Monthly Archives: January 2021

LKJ In Dub

LKJ’s album reviewed in Sounds, Dec 6, 1980.

Dubwise, different fashion

Linton Kwesi Johnson
‘LKJ In Dub’
(Island ILPS 9650)
****

Introducing Linton Kwesi Johnson part four. Let’s hope ‘LKJ In Dub’ hits where it’s supposed to…
If the nastiest thing about Bruce Springsteen is his over-bearing, never-stop-praising, always-gushing fan brigade, then the most off-putting factor concerning Linton Kwesi Johnson is the type of person who revels in his works. All those pseudo-socialists with their swedish furniture and their brown rice and their breast-fed brattish children who, for the most part, know Brixton only as the other end of the Victoria tube line and who have never ventured there far into the night without the safe barrier of a cab’s walls wrapped around them.
For some uncanny reason, Johnson provides the ‘safe’ reggae, the acceptable reggae, the reggae that allows such people to imagine that they’re imbibing some ethnic tradition without ever getting their fingers burned or, more close to home, their pockets picked. And it isn’t LKJ’s fault.
For you can sense the tangible passion and anger in ‘LKJ In Dub’ perhaps more intensely than on either of the two parent elpees – the dub outtakes number four from ‘Bass Culture’ and four from ‘Forces Of Victory’ – without the balancing power of the lyrical stories, the emotions are concentrated closely around the music. If LKJ ever needed to prove that he was capable of a deeper, darker reggae, then this is the evidence. Seen no more as back-ups to his poetry, the tunes, the illustrations stand fast to their own particular roots.
The joy and exuberance of ‘Forces Of Victory’ bounce into focus on ‘Victorious Dub’ much complemented by sprightly brass. The bitter resolution of ‘Sonny’s Lettah’ is underlined by the menace of ‘Iron Bar Dub’. ‘Reggae Fi Peach’ swings gloriously in the form of ‘Peach Dub’. There’s a quest for freedom in the horn blasts alone.
The remaining five tracks are variations on the theme of ‘Reality Poem’, ‘Inglan Is A Bitch’, ‘Street 66’, ‘Fite Dem Back’ and ‘Bass Culture’, each mesmerisingly stroked into place by the hands of Johnson and Dennis Bovell, each bristling with talented musicians and plenty of them.
Of course, if you don’t like dub reggae, then ‘LKJ IN Dub’ is going to send you into waves of destructive boredom. Whatever its audience, be sure that it’s a statement of will and power. A most extraordinary album.

Robbi Millar

Abraham Sutzkever

Poet and partisan fighter Abraham Sutzkever talks about his poetry and life as a partisan.
There is an excellent book about the Jewish partisan movement: A Secret Press In Nazi Europe by Isaac Kowalski. The book includes the story of Izik Wittenberg, the poem about Wittenberg was written by Sutzkever’s friend and comrade Shmerke Kaczerginski, and also tells of female partisan leader and poet Malka Epstein. The book focuses largely on Vilna partisans.
Just because you’re victimised doesn’t mean you have to be a victim.

Gangsters

The Specials first single gets reviewed in Melody Maker, 19 May, 1979.
Also reviewed that week by Jon Savage were A Certain Ratio, The Skids, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Leyton Buzzards and more.

The Special A.K.A.: “Gangsters Vs, The Selecter” (Two-Tone TT1).

Too enthusiastically championed (as ever) and duly shot down, both sides of the Specials’ 45 imbue charming freshness into the infectious ska format. Unashamedly harking back to 1965 and earlier (think of the Skatalites and smile), the Selecter has the sinuousness, the Gangster has the muscle. (I know which side my bread is buttered.) No reverential copyists – both sides swing – the Specials still run risk of getting entangled with the irritatingly over-hyped and reactionary ‘Nouveau Mod’ mess; still, they should worry. Rude.

The Diet

From the 1978 Bristol Broadsides collection Shush – Mum’s Writing, which is a collection of work by mums from the Filwood playgroup.

The Diet

Sat in the pub
Drink flowing free
Everyone’s merry
Cept poor old me
I’m starving

I have to sit
in the corner
All quiet
The trouble you see
I’m on diet
I’m starving

No whiskey, no gin
Why did I come in
No ploughman’s lunch
like that greedy bunch
I’m starving

Shall I walk to the bar
I won’t go too far
Just a pkt of crisps
and one drink
I’m starving

Then I think I’ll have
when I’ve finished this fag
some chicken and chips
in a basket
I’m starving

No I can’t keep quiet
I’ll shout, Bugger the diet
I’m absolutely starving

Maureen Burge

Misty

Poem from Misty, number 47, 23 December, 1978.

As the mists clear
A beautiful face will appear
With long hair like pale moonshine
Hanging to her shoulders soft and fine.
Her eyes are like sapphires,
Lips like burning fires.
She’s not a day over nineteen
Yet the years she’s lived are umpteen
Slowly now she fades away
But we shall meet another day.
Now she’s no more than the faintest light.
Mysterious Misty – goodnight.

Miranda Airey
Gosforth
Newcastle Upon Tyne

Avalanche Of ‘Rock’

Poem from Subvert, number 3, 1981. The ‘zine is from Keighley and was edited by Richard Jevons.

Avalanche of ‘Rock’

Get off your fat backside and boogie
Don’t waste a minute
Shut my trap and ‘remove’ me
But there’s already something in it.

I can’t read and write but who cares
I’ve a helluva lot of gut
I’ve caught loads unawares
Decision’s been cut, clean, no buts

I bring to you
Governments of laughing bricklayers
This avalanche of rock
A gelignite demolition of chimneys
And toilet paper pop.

You disgust me with vomit.
But when they built the fence
I knew which side you ‘honoured’
Now drunk and incapable with no defence
Drying-up is the only way
Or say your prayers.

Michael Maguire
Aged 8teen
Brad, West Yorkshire