The Heater’s On

heater1Reggae. The perfect soundtrack to a summer barbecue, conjuring images of tropical beaches, cracking open another can of Lilt, your Levi Roots inspired chicken sizzling aloft hot coals as you softly skank out of time. Yes, this is indeed the epitome of sunshine music.

However, like much of the world, Jamaica has a night time. This might sound like a painfully obvious observation but you’d never believe it when talking to the average man in the UK about the sunny disposition of reggae music; one record exec at Virgin even went as far as telling me they couldn’t market reggae out of season, which means they have around a 2 week window a year, given the brief heatwaves we’re afforded upon our tepid shores.

heater2And then there’s the reggae diaspora. Transplanted to temperate climes, the world of relocated reggae focused on it’s often bluesy, murkier themes, reflected succinctly by Manchester’s X-O-Dus who dubbed their style “rainy city reggae”. Yet, to claim this as a UK invention would be a fallacy; Jamaican artists have been documenting these apparent weather anomolies for decades, what with Bob Marley proclaiming “got to have kaya now, for the rain is falling” and Keith Hudson pleading “turn the heater on”.

heater3Testament to all this was Ian Curtis’ love for the latter Hudson track, which leads us to today’s selection – New Order’s skeletal rendering of Hudson’s late night lament, featuring ice cold synth strings and haunting echoes. Recorded during their 2nd Peel session in ’82 whilst still defining the NO sound after their transitional debut LP, Turn The Heater On was performed in tribute to the late Curtis who still seemed present on early New Order songs like Ceremony and Denial. Perhaps Turn The Heater On could be viewed as a final farewell to their former band mate before the dancier electronic shift of 1983’s Power Corruption & Lies.

Whatever their reasoning, and despite polarizing opinions, Peel saw fit to release it as the opening track on the 1st ever Peel Sessions release in ’86, marking another watershed moment in the Spiky Dread annals…

An early live performance of the Joy Division penned Ceremony

And one of the darkest moments from Keith Hudson, claiming his crown as the dark prince of reggae…


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