First up is a dub classic from the former Musical Dragon associate Prince Far I. Having crossed over onto many a punk’s platter with Cry Tuff II on Virgin, the Prince’s 3rd chapter made it’s way round the corner (quite literally) to Daddy Kool.
For the punks that couldn’t pick up the reggae they were looking for in Virgin, it was mere spitting distance to Daddy Kool’s shop on Hanway Street, so it was inevitable that when the Daddy himself, Keith Stone, set up his own label, some spikiness would slip through the net.
Which leads us to Cry Tuff Dub Encounter Chapter III. This is a spacious release from 1980, with rhythm tracks laid down by the Roots Radics in Jamaica, then messed with in the UK by former Flying Lizards and seasoned sonic experimentalists Steve Beresford and David Toop. Through these connections and of course Prince Far I’s own protege Adrian Sherwood, it should come as no surprise that Ari & Viv from The Slits should crop up performing vocal duties on various tracks, my favourite being…
Next in line we have a brace of bass-led beasts from the Sherwood camp. New Age Steppers were another On-U collective featuring reggae reprobates Bim Sherman, Crucial Tony and one time Aswad bassist George Oban, augmented by Ari on piano with guest vocals from Neneh Cherry, Vivien Goldman and of course Ari herself.
My love is an unusual slice of twisted lovers rock, put through the wringer by Sherwood, and featuring the vocal trio of Up, Cherry and Sherman displaying barbershop dexterity. Nuclear Zulu is a more familiar On-U sound with Ari’s primeval howl echoing through the verb-drenched rhythm.
Moving up to jazzier climbs but remaining within The Slits’ extended family, we find Ari lending her dulcet tones to Neneh Cherry’s own band, Rip Rig + Panic.
Shadows Only There Because Of The Sun is an uptempo affair led by brass stabs and syncopated drums. Like the hornier cousin of The Slits’ own In The Beginning There Was Rhythm, Ari turns her hand to freeform poetry, at times straying feverishly close to rap territories.
On the other hand Change Your Life opens with Mark Springer’s delicate piano, before morphing into some kind of stomping modal monster featuring Ari and co muttering and moaning on the sidelines. Both tracks are from Rip Rig’s debut LP God from 1981.