This post never quite gets round to talking about Massive AttackPosted: 23 April 2011
Massive attack pretty much invented trip hop. Which doesn’t appear to have much to do with either drugs or hip hop: its only direct ancestor is dub, which I’m not that bothered about, so it’s odd that I think trip hop is fantastic.
Random diversion: a very very brief history of dub
Here’s a historical survey of genres from ska to trip hop in terms of their most important feature: whether I like them or not.
Fantastic. This is The Specials‘ version of Guns Of Navarone, which is really 2 Tone (a bit faster). Sue me.
Er yeah, can I take the fifth amendment on this one? Never been all that keen on reggae and I have no idea why. To prove how consistent I am, this is Pressure Drop by Toots And The Maytals, which is fantastic (probably because it’s just when ska was becoming reggae). Check out those jumpers: don’t tell me bands weren’t image obsessed in the 60s.
Reggae without the lyrics and with extra echo chamber and fiddling with mixing desk knobs. I’m cautiously positive: I don’t own any dub records, but quite like the odd track on the radio. This is possibly-best-dub-record-ever and definitely-top-10-best-song-title-ever King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown by King Tubby (a fantastic name – but his real name was Osbourne Ruddock which is scarcely less brilliant) and Augustus Pablo (real name Horace Swaby – I’m not making this up).
Also check stuff by Lee “Scratch” Perry, who didn’t do much music during the late 70s and early 80s as a result of alleged psychosis probably caused by doing too much spliff – he’s straightened out now, and his mental health has improved. I’m not so keen on his stuff – it’s just a bit too full-on for me – but I know I’m in a minority here. This is Dreadlocks In Moonlight.
There’s no denying that Perry is essential to the history of reggae and dub, though, partly through his work as a producer. Here’s Police And Thieves by Junior Murvin, later covered by The Clash. I may even prefer the Murvin version to The Clash version, which is saying something.
When I am president of the universe, one of the first laws I’m going to make is that everyone will have to have a Clash intro as the ringtone on their phone. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re too late: I’ve already bagsied I Fought The Law. Another law I’ve got planned: people who give their children names from a proscribed “stupid list” will be forced to wear a sign saying SORRY EVERYONE when they are out in public. The list will be compiled by me, natch, and will have names like Clovis – yeah, I know – on it.
Another random diversion: Colourbox
For no good reason other than Colourbox are great and I’ve just mentioned King Tubby, here’s a version of Baby I Love You So (which King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown is based on) by Colourbox. Scarcely less dubby than the King Tubby / Augustus Pablo.
And for even less reason, here’s Colourbox’s Manic II, which was my fave track of theirs, although it was only ever available on the free bonus LP given away with early copies of their (proper) LP. How’s that for obscure? I can’t now decide if it’s genuinely brilliant, or very very 80s, or possibly both: whichever, I still love it.
Yeah, look, I’m just going to include loads of Colourbox here because they really are great. They crossed from pop to dub to avant garde electronica without pausing for breath and deserved to be huuuuuuge. Punch, a single from the album, which is sort of hi-energy meets mid-period Human League meets early sampling, and is as great as that description makes it sound – at least, I think it sounds great.
The person what uploaded Punch has uploaded a whole gang of their other stuff: I recommend you have a shufty.
Here’s The Official Colourbox World Cup Theme from 1986 (Mexico, won by Argentina, since you ask). Can you say “Situationist pranksters”?
Finally, obscure-80s-bands-on-4AD-fans, here’s The Moon Is Blue. Despite sounding like it must be a cover of a 50s standard, it’s listed as being written by the brothers Young (i.e. Colourbox). Persevere with it: the first 30 seconds are rubbish.
Where was I?
This post was going to be about Massive Attack with particular reference to last year’s album Paradise Circus, but I got a bit distracted by other stuff, and I don’t really want to just stick them in at the end of a long post of my usual twaddle. Next post, dudes, next post.