Barry Ford may not be the first name which springs to mind when you think of punk rock, or reggae for that matter, yet he’s been up there with the best of them. Bopping along with Dennis Bovell, hanging with Kilburn & The High Roads, and penning most of the songs for Paramount’s misguided punk cash in Ladies And Gentleman The Fabulous Stains, which also cast Ford in the role of the titular band’s tour bus driver.
Coupled with session work for folks as diverse as Viv Stanshall to Ram John Holder aka Pork Pie from Desmonds, it should come as no surprise that when Barry finally put his name to a reggae release in ’84, the result was decidedly left of centre, re-imagining a Bob Dylan standard over a spacious rhythm akin to Winston Riley’s infamous Stalag 17.
Dylan of course wrote Maggie’s Farm as a protest song about the protest movement itself but in the hands of The Specials with a minor rewrite, our very own Maggie was put through the wringer on the B-Side of their weary 1980 hit Do Nothing. Roll on a few years and The Specials’ own Dick Cuthell is in the studio with Ford, lending his inimitable horn stylings to a less menacing but far catchier version which you can now check out below…
And though it may seem a little heavy handed to younger readers, those who grew up in Thatcher’s Britain will no doubt appreciate the Orwellian reference in the dub mix.
Straying from the reggae for a few minutes, here’s Ford rocking out to Richie Havens’ Indian Rope Man with his early 70’s group Noir, often credited as Britain’s first all black rock group.
A quick respite from the music, as mentioned above, the trailer for the fabulous Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains. Though Ford doesn’t make an appearance here, keep your eye out for a brace of Pistols, a dash of The Clash, a leather clad Ray Winstone, and Diane Lane as Corrine “Third Degree” Burns.
Obviously I couldn’t leave you without linking up the Specials’ own version of Maggie’s Farm…
And finally, I bow out with a couple unrelated tracks but simply couldn’t resist sharing these. 1st up Ricky Rennalls, the man behind Phantom’s Lazy Fascist, paid tribute to the milk snatcher in 1983 with what just might be the 1st (non-pop cash in) UK rap track.
2nd, here’s one half of the Ragga Twins, the mighty Demon Rocka with his dancehall take-down of the Iron Lady, voiced over Jammy’s version of the aforementioned Stalag rhythm around the same time Maggie was supposedly signing off arms deals with Saudi Arabia, in turn making her son a cool £12m. No doubt prompting Demon to exclaim “what a gwan inna di country?”