Man Next Door

More dubbed out wonder for the first day of June. Man Next Door was the third single from The Slits and shows them moving deeper into dub territory and away from the punkier sound of Cut. Released in 1980 Man Next Door is a cover of a John Holt tune and produced by Adrian Sherwood. Tessa Pollitt was unwell so the bass was played by Ari Up and the whole session was done at short notice, Sherwood calling to say they had a couple of hours if they could come now. Drums were played by a man called Cecil and according to Viv Albertine they didn’t  know his surname and never saw him again. On the B-side Sherwood twisted the song into further abstract dub shapes which is what you’re getting here.

Man Next Door (Version)

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Year’s End

Here’s a round up of a few things from 2014 as the year dribbles to its conclusion. I missed this from earlier this year; a Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve re-imagining of New Energy, in three phases- some 60s backwards psychedelia followed by the more familiar beat driven techno and then the wonderful drone section. There’s loads more Avery stuff, remixes, radio sessions and so on, at his Soundcloud page.

There’s also the trippy Roman Flugel remix of All I Need which has all the right things in all the right places.

Underworld’s dubnobasswithmyheadman was 20 years old and the re-issued box set was 2014’s possibly best bet if you were buying just one big box of music you already own. It cemented in my mind the view that dubnobass… was the best album of the 90s.

The stand out music book of 2014 was Viv Albertine’s autobiography Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys. Totally honest, warm and funny, uncomfortable in parts but fascinating and written entirely in the present tense which gave it real immediacy. If you haven’t read it, you should read it.

And I’m just beginning to listen to FKA Twigs. There’s something going on here…

Rise And Fall

I found this excellent documentary on Youtube over the weekend, The Rise And Fall Of The Clash, directed by Danny Garcia and co-written by Mick’s schoolmate (and subject of Stay Free) Robin Banks. The footage and talking head interviews are fairly standard but within this film lurks some awkward and uncomfortable truths. The title is a bit of a misnomer- it’s about the fall of the band rather than their rise and the aftermath of their gigs at Shea Stadium where they seemed to have cracked the US with a hit lp (Combat Rock) and a pair of singles (Rock The Casbah and Should I Stay Or Should I Go?). The causes of the fall are pretty well known- Topper’s sacking, Joe’s insistence on bringing Bernie Rhodes back as manager, Mick’s timekeeping, the internal and political contradictions of being famous and successful versus being a political band who started out in a squat- but this film has some insightful interviews with some of the main players and bystanders- Mick Jones himself, Pearl Harbour (Paul’s girlfriend at the time), security man Raymond Jordan, Terry Chimes/Tory Crimes, Viv Albertine, Tymon Dogg, Mickey Gallagher and Vic Goddard. The cast are divided about Bernie Rhodes, central to the story and the split- some think he’s an anarchic genius who gave The Clash an edge they needed. Some think he’s an enormous bellend.

The second half of the film is where it becomes less well-known and more compulsive. The story of The Clash Mk2, without the sacked Mick Jones and with three new members- Pete Howard, Nick Shepherd and Greg ‘Vince’ White. The treatment these three got was, to be frank, appalling and how Joe and Paul went along with it is jaw dropping. Vince White deserves some kind of award. Joe and Paul then go onto to record and then leave to Bernie to finish and mix the Cut The Crap album, a record largely expunged from the official histories of the band. Grim, uncomfortable and fascinating stuff. Even if you’ve little interest in The Clash or think you’ve seen enough Clash documentaries, you should set aside ninety minutes for this.

I Heard It Through The Bassline

The Bagging Area Slits-fest continues with this astonishing piece of live footage from Berlin in 1981, playing Man Next Door- freeform dub live with The Pop Group’s Bruce Smith on drums, Neneh Cherry on backing vox and dancing and Ari, Viv and Tessa in full effect for eight minutes. There really was nothing else like them.

Man Next Door was originally a John Holt hit, based on a Dr Alimantado song, based on a Dennis Brown song.

As an extra I’ve been hammering this recently, their cover version of I Heard It Through The Grapevine (B-side to Typical Girls). It is the best dub-punk cover, bar none, and I have posted it before but it bears repeating. Tessa Pollitt’s bassline is out of this world- as Ari Up sings ‘I heard it through the bassline’

I Heard It Through The Grapevine

Brown Rice

I read about this in Viv Albertine’s book and went straight to Youtube to listen to it. Brown Rice is the opening track off Don Cherry’s 1975 lp. Aside from some skawking horn bursts it’s not really jazz at all, jazzy but something else. Jazz experts may disagree. There’s a hypnotic eight note bassline, some ‘world’ instrumentation and Don whispering something that sounds like a child’s rhyme. Very floaty and entrancing.

Brown Rice

Clothes Music Etc

Viv Albertine’s autobiography, Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys (out now) is a brilliant read- frank and fearless and written very much in her voice (you can hear it clearly throughout). The mid-to-late 70s take up an appropriately large proportion….. Sex Pistols, The Clash, Malcolm, Subway Sect, Don Letts, Johnny Thunders, Chrissie Hynde et al but it is Viv and The Slits who are at the heart of the book and the spirit of those times as seen through her eyes- provocation, feminism, empowerment, guitars, dressing and how to present yourself but also the upfront sexism/misogyny they faced from within the music industry (from the local pub scene upwards), hostility from members of the public, violence, confrontation, spitting, and overarching it all the desire to do and be different. There’s also stained jeans, periods, sexually transmitted diseases and a sympathetic portrait of Sid Vicious. At the time of writing I’m only half way through it, so haven’t got beyond the split of The Slits yet but it’s a compelling read.

Not at all Typical Girls.

Bet You’re Wondering How I Knew

As a follow up to yesterday’s post here’s some Slits. Viv Albertine, Ari Up (above) and Tessa Pollitt never sounded better than on this Slits cover version of Marvin Gaye’s song, where they twist its rhythms about and give it a punky-dubby makeover.

I Heard It Through The Grapevine