A Riot of Our Own

Well, what a week it’s been. I remarked to my wife recently that it was starting to feel as though Britain had forgotten how to riot, and Gordon Bennett, do those words now taste good. Or bad, more likely. Among countless other structural casualties, a North London Sony DADC warehouse was burned during the tumult and along with it a multitude of independent labels’ stock, including, sadly, copies of our very own Wrongtom’s splendid Duppy Writer album.

Despite setbacks the show must go on however, and amidst all of this nationwide roughhousing, an appropriately themed SBB entry pretty much had to be Basement 5’s ‘Riot’, even if it does bend our rules a touch. Whereas Basement 5, fronted at one stage by the irrepressible Don Letts, were renowned for their socio-political punk/reggae rants that erred more on the side of reggae, ‘Riot’ is one of their more straightforward punkers, although the band’s chief sensibilities are still evident in that deep resonant bass and trebly guitar.

Opening with the time-honoured motif of so many 70s punk tracks, the two-note ‘police siren’ guitar, ‘Riot’ powers barrel-chested through a sticky melee of urban unrest, with lyrical nods to disturbances in Iran and America as well bonny old Blighty. Interestingly, the track’s bellicose swagger almost anticipates the Oi sound of a few years thereafter; a movement one perhaps wouldn’t immediately associate with reggae crossover.

So if you haven’t had your fill already these past few days, polish up your dancing bovver boots and get on down, but please, please try not to break anything…


(Dread Zed)

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