Jah Wobble and Keith Levine talked to The Guardian’s Dave Simpson about the environment that existed at the time of recording the album Metal Box
“Metal Box was created with instruments and notes, but no talking between us. It’s telepathy – Wobble and me just have that, even now. We don’t compose; we allow the music to happen. None of it was written before we went in the studio, but everybody had loads of ideas. We just said to the engineers, “Keep the red [recording] button on.” We made up Death Disco on the spot. Wobble had this bassline and I played Swan Lake over it. People thought I was classically trained, which was bollocks”.
The countdown to the annual Womad gathering in Las Palmas is now beginning to gather steam. The line up for this year has been announced, so we begin this weeks edition with one of the acts I’m most looking forward to seeing live and direct, The Creole Choir of Cuba. They are so un-typical of what we, or at least I, think of when it comes to Cuban music. The Creole Choir celebrate the history of their Haitian descendents enslaved to the Caribbean from West Africa. They have revived the songs of their ancestors for modern times. “For us music is like food, it feeds the spirit and is a major inspiration for everyday life”.
The title for this weeks program comes from the unfortunate tale of R.L. Burnside, who recalls how his two brothers, his father and several uncles were killed in Chicago. He relays this through RL’s Story.
Four Tet delivers an epic eleven minutes worth of remixology for Bob Holyrod’s African Drug. Thumb pianos dancing to an evolving 4/4 beat with percussion subtly doing its job. It seemed like a perfect place to lay Linton Kwesi Johnson’s verbal tone over, with a couple pieces taken from his Live a cappella album.
Teebs, who I played over the last couple of weeks, brought the music of Laraaji back into my brain, something about Teebs’ sound has a certain quality that lends itself to a place of harmony, (sorry for that ‘Hippie’ moment!) so yes, I had to dig out Laraaji, who you may know for his albums from the En0-esque period of EG Records.
The original DJ Morpheus, Samy Birnbach, compiler of the groundbreaking Freezone compilations put together a comp’ for Tigersushi, I Can’t Live Without My Radio. The ’80’s always seemed to get slammed for producing crap music, people were just looking at the obvious but we know there was inspiring, challenging, engaging music then. So I pulled the title track, a cover by World Dom’ and Timezone with Afrika Bambatta and John Lydon for this weeks session.
I always liked the scope of the Language label that Tony (Moody Boyz) Thorpe used to run. One act they brought to my attention was Italy’s Bio-Muse. Noise, aggression, going completely against the grain of what was current or trendy. Many heads on the electronic scene didn’t get it, fine, others did.
Digging for tunes for the Filastine gig, and dug out Flowers of Romance.
What a range of music. Flowers of Romance, Socialist, Four Enclosed Walls, F.F.F., Religion, Public Image, Annalisa, Careering.
Then this interview. Worth reading and listening to.
Just writing that gave me power.
Me being a former worker at the band’s label, Virgin Records, I know where he’s coming from.
Do you remember the reasons record companies gave you for not wanting to release your music in the ’80s?
Yeah. “That’ll never sell.” “That’s too different.” And “you have to go mainstream if you want any radio play.”
Have you spoken to any of those people in retrospect?
Well, as time went by, all of these alleged ‘musical geniuses’ were replaced by even dimmer-witted ‘musical geniuses’.
The record companies are all imploding now, aren’t they? For the past 10 years in particular, especially EMI and Virgin. What they’ve become is accountant led. They’re warehouses for distributing old stock. But they’re very selective about what that old stock is. They don’t mind paying the likes of Janet Jackson $80 million to sign her up, but they wouldn’t spend two shillings on me.