Davis Road Blues

This is 22 Davis Road, Shepherd’s Bush, West London. In 1976 this was a squat occupied by Viv Albertine and Alan Drake, both studying art at the Hammersmith School of Art and Building, Lime Grove, Shepherd’s Bush (later known as Chelsea Art College). Viv met a fellow art student Mick Jones who enrolled mainly because he thought art college was the best place to go to start a band. Mick began visiting the squat at Davis Road, along with Paul Simonon who he met through an audition for a band he tried to put together months earlier and had recently bumped into again- he couldn’t sing or play but looked right and Mick began to teach him bass. Alan Drake’s friend Keith Levene was another regular visitor to Davis Road. Paul moved in downstairs and rehearsals took place there, for an as yet unnamed band. Viv’s friend Simon (Sid) moved in. Mick had met Bernie Rhodes who wanted to manage Mick’s nascent group and began looking for a new rehearsal space, out of the squat. This would take them to Camden. Before that Jones, Simonon and Rhodes saw a pub rock band perform, The 101ers, and approached the lead singer/guitarist about leaving the old guard and jumping in with them, now called The Clash (a word that leapt out at Simonon while leafing through the local rag, the London Evening Standard). On June 1st 1976 Joe Strummer turned up at 22 Davis Road to tell them he was in. Future members of The Clash, Sex Pistols, PiL and The Slits all came from the squat at 22 Davis Road.

Prince Blanco was born Mark Atrill on the Isle of Wight in 1965. By the mid 90s was playing in ska and reggae bands. He became involved with various reggae producers and musicians including Dubmatix, who in 2009 made an album of dub versions of Clash songs called Shatter The Hotel, a tribute to Strummer and a benefit for the Strummerville charity (the album also involved Don Letts and Dan Donovan). There’s something about Clash songs that lend themselves to covers, dubs, versions, re-edits, remixes and refits. There are some groups whose songs should be left alone but I’m always open to reworkings of Clash tunes. Prince Blanco’s track here isn’t a Clash cover as such, it’s a dub track with Mick Jones’ guitar from B.A.D.’s The Bottom Line dropped in and a vocal from an interview with Joe Strummer.

Davis Road Blues

One More Cover

This picture shows an early version of the selfie in the bathroom mirror, 1940s style. People don’t change much- only the technology they use.

There are a lot of reggae cover versions of Clash songs once you start looking for them. I suppose this shows that their reggae songs (rather than their reggae covers) had a good deal of genuine reggae groove and spirit about them. This one, a cover of One More Time from Sandinista, combines some quality dub production with a digital/dancehall riddim and a real on-the-money vocal. Not too far from the kind of modern-but-70s roots reggae inspired stuff that Prince Fatty puts out. It’s by Citizen Sound (featuring Prince Blanco and Ammoye), a Toronto based dj, producer and radio show host. Suddenly there are obscure Canadians popping up all over the place (see yesterday’s rockabilly post).

One More Time

My half term week off has been dominated by DIY, a new kitchen to be exact. I never want to do anything like this again. It has worn me out. I have been to four different south Manchester B & Q branches since Monday, a total of eleven times, returning taps that didn’t work or were dented, a sink that was fitted and then had the wrong clips to hold it in place, and getting various bits and bobs we suddenly needed but didn’t have. As well as this we got a new worktop got jammed in between the walls which then cracked, leaving my father-in-law and myself spending the best part of an hour trying to maneuver it either in or out, anything just to move it. A hole for a sink in the same worktop was cut the wrong size leaving gaps around the edge, waste pipes didn’t fit together, and a hob and oven were not delivered- and still haven’t been. We have part two yet to come- tiling and more besides. I should add it is looking good now and a vast improvement on what we had before. I should also point out that my DIY skills are very rudimentary- I was the gopher, occasionally allowed to use a screwdriver or a saw (once). But I ain’t doing it again once this job is finished. From this point on my preference for DIY is strictly punk and acid house related.