As our ‘borderline’ fest draws to a close and more overtly punky reggae shores heave once again into sight, it seems fitting that we herald today a gaggle of post-punks who sailed within a whisker of those fertile lands. Well, at least it feels as though they did…
Although The Raincoats, much like The Pop Group, seem prime candidates for a punky reggae crossover (both bands shared a deep connection with Caribbean and African music, not to mention drummers with The Slits) the reality is somewhat different.
As The Slits embraced reggae (though very much on their own terms) The Raincoats applied it far more tentatively, often with some happy accidents along the way – the stuttering chorus of the track In Love, for example, was apparently the result of the band being initially unaware that tape delay could be added in the studio.
Reggae’s primary influence for The Raincoats seemed to be a concentration on what wasn’t there – the spaces in between sounds having just as much, if not more significance than the sounds themselves.
Their exquisite 1981 LP Odyshape reflects this approach most vibrantly – its sharp, introspective feminism underpinned by spartan yet deeply arresting polyrhythmic arrangements bearing aspects of jazz, reggae and African tribal music.
Yet despite the dubby bassline of Shouting Out Loud, the jazz-tainted one drop-ish beat of Baby Song and staggering skank of the album’s title track, The Raincoats never fully give themselves over to a reggae sound which is why they have so far fallen shy of a SBB feature.
A slightly more distant connection, but as the wonderful Harry Beckett collaborated with the ‘Coats on Moving, here’s a slice of roof-raising electro dub from his own Modern Sound of Harry Beckett LP: