Coupla Stiff Ones

SLF1Following our last ‘reggae by punk-punks’ installment, it seems only fair that the boys from Ulster finally get a look-in at the grimy windows of Skank Towers.

This may be sacrilege to some, but I must confess that I’ve never really cared for Stiff Little Fingers all that much. Despite some undeniably infectious politically-charged anthems, SLF for me belong mainly to the school of punk for beer-bellied blokes to get misty-eyed about after a few Stellas at the local (I won’t say Harps of course), and I just can’t get that excited about ‘em.

SLF2Having recently revisited their stentorian third LP, Go For It, however, I have to admit that the lads certainly knew how to pen a rockin’ reggae punk tune, and this is what brings me here today.

Despite its title, the album’s opener Roots, Radicals, Rockers and Reggae stays very much within rock territory, and it isn’t until track 4 that the barrel-chested barrage abates a little and the dready fringe is approached.

An earnest hymn to internalised anger, The Only One evokes some of the reggae outings of The Clash and The Carpettes, though eschewing the subtleties of the former in favour of big guitar choruses and a galloping pace. The result is something altogether scrappier than SLF’s usual tight riffing, and The Only One is mighty appealing for it.

SLF3Safe As Houses, while returning to the sonic comfort of almost full-blown rock-punk form, still retains the awkwardly skanking naiveté of The Only One, though it’s a better song overall. Anthems are what SLF do best, and this is no exception.

Even more interesting is the track’s lyrical theme – a kick against the acceptance of domesticity which considers both male and female perspectives on an equal plain. Probably wouldn’t catch The Stranglers doing that…

(Dread Zed)

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Last Year’s Model

model1With our recent forays into post-rock, electro-dub and afro-punk, perhaps it’s time to get back to some reggaematic versions made by good old fashioned punk-punks, and who better to kick things off than Surrey’s The Members, best known for exemplifying the sound of the suburbs with their titular hit single with a passing gesture to the mod end of post-punk..

Sound Of The Suburbs peaked just shy of the UK top ten in 1979 long after most first-wave punks turned in their bondage gear but The Members formed in ’76 and their love of reggae had been bubbling away on b-sides since their 1st Stiff release in ’78, thanks in part to JC Carrol joining singer Nicky Tesco as co-lead Member.

members2Today though we’re skipping straight to ’82 with a seemingly incongruous mix, if the marriage of rock and reggae wasn’t incongruous enough for you already (i’m guessing it isn’t if you’re a regular reader). Their cover of Kraftwerk’s upright electro-march Das Model takes on a further postmodern slant with more than a nod to Max Romeo’s roots anthem One Step Forward, rendering this multifaceted version a slick yet spiky skanker.

It may come as a surprise, or perhaps none at all, that the accompanying LP Uprhythm, Downbeat stemmed from recording sessions with the guys behind The League Unlimited Orchestra. However, whilst Martin Rushent handled production duties on half the album, today’s remodeling comes care of Rushent’s right hand man Dave Allen.

For those who don’t quite catch the Max Romeo link…

And, well, just because, I’ll leave you with Sound Of The Suburbs…


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Only 12 Inches Away From Me

me_i_1From herein I think you should all call me Muggins, for I am one of the hundreds of saps out there that splashed out £11.99 on one track. For the mathematicians amongst you, that’s £1 per inch, minus the 1p for the hole in the middle.

Such is my dedication to the Spiky Dread cause, when I heard Grace Jones’ long lost cover of Tubeway Army would be getting a limited release on Record Store Day, I actually considered getting up at the crack of dawn to join the queue at my local vinyl emporium.

RSDIn actual fact, I rolled into Soho mid afternoon; the early morning rush of RSD actually seems to go against everything which attracted me to the world of music in the first place but despite it’s many flaws, I can’t complain that for one day a year the world’s ever decreasing number of record stores get a helpful push and a lot of press (even if in Soho, most people appear to spend the day on the street with no sign of having bought anything – me included).

Moans subsiding, let’s listen to the track – another Sly & Robbie-led stepper in a similar vain to Jones’ rework of She’s Lost Control, retrieved from the Nightclubbing recording sessions from ’81, and remastered along with the rest of the LP, we give you Me! I Disconnect From You.

And here’s Grace back home performing My Jamaican Guy live with Sly & Robbie and none other than Coati Mundi (who also uploaded the clip) on congas…



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