As the dust settles on an Olympic closing ceremony which saw Britain lament the hard work of the world’s top athletes with the now quintessentially English tradition of kettling, forcing these poor exhausted wretches to stand through a seemingly endless brain-fart of a lineup, I realised I’d missed a trick by not including The Skids’ lesser spotted Aftermath Dub on Skank Blog over the past fortnight.
Reggae has been at the heart of the Olympic coverage here in the UK, thanks mainly to the PR dream of Usain Bolt, and of course it all coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence, celebrated in fine style at the Puma Yard on Brick Lane by a plethora of privileged PR associates pulling the Bolt pose for photos with Jamaican artists they’ve never actually heard of, before tucking into £7.50 rice and peas served from a shack done up like a shanty town dry-weather house.
Cynical? Maybe I am, but how perplexed would your average Englishman be if he rocked up to some kind of overseas celebration of Britishness only to be served exuberantly overpriced fish n chips from a run down Barret home?
Back to the track at hand, and you may be wondering about the Skids’ relevance to this Olympic fiasco, and the answer lies in their 2nd LP Days In Europa – a slick take on the post punk sound exploding in 1979, steeped in arpeggiating synths and smothered in an ironic Aryan aesthetic echoed in their Nazi era Olympic cover art. Quite fitting with LOCOG’s recent remit to ban even the use of the word London and the year 2012 in combination; the original cover was removed from shelves and replaced with a far less provocative version, with the offending first draft snuck smartly into the background.
Aftermath Dub itself hails from a b-side in a double pack 7″ culled from the same recording sessions, and also featured on a recent repackage of the LP. Not being well versed in The Skids’ output, I’ve no idea which of their songs was reworked here but Be-Bop Deluxe’s Bill Nelson expertly slices through the distortion, dismantling drum tracks and oddly preempting Vangelis’ iconic Titles from Chariots Of Fire with it’s staccato synth patterns.
As snare rolls scatter through it’s cold wave military march and ominous undertones, Aftermath Dub happily conjures images of a post-apocalyptic Stalag-style prison camp, where the likes of Olympic ceremony offenders Jessie, J, Fatboy Slim and The Spice Girls are corralled and forced to suffer a never ending twin guitar solo performed by Dave Gilmour and whatshisname out of Muse.
And of course, The Olympian from said LP, here in a nicely extended form thanks to Paul Hammond…