Archive for May 2008

“that sound that seems to get inside you and rearrange you molecularly”

Don Letts came in for a bit of a hammering in Woofah issue 1, but he’s not too bad presenting this. Perhaps because the archive reportage and contributions from people such as Linton Kwesi Johnson, Vivien Goldman, Jazzie B, King Tubby, Trevor Sax, Daddy G, Ali Campbell, Caroline Coon, Lenny Henry, Rodigan and Tippa Irie make it essential listening.

The Blues Dance

Tuesday 13 May 2008 13:30-14:00 (Radio 4 FM)

Repeated: Saturday 17 May 2008 15:30-16:00 (Radio 4 FM)

Don Letts tells the story of the Blues Dance or Jamaican private club in Britain. Crowds gathered to listen and dance to heavy bass lines of reggae, pumped out from huge speakers. The first wave of West Indian immigrants set up informal basement parties in West London, but the phenomenon would later gain prominence across the UK.

BBC online listening.

Penny Reel on blues dances from the New Musical Express “soundsystem splashdown” feature.

This week’s two essential grime downloads

As Wiley jogs casually up the UK Top 40 with Wearing My Rolex, it’s heartening to see the grass roots crew upping the levels for the hardcore.

1. Boy Better Know – Microphone Champion vol 1

mic_champ_vil1_cd.mp3 –

1 hour 4 minutes and 10 seconds of grimey biz from Jammer, Skepta, JME, Frisco, Shorty, Slickman on the mic and DJ Maximum on the decks. Loads of great new music and great new lyrics. For free!

Bonus points – what is that faint echo of a foundation reggae riddim at 45:44?

Via Hyperfrank.

2. Logan Sama – One Away Style


Logan is like the David Rodigan of Grime I guess – his Kiss FM show is certainly a focal point in the week like Roddy’s is. Here is a selection of his specials for download, including Matterhorn doing Dutty Wine – but more importantly a whole swathe of grime’s VIPs singing his praises on custom cut versions of their big tunes – I tried to list them all here but it just looks stupid like that. Grab it!

Last week’s essential download was Blogariddims 40 by Paul Meme and me.

“Long Time Burning” digital release

Naphta - Long Time Burning digital release

Anyone who salivated over my review of Naphta’s album here and in Woofah issue 2 but hasn’t picked it up yet can now purchase it digitally – direct from the label!

And now for the science bit:

“The MP3s are DRM free 320s with full printable artwork (including the CD surface). Click on the image above to get it.”

Downpressor feat Trinity: “Jah Fire” 7″

My regular readers will have seen plenty of comments from the occasionally baffled Downpressor, who also does the Dubbing In Tokyo blog.

He is also a reggae recording artist and producer who has sent me the occasional wicked mp3 and now a full blown vinyl release. I have managed to repay his kindness and loyalty by not mentioning said record until now and feel quite bad about that. Sorry.

He’s hooked up with veteran deejay Trinity here for a hard rootsy reality outing. Vocals calling for revolution and equal rights and a bassline built to beat down the forces of injustice. The version adds some nice effects and keeps snatches of the vocal intact.

Available from:



Ernie Bs

(all sites include sound samples).

Check it out and support independent producers…

ON/OFF – Mark Stewart documentary trailer

I’m looking forward to this but I’m hoping the documentary includes a lot more disjointed and weird stuff than the trailer and isn’t a load of talking heads going on about how great Mark is. There would be some irony in having a conventional documentary which adhered to professional broadcast and narrative standards about Mark Stewart…

Drugs Are Nice

Lisa Crystal Carver – Drugs Are Nice: A Post Punk Memoir (Snowbooks, 2006)

I’d only ever been vaguely aware of Lisa Suckdog (aka Carver) and her ‘zine Rollerderby in the 90s but my interested was piqued when I saw Stewart Home quoting her book on his web page about Tony Wakeford.

It’s actually not a bad read and is fairly easy to get hold of cheap. The book covers Lisa’s life from childhood up to her mid-twenties with the bulk of the tale focusing on her involvement in the US 90s underground/diy/zine scene.

Lisa writes well and comes across as pretty honest about being fucked up and confused. Maybe too honest – I found the first half of the book infuriatingly breezy in places. But perhaps that’s my problem because I too once fell in love with the idea of transgression and unlimited creativity and living life on the edge. Though, of course I never really went for it because there were a gazillion things that seemed to be holding me back. Many of them, as it turns out, entirely sensible ones. I think I know just as many people who died, or went mental from that scene as ended up being a star or making a living out of it. Of course the larger proportion are people like me who just did (and do) their bit and juggle real life at the same time.

So, part of me is annoyed that Lisa lead this seemingly endless life of adventure hooking up with headcases like GG Allin, doing mad operatic performance art shows across the world, selling thousands of copies of her zine, putting demented records out and generally having a good time.

The other part of me is annoyed because I remember meeting people who seemed self-consciously confrontational, subversive and decadent. On paper they were wildly exciting – in person, they were fucking tedious and self-obsessed.

Obviously I am unfairly tarring Lisa with the same brush – but what is great about her story is the gradual change in emphasis. Perhaps paradoxically she becomes more interesting, not less, the more “conventional” her life experiences become. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the accounts of her mad exploits with French performance artist Costes a great deal and her girly ruminations on US underground culture (which I assume is as male-dominated as the euro variant).

For people not familiar with Lisa’s work I imagine a big point of interest will be her relationship with industrial musician and “occult fascist” Boyd Rice. Like many industrial or neo-folk musicians Rice has constructed a vast mythology around himself which serves as excellent branding for flogging his records. Rice’s mystique somehow allows him to posture as a Satanist, misogynist neo-nazi who is a cool guy really because he likes 60s girl groups and is at prankster at heart.

Carver’s account tells a rather different story. In contrast to his promotion of social darwinism, Rice comes across as completely dysfunctional – a grown man who ponces off his mother to fund his booze habit. A delusional inadequate who beats his partner when he doesn’t get his way.

The deterioration of Boyd and Lisa’s relationship after their son is born makes for uncomfortable reading. It marks, I guess, the end of a particular road for the author. Her subsequent trajectory is an interesting mish mash of questioning and being uncomfortable with a more comfortable lifestyle. Other reviews of the book I’ve read tend to either ignore this and focus on all the mad counterculture stuff, or portray the story as someone having their wild years young and then growing out of it. But it isn’t “just a phase” – far from it.

For me Lisa’s insights at the end were the best bit – still slightly fucked up, no regrets about her past, still questioning the whole ethos of the various roles that society has allocated her. To what degree is it possible to reinvent yourself? Can you ever completely escape the influence of your parents? Do these sort of things matter?