Any Frontier Any Hemisphere

Traditionally a British camping trip should combine sunburn with hours of pouring rain and this one delivered on both. Friday evening was gorgeous, the tail end of a day where the temperature gauge in my car read 30 degrees when I left work. Saturday afternoon was spent around and in a tarn on top of a hill near Water Yeat before at 3.30 pm the heavens opened and it rained all night. Sunday gave us sunshine and sunburn around Coniston Water followed by more rain of biblical proportions yesterday. But its definitely worth getting away from the world, going offline and spending evenings sitting round a fire drinking booze and talking bollocks with friends, especially so after the events of the past week. A dripping wet tent that needs to be dried out is a small price to pay for living outdoors for a few days.

Back in the music world I’ve been spinning this a few times recently and prompted by my friend Meany offer it for your delectation today, Horace Andy’s cover version of The Clash’s Straight To Hell. I’ve written about Straight To Hell recently, a Strummer song of immigration, refugees, suffering and dislocation. Horace recorded it many years ago but was never happy with the rhythm. A conversation with Eric Blowtorch led to the pair digging the track back out and fixing it (out now, 10% of all proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders and a Big Youth dub on the B-side). This is reggae roots style, Horace’s vocal floating over the organ, bass and drums. Campfire music.

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Skylark

Back in 1969, just before I was born and long before Massive Attack were even a twinkle in 3D, Mushroom and Daddy G’s eyes, Horace Andy recorded this light-as-the-breeze reggae classic. Just rhythm, Horace’s vocal and some little bursts of organ (Fender Rhodes perhaps?). A total joy.

Skylarking

The jumper modelled above is available from Old Town, for £98. If you happen to have £98 going begging. It is a Guernsey fisherman’s jumper strictly speaking, different from a Gansey.

There’s A Hole In My Soul Like A Cavity

his time of year always brings me a strong sense of time whooshing by- we are a few days short of the GCSE and A level exam season starting, the end of the football season is imminent and another World Cup about to start, in two and a half weeks it’ll be the May half term holiday, then the long downhill slope to July, the summer holidays. Another school year done, another year older, September and autumn… Then I have to slap myself and stop imagining the time away.

Hymn Of The Big Wheel

This song’s combination of crickets, whale song, sonorous strings, the lazy breakbeat and Horace Andy’s beautiful vocal was the perfect closer to Blue Lines and is a bit of a tearjerker.

Five Man Army

It’s a bit difficult to imagine now the impact Massive Attack had back at the turn of the 90s. Their debut lp, Blue Lines, had people who never normally bought that kind of thing listening to little else. On top of that, here was a British group, doing breakbeats, reggae, soul and rap properly. With Bristol accents. Almost all of that first lp is top stuff- Safe From Harm with it’s massive sampled bassline (from Stratus by Billy Cobham) and paranoia, the gorgeous Hymn Of The Big Wheel, Horace Andy singing Be Thankful For What You’ve Got, the lighter than air Daydreaming (with Tricky)…. and Unfinished Sympathy- contender for greatest British single of the decade ever, I’d have thought. This one ain’t too shabby either-

Five Man Army

I don’t think they’ve ever pulled it off again in such style, although the songs Protection (especially) and Teardrop are as good as anything on Blue Lines. But as a whole the subsequent albums didn’t repeat the trick for me. Protection has good songs but doesn’t feel as whole. Fallings out and shedding members they then became darker and darker, not enough light to balance things up. Angel is superb, a trip-hop Joy Division, but Mezzanine was an oppressive listen. Whereas Blue Lines was a joy from start to finish.