Sunday, 25 November 2012

Rich's Reggae (and Stuff) - 2

Another hour-long episode of Rich's Reggae (and Stuff):

1. Desmond Dekker & The Aces - A It Mek
2. Ranking Dread - Fattie Boom Boom
3. Clancy Eccles - Fattie Fattie
4. Audio Razor - Comes And Goes
5. Earl 16 - Chase The Devil
6. The Slickers - Johnny Too Bad
7. Soul Vendors - The Whip
8. Damian "Junior Gong" Marley - All Night
9. Hot 8 Brass Band - Ghost Town
10. Steel Pulse - Ku Klux Klan
11. Dennis Brown - Man Next Door
12. Prince Fatty - That Very Night In Dub
13. Dave Barker - Your Love Is A Game
14. Toots and the Maytals - You Really Got Me
15. Harmonians - Music Street
16. Dreadzone - First Steps 

I WILL think of a better name for this show at some point, but in the meantime you can stream it on mixlr. Having issues with Soundcloud so can't upload there for some reason - if you fancy an mp3 let me know & I'll sort it!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Off sick and bored...

... today so I plugged in the mic, knocked up a playlist and played and hour of 'Rich's Reggae (and Stuff)':

  1.  U-Roy - Jah Son Of Africa
  2. Theo Beckford - Easy Snappin'
  3. Prince Fatty - For Me You Are (feat. Hollie Cook & Horseman)
  4. Joe Gibbs & The Professionals - Chapter Three
  5. Phoenix City All-Stars & Dave Barker - Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
  6. Resonators - Sweet Love Affair 
  7. Lotek - Dreader Than Dread 
  8. Earl Zero & Soul Syndicate - None Shall Escape the Judgment 
  9. Wrongtom Meets Deemas J - Old Time Stylee 
  10. Bagga Matumbi - Sun Is Shining 
  11. Flipron - The Comet Returns 
  12. Gregory Isaacs - Night Nurse 
  13. The Ethiopians - Socialism Train 
  14. Jimmy James and the Vagabonds - Stardust 
  15. Mark Holder & The Positives - Whatever's Fair 

Sunday, 18 November 2012

My new favourite band...

... or at least one of them, is Flipron. Not just because they write witty and catchy tunes as will be proved if you listen to this:

Neither is it just because they are from the South West (although that does tend to incline my head and heart to view any band more favourably) and have songs with titles like Hanging Round The Lean-To With Grandad and Raindrops Keeps Falling On The Dead. The fact that their new album is called Firework Shoes and has a lovely, colourful, smiley cover certainly helps, but that isn't the main reason I'm so struck with Flipron either:
Nor is it because their latest single is a collaboration with Specials legend Neville Staple. Or that said single is a truly wonderful slice of Spaghetti Western Boss Reggae that would grace any Trojan compilation:

No, I think the reason I'm so struck by this band is all of the above PLUS the fact that when I ordered a couple of EP's and a 45 from their record label - Tiny Dog Records - I got an friendly, personal email from them thanking me for my order, asking how I heard of the band and telling me when I could expect my records. On a weekend! You don't get THAT with Amazon or iTunes. 

Neither do you get music of this variety, originality or quality on mainstream radio or the TV. Which, I suppose, is why I feel the need to write posts like this - it's my small attempt to redress the balance somewhat. Christmas is coming; I know there's more chance of being bitten by a daffodil than of an independent artist getting the Christmas number one in the meaningless charts, BUT... If you are thinking of buying the latest X-Factor travesty for someone; why not get them a copy of Firework Shoes instead, or in fact any album or EP from a band that exists outside the comfy, crooked, corporate world of the media machine? You'd be giving them a much better gift, supporting REAL music and you'd probably win the Christmas Lottery too.*

*I made that lottery bit up - don't blame me if you don't win. Blame God. Or Cameron. Or Dave Lee Travis. Or some other git.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Call the Police!

We in Devon are going to get our very own Police Commissioner. How exciting! It seems this is a country-wide thing that our dear leaders deem to be in our best interests; although on past form I have my suspicions it wouldn't be happening unless there is a bung, a big-business favour or back-door privatisation hidden somewhere in the agenda. 

For what it's worth my vote is going to Nicky Williams. I emailed all of the candidates through the League Against Cruel Sports website and of only TWO replies Nicky's was the one that won my vote. Not only did she mention her opposition to the cruel, pointless and barbaric badger cull, she also didn't instruct me not to email again like one of the other candidates! Note to Mr Ivan Jordan, that is not, perhaps, the best way to win support! 

Never needing much excuse to pick out a few tunes on any given subject I offer these 5 Police-related tunes for your perusal:
  • Kicking off with a classic from one of the finest voices to grace reggae - or any other genre for that matter - Junior Murvin's timeless Police & Thieves.

  • I received the It's Gonna Get Dirty EP by Dirty Revolution from Do The Dog records this week (2 free CD's with a renewal of my subscription to the Do The Dog skazine - can't fault that!) This track is off that EP and pretty bloody good in my opinion it is too!

  • Next up is a tune from the criminally-overlooked Nutty Boys album from Crunch! - Chris and Lee from Madness. I've got a mate who still maintains that the album is called Crunch! and that the band is The Nutty Boys. But he's wrong. So there.

  • Riding on the success of Murvin's Police and Thieves, Lee Perry released a number of dub and DJ cuts on the same track and rhythm. This DJ version from Jah Lion is on the Arkology box set and an absolute belter:

  • Finishing this little selection in storming style is The Humanitarians with Call The Police. Sorry, that should "the award-winning Humanitarians", two nights ago the band deservedly picked up the Best EP award at the South West Music Awards. I reviewed this absolute belter a couple of posts ago and it's still getting played almost daily in the Badger House.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The curious charm of Ilfracombe

I had to spend a couple of hours in Ilfracombe today and spotted the above sign on a billboard by the bus station. As I had a bit of time to kill I thought I'd have a wander round to soak up some of the promised charm:

I saw this sign in Barnstaple bus station a while ago:


Sunday, 23 September 2012

SFR Soundsystem Sept 22nd 2012

This is my playlist for this week's show. Had a few technical issues (probably down to stupidity rather than actual technical stuff!) and also seemed to be suffering from advanced gob-shitedness last night. The saving grace was my co-presenter; young Danny Buster gave me a hand last night. I know I'm a biased Dad but it does make me immensely proud that he'd rather listen to scratchy old records with his Dad than watch the X-Factor or whatever other bilge is on the telly. I shan't be putting this show on Soundcloud as I didn't think it was very good, but you can stream it here: 

The other saving grace was that we had a fantastic brand new tune from Urang Matang, some great Spanish ska from Alademoska, the title track from BANG the Skillet's Do the Dishes album, a great track off the Specialized album, FOUR tracks from the great Rico Rodriguez and tons of classic ska, reggae & 2Tone that got me singing and bouncing and hopefully did the same for the listeners.
  1. Bad Manners - Sally Brown 
  2. Derrick Morgan - Blazing Fire 
  3. Madness - The Young and the Old 
  4. Urang Matang - Buddah Billy 
  5. Orange Street - Doesn't Make It Alright 
  6. Delano Stewart - Rocking Sensation 
  7. Little Roy - Rocking Chair 
  8. The Skatalites - Old Rocking Chair 
  9. The Moon Invaders - Rocking Chair 
  10. BANG the Skillet - Do The Dishes 
  11. 3 Minute Warning - Weekend Waster 
  12. Alademoska - Babylon 
  13. Jimmy James and the Vagabonds - Dan Is The Man 
  14. Jimmy Cliff - Let's Dance 
  15. The Selecter - Selling Out Your Future 
  16. The Beat - Doors of Your Heart 
  17. Madness - Death of a Rude Boy (Weatherall Remix) 
  18. Rico Rodriguez - Africa 
  19. Mudies All Stars - African Home 
  20. Augustus Pablo - Africa (1983) 
  21. Desmond Riley - Lead Them 
  22. The Charmers - Time After Time 
  23. Rico - Carolina 
  24. Rico Rodriguez & King Cliff - For Brother Rico from Cliff St Lewis 
  25. Rico Rodriguez with Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra - What A Wonderful World
  26. Tommy McCook & the Supersonics - Soul Rock 
  27. Audrey - You'll Lose a Good Thing 
  28. Lloyd Charmers - In The Spirit 
  29. Dandy - Move Your Mule 
  30. Harmonians - Music Street
  31. Jeff Barnes - Sweet Like Candy
  32. Delroy Wilson - Sweetie Pie 
  33. The Maytals - Sweet and Dandy 
  34. Prince Buster - Ten Commandments

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Moons - Gig Review by Ben

This review of The Moons is written by another SFR DJ: Ben. 
You can find Ben on Twitter as @BenAdlam and also on the SFR page here:
You can find The Moons on Twitter as @MoonsOfficial ( I wasn't following The Moons until i read ben's review - I am now!)

The Moons.
93 Feet East, Brick Lane, London.
12th September 2012
Last night found me in the middle of curry mile in London's Brick Lane to watch The Moons at 93 Feet East.

Unperturbed by the smell of vomit and urine by the ticket office, or indeed the over zealous ticket girl who had to find my name on a list even when I'd produced my ticket, I ventured into the fairly large venue to watch opening act The Kumari.

Full of verve and vigour the tore through a set that was as slick as the lead singers quiff, a good opener with solid tunes (even if their best song was a The Kinks/The Hives hybrid rip-off - or should I be kind and say "homage") I'll be looking out for them in future but there appears to be and American goth band of the same name which makes finding out about them a little tedious.

After a quick change over it was the turn of Mucky Pups to take the stage, their first tune was very promising, a kind of Strokes sound with a bit of Johnny Marr guitar over the top. Unfortunately it was fairly indiscernible from the rest of the set. They appear to have found a sound they like and repeated ad infinitum. The rhythm section was solid and powerful and I think the drummer is far better than the rest of the band.

Another quick change and it was the turn of the new line-up moons to take the stage, new members Chris (guitar) and Ben (bass) certainly looking the part alongside Andy (guitar/vocals), Tom (keys and cowbell) and Ben (drums). The crowd had certainly thickened out and tentatively made their way closer to the stage with a wide range of ages present, the broad appeal of The Moons was obvious to see, what's less obvious to me is why they are not bigger than they are, maybe the days of proper song craft have passed by again and the off the shelf punk pop of The Vaccines has become de rigour, it baffles me.

Opening with two songs from the forthcoming Fables of History album, Forever Came Today and Revolutionary Lovers demonstrated the fuller, harder and less innocent sound we can expect from the new album. The last single Double Vision Love was up next and went down a storm with the crowd along with singalong favourite Everyday Heroes. Even with Andy struggling with an obviously very sore throat the crowd were certainly on his side and helped him out.

The new band members were certainly on their game with Chris adding some very cool West Coast sounding guitars to Promise Not To Tell and How Long. My personal favourite, and a lot of the crowds too by the volume of singing, English Summer was up next, a song that carries on a tradition of the storming b-side, a Beatleseque ode to our favourite topic of conversation. Debut single Torn Between Two was followed by two more new tracks Can You See Me and the fantastic Something Soon with driving rhythm and chopped guitars it reminded me of The Jam and the fact that Paul Weller had a hand in the song was plain to see. Chinese Whispers really rattled the crowds bones as always and the set closed with an instant classic from Fables Of History the shout along It's Taking Over. 

The band left the stage very briefly before the strepsilled Andy returned with his acoustic guitar for current single Jennifer (Sits Alone). But not before introducing a clearly embarrassed Jennie to the crowd and urging us all to watch the box fresh video for the song on YouTube (which I duly did and was well worth the effort - get on it!).

The rest of the band rejoined the stage for elongated versions of Nightmare Day, with a stunning "get back into bed" refrain, and closing song Don't Go Changing which left the crowd sweating and happy. 

The band then signed copies of their singles, the CD and rather sexy White Vinyl of Fables Of History which are available to pre-order from Amazon and iTunes (released on 24th October) and at the rest of the dates on the tour.

I'm not sure if I agree with the sentiment of Don't Go Changing because if last night was anything to go by changing is definitely a good thing.

There is a light that will never go out.


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Humanitarians - Call The Police

I'm not usually over-impressed by the descriptions bands give to their own sound; the way they invite the reader to imagine some improbable or impossible coming together of musical giants and then boldly stating that THAT is what their records sound like. We've all read them - The Scruttocks take the power & majesty of Nik Kershaw, add the tenderness & subtlety of Judge Dread and infuse their music with the lyrical dexterity of Slayer - that sort of nonsense. Invariably such descriptions tend towards hyperbole; frequently they are utterly baffling; sometimes one detects a tongue firmly planted in cheek; often they're just plain bollocks. 

Usually a website blurb that promises: Imagine The Clash jamming with Lou Reed and Kasabian at The Leveller's Beautiful Days festival after a particularly big night out at a Soundgarden gig would have me aiming my mouse towards the little red cross at the top right of the page. But wait! I read on... And then all of a sudden Joe Strummer says, "We need some trombone". Ah, now you're talking - there isn't much that can't be enhanced with a bit of brass. 

Such is the promise of Devon band The Humanitarians on their website but does the reality live up to the promise? On the strength of their current single I'm happy, and amazed, to say that on this occasion the reality really does match the purple prose. Title-track Call the Police is an absolute belter of a track; 3 minutes and 20 seconds of stomping guitar, driven drums and parping brass. Caustic lyrics painting an accurate but bleak picture of the Jeremy Kyle society we are spawning should in theory be at odds with the bouncing tune but in practice they work wonderfully well together. Add to this a cracking video featuring pseudo-celebrities, chavs on CCTV, a gorgeous 1974 Ford Consul (and some actors) and you have something I can watch and listen to over and again. 

The B-side, Weatherman, begins with Michael Fish famously predicting that it may get a bit breezy but not to worry; an intro that on first listen led me to expect more of the same as was delivered by Call the Police. Weatherman, however, has a very different feel to the A-side, being more folky and melodic yet still driven and insistent. Two tracks of such quality and diversity auger well for the forthcoming album No Law

The Humanitarians current line up consists of singer, songwriter and guitarist John Mathew, Geoff Dalley on bass, Hayden Jones on drums and Rich Mills providing brass - mostly trombone - and guitar (presumably not at the same time). Rich describes the forthcoming album as "folky tunes rocking hard then veering into reggae breakdowns. Sabbath & Soundgarden influences creep in occasionally alongside The Clash, Specials, Lou Reed, Madness, Blur, Kasabian & Jam influences" and he promises, "it's varied, but it works." That's quite a list of influences and sounds to look out for; personally I prefer to steer away from the 'sounds like...' descriptions but can wholeheartedly agree with Rich's last statement: "It works"! As well as the album there are tracks ready for an EP release to follow soon which "may" include a cover of Al Wilson's The Snake - bloody hope so, I love that tune! 

Call the Police / Weatherman is available on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify, with more stores coming online soon. You can hear more of The Humanitarians on Soundcloud and there is also a Facebook group for the single release. The intro on the FB page says, "We're doing this totally independently of record company/label support so any help you can give us is much appreciated." There's so much cack out there that IS getting the support of major labels, media empires, publishers, etc: surely nobody who appreciates great, new REAL music can fail to sympathise with that sentiment. The Humanitarians are producing cracking new music and I hope they get that support. If you like these tracks please share the links to their website, Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, etc, ask for them on your radio station of choice but don't forget to buy them too!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

SFR Soundsystem 8th Sept 2012

This is the playlist for tonight's show. Listener discretion is advised with this show - it wasn't one of my best & I don't think I'll be putting this one on Soundcloud! The music I think was great; the idiot rambling between the records was not so great!
1. Toots & the Maytals - Funky Kingston
2. Dave Barker & The Selecter - Kingston Affair
3. Too Hot - Kingston Town
4. King Tubby & the Clancy Eccles All Stars - Kingston Dub Star
5. Carlos Malcolm & His Afro-Jamaican Rhythms - Bonanza Ska
6. The Selecter - Jackpot
7. The Rough Kutz – Warriors
8. Junior Murvin - Roots Train
9. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Iron Lion Zion
10. The Skatalites - Latin Goes Ska
11. Marcia Griffiths - Gypsy Man
12. Jackie Mittoo - El Bang Bang
13. Bob & Marcia - Young, Gifted & Black
14. Nora Deal - Oh Mama
15. Cynty & The Monkees - Lady Lady
16. Bad Manners - King Ska-Fa
17. Madness - Lovestruck
18. Ed Rome - Non Relationship Rant
19. Janice Graham Band - No Money Honey
20. King Tubby & the Clancy Eccles All Stars - King Tubby's City Dub
21. Drewvis - Drunken Words N' Dub
22. The Coventry Automatics - Little Bitch
23. Terry Hall - Chasing a Rainbow
24. Jerry Dammers' Spatial A.K.A. Orchestra - Ghost Planet
25. Lloyd the Matador - Engine 54
26. Tommy McCook & Stranger Cole - Last Flight To Reggae City
27. U-Roy & Glen Adams - Bangarang Version
28. U-Roy - Wet Dream(Version)
29. U-Roy - Wear You to the Ball
30. Stranger Cole - Rough and Tough
31. Vin Gordon - Red Blood
32. Peter Tosh - Shame & Scandal
33. Toots & the Maytals - Monkey Girl
34. Desmond Dekker - Sugar Dumpling
35. Vince Foster - Shine Eye Gal
36. Madness – Night Boat To Cairo
37. Prince Buster - Don't Throw Stones

Saturday, 1 September 2012

SFR Soundsystem Silver Screen Special

Tonight's show not only had an incredibly alliterative title but was bloody good fun to do too! Every track has a film or TV link, some more tenuous than others to be honest! As always you can listen again on the SFR mixlr page, grab the podcast from iTunes or listen / download from my Soundcloud page (for one week or until I put my next show on there!) Huge thanks to Mick for all the sound-bites & clips that are sprinkled through the show. Mick is another SFR DJ - find him on Twitter as @MickCollins002 & on the SFR webpage - top quality tweets & tunes guaranteed!

So without further ado here's my SFR Soundsystem Silver Screen Special:

1. The Specials - Guns of Navarone
2. Soul Brothers - 007
3. Desmond Dekker & the Aces - 007
4. Roland Alphonso - Oceans 11
5. Smerins Anti-Social Club - Dr. Who
6. Nicky Thomas - B.B.C.
7. The Upsetters - Big John Wayne
8. Lloyd Charmers - Dollars and Bonds
9. Bombskare - Bondtrack
10. Byron Lee & The Dragonaires - Napoleon Solo
11. Ike Bennett - Illya Kuryakin
12. The Riffs - Peter Gunn
13. The Three Tops - The Sound Of Music
14. Eugene Paul - Frankie and Johnny
15. The Upsetters - Enter The Dragon
16. Prince Jammy - Fist Of Fury
17. Ska-J - The Pink Panther
18. Roland Alphonso - A Shot In The Dark
19. Soul Vendors - Full Range
20. Madness - Michael Caine
21. The Pyramids - Jesse James Rides Again
22. King Stitt - Lee Van Cleef
23. The Upsetters - Clint Eastwood
24. Llans Thelwell And His Celestials - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
25. Drumbago's Orchestra - Duck Soup
26. The Forest Hillbillies - The Munsters
27. Bombskare - Yellow Pages
28. Randy's All Stars - Mission Impossible
29. Cedric Im Brooks - Shaft
30. Lyn Taitt & The Jets - Batman
31. Madness - Tarzan's Nuts
32. Roland Alphonso - James Bond
33. The Butlers - Sock It To 'Em J.B.
34. Jimmy Cliff - The Harder They Come
35. Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra - The Godfather
36. Bad Manners - Magnificent 7
37. Prince Buster - Cincinatti Kid 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

SFR Soundsystem 25082012

Track list for last night's SFR Soundsystem is below. Now frantically beavering away* on a TV & Movie themed special for next week. (*for 'frantically beavering away' read 'giving it some thought but getting distracted by shiny things')
As always you can listen to the show on the SFR mixlr site, download the podcast by subscribing to SFR on itunes or listen / download on my soundcloud page. All free and for nothing!

  1. Laurel Aitken - Reggae 69
  2. Bob Andy - Too Experienced
  3. Delano Stewart - Wherever I Lay My Hat
  4. Jackie Edwards - Ali Baba
  5. The Selecter - Bombscare
  6. Bombskare - Small Man Syndrome
  7. The Cundeez - Rude Girls Rude Boyz
  8. Willie Williams - Armageddon Time
  9. The Maytals - Pressure Drop
  10. Junior Murvin - Police and Thieves
  11. Amazonics - Redemption Song
  12. Bob Marley - Sun is Shining
  13. Peter Tosh - Downpresser
  14. Tommy McCook - Wailing Dub
  15. Delroy Wilson - Funky Broadway
  16. Bobby Ellis - Mr Ellis
  17. The Deacons - Hungry Man
  18. Madness - Death of a Rude Boy
  19. The Specials - Blank Expression
  20. Bad Manners - Here Comes the Major
  21. Mighty Two - Calico Suit
  22. Marcia Aitken - I'm Still In Love
  23. The Aggrovators - I'm Still In Love Dub
  24. Prince Jammy & the Aggrovators - Ball of Order Dub
  25. Linval Thompson - Jamaican Colley
  26. Gadjo - Paranoska
  27. Ska Cubano - Jezebel
  28. The Humanitarians - Call the Police
  29. Jimmy Cliff - The Harder They Come
  30. Johnny Moore - Red is Danger
  31. Lyn Taitt - Top Cat
  32. The Skatalites with King Sporty - Lawless Street
  33. The Untouchables - Tighten Up
  34. Toots & the Maytals - Night and Day
  35. Prince Buster - Young Gifted and Black

Friday, 27 July 2012

Sun is Shining

Sun is shining, weather is sweet, makes you want to move your dancing feet...
In honour of the sun's annual all-too-brief visit to the UK here's some variations on the same theme for you (insert smiley face thingy here):
And finally something fresh and quite lovely in my opinion:

Thursday, 12 July 2012

An A to Z of Early Reggae

This post is the playlist for a show that I prepared but didn't get to broadcast. For various reasons which I won't bore anyone with I'm having another break from internet radio DJ'ing, but wanted to do something with this playlist so here it is. I've uploaded YouTube videos for each of the tracks and you can play them in order by clicking this playlist link.

This is my attempt at an A to Z of early reggae (from ska, through rocksteady to the early days of reggae and dub). Please note the word I chose there: 'an' A to Z, not 'the' A to Z. The subject is too huge and my knowledge of it far too small for me to claim that this is in any way definitive or indeed anything more than a scratch at the surface made by someone who is a huge fan but certainly no expert. As this was originally intended as a radio show, the notes on each letter are brief - plus I get bored with typing very quickly! I'm sure some folks will question my choices for various letters; if you're one of them please leave a comment and a YouTube link to the tune you would have chosen. So here goes: my A to Z of Early Reggae:

A: Much as the alphabet begins with Alpha so does my A to Z: the Alpha School for Boys in Kingston, Jamaica. Run by nuns under the formidable Sister Ignatius, the school put a great emphasis on music tuition - particularly brass instruments. The old-boys list reads like a Who's-Who of the early Jamaican music industry. The list includes such massive talents as founder members of The Skatalites Tommy McCook, Lester Sterling & Johnny Moore, plus such luminaries as Rico Rodriguez, Theo Beckford, Cedric Brooks and the man who I've chosen the represent the school in this playlist, the great Don Drummond - Bellevue Special.

B: After leaving the Alpha School many of the boys eventually found there way to 13 Brentford Road, Kingston - from 1963 the home of the Jamaican Recording & Publishing Studio, or Studio One as it became universally known. The in-house band at Studio One throughout much of the 70's was known variously as the Brentford All Stars, Brentford Rockers, Brentford Disco Set and the Soul Defenders. The track I've chosen for the letter B for Brentford Road is The Brentford Road All Stars - Last Call.

C: Brentford Road was also home to our entry for the letter C: Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd. The visionary founder of Studio One, Coxsone's influence on Jamaican music cannot be overstated. A canny businessman who originally started by spinning his jazz records for the customers of his parent's liquor store, Coxsone went on to operate one of the two biggest sound systems in Kingston before moving into the production of records . The list of artists and bands that he produced is mammoth but I've chosen one of his earlier productions: Lord Tanamo with the Skatalites - Keep on Moving.

D: With Coxsone representing the letter C, it is only fit that his great rival gets the next entry: D is for Duke Reid. Reid was another liquor store owner who moved into music production. An ex-policeman and imposing figure, Reid had a no-nonsense approach to pretty much everything, including his rivals and his artists. Reid's Trojan sound system was the biggest rival to Coxsone's Downbeat sound but Reid really came into his own with the advent of Rocksteady. His Treasure Isle label produced some of the most wonderful Rocksteady tunes but I've chosen an earlier ska track by Roland Alphonso & Frank Anderson - Musical Storeroom.

E: A recurrent theme throughout the history of Jamaican music has been the island's inhabitant's historical and spiritual links with Africa and specifically Ethiopia. Despite a great deal of prejudice towards the emerging Rastafarian movement from much of Jamaican society, in music these themes were explored and celebrated right from the beginnings of the Jamaican recording industry. Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia visited Jamaica in 1966 - the same year as the band I've chosen next were formed: The Ethiopians - Dollar of Soul.

F: The letter F was a bit of a sticking point in this list. Eventually I decided to celebrate one of the venues of the early Sound System dances. Kingston had a number of venues where the various sounds would hold their dances. The biggest venues could hold upwards of a thousand people and the more people they could cram in the better in terms of the real business of the dances - the sale of beer! Among the most famous and largest were Luke Lane, Wellington Street, Liberty Hall, Kings Hall and Forresters Hall which was immortalised in music by Prince Buster - Forresters Hall.

G: In any playlist I always try to pick some tunes that people may not have heard before, plus some that everyone knows and loves. Or occasionally a different version of a tune that everyone knows. Rather like my next choice. Everyone knows the Skatalites' Guns of Navarone - possibly the most famous ska track of all time, both in its original version and the wonderful cover on the Specials Live EP. This version is by a British blue beat band of the early 60's: Blue Rivers & the Maroons - Guns of Navarone.

H: It's impossible to claim that Guns of Navarone is the most famous ska tune of all time without also mentioning the other great rival for that title: Harry J's All Stars' stomping Liquidator. Harry Johnson started out as a bass player before moving into management and record producing. the All Stars were his session band and Liquidator was a top-ten hit in Britain in October 1969. As well as releasing records on his Harry J label in Jamaica, Johnson also released Harry J labelled singles in the UK as a subsidiary of Trojan and was also responsible for Bob & Marcia's wonderful Young, Gifted & Black. This selection is wonderful slab of skinhead reggae: Karl 'King Cannon' Bryan & the Harry J All Stars - Soul Scorcher.

I: I is for Instrumental and there really was only one choice of artist once I'd decided that! For me, one of the most wonderful things about Jamaican music is the artists' ability to take a tune by another artist and re-produce it in their own style - either by making dub versions or by re-arranging the piece to suit their own instrument, in the process creating something that is both familiar yet also new and exciting. An absolute master of this process was the fabulously talented keyboard player Jackie Mittoo. Mitto was a founder member of The Skatalites and is an absolute hero of mine. Earlier in the playlist we heard Lord Tanamo's Keep on Moving, this selection is Jackie Mittoo taking the same song and making something equally wonderful out of it: Jackie Mittoo - Totally Together.

J: All of the songs I've selected thus far have fitted comfortably into the stereotypical view many hold of ska and reggae - jaunty, infectious, eminently dance-able and maybe even frivolous. But Jamaica has also produced some of the most beautiful ballads (Many Rivers to Cross springs to mind) and reflective songs ever written (Redemption Song is another that fits the bill). Our next selection is a man with a voice that I could listen to for hours on end - and often do. J is for Jimmy Cliff. I watched him recently on Jools Holland's Later and at the age of 64 his voice still had me transfixed. My selection is from the 1973 Trojan LP Unlimited and shows his beautiful voice off to full effect: Jimmy Cliff - Be True.

K: There can really be only one choice for the letter K: King Tubby. Originally an electronics engineer and disc cutter, Osbourne Ruddock became King Tubby after cutting his musical teeth working for Duke Reid as a sound engineer. I think it's fair to say that Tubby revolutionised not just Jamaican music but recorded music in general. His attention to detail and pioneering recording techniques are still recognisable in music produced today. I came rather late to an appreciation of dub but once I'd discovered the depth and intricacy of much of his work, King Tubby became one of the artists I play most often. My selection is from the wonderful  collaboration between Tubby and Harry Mudie - In Dub Conference vol.1: Harry Mudie - Dub with a Difference.

L: Just as the letter K was an easy choice, the following letter also didn't require much pondering. L is for Lee Perry. Lee 'Scratch' Perry is quite simply a genius. And also completely mad. I once went to see Lee Perry in concert and he came on stage with a kettle on his head but then delivered a set that blew me away. He was mixed on that evening by Mad Professor: Dub Heaven! Perry was and remains a true innovator and has produced a variety and breadth of music that I find simply breathtaking. Despite being notoriously difficult to work with Scratch has collaborated with the greatest names in reggae and has the transform even the already remarkable into something truly wonderful. The Trojan box set of the complete sessions Bob Marley and the Wailers did with Perry is a good example - essential listening for the reggae anorak such as I am! I agonised over which track to choose for Perry; entailing listening over and again to hours of his music - bliss! The track I've chosen is the opening track of the Arkology box set: Lee Perry - Dub Revolution Pt.1.

M: At the risk of being predictable, no prizes for guessing that M is for Marley. The discography at the back of Timothy White's brilliant biography of Bob Marley runs to 66 pages. Starting with the first discs The Wailers made with Leslie Kong in 1961 through to material released posthumously it really is a goldmine for the reggae obsessive or casual Marley fan. Choosing just one record from that vast list is almost impossible, the sheer range and diversity of Marley's work is mind-blowing. I've chosen an early Coxsone recording, a loose cover of Curtis Mayfield's Talkin Bout My baby : The Wailers - Diamond Baby.

N: The letter N was another sticking point in my list - reggae artists and labels starting with N seem to be thin on the ground. So I decided to use the letter N as an excuse to include another Bob Marley tune in the playlist! N, therefore, is for Johnny Nash. Although an American-born pop singer Nash nevertheless has an influence on Bob Marley's early career  and also recorded a number of Marley-penned tunes. Nash and Marley also undertook what is possibly the most bizarre tour imaginable by two reggae artists - a tour of English Secondary Schools in the Midlands. The track I've put in the list is Johnny Nash - Stir It Up.

O: Another track form Prince Buster, for which I make absolutely no apology at all! O is for Orange Street. Buster grew up on Orange Street in Kingston and it was also the home of his Record Shack music store. There are many contenders for the title Most Influential Man In Reggae (I've even got a CD with sleeve notes that make that claim for Byron Lee, which is clearly bollocks!) but for me personally nobody had as much impact as Buster - I even named my son after him! Although not as prolific as some of his contemporaries and despite the fact that he didn't move into the production of reggae at the end of the rocksteady years, I truly believe that without Buster the whole landscape of Jamaican music would not have developed the way it did. The track representing Orange Street is Prince Buster - Earthquake.

P: Predictably enough given what I have written above, P is for Prince Buster. Born Cecil Bustamente Campbell and a talented boxer in his youth, Buster started in the music business as a bouncer for Coxsone's Downbeat Sound System before moving into making his own records and producing records for other artists. Buster was in at the very birth of ska, moved effortlessly with the times as ska evolved into rocksteady and even tried his hand at dub with his The Message - Dub Wise album. As rocksteady moved over for reggae Buster seemed to fall by the wayside but the back catalogue he had already produced is, in my opinion, without equal. I first became aware of Prince Buster on hearing and loving The Prince by Madness. Being an inquisitive type I decided to find out what or who the song was about; thus beginning an interest that became a passion and might even border on an obsession! Every radio show playlist I've made has included at least one Prince Buster track - this one has three, the third being the title track from The Message album: Prince Buster - The Message.

Q: Having had a Duke, a King and a Prince, it seems only fair to be even-handed and have a Queen as our next selection. Although early reggae was predominantly a male-dominated area - a notable exception being Sonia Pottinger - there are some wonderful records with female vocals or by female artists. Indeed the first major hit in the UK for a Jamaican artist was Millie Small's My Boy Lollipop (although personally I think it's awful). The link to the letter Q may be a bit tenuous if I chose a song by Nora Dean, Dawn Penn or Phyllis Dillon for example but I think I've scraped some alphabetical credibility by choosing Lloyd and Claudette - Queen of the World.

R: R is for Rocksteady. After the birth of the Jamaican recording industry and the often frenetic ska which ruled the dances in the early days there developed a taste for a more laid-back, gentler style of music. Thus was born rocksteady. There may have been a number of reasons for this; in his fantastic book Bass Culture Lloyd Bradley examines a number of the reasons for this change in pace. If you haven't read Bass Culture I can thoroughly recommend it - knowledgeable, comprehensive and well-written, it really is the finest book on Jamaican music I've read (and I've got quite a few). Among the possible reasons are the hot summer of 1966 making for a slower dancing style, the increase in tension at the dances due to the emerging Rude Boy culture, post-independence relaxation, the influence of American soul music or a combination of some or all of these. Either way, the music slowed down and became more melodic, opening the field to less brass-heavy bands and vocal harmony singing groups. The master of rocksteady in production terms was undoubtedly Duke Reid and much of his finest rocksteady was produced under the eye of guitarist Lynn Taitt: Lynn Taitt & the Jets - To Sir With Love.

S: Contrary to what many believe, ska music wasn't the main music of choice for the first skinheads. Whilst the re-emerging skinhead subcult that came with 2 Tone in the late 70's and early 80's took ska music as their theme sound (myself included), the original skinheads originated from the Mod scene and their preferred music was upbeat, Hammond-driven reggae. It's a source of great annoyance to me that in some minds the word 'skinhead' is synonymous with 'racist'. Whilst some cocks that adopted the look because they thought it made them look hard were racists and allied themselves to the NF and more recently to wankers like the BNP & EDL, any true skinhead takes their joy from black music and in my humble opinion should never miss an opportunity to point out that having a shaved head and looking well-smart does not make you a racist - being an inadequate, ignorant prick makes you a racist. Sorry, rant over - back to the music: S is for Skinhead Reggae and the tune I've picked is: Reggae Girls (aka The Ebony Sisters - Rescue Me.

T: Another King makes his mark on the playlist now. Being born with a facial deformity and the stutter that gave him his nickname never stopped King Stitt making it in the world of the Sound System. Working for Coxsone's Downbeat sound Stitt pioneered the art of the DJ talking or declaiming over the rhythms - Toasting. Billing himself as The Ugly One, Stitt developed a unique style that hyped up the records being played and led to many imitators getting on the mic. Although not as lyrical and without the clever patter of many who followed him, Stitt's style remains something that lifts a tune and creates a sense of excitement. The tune I've chosen is: King Stitt - Lee Van Cleef.

U: The letter U presented me with something of a dilemma: to choose Lee Perry's studio band The Upsetters or his Upsetter label. Perry set up his own label after falling out with Coxsone and named the label after his track I Am The Upsetter, which in itself was a musical dig at his former boss. Distributed in the UK by Trojan, Upsetter was home to some of the finest early reggae artists, all under the watchful eye of Perry and benefiting from his sheer genius with a tune; if you have a listen to the Complete UK Upsetters Singles CDs you will see what a wealth of music I had to choose from. In the end I decided to choose a tune by The Upsetters the band, on Upsetter the label - best of both worlds!: The Upsetters - French Connection.

V: V is for Version. In most genres of music, imitation results in a pale pastiche of the original article. Indeed, in the current ska scene I find much of the music being produced to be a less-than-satisfactory rehash of other bands' past glories. It would be nice to see more bands stop trying to be the new Specials  or Madness and concentrate on being themselves. As the recent Specialized album showed, it is still possible to re-imagine classic tunes in your own way and there's some great new ska and reggae around, but much of the good stuff today is buried under a fair bit of offbeat-dross. In early reggae though, the re-working or version of a tune often slapped on the B-side of a single was in many cases as good if not better than the original. The tune I've chosen is a good example of this I think; introduced by U-Roy on the mic & with Glen Adams on the organ, it's a version of Lester Stirling & Stranger Cole's Bangarang and although I love the original I don't think you can beat this version for energy and sheer joyousness: U-Roy & Glen Adams - Bangarang.

W: The next selection is both of a geographical nature and another excuse to play a tune off the Upsetter label. US 310 B is the B-side of The Upsetters' Man From MI5 and is by The West Indians. I know very little about the band; discogs lists Roy Ellis and Eric Donaldson as members and I only have two tunes by The West Indians but this one is an absolute belter: The West Indians - Oh Lord.

X: The last time I did an A to Z playlist (not for a radio show - I was off sick & bored) I struggled to find a track for the letter X. Artists and tunes starting with X may be few and far between but I'd missed out on a whole class of reggae right under my nose: X-Rated Reggae. Not the puerile pap a la Judge Dread but real reggae with themes and lyrics ranging from the slightly risqué to the full-blown filthy (pun intended). Performed by some of the biggest names in reggae some of it is hilarious; the titles speak for themselves: Rub & Squeeze, Push It In, Sex Grand National, and so on. I almost chose Nora Dean singing what seems to be a song about a man with a penis shaped like a scorpion but eventually chose one of the finest voices in reggae with his version of Max Romeo's Wet Dream: Dave Barker - Wet Version.

Y: Following one nicely from the entries for T and V is another DJ-style performer who took the art of chatting over a tune to a whole new level. Y is for Big Youth, the man who took the style introduced by King Stitt and refined by U-Roy and became a true superstar of reggae. Possibly the first man to take a motorbike into the studio (for S.90 Skank), Youth produced some of the finest DJ-style reggae ever made and fully merits his inclusion in my A to Z. The track I've picked is another Lee Perry production: Big Youth & the Upsetters - Keep On Moving (Moving Version).

Z: And so we finally arrive at Z but we also end up back where we started. I've chosen a cracking ska tune by another old-boy of the Alpha Boys School and one that sings of Zion, the place of peace, freedom and unity beloved of so much reggae music: Desmond Dekker - Mount Zion.

So that's my A to Z playlist typed out & stuck on YouTube too. If anyone has actually read this far I'd be not just a little surprised but also quietly chuffed! Hope you enjoyed the tunes and found my ramblings tolerable: any comments, corrections or suggestions much appreciated.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

SFR Soundsystem 23rd June 2012

I've been meaning for a while to put together another cover versions show & finally got round to it. The biggest problem with cover versions is deciding which ones to leave out - I hope you enjoyed the ones that made the final playlist:

  1. Madness - Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames (Prince Buster)
  2. Rainy Night in Georgia - Lord Tanamo & the Skatalites (Brook Benton)
  3. Black Magic Woman - Winston 'King' Cole (Fleetwood Mac)
  4. Blam Blam Fever - The Simmertones (The Valentines)
  5. Leaving on a Jet Plane - David Isaacs (Peter, Paul & Mary)
  6. Just Dance - London Ska Orchestra (Lady Gaga)
  7. Hungry Like the Wolf - Reel Big Fish (Duran Duran)
  8. Istanbul (Not Constantinople) - Ska Cubano (The Four Lads / They Might Be Giants)
  9. My Sweet Lord - Freddie Notes & the Rudies (George Harrison)
  10. I'm Only Sleeping - Suggs (The Beatles)
  11. She's Leaving Home - Easy Star All Stars (The Beatles)
  12. Daytripper - Bombskare (The Beatles)
  13. Darker Shade of Black - Jackie Mittoo (The Beatles)
  14. And the Beat Goes On - Prince Fatty (The Whispers)
  15. Ali Baba - Dreadzone (John Holt)
  16. Hey Joe - Dolphin (Jimi Hendrix - big thanks to Mark W for this one)
  17. Stand & Deliver - Mark Foggo's Skasters (Adam & the Ants)
  18. The Tide is High - The Selecter (The Paragons / Blondie)
  19. You Keep Me Hanging On - Madness (The Supremes)
  20. Hoots Mon - Bad Manners (Lord Rockingham's XI)
  21. Take Five - Rico (Dave Brubeck)
  22. The Russians are Coming - Val Bennett (Dave Brubeck)
  23. Declaration of Dub - King Tubby (Dave Brubeck)
  24. No, No, No - Gussie Clark & King Tubby (Dawn Penn)
  25. Stranger on the Shore - The Upsetters (Acker Bilk)
  26. Theme form 'Shaft' - Byron Lee & the Dragonaires (Isaac Hayes)
  27. 54-46 was my Number - Ernest Ranglin (The Maytals)
  28. Massachusetts - Alton Ellis (Bee Gees)
  29. Winter Shade of Pale - Dennis Brown (Procul Harem)
  30. Tracks of my Tears - Pat Kelly (Smokey Robinson & the Miracles)
  31. Fever - Junior Byles (Elvis)
  32. Duke of Dub - Tommy McCook & the Paragons (Gene Chandler)
  33. Swan Lake - The Cats (Tchaikovsky!)
  34. Your Turn - Prince Buster (Otis Redding)

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Madness strip!

Does anyone remember this strip in Look In comic in the early 80's? Just found this in a book I picked up at a school fete. Other 'highlights' include two Haircut 100 comic strips, a Bucks Fizz picture story and one detailing the early life of Wee Jimmie Krankie. There's a pin-up of Debbie Harry (a bit fuzzy but she's gorgeous in or out of focus!) All in all a nice little trip down memory lane for the grand total of 30p. Not that I was a reader of Look In - I was way too cool for that in 1981, honest!

Look In comic 10th October 1981. Art: Harry North. Story: Angus P. Allan
Taken from Look In - Best of the 80's - Prion Books

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Normal(ish) service is resumed...

I've had a few weeks away from presenting my SFR show and posting my random ramblings on here. I don't think it's any big secret that I suffer from periodic bouts of severe depression and I've just endured one of the more severe bouts I've had for a year or two. I seem to be over the worst of it now thankfully and tonight I ventured back on to the virtual airwaves. The playlist is below; no particular theme or anything worthy of special mention - just what I consider to be tunes worth sharing. I'd like to say a huge than you to the folks at SFR for taking my unplanned absence in their stride and being so encouraging & supportive. A big thanks to other friends and listeners too for their concern, support & help. OK, enough of the mushy Oscar-winner's-speech cack - here's the playlist:
  1. King Hammond - Return of the Kung Fu Skinhead
  2. Symarip - Back from the Moon
  3. The Deltones - Back a Yard
  4. King Stitt - Lick it Back
  5. Shoot the Moon - Get in the Van
  6. Hepcat - Penny Reel
  7. Bombskare - World Turned Upside Down
  8. The Crashers - Hurry Come Up
  9. Marcia Griffiths - Don't Let Me Down
  10. Boris Gardiner - Elizabethan Reggae
  11. Madness - In the Hall of the Mountain King
  12. Bad Manners - Night Bus to Dalston
  13. The Specials - Do Nothing (live at Glastonbury 2009)
  14. Jackie Mitto - Ghetto Organ
  15. Ernest Ranglin - Summertime
  16. BamBooligans - Following the Sun
  17. Drewvis - These Three Words
  18. 10 Ft. Ganja Plant - One Inch Punch
  19. Eric Donaldson - Cherry Oh Baby
  20. Pama International - To Have & Have Not (feat. Billy Bragg)
  21. Roland Alphonso & the Skatalites - VC10 (Shake a Lady)
  22. Lloyd Brevett & the Skatalites - Fugitive
  23. The Skatalites & King Tubby - Give Thanks
  24. I-Roy - Straight to Prince Jazzbo Head
  25. Prince Jazzbo - Straight to I-Roy Head
  26. The Upsetters - Dub Organizer
  27. Bob Marley & the Wailers - Concrete Jungle
  28. Tommy McCook & Bobby Ellis - Green Mango
  29. Dave Barker & the Upsetters - Sound Underground
  30. The Maytals - Johnny Cool Man
  31. Jimmy Cliff - King of Kings
  32. Lord Creator - Wreck a Pum Pum
  33. The Pioneers - Jackpot
  34. Derrick Morgan - Rough Rider
  35. Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames - Black Head Chineman
  36. Prince Buster - Time Longer than Rope