I awoke this morning to the sorry news that Laura Kennedy of Bush Tetras died yesterday, and ever ready to pay my last respects, I had a flip through my shelves to see if anything would be Skank Blogable.
For those not in the know, Bush Tetras were a post-punk group formed in the wake of no-wave’s demise when sax-sicko James Chance disbanded his Contortions leaving guitarist Pat Place to pick up the pieces. Enlisting The Contortions roadie Kennedy on bass, and after a brief turnaround of members, the Tetras took to the stage for the 1st time in early 1980 with barely a handful of songs to their name.
Using funk and soul as a springboard, Kennedy’s elasticated basslines and Dee Pop’s pulsating drum patterns formed the backbone of the band, offset by Place’s fractured guitar flourishes which owed as much to the scratchier end of dub as it did to Gang Of Four’s Andy Gill or fellow downtown New Yorker Arto Lindsay. The breakneck boogie of their initial shows soon giving way to a more spacious sound, finding it’s way into Danceteria DJ sets once they’d released their debut 7″ on Ed Bahlman’s pioneering 99 Records with the infectious lock groove of Too Many Creeps’.
Riding up the Billboard disco charts, the band hit the road winding up in the unlikely location of Farnham in England’s leafy greenbelt, which brings us to today’s track. The Bush Tetras recorded a brace of singles for UK label Fetish, known largely for pioneering industrial and electronic body music with Throbbing Gristle and Clock DVA, assisted by Throbbing associate Ken Thomas at the faders for Things That Go Boom In The Night, and The Clash’s Topper Headon lending his hand to the follow up Rituals, featuring the Ronseal workout of Can’t Be Funky.
But back to the track at hand which sits snugly on the B-side of Boom, starting out as a steppers-esque loop, punctuated by woodblocks and flanging guitar stabs reminiscent of Pick-A-Dub era Earl “Chinna” Smith. That skeletal skank soon gives way to the Tetras’ recognisable disco discourse but the nod to Das Ah Riot’s reggae roots remains ingrained to the end.
It stands to reason that both this and the A-side were subjected to some hearty dub dislocation which, as far as I know, didn’t see the light of day til Thirsty Ear, with the help of Henry Rollins, compiled an LP of lesser known Bushy moments. Sadly I own neither of these, partly through an aversion to CD’s, so until they fetch up on wax I’m gonna have to make do with this…