Tag Archives: reggae

Oi The Scousers

Scouse poet Mick Turpin, various punk bands, 2 Tone, and a couple of reggae choons from songs played at Ken Dodd’s birthday bash, as reported in Sounds, 4 July, 1981.
To start with Oi was quite an entertaining mix, before it went heavy metal.

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Scarman

Black Echoes, July 25, 1981 reports on the Scarman inquiry going to the cinema.
The Lord Scarman report was commissioned to hold an inquiry by the UK Government following the 1981 Brixton riots. Lord Scarman was appointed by then Home Secretary William Whitelaw on 14 April, 1981 (two days after the rioting ended) to hold the enquiry into the riots. The Scarman report was published on 25 November, 1981.

The Scarman inquiry is to view the films ‘Babylon’ and ‘Dread, Beat & Blood’, in the course of its ever broadening investigation into racial and cvil unrest in Britain. The inquiry was set up following the disturbances in Brixton in April.
‘Dread, Beat & Blood’ is an Arts Council Film which features Brixton-based roots poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, while ‘Babylon’ was a portentous feature film, focusing on racial tensions on the streets of south London. Both were directed by Franco Rosso.

Dub Me Crazy

The first of the Mad Professor’s Dub Me Crazy albums, and the first Ariwa album, reviewed in Black Echoes, 11 September, 1982.

Mad Professor: ‘Dub Me Crazy!!’ (Ariwa ARI 001LP)

Your Rights/My Rights; Freedom Chant; Ankoko; Dub Power; Zion/Tumble Down; Bucket Brigade; Psychologically Yours; South African Crossfire; Sweet Sweet Victory

The eccentric Mad Professor, better known as Neil Fraser, has completed his new studio in south east London and with the assembled talents of his Ariwa stable, and with the addition of other guest musicians from Battersea to Jamdown, has recorded a collage. ‘Dub Me Crazy!!’ is a bizarre, often uncontrolled journey through the Fraser concept of adventurous dub reggae.
It’s appeal depends largely upon how much dance and introspection people demand from their reggae. Do people want to rock all night to the heavy, heavy sounds or drop a sugar cube and rot in a mire of feedback, reverb, echo, tape-loops, discordant harmonies chaffing with misshapen and distorted guitars and keyboards? ‘Dub Me Crazy!!’ does possess the ability to move both mind and body although it is unquestionably aimed at the brain more than the feet.
You have to listen very carefully to Neil Fraser music, lest the little throwaway effects are missed, and to miss them would be a shame as this record’s strength is the sheer weight of effects the Mad Professor has crammed into it.
I doubt the talents performing herein had any concept of the bare-faced audacious wrecking spree Fraser would have with their performances.
Those so potentially offended are bassists Bernard and Deuce (of I&I), drummers Horsemouth, The General and Barrington Levin, keyboards Tony Benjamin and Junior Ebanks. Vocals, if they can be called so, come from the wonderful Ranking Ann and label chanteuse, Davina Stone.
If I had to choose I could be happy with ‘Your Rights/My Rights’, the mysterious ‘Freedom Chant’ and rusty cut and thrust of ‘Bucket Brigade’ that rolls into the soulful ‘Psychologically Yours’.
The sense of ‘Dub Me Crazy!!’ is no sense at all. Pass me a Phensic and check the turntable hasn’t given up the ghost.

Jon Futrell

Linton’s History Claas

LKJ’s Making History album reviewed in the NME, 25 February, 1984.

Linton Kwesi Johnson

Making History (Island)

If Linton Kwesi Johnson was a mere polemicist, his records would be unnecessary. You could get approximately the same hit by playing some heavy dub and reading Race Today or even New Statesman along with it: a hard shot of information and opinion with a groove behind. Alternatively you could simply check the deejay of your choice if all that attracted you to his work was the sound.
But Linton Kwesi Johnson is a poet in any sense of the word that you care to proffer: some of the work on this album has a linguistic depth, sophistication and precision that goes well beyond even the best of what he has done in the past. His three-year layoff from recording has resulted in much growth; not only in LKJ’s choice of subject matter and in the skill with which he explores it, but in the blending of the spoken word with the music of Dennis Bovell’s Dub Band. Never has it sounded less like a rap-over-a-track and more like a single, unified whole.
In 1984, the perspective is both wider and deeper. From his initial beginnings in the chronicling of the sufferation of blacks in the urban UK, LKJ broadens out to examine the effects of the ideological struggle between East and West on the Third World (in ‘Di Eagle An’ Di Bear’), the worldwide repression of people without much money (‘Wat About Di Workin’ Class?’), and the fate of Guyanese activist and historian Walter Rodney, assassinated by the army (‘Reggae Fi Radni’). For each one, Johnson and Bovell have conjured up entirely but appropriate settings: ‘Reggae Fi Radni’ has a jauntily sinister Mediterranean lilt and a solid thunk. ‘Wat About Di Workin’ Class?’ has a bluesy lope and simmering, tangy guitar from John Kpaye, and ‘Di Eagle An’ Di Bear’ swaggers along to a seriously martial horn line.
But everything comes together on ‘Reggae Fi Dada’, the most powerful and affecting performance of Johnson’s career. In June of ’82, Johnson’s father died in Jamaica after a long illness, and LKJ flew over to be with him. The poem is filled not only with the pain and love that welled up for his father, but the pain and love experienced at the sight of the suffering of the people and the astonishing skill that Johnson displays in creating the realisation that both ‘aspects’ of the poem represent the same issue (“just people live in shack people livin’ back to back/mongst cockroach and rat, mongst dirt and disease/subject to terrorist attack an political intrigue/constant grief an’ no sign a relief…”)
The band match him with music that melts from rhapsodic blues to a light reggae groove to a beat that could mash down a building… and with silence. It is Johnson and Bovell’s most perfect collaboration, but the screws tighten still further as Johnson transports the listener into the heart of the purest terror, anger and pity in ‘New Crass Massahkah.’
The poem is already justly celebrated in live performance, and LKJ has delivered it on TV, but this version goes further and deeper. Again it melds Johnson’s political rage and personal sorrow to devastating effect.
There are a couple of tunes on the album which are expressions of what he’s done before: ‘Di Great Insurreckshan’ – gorgeous skalypso groove! – and the title piece could have come from either of his last two albums (stylistically, that is – their theme of the battles of ’81 is more topical) and while they are none the worse for that, it is the tunes that most graphically depict Johnson’s development as an artist that are both the most moving and the most politically eloquent.

Charles Shaar Murray