With our recent forays into post-rock, electro-dub and afro-punk, perhaps it’s time to get back to some reggaematic versions made by good old fashioned punk-punks, and who better to kick things off than Surrey’s The Members, best known for exemplifying the sound of the suburbs with their titular hit single with a passing gesture to the mod end of post-punk..
Sound Of The Suburbs peaked just shy of the UK top ten in 1979 long after most first-wave punks turned in their bondage gear but The Members formed in ’76 and their love of reggae had been bubbling away on b-sides since their 1st Stiff release in ’78, thanks in part to JC Carrol joining singer Nicky Tesco as co-lead Member.
Today though we’re skipping straight to ’82 with a seemingly incongruous mix, if the marriage of rock and reggae wasn’t incongruous enough for you already (i’m guessing it isn’t if you’re a regular reader). Their cover of Kraftwerk’s upright electro-march Das Model takes on a further postmodern slant with more than a nod to Max Romeo’s roots anthem One Step Forward, rendering this multifaceted version a slick yet spiky skanker.
It may come as a surprise, or perhaps none at all, that the accompanying LP Uprhythm, Downbeat stemmed from recording sessions with the guys behind The League Unlimited Orchestra. However, whilst Martin Rushent handled production duties on half the album, today’s remodeling comes care of Rushent’s right hand man Dave Allen.
For those who don’t quite catch the Max Romeo link…
And, well, just because, I’ll leave you with Sound Of The Suburbs…
From herein I think you should all call me Muggins, for I am one of the hundreds of saps out there that splashed out £11.99 on one track. For the mathematicians amongst you, that’s £1 per inch, minus the 1p for the hole in the middle.
Such is my dedication to the Spiky Dread cause, when I heard Grace Jones’ long lost cover of Tubeway Army would be getting a limited release on Record Store Day, I actually considered getting up at the crack of dawn to join the queue at my local vinyl emporium.
In actual fact, I rolled into Soho mid afternoon; the early morning rush of RSD actually seems to go against everything which attracted me to the world of music in the first place but despite it’s many flaws, I can’t complain that for one day a year the world’s ever decreasing number of record stores get a helpful push and a lot of press (even if in Soho, most people appear to spend the day on the street with no sign of having bought anything – me included).
Moans subsiding, let’s listen to the track – another Sly & Robbie-led stepper in a similar vain to Jones’ rework of She’s Lost Control, retrieved from the Nightclubbing recording sessions from ’81, and remastered along with the rest of the LP, we give you Me! I Disconnect From You.
And here’s Grace back home performing My Jamaican Guy live with Sly & Robbie and none other than Coati Mundi (who also uploaded the clip) on congas…
Staying in the 4AD camp after my previous Dif Juz post, we’re featuring a group who cut through the label’s usual doom and gloom with their razor sharp electro-soul single Breakdown.
Synths and drum machines were nothing new in post-punk by ’82 but whilst acts like Human League and Cabaret Voltaire were continuing in the tradition of their European predecessors, Colourbox seemed more directly influenced by the next wave of black electronic styles developing in NYC, Detroit, Chicago and beyond.
On the flip of their Hi NRG pilfering debut comes the downbeat Tarantula, an epic synth-led chugger which suddenly mutates mid-track into the kind of electro-reggae beast we simply can’t get enough of over here at SBB. Confusingly, both sides of the Breakdown 12″ were recorded and released twice, the 2nd and slightly more polished version from ’83 you can hear below – the rhythmic switch happens around the 4:30 mark…
Soon after this release, vocalist Debbian Currie was replaced by lovers rock chanteuse Lorita Grahame, and Colourbox’s electro-dub-rock experiments continued til they found themselves involved in a nasty lawsuit with Stock Aitken & Waterman for an uncleared sample on their ’87 collaboration Pump Up The Volume. I’m getting way ahead of myself though, and seeing as there’s plenty more skanky antics in the Colourbox oeuvre, I’ll save that trip to M/A/R/R/S for another day. Until then, here’s artist Diana Campanalla dancing to their cover of You Keep Me Hanging On in front of one of her paintings and an inflatable guitar…