Full English

Getting my promotional hat on today in honour of a new comp on the ever excellent Strut label, compiled by Skank Blog associate and Dj Historian Bill Brewster, and featuring a rare slice of Mancunian roots rock reggae.

Fac focuses on the early years of Manchester’s iconic Factory label, featuring underground classics, and a few not so classics, covering their brand of proto-house, post-punk meets jazz-funk and dislocated disco, from the late 70’s through to the mid 80’s.

Hidden amongst usual suspects such as A Certain Ratio, Quando Quango and The Duritti Column are a handful of lesser known numbers, one of which is a mainstay on the Bologna boom box. See Them A Come by X-O-Dus is one of those rare moments where an actual reggae band crosses over into spikier territories, though more by association and intent than through the usual sonic dismemberment which makes up our favoured Skank Blog fodder.

You see, both tracks from X-O-Dus’ one off release are essentially good old fashioned roots recordings. Even the presence of Dennis Bovell doesn’t shift it too far from tradition, yet there’s something unique in the mix which sets it aside from fellow UK reggae artists of the late 70’s like Aswad and Steel Pulse.

Maybe it’s the setting, having trudged Greater Manchester’s squat parties, crafting their self-branded form of “rainy city reggae”, X-O-Dus seemed hell bent on carving their own niche, opting for tours of Scotland over the usual reggae haunts. In fact X-O-Dus were apparently the 1st reggae act to tour the Highlands so it’s no surprise that there’s a certain slant to their melancholic skank, cemented by champion of the askew, John Peel, touting them as “one of the best reggae bands in the country today”.

Though many may disagree with Peel, there’s a big space in our hearts for the epic two-sider that was X-O-Dus’ first, and sadly only, 12″ from 1979. We give you English Black Boys and See Them A Come in all their elongated glory…

And I can’t leave you without some vaguely related live footage, this time from fellow Fac featured band Swamp Children performing You’ve Got Me Beat at The Hacienda in ’82.

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3 Responses to Full English

  1. I very much enjoy your blog. This was always a corner of the music world that I followed and collected, but only what I came across here in the US, and your selections run deep. Love it! Besides the Slits, Ruts, and Clash, it seems nobody pursued the style much besides the occasional one-off or dub mix on a b-side.
    Now this “English Black Boys” I’m sure I heard before in a different Bovell incarnation. Was it Matumbi? I pride myself on my knowledge of such minutae, so it’s bugging me. Sure it’s not original, though.
    Thank you for your service.

  2. casseticuts says:

    Cheers for the kind words, and in answer to your question, I’m not sure. There’s no writing credits on the 12″ but both sides are published by the same company so I’d assume English Black Boys is an X-O-Dus original. Maybe Bovell used it for a later dub?

  3. Mart says:

    Thanks for your kind comments. English Black Boys CD released on LTM Records featuring 7 songs recorded for unreleased Factory album.
    Have a look.

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