Tom Tom Dub

Yesterday, while I was banging on about Talking Heads not making a reggae track til ’83, I mentioned the possible influence of Sly & Robbie during the Tom Tom Club’s 1st recording sessions, and before someone chimes in with “Tom Tom Club made a reggae track” I figured I’d swoop in with the said skanker from their eponymous debut.

With an LP as drenched in dub dabbling as it was a homage to hip hop, it may come as no surprise that reggae mentalist Lee Scratch Perry was originally enlisted to man the faders. Predictably unpredictable as ever, Scratch failed to show up, leaving Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz to produce the project themselves, with the assistance of Steven Stanley who cut his teeth at the dub pioneering Aquarius studios in Jamaica.

But back to Nassau where Weymouth and Frantz were getting stuck into the LP while The Compass Point Allstars were busy next door laying down backing tracks for Grace Jones’ Nightclubbing. Sly & Robbie were called in to add handclaps to their breakthrough hit Genius Of Love and former Wailer Tyrone Downie tinkled the ivories on (one of my all time favourite tracks) L’Elephant.

Whilst the majority of the LP pumps with punk-funk and electro trickery, the original release slowly winds itself into the downbeat and dubbed out Booming & Zooming replete with their usual rattling rototoms and syndrums. Those unlucky enough to purchase a later copy of the album will have found it replaced by the fun but inferior version of Under The Boardwalk which scored them a UK top 30 hit in the UK in ’82. That’s not to say their Boardwalk cover was bad, just not a patch on Booming & Zooming which, for me, capped off a perfect LP.

And I can’t leave you without mentioning Steven Stanley’s take on Genius Of Love as Mr Yellow…


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