Hollie Cook, Dub Pistols, Jimmy Cliff, Black Roots, Neneh Cherry – album reviews

Various album releases: Hollie Cook, Dub Pistols, Jimmy Cliff, Black Roots, Neneh Cherry
Various Release Dates.

Giving him a rest from punk rock electric guitar, LTW gave Ged Babey some recent overlooked reggae, jazz and dance releases to check out.

Hollie Cook: In Dub. Hollie’s website.

It can’t be long surely before Hollie Cook becomes a massive star, Lily Allen-style. She is effortlessly cool, beautiful and smart. With the most laid back Pistol as a dad, a mum who was in Amazulu (I’m a Glaswegian) and Ari-Up as a guiding inspiration, she aint about to take the easy route. R’n’B or urban flavas would be more commercially viable than ice-cool Lovers Rock surely. This is patently the music she loves though and falling in with producer Prince Fatty (who’s name in itself is a cheeky but respectful homage to King Tubby) meant a match made in heaven. This is basically a beautiful, authentic-sounding dub version of her lightweight but graceful debut album. She makes it all sound effortless, maybe a bit too laidback and she needs to shake things up a bit in the Slits tradition. This is great sunny-day chill-out dub though.

Dub Pistols: Worshipping the Dollar Dub Pistol’s website

I’ve got friends who absolutely love the Dub Pistols. The best live band in the country they say. I asked local DJ and perennial wearer of Dub Pistols t-shirts Matt Clark to describe them to you as I’ve always missed them whenever they’ve played locally. “They’re a mixture of Hip Hop, Dub Reggae, Dub Step and Ska put through the filter of Drum and Bass & Breakbeat, with a Punk Attitude. The Perfect Soundtrack to the Festival Season. To really appreciate their greatness you do need to see them live but this is their best album so far. Mainman Barry Ashworth has an uncanny knack of picking great collaborators to work with and “they’re a great band too” he said, with uncharacteristic eloquence.

On the basis of this album I can definitely see what all the fuss is about; like Dreadzone and Zion Train before them they are an irresistible mix of sped-up reggae you can dance to whilst indulging of stimulants of your choice other than just ”Ëœerb. Guest vocalists include Lindy Layton of Beats International fame on Rock Steady and the fabulous Rodney P on Mucky Weekend ”“a classic celebration-stroke-condemnation of hedonism, that follows up his contribution to the previous Pistols album Rum’n’Coke ”ËœGanja’.

The Dub Pistols ”Ëœrenegade futuristic skank’ soundtracks lyricism full of street level politics and tales of wild fucked-up nights and why they’re not as popular and successful as the Streets and Plan B I don’t know. Maybe because they’re slightly older, wiser and dress like Reservoir Dogs gangsters”¦?

Jimmy Cliff: Re-birth Jimmy Cliff’s website.

“Reggae music making make me feel good / Reggae music gonna make me feel alright now..”

It’s no exaggeration to say that Tim Armstrong has probably done here what Rick Rubin did for Johnny Cash. Given him a whole new lease of life and re-introduced him to the public, set in an immaculately produced musical framework. It’s not the technology, just the sheer clarity of the traditional sound. Cliffs voice is strong and full of soul and character but doesn’t necessarily hit the high notes spot on. But that only gives it more character and soul. Versions of Ruby Soho and Guns of Brixton are carried off well but are unnecessary really with the strength of the Cliff originals. Outsider in particular is pure Stax, a joyous lyric and vocal. Reggae Music, with its potted history of the genre and his contribution is fantastic. The two versions of One More are inspirational works with a self-proclaimed simplicity. Cry No More is a gospel-tinged, Bang has a Duane Eddy guitar motif. Rebel Rebel is a ragamuffin anthem and not the Bowie song. All in all, a magnificent return by a truly great artist.

Black Roots: On the Ground Black Roots website.

Seeing the reformed Bristol reggae band Talisman supporting the Selecter in March lead me to the wonderful https://bristolarchiverecords.com/ whose releases I recommend wholeheartedly to any one who likes a bit of roots reggae. Another of the Bristol bands, militant pacifists, Black Roots, have also got back together after a break of a decade or two. And this seventeen-song 2012 album is a faithful revisiting to familiar territory both sonically and stylistically. Only the lyrics, taking in digital age and topical political references, make it sound current. Its fabulous stuff, if a trifle too in debt to the Wailers, in the same way as many a punk-band aimed for Clash-like touchstones. I imagine that live, like Misty-in-Roots who I saw last year, Black Roots come into their own. Oh sugar .. just noticed my Brethren Guy M has reviewed this album. He’s totally correct though ”“ a thoroughly enjoyable album despite the heavily conscious lyrical content.

Neneh Cherry and The Thing ”“ The Cherry Thing. Website.

(Not at all reggae but I had to include it, cos I love this album and Neneh Cherry fullstop. It takes a bit of work to get into it this album, but it’s definitely worth the effort”¦)

In which Neneh Cherry, also a former pupil at Ari Up’s school of Not-Giving-A-Shit teams up with Scandinavian jazz-freakniks the Thing (who are, in turn named after a song by her father, free-jazz hero Don Cherry). Double bass, drums and sax. a clear yet fuzzy production with two originals and five covers, this is the surprise album of the year. Standouts are a narcoleptic cover of Suicides Dream Baby Dream and a Nelson Riddle-esque Cashback (a Cherry original)- the Thing reign in the temptation to schronk and squeel throughout the bulk of the album but when they let go, like on the mid section of the Stooges ”ËœDirt’ its astounding and more punk-rock than anything with guitars! Too Tough To Die is not the Ramones song but a (Tricky collaborator) Martina Topley-Bird song ”“and a superb version too. It’s as far away as you can get from rock’n’roll, which just occasionally is where you need to be. The only Don Cherry I’ve heard incidentally is on the title track of the much-slated Lou Reed album the Bells ”“where his playing makes the song in question a masterpiece. Opened-minded you need to be, if like me you’s a rock’n’punk obsessive, but this is a revelation of an album where, trad jazz, modern jazz, hip-hop, Suicide, the Stooges and pop collide, beautifully.

All words by Ged Babey. More work by Ged can be found here.

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Ged Babey is 56. from Southampton, has written since 1985 for Sound Info, Due South, various fanzines and websites, contributed to Record Collector magazine and was sole author of 'Punk Throwback' fanzine -the name of which was taken from an insult hurled at him by the singer with a young band he managed for a while. Ged believes that all good music and art has a connection with punk rock.


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