It’s rare that I revisit a record on here but it just didn’t feel right not mentioning the Linton Kwesi Johnson collaboration which accompanies yesterday’s Garland Jeffreys selection on the Escapades EP (and as a bonus with the Escape Artist album).
Produced in fine fashion once again by Dennis Bovell, LKJ dispensed with his usual patois-heavy dub verse to read from a copy of the Miami Herald, his gravel tones perfectly offsetting Garland’s sweet whine.
Miami Beach borrows subtly from another punky reggae conspirator Mikey Dread, who’s “walking down the road just this afternoon” scene is transposed to the riot riddled streets of Miami following the death of Arthur McDuffie at the hands of the local constabulary.
LKJ is no stranger to these themes, covering the Brixton riots in Di Great Insohreckshan, police brutality in Sonny’s Lettah and the wrongful arrest and incarceration of George Lindo in It Dread Inna Inglan.
Johnson himself felt the long arm of the law during his time with the British Black Panthers; as he described to Maya Jaggi in The Guardian, he was nicked “for having the audacity to inquire about the welfare of people who were being arrested. I saw three black youths being manhandled by police in Brixton market, and as a Black Panther I was trained to write down their names and addresses, to tell their parents, and take the policemen’s numbers. I was thrown into a black mariah and given a good kicking, then charged with GBH and assault. When they saw a big ‘Free Linton’ demonstration outside the station, they increased the charges.”
It was this kind of defiance, and no doubt the dubwise assistance of Bovell which endeared LKJ to the more politically motivated punks of the day but we can look more deeply into that another time, for now treat your ears to Messrs Jeffreys and Johnson going head to head in Miami Beach.
Obligatory live clip alert – Garland live in 1980 performing The Cimarons’ Rock Reggae Rhapsody.
Some Fantastic footage of LKJ in solo mode from Rudolph Mestdagh’s Spoken Word documentary, featured here next to punk poet Henry Rollins.
And finally if you’re not familiar with Mikey Dread’s Rasta anthem Barber Saloon, here it is alongside Tubby’s Lagga The Barber version…