Never Get To Zion Without Jah Love

Bringing together several recent themes today I’m offering you some prime Underworld remixes from the mid 90s, a time when we could actually feel fairly optimistic about the world.

Underworld have been all over my stereo recently with the Drift Series 1 Sampler (posted at the weekend). In addition the 90s incarnation of Underworld (Hyde, Smith and Emerson) were at The Vinyl Villain fairy recently with their epic ten minute remix of Human Behaviour- a beat heavy, tribal techno delight, Bjork skipping into the night, called by the drums.

Dreadzone have made a career out of righteous dance- floor based sounds, dub, reggae, techno and progressive house mixed into a heady stew with some politics in there to shake it all up. In Zion Youth singer Earl 16 give the wrongdoers a simple message- heads up Tories…

‘You’ll never get to Zion without Jah love
Never reach that land you’re dreaming of
You must be good you must be careful
Live upright like you know you should…

…No evildoers will be there
No backstabbers will be there’

This remix is a ten minute long excursion- a looped keyboard part, Earl’s voice, some echoey, whooshing noises bouncing around and those trademark Underworld rhythms building up a head of steam. There’s a break down at eight minutes in and then it’s all back on the dub techno train to the fade.

Zion Youth (Underworld Mix)

I have pondered before about an Underworld remix album, a compilation of the cream of their 90s remixes, and am really surprised no one ever put one out, especially in the heyday of CDs when a double disc remix edition would have surely been a winner.

This one from 1993 would have made the cut, a thirteen minute rejigging of William Orbit’s Water From A Vine Leaf, a stomping chugger of the highest order. In among all the sonics there’s a magnificent piano riff that is worth the price of entry alone, a parping synth part, a nagging upper register synth riff that goes straight to the back of the brain, a snatch of Beth Orton’s vocal and a squiggly acid bassline that would cut straight through the dry ice- layers of sounds aimed at feet and the head.

Water From A Vine Leaf (Underwater Mix Part 1) 

Here’s the 1993 remix of Bjork, the 110 BPM version from the A-side of the 12″. On the flip was a faster one, the 125 BPM Dub, but to my mind this is the pick of the pair. The build up alone is longer (and better) than many songs. This sort of thing could pack a dance-floor tight in the early/mid 90s.

Human Behaviour (The Underworld Mix 110BPM)

This could run and run and I have posted some of these before- there are some heavy duty One Dove remixes, a pair of very techno Chemical Brothers bangers, a tasty remix of The Drum Club’s Sound System, a fifteen minute St Etienne remix, Orbital’s Lush and some outliers like Front 242 and Shakespeare’s Sister (neither of which it seems I own either digitally of physically).

Mountain

One of my brethren is of the opinion that most of what I post here is good but my main open goal, shot-in-the-foot, self inflicted wound and weakness is Dreadzone. Which mystifies me a bit. They have form (a string of albums packed with good tunes covering reggae, dub, roots, techno and dance). They have background and authenticity (Big Audio Dynamite’s rhythm section became Dreadzone). Their live shows are the stuff of legend. So enough Sep, and to paraphrase many an early 90s indie group, ‘I just post what I like here and if anyone else likes it, it’s a bonus’. On with the Dreadzone.

The latest Dreadzone album, Dread Times, is out now and was preceded by this single, a bass heavy, British roots reggae bouncer, recorded at Mick Jones’ studio. The title of the album and its lyrical concerns are very 2017 and with its variety of guest vocalists- Don Letts, ragga duo Louchie Lou and Michie One, and Lena Cullen- this is very much modern West London reggae, best played loud with a full bottom end. At the end of album opener Rootsman a voice intones ‘roots music can never die’- something they seem to prove with every release.

Fight The Power

Dreadzone’s 1993 single Fight The Power was a timely piece of protest against the Criminal Justice Bill. It’s peppered with sampled speech, a vocal snatch borrowed from the Beastie Boys too, a pumping keyboard riff and bouncing bassline and it doesn’t sound any less relevant today- it’s just the specific target has changed. Amusingly the person who added the captions for MTV had them down as Deadzone.

Fight The Power ’95

Roosevelt High

Dreadzone’s 2013 album Escapades contained a fair few gems, showing the fire is still burning brightly. This song, Roosevelt High, made the miles disappear on my journey home last night, a very satisfying piece of dub techno with some lovely slide guitar.

Dreadzone turned twenty one this year. To celebrate Greg Dread offered the people a new deal (ha!) and put together a mix of twenty one Dreadzone songs, in chronological order, from the dancefloor end of their work including remixes from Underworld and William Orbit. Bouncing.

Zion

Not only did the French Resistance take enormous risks and suffer terrible reprisals while taking the fight to the occupying Nazi forces but they found the time to dress well and look good while doing it.

Underworld did a ton of remixes of other people- Bjork, One Dove, St Etienne all stand out in my mind. This one of Dreadzone takes some beating. At ten minutes long it’s got plenty of highlights… the kick drum at 1.11, the Korg riff repeating throughout, the hi-hat at about 3 minutes, keys after 5 minutes, everything hammering away and building ever upwards, the inevitable breakdown (8.13) and then (at 8.34)… whooooosh, we’re away again.

Zion Youth (Underworld Remix)

Dub In The Right Way

I’ve been digging Dreadzone recently. Their dub inspired techno hits the spot, uplifting and righteous. Greg Dread has a Soundcloud page that is worth rooting around in, all sorts of rarities, versions, remixes and live shows. Here’s a couple of highlights.

Dreadzone versus King Tubby

A vocal version of their 90s classic Little Britain featuring Earl 16. The instrumental version of this song was all over the place at one point and has some cultural resonance today in the light of the referendum and the issue of devolution for the regions. It’s strange to think that Dreadzone supported the Gallagher brothers at Knebworth.

 

Places

‘ve been uncovering and re-discovering bits and bobs by Dreadzone recently, which includes keeping an eye on the Soundcloud page of Greg Dread. Coming out of the ashes of Big Audio Dynamite they spliced dub with dance and made many good tunes through the 90s and into the 21st century, for a variety of record labels. Last year’s Escapades album reunited them with Mick Jones for the single Too Late. This song has been posted by Greg Dread- Places, a beautiful tune and vocal, with some dialogue sampled from Harry Dean Stanton in Paris Texas (above with Nastassja Kinski). The cost of the sample led to it being removed from the released version- which is a shame as it works really well. I’m currently playing this half a dozen times a day.

Packing

We had friends round for tea and a couple of glasses of wine each and we’re now trying to pack to go on holiday tomorrow. And I’m mucking about on the internet.

I missed this absolute gem of a song and only discovered it by accident earlier today- from last year, Emiliana Torrini and Steve Mason, noisy and way up there. The noise, I’ve just discovered, is provided by Toy.

I Go Out

And this, a remix of Lana Del Rey’s Video Games by Dreadzone’s Greg Dread. Lovely.

Lana Dub Rey

Right. How many pairs of shorts do I need?

Dread

This Dreadzone song, from their early days on Creation, pays homage to spaghetti westerns and features a vocal appearance from Miss Alison Goldfrapp, and is very good indeed for a Sunday morning in August. Where’s that sun gone? It’s been pissing down here for days.

The Good, The Bad And The Dread

And I like this Don Letts cut and paste video too.

 

Introduction

hird post in a row in what seems to be turning into an accidental ‘what the punks did next’ theme week. Greg Dread (Big Audio Dynamite, Dreadzone) has recently unearthed and shared a track he put together back in the mid 80s, Big Audio Dynamite’s live show intro music. It’s a five minute track with snippets and samples from BAD’s back catalogue all layered over a drum machine set to ‘loud and fast’. The band would ususally appear at around the two minute mark but this goes on for another three. It won’t embed but you can find it and download it here. Via the marvels of social media Greg said I could share it. Thanks Greg.

As a bonus this is BAD performing The Battle Of All Saints Road live on the telly in 1988. Mick suave in leather biker jacket and grey trousers, Don giving the one fingered/keyboard-playing salute…

What a good band they were.
Dreadzone are currently rocking a dancefloor somewhere in the UK, celebrating their twentieth anniversary.