Return To Brixton

Paul Simonon realised after a while that the money was in songwriting. During the sessions for what became London Calling he worked up a tune into what would become one of the group’s most recognisable and best-loved songs, thanks in large part to ‘the bassline of the twentieth century’. The swagger of Guns Of Brixton comes from the swing of the bassline and Paul’s rough and ready vocal, the ripping sound at the start (velcro being peeled off the studio chairs apparently) and the chanted backing vocals. One of my favourites.

In 1990 Norman Cook borrowed the bassline for his number one hit Dub Be Good To Me. Without asking permission. Paul and Norman settled in a cafe and according to Paul at the time the cash injection was much needed. I happen to love Dub Be Good To Me, an updating of The SOS Band’s Just Be Good To Me with harmonica pinched from Ennio Morricone and the rap half-inched from Johnny Dynell.

CBS, sensing a hit, decided to get a top dj to remix Guns Of Brixton, for the club scene. Jeremy Healy was the dj and a 12″ single with three new versions (two are below) was put out. It stormed into the charts reaching number 57. I don’t remember the clubs and bars of 1990 being awash with this version either. Well done CBS, good work.

To be honest I quite like the remixes, they present the song a bit differently, give it something else. They’re not as good as the original no, and yes, they’re probably for completists and the curious only.

Return To Brixton (Extended Version)

Return To Brixton (SW2 Dub)

Jeremy Healy was in Haysi Fantayzee previous to his dj career. I’ve been watching the Top Of The Pops re-runs from 1983 this year and the January editions had Haysi Fantayzee on several times doing Shiny Shiny,a sort of pirate, nursery rhyme, tribal, glam, anti-nuclear thumper. Having recorded it, I re-watched it a few times too. Two words- Kate Garner.

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Trouble Understanding

Norman Cook remixes? On the whole in the past I could take ’em or leave ’em. Too often it was a case of stick a whacking great big beat underneath, drop it out two thirds of the way through and use that ‘make it sound like you’ve thrown the drums in a tumble drier’ effect, build up it up, climax. There are exceptions but not so many.

The Charlatans survived the Madchester boom, outlived Britpop, never split up and then cashed in by reforming. They had a few years where they gave their albums away for free on the net and no one seemed interested but quietly kept going to produce Modern Nature, one of last year’s highlights and one of their best.

Norman remixed Trouble Understanding from Modern Nature and thankfully avoided the big beat tricks, turning it into a gorgeous Balearic come down tune with a hint of Massive Attack’s Teardrop. It came out on RSD and only 1500 were available. Luckily you can hear it here…

People Always Talk About Reputation

Yesterday’s post- Garbage sampling The Clash- led me to thinking about who else has sampled The Only Band That Matters, which immediately led me to this song from 1990.

Norman Cook, fresh from The Housemartins, lifted Paul Simonon’s bassline from Guns Of Brixton. Lindy Layton sang The SOS Band’s Just Be Good To Me over the top. Add a snatch of a rap from Johnny Dynell’s Jam Hot, the harmonica from Once Upon A Time In The West, some scratching and a funky beat and you’ve got a number one single. According to legend Norman hadn’t cleared the use of the bassline with Paul and the pair met in a London cafe to come to an arrangement. This song says 1990 to me almost as much as any other.

For A Life That’s Fit For Living

Good morning Britain.

This 1990 Aztec Camera single is a real favourite of mine. Roddy wrote this state of the union address and realised it sounded so much like a Big Audio Dynamite tune that it would be rude not to ask Mick Jones to join him. This mix from the single isn’t too different from the original version, adding some strings.

Good Morning Britain (Julian Mendelson remix)

Norman Cook did a mix which reconstructed it a little and added a touch of 808. It could be described as polite acid (but could have gone so much further).

Good Morning Britain (Morning Acid Remix)

The main message of the chorus, after four verses dissecting each of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, seems just as relevant today as it did twenty four years ago…

‘The past is steeped in shame
But tomorrow’s fair game
For a life that’s fit for living
Good morning Britain’

Say no to Farage and the small minded Little Englanders. Vote Frame and Jones.

The video is a real period piece.

Bonjour

Now that was a long drive.

We got back late last night, having left Quimperle just before midday the day before. What day was that? Monday? Predictably the only bad traffic was in Dover and on the M1. Anyway, we had a great time, lovely weather, wish you’d been there.

This song has been bubbling in my head from when we got the ferry to Calais two weeks ago Norman Cook’s proto mash-up from 1990, splicing Paul Simonon’s bassline with The SOS Band.

Dub Be Good To Me