Lockdown

Jah Wobble is using his time in lockdown in Stockport usefully and has recorded and released a meandering jazz dub tune for your enjoyment.

The pressure to use lockdown purposefully is something I don’t think any of us need. There are all sorts of lifestyle gurus and influencers saying we should be making the most of the time, learning a new language or developing cookery skills but for a lot of people, three weeks in and counting and with no end in sight, the ability to get from one day to the next while keeping children or teenagers occupied and on an even keel is more than enough. There’s so much time at our disposal but for many of us being able to concentrate for extended periods just isn’t happening, we’re just skimming and scrolling, browsing, distracting ourselves and taking our minds off things. Maybe that’s as much as we can expect. At the front line, in hospitals and care homes, people are dying and the staff are putting themselves in harm’s way every day. Avoiding the non- stop news cycle seems to be good for our mental health- the constantly increasing body count and the evasive, slippery rubbish coming out of government, make us anxious and feel out of control. Turning it off is self- defence. I keep seeing the suggestion and the hope that things will change fundamentally in various ways once this is over. I hope so.

Exotic Avengers

Some top quality dub disco from 1983 via Jah Wobble and his Invaders Of The Heart and a track named after the band or vice versa. Wobble’s bass is the bedrock around which everything else revolves. Lots of eastern influences to the fore in this the 3rd mix off the 12″- eastern scales, instrumentation and vocals, and a tune that unfolds entirely at its own pace. The trombone solo is a joy.

Invaders Of The Heart (Exotic Decadent Disco Mix)

Wobble has a new out imminently with Youth, an album called Acid Punk Dub Apocalypse, with Hollie Cook and Alex Paterson on board. Wobble and Youth have got previous not least the rather excellent Dub Trees project from 2016- this one, a dubbed out mix of their own work, came from Youth’s garden studio in South London.

King Of The Faeries (Avengers Outer Space Chug Dub)

Youth is someone whose work is woven through my record collection, from his beginnings as bass player in Killing Joke through his long standing work with The Orb, in the 90s as Blue Pearl, his various works as producer and his more recent collaboration with Woodleigh Research Facility. The recordings with Andrew Weatherall and Nina Walsh were done around the same as the Dub Trees e.p. this version is from, possibly all stewed in the same pot.

Audrey Witherspoon

I mentioned the remixes Andrew Weatherall made his name with yesterday. In the early 90s remix culture became the big thing, record companies throwing thousands of pounds at club DJs to stick dance beats underneath a song. Weatherall’s remixes never took the easy road, were never formulaic. In most cases the remixes were better than the source material and he was still producing superb remixes until recently.

Primal Scream have put out several Best Of/ Greatest Hits, one only last year. The one they haven’t released and would be the contender for the best Best Of would be the one that compiled Weatherall’s work for the group. The AW/PS compilation wold start with Loaded, a remix so groundbreaking and gigantic it created an entire scene and gave the Scream a career. Andrew’s remix of Come Together is monumental. I once said here that there are days when I think it is the single greatest record ever made and I don’t see any reason to argue with myself.

‘Today on this programme you will hear gospel and rhythm and blues and jazz. All these are just labels, we know that music is music’

The rest of Screamadelica that Andrew produced would be on this Primal Scream Best Of too- Inner Flight, Shine Like Stars, Don’t Fight It Feel It (and the amazing Scat Mix where Denise Johnson’s voice is chopped up and scattered over the track) and the Jah Wobble bass of Higher Than The Sun (A Dub Symphony In Two Parts). Then this, ten glorious minutes of slow groove, horn driven spaced out house, from the Dixie Narco e.p.

Screamadelica

His knob- twiddling on the other two songs on the Dixie Narco e.p. brought two other classics Stone My Soul and their cover of Dennis Wilson’s Carry Me Home, one of the very best things Bobby Gillespie and co ever did. Primal Scream’s follow up was their Rolling Stones record. Weatherall produced remixes of Jailbird. Trainspotting from Vanishing Point. The far out Two Lone Swordsmen remix of Stuka. The pair of productions he did on Evil Heat- the gliding shimmer of Autobahn 66 and the mutant funk of A Scanner Darkly. The fifteen minute remix of Uptown, a signpost in 2009 that Weatherall was back at the remix peak. The remix and dub version of 2013. That’s the Primal Scream Best Of.

In the early 90s his remixes broke genres, chucking in the kitchen sink, its plumbing, the work surface and all the white goods too. His dub remix of Saint Etienne was a moment of clarity for me, the doorway to another world, the two halves glued together by the sample ‘the DJ, eases a spliff from his lyrical lips and smilingly orders ”cease!” ‘

Only Love Can Break Your Heart (A Mix Of Two Halves)

Andrew’s remixes from this period are full of little moments to raise a smile, samples from obscure places, huge basslines, sudden changes in pace or tempo, piano breakdowns and thumping rhythms. Almost every single one is worth seeking out and almost every single one has been posted here at some point. In no particular order- S’Express’ Find ‘Em, Fool ‘Em, Forget ‘Em, The Drum by The Impossibles, a mad pair of remixes of Flowered Up’s Weekender, the magnificent The World According To… for Sly And Lovechild, his work for One Dove (that produced some career high remixes in the shape of Squire Black Dove Rides Out and the Guitar Paradise version of White Love and his production work on the most beautiful and most lost of the lost albums of the 1990s Morning Dove White), his remix of My Bloody Valentine’s Soon, on its own a justification of remix culture and two reworkings of The Orb’s Perpetual Dawn that take his and The Orb’s dub roots into pounding new places. Roots music.

Perpetual Dawn Ultrabass I

Perpetual Dawn Ultrabass II

Add to all these his remixes of Jah Wobble, three versions of Visions Of You, spread over twenty five minutes of vinyl and two remixes of Bomba that have to be heard to be believed. Decades after first hearing this one I found the source of the madcap intro (Miles Davis) when it had been there in the title all along.

Bomba (Miles Away)

His remixes of The Grid’s Floatation are also sublime. As a fan of The Stone Roses the moment when he drops John Squire’s guitar part from Waterfall into the ending of the track brought things together for me perfectly.

Floatation (Sonic Swing Mix)

There are so many more. The speaker shattering thump of Fini Tribe’s 101. His long tribal workout of Papua New Guinea. The sweet smell of didgeridoo on Galliano’s meandering Skunk Funk. Indie, ambient, house, dub, everything from the fringes of music’s past, ready to sample and plunder to make something new, with a sense of possibility and openness. This would all be mere nostalgia were it not for Weatherall’s continual left turns and about turns in the following years. His remixes from the last decade, again almost all posted here at some point, are of a similar high standard but he rarely if ever repeats himself. There are similarities in tone and palette but always with an eye looking forward and perpetual motion. The remix of MBV’s Soon and his remix of Fuck Buttons Sweet Love For Planet Earth seem somehow linked to me, the manipulation of noise and the intense melodies found within over crunching dance floor rhythms. I’ve not even begun to touch on his remixes with Sabres of Paradise, the treasure that lies within Sabres own records (Sabresonic, Haunted Dancehall, Theme, Wilmot, oh man, Wilmot- we were at Cream once waiting for ages for Weatherall to arrive and eventually word came through that he was delayed, wasn’t going to make it. Resident DJ and owner Darren Hughes played on and dropped Wilmot, unheard by us at that point, the whole back room skanking to those wandering horns).

Then there was Two Lone Swordsmen whose remixes were harder, purer somehow, more focused, less obvious. It took time sometimes for them to reveal themselves. The TLS albums from The Fifth Mission onward, the stoned hip hop grooves of A Virus With Shoes, the double album of juddering bass and London machine funk of Tiny Reminders, Swimming Not Skimming. My favourite of the TLS albums from this period has become Stay Down. Released on Warp from its cover art, a painting of a pair of deep sea divers, to its memorable song titles (try Hope We Never Surface, Light The Last Flare, Spine Bubbles, Mr Paris’ Monsters and As Worldly Pleasures Wave Goodbye for starters- that last one has just made me gulp) it is a self contained mini- masterpiece. Stay Down is an abstract album of short tracks, weird, rhythmic, minimal ambient music, sounding like it has been submerged and then recovered from the deep, humanised analogue IDM. Never standing still, always moving forward.

Light The Last Flare

A Very British Coup

This week Jacob Rees-Mogg suggested that if The House Of Commons continues to make every effort to avoid a no-deal Brexit the Queen should suspend parliament. There you have it, if there was every any doubt, the actual face and voice of a right wing coup, not by thugs in jackboots but by Old Etonians with upper class accents. Suspend democracy to get what you want. ‘If Adolf Hitler, flew in today, they’d send a limousine anyway…’, as Strummer put it in 1978.

So this is very well timed indeed, a new song from a very post-punk line up of Jah Wobble, Keith Levene, Richard Dudanski, Youth and Mark Stewart and this fantastic musical melting pot, a comment on the madness of Brexit, a piece of 2019 brilliance. Even more excitingly, there’s a Weatherall remix to follow. Levene and Wobble’s former PiL colleague, Brexit and Trump cheerleader Lydon, is nowhere to be seen.

Not Numbed Out Anymore

In 2015 an enormous six disc Jah Wobble box was released into the world, more Jah than you can shake a bass at. One of the more intriguing tracks to my ears was a new version of his 1991 masterwork Visions Of You. The original, with its three Weatherall remixes, was an otherworldly adventure, an odyssey of groove, bass and music from around the world with Sinead O’Connor providing vocals. This version- and I’ve no idea when or where it was made or who the personel involved are- is subtly different, sharper and distinct. Not better, not worse, just version.

Visions Of You (New Version)

Youth

Youth, formerly Martin Glover and bassist for Killing Joke, is in the chair of a new Dub Trees project with an album out this month, tying together Jah Wobble, Matt Black from Coldcut, field recordings from India, druids, flutes and pipes and harps, Hinduism, Gaelic fiddles and those wonderful chugging basslines. This one is pretty dubby, with some Orb ambient-house style production and a generally laid back vibe. If the Bandcamp player doesn’t load below (and it didn’t the other night when I was writing this) try here.

Musicaaaaa!!!!

Those early 90s Andrew Weatherall remixes have been hanging around my stereo a lot recently- there’s something about them that is really pushing my buttons right now. You probably guessed that. There are two remixes of Jah Wobble’s Bomba, from his Invaders Of The Heart period (with Natacha Atlas on vocals and in the picture above). The Miles Away Mix is a glorious acid house riot, from the marching band fanfare that opens it to the shouts of ‘Musicaaaaaaa’ and the almost chaotic clash of rhythms and sounds. Played loud it sounds like the maddest moment of the best party you went to. Slinky and sexy. The bass playing is superb too, obvs.

Bomba (Miles Away Mix)