Bad Marley And The Wasters / Various Artists
One Step Outside Records
DL / CD
Andy Brown has a one-man punky reggae party at home listening to Nightly Dread. A compilation of Bob Marley cover versions with all the profits going to Dementia UK. He shares his thoughts for Louder Than War.
It’s not been a particularly great year (to put it mildly), yet for every fresh batch of bad news there’s been something hopeful and inspiring. Yes, 2020 may very well have highlighted the worst aspects of our society but it’s also shone a spotlight on the best. Alex, of Leeds-based indie label One Step Outside Records, has seen his Mum slip further into dementia this year. Anyone that’s seen the effects of dementia on a loved one will be all too familiar with the heartache. Music has been a life raft for many of us this year and when Alex immersed himself in reggae, he decided to go one step further and create a compilation to raise money for Dementia UK. Nightly Dread features artists from around the UK and beyond, gathered together to reinterpret songs from Bob Marley’s extensive back-catalogue. Let’s get together (at an appropriate social distance) and feel alright.
Grandmammy kick things off with an inspired take on Coming In From The Cold. As the name suggests, the band have an affinity for the mighty Grandaddy and their cover is an emotive, heart-racing combination of the aforementioned bands indie classic The Crystal Lake and Marley’s song of hope and perseverance. Alex’s own band, Bad Marley And The Wasters, make an appearance with an equally fresh take on Small Axe with some particularly lovely harmonies, glockenspiel and trumpet. The calm is shattered with the arrival of Andy Dazzler and his blistering, punk-rock take on Kaya. This is then followed by the brilliantly bonkers, twisted carnival-esque reimaging of Get Up, Stand Up by Bobby Stickah. The breadth of styles on display over the compilations staggering 40 track length make Nightly Dread a consistently engaging and satisfying listen.
The consistency and quality remain high throughout and my highlights seem to change with each subsequent listen. Carol Hodge transforms the chilled, reggae shuffle of Cornerstone into an utterly stunning and soulful piano ballad. Hodge has the kind of voice that could effortlessly turn the toughest of hombres into a big pile of blubbering mush. It’s really, really beautiful. Wet Camper’s suitably riotous Punky Reggae Party is an entirely different prospect and provides one of the most enjoyable, full-throttle moments on the compilation. Meanwhile, Tragical History Tour strip Exodus back to a meditative, acoustic spiritual. A great cover should offer a fresh perspective: reminding you of the original while being unafraid to play around with the formula. Nightly Dread is crammed-full of genuine creativity, ingenuity and inspiration.
Of course, if you’re looking for an artist with an impressive back-catalogue then you really can’t go wrong with Bob Marley And The Wailers. Pitch And Toss deliver a charming cover of the eternally wonderful Three Little Birds while the Scarborough-based RMG provides a stripped-back, heart-on-sleeve, cover of the aching Wait In Vain. The Hollow Men arrive with an innovative, woozy and dub-inflected version of the lesser-known So Much Trouble In The World and may have just provided 2020 with its very own anthem. Leeds-based, eclectic eccentrics Billy Billy 5P offer up a thoroughly joyous cover of One Love. Like much of Nightly Dread, the songs message of love, hope and solidarity feels absolutely essential right now. Spreading some much needed positivity. I mean, it’s almost impossible not to smile when Sick And Bob’s punkified, Chas & Dave inspired take on Jammin’ blares from the speakers.
C&D take Real Situation and turn it into a hazy, wonderfully wonky indie-rock slow-burner while Hayley Gaftarnick brings back the reggae vibes with a big-hearted take on Satisfy My Soul. Leeds-based singer-songwriter Miranda Arieh imbues Pimpers Paradise with her own inimitable style and creates one of the compilations most startling and original moments in the process. Captain Hotknives is a whole other ball game; he reworks No Woman, No Cry as a tale of posh people and excess at a festival and provides Nightly Dread with its funniest, foul-mouthed moment. Over the course of the compilation we’ve had songs to make us dance, laugh, cry and sing along at the very top of our lungs.
The compilation comes to a close with two very different yet equally special covers. Katie MF’s reading of Is This Love unfurls with a slow, slumberous magic all of its own while Jay Jay AKA Trashy P provides a reassuring, straight-from-the-heart rendition of Redemption Song. The latter was recorded on the day that he found out that his Mum had passed away. The compilation is dedicated to both Alex and Jay Jay’s mothers as well as Amy Doughty and Carry Franklin who passed away last year. It’s also a rather fantastic tribute to Bob Marley & The Wailers. Nightly Dread is a compilation born of loss, heartache and difficult times yet every single second is infused with joy, love and creativity. Something Marley himself would most certainly approve of.
Buy Nightly Dread and support Dementia UK here
Find out more about Dementia UK here
All words by Andy Brown. You can visit his author profile and read more of his reviews for Louder Than War here