Listen: Chase The Devil / Max Romeo 03 Chase The Devil.mp3
Listen: Out Of Space / The Prodigy Out Of Space (Edit).mp3
Back in ’76, I was the music director and program director of my college radio station. I’d returned to school after a few years of fucking off in England and working for a one stop record distributor, but remembered the tricks of the trade: get into the radio station pronto, and snag both MD and PD slots if possible (oh yeah, and become the concert chairman while you’re at it as well), thereby insuring ALL the records pass through your mitts first, allowing one’s self to keep the extra (and sometimes the only) copy received. Yes those were some of the brutal measures necessary when plagued by a record collecting addiction. I was very into pub rock then: Ducks Deluxe, Doctor Feelgood and especially Eddie & The Hot Rods. The Hot Rods were signed to Island UK, and because we were playing their LIVE AT THE MARQUEE EP, and it was selling a few at the local record shop, I felt quite justified in writing Island’s London office letting them know of this incredible success story, oh and um….looking for some freebies. Talk about a smart move. The letter, the first one about Eddie & The Hot Rods from the US as it turned out, was handed to the young A&R scout who had signed them, Howard Thompson. He rang me, we began exchanging letters, phone calls, the latest releases and ended up best friends for life. He gave me my first real job at Elektra 8 years later, hence the smart move comment. But back to ’76, I would wait in huge anticipation of his packages showing up, as they were always filled with the latest punk singles and Island releases. A turning point that got me into reggae, was when Howard sent over the Island compilation, THIS IS REGGAE MUSIC (Volume 3). It in itself is a classic reggae title. Every act on there being seminal (Lee Perry, Peter Tosh, Justin Hines & The Dominoes, Junior Murvin, Bunny Wailer, Burning Spear amongst them – and all great tracks as well). This was also Lee Perry heavy, as he either performed on, or produced most everything on the comp. And one of the tracks, ‘War Ina Babylon’ was by Max Romeo & The Upsetters. The note that Howard enclosed described this Lee Perry stuff as ‘almost psychedelic’, and no truer words have ever been written. Of course, I needed all the singles and full length albums by each of these acts, which Howard quickly and thankfully supplied (see Max Romeo single pictured above). Fast forward a decade or two, and sampling has started. I remember reading Bowie’s comments on the process, he loved it as long as he got paid. Most artists weren’t as adventurous, not wanting their music altered, chopped, processed etc. But Bowie, not surprisingly, loved the ability of reinterpretation it afforded. Fast forward again to mash ups….which brings me to this record by The Prodigy: ‘Out Of Space’. From their classic and ‘must own’ PRODIGY EXPERIENCE album, this may be the first ever mash up, before they were even called mash ups. If not, then it certainly samples Max Romeo’s ‘Chase The Devil’ generously, mixing their own song with his. From the looks of The Prodigy’s label copy, neither Romeo nor Lee Perry were credited at the time, but I can’t imagine that hasn’t been sorted since. Never mind. Both singles are great and stand up beautifully on their own.