tHAT wAS a nAUGHTY bIT oF cRAP: “Wiley: Igloo Remix and Blue Rizla.
I think, no exaggerating here, that he’s probably more important than George Clinton, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Sun Ra and Derrick May rolled into one.”

Yeah man, like totally. Like, you know when those guys use echoes, it’s like they’re bouncing their thoughts off the inside of your brain?

Actually, I’d love to hear this record, but bear in mind he’s talking about JUST ANOTHER RIDDIM RECORD. It’ll probably sound tired next week when we’re onto another microgenre. Even so – forward!

blissblog: “That’s one of the oddest things about A Clockwork Orange–the idea that the USSR would have this huge influence on Western pop culture such that the youth would speak pidgin Russian slang. But then nobody ever accused Anthony Burgess of being in touch with pop music”

No Burgess was spot on, just 180 degrees in the wrong direction. Think how many British youth use Jamaican patois. Punjabi is coming. You could say that Burgess was parodying the idea of Russian Communist ideology infiltrating Western youth culture, but the reality is that it’s been a return of the repressed, of the descendents of slavery, and its ideology of resistance.

Or something.

blissblog: “Morley himself was the first – in the early Eighties he provocatively remarked that a remix of a Tight Fit single was superior to Led Zeppelin III, thereby driving away the remaining rump of NME’s hippie readership. “

That’s ludicrous. Led Zep III is a great record. I love the folky stuff on it too.

Of course, Morley’s a genius anyway.

Reynolds on UK-Dance
blissblog: “The most pugnacious voices inevitably tended to dominate, and debates were always escalating into acrimonious slanging matches; the ‘winners’ were those with the stamina and thick skin to outlast everybody else.”

I found UK-Dance in this phase of its life both intensely irritating and intesnely addictive simultaneously. It was thrilling to find such a well-informed bunch of people who were so up for really vigourously debating a subject. It must have alienated at least as many people as it turned on but it made for extremely satisfying online entertainment for a lot of people. I remember once trying to defend some particularly badly-argued point over email with one of the UKDers and just getting whacked with one expertly and wittily made put-down after another. It was really testing, made you think, and to be honest I’ve learnt loads from the people on UKD.

Big up Reynolds for bigging up Sean Paul

I can’t find the right link right now but I was really pleased to see the man saying Sean Paul is alright after a bit of slagging in blogdom. Let’s face it, most of the times that the radio or MTV or TOTP is good is when he’s guesting on a track. I’ve heard the album coming over from next door and it sounds pretty good. He isn’t some facile simulation of dancehall, he’s actually areally good exponent. If he was unknown everyone would be raving about him. ‘course, someone like Elephant Man probably won’t be following in his footsteps (though Log On has been heard playing in Woolworths, apparently) cos he won’t look as good (i.e. as white) in the videos. Even so, Sean Paul’s alright, slagging him off is like slagging off Anthea and Donna.

So, reggae is only interesting when it’s de-politicised and de-contextualised, apparently.

According to AgonyShorthand — a name which makes you wonder just what sort of pain he’s in, exactly — “it (roots reggae) was the product of a remote, class-oriented subculture, with a small network of cool indie or semi-independent labels, and because it was bearing a distinct outlaw drugs/guns/political outsider vibe. That package doesn’t hold a whole lot of cachet any longer (the world is ever more connected; class matters in music less than it ever did; indies are a dime a dozen, and I think we’ve all been about “outlawed” to death).”

I wonder what obscure corner of the world this guy lives in where class doesn’t matter any more. Finland? Tonga? The Seychelles? Funnily enough, lots of poeple who like reggae appreciate how it articulates class issues in a beautiful, emotional way. Saying that class matters less in music than it ever did soulds like the product of a white rock fan who got into punk and got confused by everything since, cos the amount of class-specific content in, hmmm, let’s think, what about DANCE MUSIC is enormous. In fact you can still characterise the music industry’s output inb class terms very neatly. I’m not saying that working class automatically equals genius — contrast Vanilla Ice with Ice Cube — but to say class is no longer relevant is both short sighted and inherently conservative.

Agony boy then proceeds to soil himself in public (and I don’t mean that in a kindly, taking-the-piss-out-of-friend kind of way like I did with Matt TWANBOC) by saying “People, myself included, knew there were some kernels of genius in reggae somewhere, we just needed to look past Marley, Tosh, Black Uhuru, Steel Pulse and god forbid, “Eek-a-Mouse” to find it.” ‘kin ‘ell. What a knobber. Who wants to listen to all these large black men saying something meaningful about how fucked up the world got because of — who was it again? Oh yeah. White people. The ones in charge. Funny that. Oh, and god forbid if they use a squeeky voice and a load of humour to take the piss out of the oppressor — shit at least with Tosh you can tell what he’s talking about, most of the time. Eek-a-mouse isn’t even speaking English!

“To me, THAT’S what the surge of appreciation for pre-70s reggae roots and for dub is mostly about. It’s really about the music now, and all the politics and the glory of Haile Sellasie and the get up/stand up nature of the rest of it is pure window dressing for the good stuff.”

Oh yeah. Meaning? Truth? Politics? Oh, that’s just soooo 80s, man! I only like music that’s had all that nasty politics sieved out of it. It’s so much more digestible when it’s all about love songs, or there’s no vocal left at all.

What a load of cobblers. It’s like punk never happened. Coming from someone who talks about PUNK all the time. Well, quelle surprise — the old (white) punks get as conservative as the (white) MOR bands and can’t bear to have their (white) noise polluted by anything political or emotional.

So, he doesn’t like reggae with any black voices in it, or, at least, with any black experience in it. He does, however, like old-style country music from the deep south. You do the math.

Reynolds and Eden have both come across the mighty tWist.

Oh, yeah. Twist is a cool guy and a GREAT DJ. At the UKD 10th Birthday party his set was by common consensus the best. I’ve rarely seen a room go off the way he made the back room go during his set — the place just exploded. He was playing really class old skool and ragga jungle. It was just fantastic. And you can hear it! Here at Marc Dauncey’s excellent site! You can just about hear my shouting “Who’s the biggest DJ?” during one of the spinbacks. He’s definitely not a non-communicative autistic, quite the reverse, he’s a delightful and entertaining chap in person.

BTW you can download reggae mixes from me and John Eden there that seem to have gone down fairly well. (Over 400 mixes each so far!) Oh, and soon there’ll be a new mix up there from me which is a Tribute to Congo Natty mix, comprising some nice dancehall hits and a dubbed up mix of my fave Natty tunes, concluding with a Grievous Angel version of a famous dub tune. I’ll let you know when Marc has the link sorted out.

can’t help feeling that one of the reasons people like this record [Tackhead: Learning toCope with Cowardice] so much is down to their nostalgia for the time it came out? Which I don’t have as a johnny come lately…

Only to a degree. Yes, I still remember the wonder with which I heard tracks like Jerusalem on John Peel when it first came out. But then Ifeel the same way about things like Black Flag. But “Learning” sounds great today. I know cos I deliberately listened to the original vinyl again while re-reading John’s post, and I expected to hear what he described. But what I heard was different, and much better than I expected. Side one still sounds great, at least. I didn’t have “Mark Stewart” to hand at the time so I deliberately didn’t do a comparison. But in absolute terms, “Cowardice” still sounds great — and I suspect, from memory, that it sounds better than much late period Stewart. But Icould be wrong.

Oh yes, and Danny writes to inform me that “Sounds of The Universe” (the Soul Jazz shop) now have a massive stock of old Tackhead twelves and the like, and demands I leave immediately for an urgent appointment with a barber in Hoxton. Bah!

Well, it was bound to happen — the canonisation of On-U has been at an advanced state for some years (and rightly so) so a commercial product of that is not surprising. Though I wonder if their large stock is to do with not being able to shoft them… Still, John’s hairdresser is a mere two or three miles north of Hoxton, so who knows what barnet-related developments may occur…

All the die-hard fans are adamant that the first LP “Learning To Cope With Cowardice” is either the best or at least as good as “Veneer”. But I still don’t agree!

I’m not exactly in a position to judge, cos what I thought was a pristine (or at least fairly complete) collection of the key On-U productions seems to lack Both “As the Veneer of Democracy Starts to Fade” and Mark Stewart. So this post isn’t the comparison-fest it should’ve been. But still, in absolute terms, Learning to Cope with Cowardice is phenomenal. I can’t agree with John that it “hasn’t aged all that well”. For one thing the playing is actually very tight and the grooves are dead funky. The credits list the keyboard player as “Fat Fingers”, and I wonder if it’s actually Skip MacDonald… the Worrell-isms are too dead-on to be some random Bristol punk. I think. Far from being fractured beyond recognition, the pulse behind the tracks remains absolutely constant, no matter how much tape distortion or backwards reverb is applied, so even as a track seems to be deconstructing into chaos, it’s actually still keeping it totally on the one. Clearly the inspiration is Funkadelic wig-outs, but with a greater underlying discipline (i.e. it all stays in time, unlike say Maggot Brain). Admittedly None Dare Call it Conspiracy is a bit all over the place. But side one is ace, not nearly so bad as John’s description of it as “sometimes excessive dub work outs”. I prefer it to side 2 actually. Similarly The Paranoia of Power on side 2 is nowhere near as bad as John makes out. Rather than cod white reggae it’s a fine and varied UK roots track. Funnily enough Jersualem doesn’t sound quite as good, and certainly not as long, as I remember it bleeping out of Peel in the early 80s, but there you have it.

Some day I’m going to digitise the Mark Stewart / Tackhead live tape I’ve been taunting John with since 1993. it