Archive for the ‘Don Letts’ Category

Doc Alimantado & The Rebels

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Reason / Doc Alimantado & The Rebels

Listen: Reason For Living / Doc Alimantado & The Rebels
Reason For Living / Doc Alimantado & The Rebels

One of the first records Howard Thompson played Corinne and I on our initial visit to his place in Agate Road was by Doc Alimantado & The Rebels. The memory is vivid, and the record probably larger than life because of the moment. This was March ’77, I had waited four years to get back to London. It seemed like an eternity. Corinne had never been.

‘Born For A Purpose’ and it’s flip, ‘Reason For Living’, instantly became her songs. We had a small cassette machine with us, so she recorded the dub B side, ‘Reason For Living’, repeatedly over both sides of a tape at Howard’s that next evening, bringing it back to the hotel room which was literally one foot wider than the mattress on each side. The place was a crammed, uncomfortable but typical bed and breakfast in King’s Cross, very down at heel, as they’d all say. Perfect. A better setting you couldn’t have invented. We loved it.

As I’ve written prior, this ’77 visit was non-stop. London was in orbit, punk was everywhere, but still underground and shocking the mainstream. Howard took us all around, to the Island offices where he worked at the time, to buy clothes in Shepherd’s Bush Market, records in Ladbroke Grove, well everywhere actually; to the Marquee, Red Cow, Dingwalls, Hope & Anchor and Roxy. It was at The Roxy that Don Letts played mostly reggae to the punk crowd. It’s been well chronicled and he was indeed there on those nights, doing then what he does now on 6Music, presenting some of the best records in the solar system to anyone who’s bright enough to listen. Check out a recent show.

I remember hearing the Dr. Alimantado 12″ there several times. Me, I wanted the 7″, and sure enough, it was available. The A side ‘Born For A Purpose’ is pretty trippy, but the flip is total psychedelic dub, a sonic LSD trip one could say. I woke up and fell asleep to that cassette over the next two weeks. There was no escaping her playing it after a night out, where you’d hear it constantly as well. Lots of memories, but all good, so this record’s indeed a true time traveler back to then.

The Fun Boy Three / Bananarama

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Listen: It Ain’t What You Do… / The Fun Boy Three & Bananarama
It Ain't What You Do... / The Fun Boy Three & Bananarama

Maybe this parallel is way off base, but The Fun Boy Three were always what Big Audio Dynamite claimed to be, as I recall it at least. Their whole idea seemed to focus more on marketing themselves as a politically correct, multi cultural amalgamation than actually sounding like one. Unfortunately Don Letts’ worthy musical taste as a dj/radio presenter never spilled into Big Audio Dynamite’s music nearly enough, despite being a member.

Meanwhile, The Fun Boy Three jungled along, actually basing their sound around a consistent tribal rhythm. Even when dragging the overkill fashion conscience vocal church mice, aka Bananarama, into the mix, they still managed to pull it off.

Covering Ella Fitzgerald’s 1939 calypso based hit, ‘It Ain’t What You Do, It’s The Way That You Do It’, proved an educated song choice and an astute career chess play, providing them with their biggest UK chart placing ever, #4 in ’82. It continued the band’s authenticity, first started via their debut single ‘The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum’.