Moonlight Radio is the splendid comp from 1981 which documents the brief mini-scene surrounding West Hampstead’s now long-gone Moonlight Club. Though mainly comprised of post-punks such as Artery, The Decorators and The Room, nestled in on side 2 of the LP lies a spiky reggae stomper of jaw-dropping proportions.
Rare though it may be to find reggae artists venturing onto punky plains (that is, compared to the other way round) it’s always a delight to find exceptions, and the fabulous Tower Block Kid by Shepherd’s Bush rootsters, Icarus is one hell of a delightful exception indeed.
Make no mistake, this is still very much a roots recording, but unlike Icarus’s other more traditionally rootsy material, TBK has a far grittier, urbanist edge to it.
Vocalist Ashley Charles (or is it Windy Miller?) delivers in a distinctly London-inflected twang his strange cautionary tale about the dangers of taking Superman at face value, offset by some Dr Who-ish synth and the thunderous report of one of the heaviest one-drops you’re ever likely to hear.
Like many of their UK reggae contemporaries of the time, Icarus often shared bills with punk and post-punk acts, though despite popularity in both the roots and punk communities their career was short-lived, yielding but a handful of releases before the band’s demise sometime in the early 80s.
Thank Jah they left this little corker behind however…
A Peel favourite:
And because it’s wicked: