BEDDERS’ SKA AND REGGAE TOP 10!

MADNESS return to their House Of Fun weekender at Minehead Butlin’s at the end of the month.

Over the weekend of 30 November-2 December, the Nutty Boys play host to a range of live acts and DJs including MUNGO JERRY, DAVID RODIGAN, CHRIS DIFFORD, HORACE ANDY, GENO WASHINGTON, ADRIAN SHERWOOD, DENNIS BOVELL, JANET KAY, HUEY MORGAN, Bez and Rowetta from HAPPY MONDAYS, EARL GATESHEAD, CHAINSKA BRASSIKA, THE ESKIES, THE SKATA TONES and more….

There’s still some tickets available here.

To celebrate, we asked the band’s longstanding bass supremo Mark ‘Bedders’ Bedford for his Top 10 ska and reggae tracks….

 

“It’s the worst thing in the world to ask a musician his or her favourite tracks. There are normally so many in a musician’s head. Groups and sub-groups of suitable bits of music for every occasion. But asking them to pick ten will elicit hand-wringing on a monumental scale. This list is a touch easier because the brief was to stick to ska and reggae. But I could have drawn up a list for Top Ten of All-Time records – this would have taken weeks, of course. Or a jazz list; a blues list; a punk list. So, here it is – for today – because it will probably change tomorrow or next week?”

‘Eastern Standard Time’ – Don Drummond: “This lovely, lazy and loping tune, by The Skatalites, is really part of the roots of ska. You can hear the jazz influence, which featured in a lot of early ska tunes. Jazz was what this stellar band of musicians was listening to and playing before making this record. You can also hear, unsurprisingly, the Caribbean music as well. A lot of The Skatalites, individually, went on to make important ska and reggae records.”

‘Ali Baba’ – John Holt: “John Holt’s vocal on this track is super cool. He’s singing in such an easy way. This is counterpoint to the lyrics which are fantastic, in the truest sense of the word. John lays out the lyrics in a way which says, this tune is about a heavily psychedelic dream I had but, hey, no big deal. The experts say that this tune is technically ‘Rocksteady’. It also features a really nice horn section.”

‘East of the River Nile’ – Augustus Pablo: “This instrumental has one of my favourite introductions. It could easily be the start of an old film. What follows is a lovely slow groove with minimal instrumentation – where every instrument sounds just right. Then in comes Augustus Pablo’s melodica. Great use of reverb to create atmosphere, helped by some nice dub. This came out in 1977 but could have fitted into any reggae era.”

‘Ring The Alarm’ – Tenor Saw: “Tenor Saw is regarded as one of the great dancehall-style singers. He was working in the early period where reggae was discovering digital music. He’s young and confident on this track and his vocal style and inflections are so good. A brilliant rhythm, as well. Tenor Saw died aged 21 – a massive loss.”

‘Mr Brown’ – Bob Marley & The Wailers with The Upsetters: “Produced by Lee Perry; written by The Upsetters’ Glen Adams and given to The Wailers. It’s the story about a ghost being seen around town. So we get ‘creepy’ sounds and scary vocals. We also get great harmonies from The Wailers. I always think of it as a stand-alone reggae record – there’s not much like it? Just imagine if reggae had gone totally psychedelic?”

‘Cuss Cuss’ – Lloyd Robinson : “This brilliant, driving rhythm became one of the most covered in Jamaica. The urgency matches Lloyd Robinson’s vocal: ‘Get out of my life with your fuss and fight; I don’t want it’. Then up pops an organ hook line. 2’33” of a short, sharp plea.”

‘CB 200’ – Dillinger: “Title track from Dillinger’s superb album of the same name. This brought reggae and dub to the Punks and a wider audience. An album for every collection.”

‘Tunnel One’ – Tommy McCook: “Tommy McCook was one of the founders of The Skatalites and he leads this tune with his beautiful sax playing. Not only can you hear John Coltrane in his playing but you can also hear Miles Davis in the trumpet that follows him. Built on a rock solid rhythm, it’s over too soon.”

‘Sit and Wonder’ – Prince Buster: “This track, I think, is influenced by the Nyabinghi rhythm, which comes from the chants that are used by Rastafarians? It’s certainly one I haven’t heard on many records? Prince Buster delivers a trademark vocal with nice doo-wop harmonies and a cheeky sax part.”

‘All Will Be Well In The Garden’ – Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Adrian Sherwood. “A great and intriguing combination. Their work together is so good and you could pick many tracks. Nice mournful horns, harmonica and a sliding double bass(?). Reggae is in a healthy state here.”

You can also catch Bedders playing with the NEAR JAZZ EXPERIENCE at Indo, Whitechapel on the last Tuesday of every month. Their debut album Afloat is out now through Sartorial Records.

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  • Terry Edwards on

    This is excellent stuff – hadn’t heard the Tenor Saw track before. Fab.


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