILL HAVE FOUND WAYS TO INVESTIGATE

HAASTRUP’S MUSIC IN MORE DETAIL, AND SUCH CURIOSITY

WILL DEFINITELY HAVE PAID OFF.

GASPER LAWAL AND

JONI ARE LINKED TOO VIA GINGER BAKER’S AIR FORCE. AND I MUST ADMIT I AM FASCINATED BY IF NOT KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT THE INTERACTION BETWEEN AFRICAN MUSICIANS AND THE LONDON MUSIC SCENE IN SUPPOSEDLY LESS ENLIGHTENED TIMES. THERE WERE THE WONDERFUL OSIBISA RECORDS, FOR EXAMPLE. AND THERE’S A GREAT COMPILATION OF VINTAGE UK FUNK PUT TOGETHER BY BLUEY OF INCOGNITO/LIGHT OF THE WORLD WHICH PLACES AFRICAN OUTFITS THE FUNKEES AND MATATA ALONGSIDE GONZALEZ, LABI SIFFRE, CAROL GRIMES, THE EQUALS, DORIS TROY, AND CYMANDE AMONG OTHERS. STEVIE WINWOOD WHO WAS ALSO BRIEFLY INVOLVED WITH GINGER BAKER’S AIR FORCE WOULD

LATER MAKE AN LP OF WONDERFUL LOOSE AFRO ROCK/GROOVES WITH REMI KABAKA AND ABDUL LASISI

AMAO (OF OSIBISA) AS THIRD WORLD, WHICH I’M SURE MADE MANY OF HIS FANS WONDER WHAT ON EARTH WAS GOING ON. WITH HIS GROUP TRAFFIC WINWOOD WOULD GET THE AFRICAN PERCUSSIONIST REEBOP INVOLVED, AND FOR THOSE THAT LOVE CONNECTIONS, GORDON HUNTE AND OTHER MEMBERS OF GONZALEZ PLAYED ON REEBOP FIRST SOLO LP FOR ISLAND, WHILE BOBO STENSON AND OTHER SCANDINAVIAN JAZZ PLAYERS WERE ON HIS SECOND SOLO SET. REEBOP WOULD LATER PLAY WITH CAN, AND INTERESTINGLY SHORTLY BEFORE HIS DEATH IN 1983 HE WAS INVOLVED IN A COUPLE OF HIS MOST FASCINATING WORKS. ONE WAS SINGING ON THE EXCEPTIONAL MASIMBABELE, A SINGLE RECORDED WITH THE GERMAN DUO THE UNKNOWN CASES, WHICH WAS RELEASED IN THE UK ON ROUGH TRADE. THE OTHER WAS COLLABORATING WITH WALLY BADAROU ON THE TITLE TRACK OF THE SOUNDTRACK FROM THE JAMAICAN FILM COUNTRYMAN. THE FILM’S GREAT SOUNDTRACK ALSO FEATURES THE UK REGGAE GROUPS ASWAD AND STEEL PULSE, ALONGSIDE OUR ADOPTED SON RICO, WHO PLAYED WITH THE SPECIALS AND SO MANY OTHERS.


BACK IN 1984/1985 WHEN THE WHOLE BAND AID/LIVE AID CHARITY

CAMPAIGN TOOK CENTRE STAGE THERE WAS CONSIDERABLE CONCERN ABOUT HOW

SOMETHING THAT WAS ABOUT RAISING MONEY TO HELP FIGHT FAMINE IN ETHIOPIA COULD FAIL TO INVOLVE MUSICIANS FROM AFRICA ITSELF.

TO GO SOME WAY TOWARDS

COUNTERING THIS ANOTHER CHARITY SINGLE APPEARED ON MADNESS’ ZARJAZZ LABEL.

ONE SIDE FEATURED AN UPDATE OF THE PIONEERS’ STARVATION, AND FEATURED A

WHOLE HOST OF PEOPLE FROM THE EXTENDED

2 TONE FAMILY, PLUS ANNIE WHITEHEAD ON TROMBONE. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SINGLE WAS TAM TAM POUR L’ETHIOPIE WHICH FEATURED SOMETHING OF A WHO’S WHO OF AFRICAN PERFORMERS. IT ALSO APPEARED AS THE FIRST TRACK ON A NME CASSETTE CALLED ALL AFRICA RADIO WHICH GAVE A WONDERFUL INTRODUCTION TO THE SOUNDS COMING OUT OF AFRICA AT THAT TIME. INTRIGUINGLY GASPER LAWAL APPEARED PLAYING WITH THE 2-TONE TEAM. ONE OTHER NAME AMONG COLIN BASS’ COLLABORATORS STANDS OUT, AND THAT IS OLLIE MARLAND’S. NOW I WILL ADMIT I AM NO EXPERT ON THE LIFE AND WORKS OF OLLIE MARLAND. IN FACT IT HAS ONLY JUST REGISTERED THAT COLIN AND OLLIE SHARE CREDITS ON ONE SONG ON CAROL GRIMES’ SWEET F.A. LP FROM 1980. OLLIE IS PART OF THE GROUP ON THAT RECORD, AND IT AT LEAST PROVIDES AN EXCUSE TO SAY HOW HIGHLY I RATE CAROL GRIMES AS A SINGER. I THINK SHE HAS ONE OF THE GREAT ENGLISH VOICES, AND I APPROVE VERY MUCH OF THE WAY SHE HAS OVER THE YEARS REFUSED TO BE TIED DOWN TO ONE PARTICULAR STYLE. PERSONAL PREDILECTIONS MEAN I HAVE TO MENTION FOOLS MEETING BY CAROL GRIMES & DELIVERY FROM THE START OF THE ‘70S WHERE HER EXTRAORDINARY VOCALS PUT HER RIGHT UP THERE WITH JULIE DRISCOLL. THAT GROUP, WITH A HEAVY PSYCH SOUND THAT WASN’T TYPICAL OF THE CANTERBURY SCENE DELIVERY WAS ASSOCIATED WITH, FEATURED PIP PYLE ON DRUMS AND LOL COXHILL ON SAX. THE LITTLE I REALLY KNOW ABOUT OLLIE MARLAND’S WORK IS THE SERIES OF COLLABORATIONS THEY WORKED TOGETHER, FOR EXAMPLE, ON A COUPLE OF EPS WITH THE PUNK POET JOOLZ WHERE THEIR ELECTRONIC SOUNDTRACK SAT WONDERFULLY INCONGRUOUSLY WITH HER BLUNT NORTH EAST STREET STORIES. THIS SERIES ALSO INCLUDED THE WOBBLE/MARLAND NEON MOON LP FOR ISLAND IN 1985 WHICH I GUESS IS THE CLOSEST WOBBLE HAS EVER COME TO A CONVENTIONAL POP RECORD. AT TIMES THE SOUND IS POST-PEECH BOYS CONTEMPORARY ELECTRO-FUNK/SOUL NOT FAR REMOVED FROM WHAT THE STYLE COUNCIL OR SCRITTI POLITTI WERE DOING AT THE TIME. AND IT WORKS. THE PERSONNEL ON THE LP INCLUDED THE GREAT TRUMPET PLAYER HARRY BECKETT, AND THE SINGLE LOVE MYSTERY FEATURED SHARA NELSON ON VOCALS, AGAIN SEVERAL YEARS BEFORE HER STARRING ROLE WITH MASSIVE ATTACK ON BLUE LINES. HE RECORDED WITH JAH WOBBLE IN THE EARLY TO MID-‘80S.


ONE THING THAT LINKED JAH WOBBLE AND SHARA NELSON AT THAT TIME WOULD HAVE BEEN ADRIAN SHERWOOD AND ON- U SOUND. WOBBLE IS ONE OF MANY ARTISTS WHO HAVE IN PASSING CONTRIBUTED TO THE ON-U SOUND LEGEND. YOU CAN HAVE GREAT FUN LISTING THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN INVOLVED: A LYDON HERE, A LEVENE THERE, A RAINCOAT AND THE POP GROUP GUYS, VIV ALBERTINE AND VIV GOLDMAN, THE PEECH BOYS’ BERNARD FOWLER AND YARGO’S BASIL CLARKE, LOL COXHILL AND SO ON. I KNOW MANY FIND THE WHOLE ON-U SOUND CATALOGUE FASCINATING, AND I BET THERE ARE THOSE WHO HAVE CAREFULLY LOGGED WHO MADE GUEST APPEARANCES ON WHICH RECORDS, AND HOW MANY TIMES SO-AND-SO HAS APPEARED. I’D LIKE TO SEE THAT LIST. I SUSPECT NICK PLYTAS WOULD BE PRETTY NEAR THE TOP OF ANY SUCH LIST, BUT I’VE NOT SEEN ANY GREAT DISSERTATIONS ABOUT THIS OR HIS CONTRIBUTION TO THE GOLDEN AGE OF ON-U SOUND. IN FACT I DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW NICK PLYTAS CAME TO BE SUCH AN INTEGRAL IF UNSUNG PART OF THE

ON-U COLLECTIVE.

THERE IS A LOT I DON’T KNOW ABOUT NICK PLYTAS. I DO KNOW HE PLAYED KEYBOARDS IN ROOGALATOR, THE PUB ROCK-NOT-PUB ROCK OUTFIT. I THINK THERE WAS A LINK TO STEVE BERESFORD THERE, BUT DON’T QUOTE ME ON THAT. I HAVE A SOFT SPOT FOR ROOGALATOR, AS I KNOW JOHN PEEL PLAYED THEM THE FIRST TIME I LISTENED TO HIS SHOW IN 1977. AND I THINK ROBIN ‘M’ SCOTT MANAGED THEM. INTERESTINGLY WALLY BADAROU WOULD HOLD THE SAME POSITION IN THE M ORGANISATION THAT NICK PLYTAS WOULD PLAY IN THE ON-U SOUND SET-UP. I GUESS THE FIRST TIME I SAW THE NAME NICK PLYTAS WOULD HAVE BEEN ON THE CREDITS OF SNATCH’S ALL I WANT SINGLE, WHICH CAME IN THAT IMPOSSIBLY GLAMOROUS GLOSSY SLEEVE, IN 1978. THAT SNATCH SINGLE WAS ON THE LIGHTNING LABEL, WHICH WAS A STRANGE OLD CONCERN. IT’S PROBABLY BEST KNOWN NOW FOR ITS REGGAE RELEASES SUCH AS ALTHEA & DONNA’S UPTOWN TOP RANKING, CULTURE’S TWO SEVENS CLASH, DENNIS BROWN’S MONEY IN MY POCKET, AND THE JOE GIBBS AFRICAN DUB SERIES, SOME OF WHICH WERE IN TURN LICENSED TO WEA. IT’S TEMPTING TO GO ON AND MENTION PRINCE FAR-I’S HEAVY MANNERS AND THE MYSTERIOUS ELIZABETH ARCHER’S FEEL LIKE MAKING LOVE AND ITS ASTONISHING DUB SIDE. I KNOW VERY LITTLE ABOUT ELIZABETH EXCEPT SHE WAS A FAVOURITE ON THE JOHN PEEL SHOW, AND SHE SANG BACKING VOCALS WITH ARI UP AND VIV GOLDMAN ON PRINCE FAR I’S LEGENDARY ADRIAN SHERWOOD PRODUCED CRY TUFF DUB ENCOUNTER CHAPTER 3. LIGHTNING THE LABEL WAS RUN BY BUSINESSMEN WHO DEFY THE ENDURING NARRATIVE OF INDEPENDENT ENTREPRENEURS IN THE LATE ‘70S. LIGHTNING JUST TO CONFUSE THINGS ALSO RELEASED A BIZARRE ARRAY OF PUNK CASH-IN SINGLES (E.G. LLOYD GROSSMAN AS JET BRONX) AS WELL AS A SERIES OF FOOTBALL RELATED RECORDS WHICH WOULD MAKE MIKE ALWAY DROOL.


I THINK LIGHTNING’S BACKGROUND WAS IN DISTRIBUTION, IMPORTS AND EXPORTS, WHICH IS I ASSUME WHERE THE CONNECTIONS WITH THE REGGAE AND PUNK WORLDS CAME IN. YOU CAN TELL I DON’T KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT LIGHTNING. BUT I DO KNOW THAT IN THOSE DAYS IT WAS CERTAINLY EASIER TO GET HOLD OF INDEPENDENT RELEASES THAN IT WOULD BE WHEN SET-UPS LIKE ROUGH TRADE AND REVOLVER GOT TOGETHER AS THE CARTEL. LIGHTNING ALSO RAN THE OLD GOLD LABEL WHICH IN THE DAYS BEFORE THE SALVAGE INDUSTRY TOOK OFF WAS AN INVALUABLE OUTLET ON THE HIGH STREET

(WH SMITH’S STOCKED THEIR RELEASES) FOR SOUGHT AFTER SOUNDS FROM POP’S PAST. I REMEMBER BUYING GEMS FROM ITS CATALOGUE LIKE ARETHA FRANKLIN’S I SAY A LITTLE PRAYER, EASYBEATS’ FRIDAY ON MY MIND, BYRDS’ CHESTNUT MARE, AND BOB & EARL’S HARLEM SHUFFLE BACKED WITH THE DUCK BY JACKIE LEE. I THINK THEY HAD A DEAL WITH TROJAN TOO TO RELEASE SOME OF ITS OLD HITS IN TIME FOR THE 2 TONE EXPLOSION. THE WHOLE ISSUE OF SMALL LABELS AND LICENSING IS A MINE FIELD, AND IN THE REGGAE WORLD OFTEN INVOLVED SEVERAL LAYERS. JUST TAKE FOR INSTANCE SUSAN CADOGAN’S HURT SO GOOD, ONE OF THE MOST FONDLY REMEMBERED HITS FROM THE MID-‘70S. IT WAS PRODUCED BY LEE PERRY IN BLACK ARK STUDIOS, AND SOMEHOW DENNIS HARRIS MANAGED TO LEASE IT FOR HIS D.I.P. LABEL IN THE UK, ALONG WITH JUNIOR BYLES’ CURLY LOCKS, WHERE THEY BECAME REAL SMASHES ON THE REGGAE CHARTS. HARRIS IN TURN LEASED THESE TWO SINGLES TO MAGNET, HOME OF ALVIN STARDUST AND SILVER CONVENTION, WITH SUSAN’S SONG BECOMING A MASSIVE HIT IN THE REAL WORLD. THE IRONY WAS THAT THESE SCRATCH PRODUCTIONS PERHAPS SHOULD HAVE BELONGED TO TROJAN. INDEED TROJAN SUBSEQUENTLY RELEASED AN AMAZING LP OF SCRATCH’S EXQUISITE PRODUCTIONS USING SUSAN’S UNIQUE SPACEY (ALMOST NOOSHA FOXY) SINGING OVER HIS RHYTHMS. MAGNET MEANWHILE HAD SUSAN RECORD A CASH-IN SET PRODUCED BY PETE WATERMAN WHICH IS A VERY ODD AFFAIR AND UNFORTUNATELY VERY MUCH NOT MY THING IN TERMS OF PRODUCTION.

MANY YEARS LATER SANITY WOULD BE RESTORED WHEN SUSAN GOT TO MAKE AN LP OF SOULFUL REGGAE WITH THE MAD PROFESSOR FOR ARIWA.

I HAVE NO IDEA HOW SNATCH CAME TO RELEASE THEIR SINGLES ON LIGHTNING, LICENSED FROM BOMP I GUESS INITIALLY, BUT THEY SEEMED WONDERFUL THINGS. SNATCH, OR JUDY NYLON AND PATTI PALLADIN, HAVE ALWAYS HAD THIS ALLURING SENSE OF BEING FABULOUSLY FLAMBOYANT, WITH A GENUINE LIFE AS ART THING ABOUT THEM. THEY ARE CRIMINALLY UNDER-VALUED AND SHAMEFULLY UNDER-RECORDED. JUDY HAS MADE THE ONE SOLO LP, WHICH IS THE PAL JUDY SET FROM 1982 ON ONU SOUND, WHERE SHE WAS REUNITED WITH NICK PLYTAS, COINCIDENTALLY OR OTHERWISE. PAL JUDY IS ONE OF THE GREAT LOST (AND MOST SONG-BASED) ON-U RECORDINGS, WITH THE OBLIQUE POETRY AND ART STANCE FITTING PERFECTLY WITH THE DUB/FUNK CUT-UPS. THERE ARE PLENTY OF HIGHLIGHTS ON PAL JUDY BUT LIVE IN A LIFT IS THE ONE FOR ME, AND IF YOU PUT IT TOGETHER WITH THE MIKE DORANEPRODUCED FITZROY HENRY SONG CAN’T TAKE MY EYES OFF YOU THE FIT IS PERFECT. INCIDENTALLY I RECENTLY SAW A LOVELY TRIBUTE TO ARI UP BY JUDY, WHICH ACTUALLY CAUGHT SOMETHING OTHER TRIBUTES SEEMED TO MISS.


THERE IS ALSO,

FLOATING AROUND THE

INTERNET, PROMOTIONAL FILM FOOTAGE RECENTLY SALVAGED OF ENO

PERFORMING CHINA MY

CHINA WITH JUDY NYLON AND POLLY ELTES PLAYING GUITARS IN FRONT OF A BANK OF TV SCREENS

SHOWING THEM PLAYING GUITAR ETC.

BOTH JUDY

AND POLLY HAVE LINKS TO

ENO AND THAT RECORD. THEY WERE ALSO BOTH INVOLVED IN OTHER PROJECTS WITH VISUAL AND PERFORMANCE ARTISTS LIKE ANNE BEAN AND PAUL BURWELL. POLLY WOULD LATER SING WITH JAH WOBBLE AND OLLIE MARLAND ON THE VOODOO/EAST SINGLE, WHICH WAS ENGINEERED BY MARK LUSARDI IN HIS MARK ANGELO STUDIO, AND WITH CAN’S MICHAEL KAROLI ON HIS DELUGE LP. THERE ARE OF COURSE NUMEROUS LINKS BETWEEN JAH WOBBLE AND VARIOUS CAN MEMBERS. AND IT’S EASY TO IMAGINE THE PIL GUYS, A SLIT OR TWO, AND ADRIAN SHERWOOD HANGING OUT IN THE LATE ‘70S, LISTENING TO THEIR OLD CAN RECORDS AND THE LATEST DUB SOUNDS. BUT WHERE DOES NICK PLYTAS FIT IN WITH THAT SCENE? I DON’T KNOW, BUT IT’S GOT TO BE MORE THAN MERE COINCIDENCE THAT HE’S ON SO MANY OF THE ON-U HISTORICAL MOMENTS: AFRICAN HEAD CHARGE, DUB SYNDICATE, SINGERS & PLAYERS, PLAYGROUP, VOICE OF AUTHORITY, MISSING BRAZILIANS, AND SO ON. I HAVE TO CONFESS I HAVE IN THE PAST MOMENTARILY CONFUSED NICK PLYTAS WITH NICK STRAKER. I GUESS THAT’S NOT TOO SHAMEFUL AS THINGS GO. THE OTHER NICK (STRAKER) HAD BEEN THE KEYBOARDS PLAYER IN THE EARLY INCARNATION OF MATUMBI, HAVING BEEN AT SCHOOL WITH DENNIS BOVELL. HE WENT ON TO BECOME MORE INVOLVED IN FUSION, ALMOST ACCIDENTALLY HAVING A HIT IN THE REAL WORLD WITH THE DISCO CROSSOVER TRACK A WALK IN THE PARK. HE THEN EVEN MORE ACCIDENTALLY HAD A MASSIVE US DANCE HIT WITH A LITTLE BIT OF JAZZ, WHICH WAS RELEASED ON THE ULTRA-COOL PRELUDE LABEL AND IS ON A LOT OF THOSE PARADISE GARAGE DISCO CLASSICS LISTS AND LAUDED AS A ELECTRO-FUNK FUSION MASTERPIECE. INTERESTINGLY THOUGH NICK WAS MORE COMFORTABLE PLAYING WITH DENNIS BOVELL’S DUB BAND AND LINTON KWESI JOHNSON, AND ADDING KEYBOARDS TO UNDERGROUND RECORDS LIKE ARCHIE POOL’S R.A.P.P. PRESENTS WICKED CITY WHICH WAS PRODUCED BY DENNIS BOVELL FOR DICK O’DELL’S Y LABEL. AND THAT’S A RECORD I STILL DON’T (REALLY) KNOW. ISN’T THAT WHERE WE CAME IN?

More pop tracts and associated activities at: www.yrheartout.blogspot.com Contact: yr.heartout@gmail.com The usual apologies to all those that know more about these things …

Profile for Kevin Pearce

Your Heart Out 21 - Skimming Stones  

Your Heart Out 21 - Skimming Stones  

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