Thursday, April 24, 2014

Touched By The Hand Of Jah! -- Hear A Rare 1982 New Order Cover Of Keith Hudson's 'Turn The Heater On'

It may come as a bit of surprise, but Joy Division's lead singer Ian Curtis was an unabashed fan of reggae music.  Like many of his punk and post-punk musical contemporaries (Joe Strummer and John Lydon come to mind), he heard reggae music growing up in the early and mid-1970's before starting Joy Division.

Reggae inspired Curtis to introduce the melodica to his Joy Division band mates. Though originally considered a child's instrument, melodica became popular in Jamaica and featured prominently in 70's dub reggae, used frequently by Augustus Pablo who made it his musical trademark. While melodica only made it on to one Joy Divisiion track (the song 'Decades'), New Order inherited the melodica from Curtis after he died employing it on well known tracks 'Your Silent Face' and 'Love Vigilantes.' Melodica also features on New Order's rare reggae inspired cover of  Keith Hudson's song Turn The Heater On' from his 1975 album 'Torch Of Freedom' album which they recorded in 1982 for a John Peel radio session as a tribute to Curtis - who had been a huge fan of Hudson.

Known as the 'Dark Prince of Reggae'. Hudson was a true reggae innovator who initially used money earned as a dentist's apprentice in the late 60's to rent studio time to record and produce other artists including Delroy Wilson, Alton Ellis and Big Youth.  Later he focused his efforts on writing and recording his own songs and albums releasing 'Flesh of My Skin, Blood of My Blood' described as 'reggae's first true concept album', with lyrics relating to black history and "conscious" themes and followed it with 'Torch of Freedom' which featured vocal cuts with their instrumental versions following immediately after, an extended play format that was to come into fashion in Jamaica a few years later.

New Order's take on reggae on 'Turn The Heater On' is instinctive, and although it's much faster and lacks the groove of Hudson's version, it's modern sound via synth drums and keyboards is very fitting and sounds like an original rather than a cover.  The band would later record a cover of Jimmy Cliff's reggae classic 'Viet Nam' for the 'War Child' compilation.

Have a listen to both tracks below for a side-by-side comparison.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Specials Release Limited Edition 7" Single On 2-Tone Label For Record Store Day 2014

How did you celebrate Record Store Day?

The Specials released a limited edition 7” single as part of Record Store Day that features two previously unreleased dub mixes created at the time of the ‘More Specials’ mixing sessions in 1980 by band drummer John ‘Brad’ Bradbury (Sock It To ‘Em, JB) and by the band's founder Jerry Dammers (Rat Race). Did you grab one?  If you did, what do you think?  My ska blogging pal (Duff Guide To Ska) and Rude Boy George band mate Steve Shafer was up and out early this morning to procure a copy.

I have to say that I was very excited to see the 2-Tone label spinning round and round on the videos below. Give the videos a spin yourself and play them LOUD!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Neville Staple Previews Tracks From "Ska Crazy" Album Out In May 2014

Neville Staple, former singer with The Specials, has posted a video that previews tracks from his new album "Ska Crazy" that will be released on CD and vinyl on May 13th on Cleopatra Records in the U.K. The album is now available to order as a pre-release on Amazon in the U.S. and the U.K.

The 10 track album, which also includes dub remixes. features a mix of originals and covers including a reggae version of the Fun Boy Three classic "The Farmyard Connection" as well as "Time Longer Than Rope," "Hypocrite," "Johnny Too Bad," and "Wet Dream."

Staple announced he was leaving The Specials in late 2012 and has since toured the UK regularly appearing at ska festivals across the country.

Check out the video preview of "Ska Crazy" below.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bad Manners Off Coachella 2014 Line-up

Sadly, Bad Manners will not be performing at the 2014 Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California this weekend and next.  The band was removed by the festival organizers with little fanfare or an official announcement in early March.  Fishbone will carry the ska flag, performing Sunday April 13th and Sunday April 20th.

The Coachella organizers have been ska boosters. For three our of the last four years, a 2-Tone era ska band was part of the prestigious line-up. In 2010 it was The Specials, who were touring the U.S. for the first time since the early 1980's. In 2012, Madness brought their nutty sounds to the desert festival, and last year it was The Selecter who wowed the crowd with a blazing mid-afternoon set.

There has been no official announcement from Bad Manners about the Coachella cancellation. UK media reported that the band failed to show up for a gig in West Cumbria in mid-March.  A sold out house waited for the band to hit the stage, only to be told that the show was cancelled when the band had failed to show by 10:30pm.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Everett Morton of The Beat Launches His Own Beat-inspired Ska Band

According to a story in the Birmingham Mail (UK), Everett Morton, the original drummer for The Beat and more recently for Ranking Roger's version of The Beat, has announced he has been fired from Roger's version of the band and started his own band -- Beat Goes Bang -- that will play songs by The Beat, cover version and original material.

Morton has recruited former Dexy's Midnight Runners and General Public keyboardist Mickey Billingham, along with guitarist Neil Deathridge, who played with the band from 2003 until 2010 to join him in his new endeavor along with other local Birmingham-based musicians.  This means there are now three bands with original members of The Beat performing its songs, Ranking Roger in The Beat, Dave Wakeling in The English Beat and Everett with Beat Goes Bang.

According to the story:

The creation of a new band follows a turbulent few years for Everett, who broke his knee, severely hindering his playing for some time. “I was helping a friend put his caravan away when he fell on me,” Everett explains. “I was ill for nearly a year and I went back to work but just couldn’t manage playing again. Ranking Roger found another drummer while I had a rest for a bit.” But Everett claims there were changes in direction within the band and not long after he returned he says he was sacked. “I wanted to carry on but I was sacked,” says Everett. “I wanted to keep on playing so I started ringing up some of the guys to form a new band,” he says. Responding to the claims, The Beat vocalist Ranking Roger said he retired Everett from the band. He added: “When he broke his knee we got someone in to do the gigs. He was off sick and when he came back it just wasn’t the same. For me it wasn’t the strongest Beat and I just told Everett we should stop working together. I didn’t sack him, I retired him while he was still good.
Beat Goes Bang will play its first show at the legendary Hare and Hounds in Birmingham This Friday April 11 and will feature Saxa, The Beat’s original saxophonist.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Specials Release Re-Arranged Version of "Why?" On YouTube

The Specials have released a re-arranged version of the song "Why?" on their YouTube feed.  The song, originally written by guitarist Lynval Golding about being beaten with lead pipes by three skinheads during a radically motivated attack in 1980.  The original version of the song was released in 1981 as the B-side of the Ghost Town EP.

The 2014 version has been updated with new lyrics and a dubbed out arrangement courtesy of band drummer John Bradbury. The song was released on YouTube on Friday, April 4th which also happened to be the anniversary of the day that the Reverend Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis in 1968.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Happy 6th Anniversary To Marco On The Bass! Download My Solo Record "Big Power" For FREE!

Its been six years since I launched Marco On The Bass in April 2008 and here I am — 900+ posts and 1,000,000+ page views later — still chugging along, posting news, profiles. interviews, gig alerts and offering all sorts of content about ska, reggae and all its various story lines and off shoots.

To celebrate, I'm releasing a collection of songs that I have recorded over the last few years. The inspiration for these songs comes from my love of all things ska and reggae, but I also wanted to pay my respects to DJ culture and artists like Norman Cook (Fatboy Slim, Beats International), Gorillaz (Damon Albarn) as well as Acid Ska and Big Beat studio artists (Longsy D, Basement Jaxx) who have created unique and entertaining mash-ups that mix sampled vocals and found sounds over traditional reggae and ska bass, guitar and drums. So without further ado, I present to you 'Big Power' for your FREE downloading pleasure. All comments (good, bad or indifferent) are welcome!

Six years in, this blog is still a labor of love — when I started I figured I’d write about the 2-Tone ska, reggae and rocksteady music I loved and see if people were interested. And not only have ska and reggae fans responded (readers have visited from 203 countries and territories), but it’s gotten much bigger and better than I ever expected. I've thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to interview 2-Tone era heroes like Pauline Black, Lynval Golding, Neol Davies, Rhoda Dakkar, Roddy Byers and many others who share my passion and to highlight the past, present and future of American ska. My goal still remains to help tell interesting stories and share my love for ska and reggae.

I’d like to personally thank everybody who stops by, subscribes to the RSS feeds, follows me on Facebook and Twitter. Sustained by your comments and my love of all things ska and reggae-oriented, this site is a one-man operation and, for the time being, is likely to remain that way — so all of your support and comments are greatly appreciated. Your kind words and encouragement keep me going. In many ways this is the best non-paying job I have ever had.

If you are a fan of what I'm doing here, there are ways you can help spread the word: Go 'Like' Marco On The Bass on Facebook and suggest the page to your friends; If you’re on Twitter, follow me there. Retweet the good stuff. Please consider downloading music from my bands Rude Boy George and Bigger Thomas on the sidebar of the blog or at Bandcamp or come to one of shows if you are near where we play.