Skinhead A Message To You

A friend of mine, a man whose support & encouragement for this blog still surprises me & makes me smile, is not in the best of health. He put a cross in the “no publicity” box a long time ago so  no names, no pack drill, no fuss. I’m sure that he is receiving love & affection from his family along with the best of care from the professionals. I hope that these tunes can pass a smile back & can provide some diversion at a worrying time.

OK Jimmy Cliff has put on his best shirt, his tightest pants & his dancing shoes (white Chelsea boots…mod as f…). He’s doing his very best to sell his 45 “Give & Take”, a record which sounded great on the radio in 1967. Over in Jamaica Jimmy was recording his debut LP with Leslie Kong. The record included “Many Rivers To Cross” & other classic tunes. Kong, with his work for Desmond Dekker, the Maytals & Jimmy, was making Jamaican music which had appeal outside of the island. Chris Blackwell at Island Records was less confident about the indigenous music & opted for a more soul tinge to the tunes. With an arrangement by jazzer Les Condon & a production from whizz kid Jimmy Miller this Motown influenced stomper was a near hit. Jimmy could have done no more to help it along. This is a great, energetic performance.

In 1969 Jimmy had a worldwide hit with a reggae song. His leading role in “The Harder They Come” confirmed him as an international star & a man of substance. 40 years later we see no reason to change our minds about that.

If you would like to see the lovely Susan Cadogan perform her 1975 Top 5 hit then click here. This footage from, I guess around 1970, is just too good to miss. Locating it in place is more difficult. Your heart says it should be the East End of London where the working class “hard mods” became skinheads partly as an anti-hippy reaction. Closer inspection shows Birmingham city centre & there’s a shout that the club could be in Manchester. Everyone wants to claim it because this clip is the real deal, the most authentic portrayal of Britain as it was I have ever seen. When I first went out to dance there were not as many black faces around my town but the kids, the styles, the moves were exactly like this. I’ll make no assertions about racial harmony or sweetness & light. Those sweet, smiling skinhead sprogs who I fought alongside on the terraces on Saturday afternoon would be chasing me down the High St later that night. Little Fuckers !

Lee Perry, a prodigious talent, has a deserved reputation as a sonic master. His studio experiments have been a benchmark in Dub for so long. Like many great musicians, say Miles Davis or Captain Beefheart, he has an understanding & a facility with the basics of the music which he stretches. This reggaefication  of a Millie Jackson tune is as sweet as reggae gets & is perfect pop. Susan signed to a UK label after this hit. She did not really repeat her success. It would have been more interesting if she had stuck with Scratch at Black Ark studio.

Time to drop by King Tubby’s studio where Prince Jammy is supervising Delroy Wilson re-recording his ska hit “I’m In A Dancing Mood”. Don’t you just love the Interwebs ? Delroy started early & made some memorable records, especially his version of “Better Must Come”. Unfortunately Delroy died prematurely in 1995 when he was just 46 years old. All I have to say about this clip is that this is Proper Music !

Ok, I hope my friend enjoys these carefully picked sights & sounds. I guess that his beloved football team can do their bit to raise his spirits with a good win in the Champions league tonight. Whatever the result & the way this illness goes…stay strong & remember  “the man laugh first, him nuh laugh yet the man laugh las’, get it full…..”