Monday, 29 October 2018

The Clash Goes Jamaican - Various Artists

This is a most interesting compilation. Given The Clash's love for reggae, it is not surprising that someone eventually came up with the idea of having various reggae artists covering The Clash's music in authentic reggae style. The artists are not well-known ones, but it doesn't matter, the sound quality and delivery is excellent. In fact, I haven't heard of any of the artists.

The songs are played in various reggae styles - rocksteady, dub, roots, lovers, ska. There are thirty-one tracks on the album, and a bit like The "Bryan Ferry Orchestra's" jazz interpretations of Ferry and Roxy Music's material, some are more recognisable than others. More of these are identifiable compared to that album, however. Some have vocals, others are purely instrumentals. Surprisingly, two of The Clash's most authentic reggae cuts, "Armagideon Times" and "Guns Of Brixton" are not one here. I think the intention was more to "reggae-fy" less obvious contenders.

"Spanish Bombs" is done in a melodious, easy style with a fetching female vocal and some sumptuous Rico Rodriguez-style trombone at the end. "White Riot" is turned into a dubby instrumental, which is certainly interesting. Of course, it takes away all the song's fire and attack, but it is a good piece of dubby groove anyway. "Ghetto Defendant" uses the same slightly sampled spoken vocals of the original and the beat is not much changed from the original. "Train In Vain" is given a lively ska makeover, as is "London Calling", which is given a mysterious vocal. "White Man (In Hammersmith Palais)" keeps in intoxicating original skank ad has a convincing vocal. Nothing experimental on this one, more like a reasonably authentic cover version.

"I Fought The Law" has a vibrant, lively ska bluebeat rhythm. It is irresistible. "Clampdown" sounds not so much like reggae, but more like early T. Rex, with its frenetic bongo backing. A dubby groove doesn't really work with "Janie Jones", though. "Washington Bullets" has a croaking "toasting" Prince Far I-style vocal order a Latin acoustic rhythm. "Bankrobber" has a rocksteady sixties beat to it, driven by melodic keyboards. "Revolution Rock" is dreamily dubby in an Aswad/Third World sort of way. "Stay Free" has a seventies mid-pace, horn-driven ska beat that really suits it. "Straight To Hell" is beautifully dubby, with no vocals. "Safe European Home" skanks it up to the max and with a growling vocal sounds superb. "Lovers Rock" is played dubby and rootsy by Chris Murray and in a sort of psychedelic way by Sarah Connors (quite who Sarah is is unclear - the track has a male vocal).  "Rebel Waltz" is a ska-ed up slice of dub.

Ok, I could go on about the style of each track, but I am sure you get the picture. It is an interesting album of covers done in a myriad of reggae styles and is worthy of half an hour's dipping into every now and again.


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