The ska original of
'Artibella' appeared on Studio One in 1965, credited to Ken Booth & Stranger Cole (here). Boothe released his hit solo version of the song,
produced by Phil Pratt, in 1970 (here).
In 1972 Lee 'Scratch' Perry produced his own
interpretation of the 'Artibella' rhythm with The
Upsetters, initially bringing in Milton Henry
and Junior Byles to voice 'This World' over
it and releasing the results under the moniker
King Medious. Several further adaptations of the rhythm would follow.
Hot on the heels of the duet, Byles was back
behind the vocal mic alone, creating his
classic reading of 'Fever'. At around the same time, the song
was also voiced to good effect by Susan Cadogan.
The versions poured out of the Black Ark.
Here's Jah Lion with 'Hay Fever'.
Jah T voiced 'Lick the Pipe Peter', with
Augustus Pablo's melodica accompaniment,
though I prefer Pablo's instrumental 'Hot and
There are more, but let's conclude this brief
whistle-stop tour with a typically bonkers dubwise
excursion on the 'Artibella' rhythm, 'Fever Grass Dub'.
Encouraged by recent inspiring posts from
chums over at Sun Dried Sparrows and Grown Up Backwards, I've been digging around in my hard
drive to find the photos from a couple of local walks I took last year. This first set
is from the evening of August 31st, just as
the nights were beginning to draw in. Click on any photo to enlarge it. More to
Accompanying the visuals is Greek post-rocker
George Mastrokostas, trading as Absent
Without Leave, with the appropriately titled 'Evening Walks', from 2008. Find more Absent Without
Leave music here.
I featured a river walk last time, but this one takes me in the other direction, East. First though, I head out over the marsh.
Swinging left, away from the road, I cross a field and arrive at the river. Look at the length of my shadow. This is a fairly long walk and the sun is already low, though this heron has found a few evening sunbeams to bask in.
All is quiet at the quay. The sign shows me the way.
This is a circular walk and I still have a long way to go until I reach the halfway point, but the sun is already dipping below the horizon. This stretch of river is far more open than the area I walked through last time.
I wonder why this cow is looking so intently in my direction, when suddenly there's a gentle whoosh over my right shoulder. The cow wasn't looking at me, it had seen a barn owl crossing from the other side of the river. It pauses for a breather on a post right next to the cow.
I've never seen a barn owl quartering on this stretch before and I click ecstatically, capturing absolutely nothing but fresh air on my camera, so I give up and for several minutes silently watch the beautiful creature in action. Finding no success in its search for food, the owl swings back across the river just ahead of me and I manage to secure a couple of blurred images.
After about a mile, I leave the river, clamber over a crooked style and negotiate that rarest of all terrains in this area - a hill!
Well this is what constitutes a hill round these parts anyway! And I get a good view back along the first half of my journey from the top.
I love this dirt lane. I like to imagine that this was once a main thoroughfare, frequented by highwaymen lying in wait for a passing horse-drawn carriage - perhaps I've been out on my own for too long! It is becoming very dark.
Even the animals in surrounding fields wonder what on Earth I'm doing out in the middle of nowhere at this hour.
Passing birds form an arrow in the sky - though pointing in the wrong direction! Fortunately the sign on this gatepost tells me all I need to know.
In the a glade on the other side of the long hedge on the right, the evening calls of birds and other animals echo in a spooky cacophony. To my left, a lovely location for an owl box, though I've never seen it in use.
I've been out for well over an hour and as I near civilization, a mist begins to gather on the marsh. A final signpost looms out of the gloom.
I practically have to feel my way across the last short stretch of field towards the houses in the distance. This footpath brings me out in the middle of the village and the warm glow of our nearest streetlight, a few hundred yards from home.
Every Monday afternoon I vacuum the house
from top to bottom. It's one of the very few
household chores that I've been granted top
level clearance to take on alone, though the work
is of course carefully monitored and I
receive regular and detailed feedback on my
After vacuuming for a few minutes, I get into 'the zone'. My mind wanders and often I'll catch myself singing out loud to a tune in my head as I work,
usually something bizarre or relatively
obscure. (This week it was a seamless medley
of 'Nijinsky Hind' by Tyrannosaurus Rex and
'Surreal Estate' by Be-Bop Deluxe.) Sometimes I
don't even realise I'm doing it - until it's
mentioned later, during my debriefing.
Here's the late great Jackie Mittoo, fronting
Sound Dimension, with a cracking 1969 Coxsone
Dodd produced instrumental, 'Clean Up'.
1978's Baltimore is a good, not great, late
period Nina Simone LP, although it does
contain three totally essential minutes in
her interpretation of Fritz Rotter's 'That's
All I Want From You'. The song was a hit in
1954 for Jaye P. Morgan and subsequently
covered by artists as diverse as Dean Martin,
Bobby Bare and Aretha Franklin, but none of
these come close to Nina's fragile, emotional
Dad took me to a speedway match for the first
time in the Summer of 1967. I was seven years
old and instantly hooked. For the next nine
years we traveled all over London and South
East England attending three or four speedway
fixtures a week. Now I look back on it, we
must have gone to around 500 matches in all
that time, just me and Dad - originally on
his Honda 90 motorcycle and later in his
trusty Hillman Imp.
Memories of those many happy hours spent
enveloped in diesel fumes, diligently
filling in programmes, collecting autographs
and cheering on my favourite riders, came
back to me recently when I unearthed a couple
of pages torn out of two very old speedway
magazines, which I found buried at the bottom
of a box. The pages feature crowd photos from
speedway matches, with a lucky supporter
circled on each - a weekly competition in
this particular publication.
The first one I looked at featured a crowd
scene from Romford, taken one Thursday
evening in the summer of 1969. And there we
are. Dad with cigarette in mouth and
programme in hand, and me leaning on the
barrier. We're deep in conversation and
oblivious to the photographer, unlike the
The other page is from April of 1968 and
features a similar photo, this one taken at
Hackney, home of my favourite team, 'The
Hawks'. Every Friday evening, Dad and I would
grab our preferred vantage point high on the
4th bend, by the pits, which happened to be
the very section of the stadium that the
photographer chose to take his snap. This
time I obviously spotted him, as I've worked
my way down towards the front and, bobble hat
on head, am looking straight at the camera.
Still not a winner though!
And Dad? When I came across these pages a
couple of weeks ago, I initially assumed that
he hadn't made it into this particular shot.
On closer inspection, however, there he is,
right up at the back, in the shadows, this
time smoking his pipe.
Though neither of us turned out to be lucky winners back in
the 1960s, rediscovering these old
torn out magazine pages in 2015 is a pretty
good consolation prize.
Down the garden, over the allotments and
across the marsh beyond. I always stop to
look out of our bedroom window, whether I'm
on my way into bed at night or stumbling out
of it at the start of a new day. It's never
the same view twice. Here's what I saw this
I could write a whole piece on the range and
variety of mists that gather on the marsh,
but would struggle to illustrate any of them.
Successfully capturing mist on camera is akin
to capturing lightning in a bottle, for me
anyway. This morning's mist/frost/sun combo
was particularly beautiful though. And as I looked out, I too was being observed. I guess the view in the other direction is no big deal to this little 'un.
Later in the day, we endured a private mist
of our own - inside the house. The next door
neighbours were sanding down a beam and, as
our two houses were once one and thus we
share some floorboards, a gentle sawdust fog
drifted up and through the rooms, leaving a
fine covering over everything. I'd only
vacuumed yesterday too.
Nan, my Maternal Grandmother, was born in
Stratford in the East End of London on the
19th of January 1893, 122 years ago today - a time when the first controlled flight of an
aircraft lay 10 years in the future and the sight of a primitive motor car on the streets of
the nation's capitol was still an incredibly
rare event. As a child, she grew up in a house with no
electricity, no gas, inconsistent running
water, a rudimentary coal stove, a tin bath
hanging on the wall and a toilet in the
backyard. By the time she died, she'd
survived two world wars, outlived two
husbands, given birth to one child and
watched men walking on the moon on her own
Nan's birth certificate. Frail and precious.
Nan was 67 when I arrived on the scene in
1960, dying a couple of days short of my 16th
birthday in 1976. I spent a lot of time with
her when I was a kid, particularly during
the mid-1960s when both my parents were
working. Her vernacular was an
anachronistic Victorian Cockney, liberally
sprinkled with odd turns of phrase that my
Dad always referred to as 'Nan-isms' (a
subject I've previously touched on here and
I'll devote a whole post to one of these
days). Her kitchen was always 'the scullery', my pyjamas
a 'pyjam-suit' and, in later years, a 50p coin
was a 'silver ten-bob note'.
Nan (wearing her ever-present pinnie), Mum & I, 1963.
When I was being looked after by her, Nan's favourite trick to keep me engaged and, no doubt, out from under her feet, was to sit me at the table with pencil and paper and and give me a subject, often just one word, upon which I would write a story. When I was done, she'd sit opposite me as I read it to her, then she'd dream up another subject to repeat the process. My young imagination was vivid and I loved to make up stories, so this would
literally keep me amused for hours. Meanwhile
Nan, wearing her ever-present pinnie, might fill the coal scuttle, scrub the doorstep or potter around in the
scullery, perhaps baking a cake, before
inviting me to scrape out the sticky leftover
cake mix from the bowl with my finger. Then I
would ask her for new subject, sit down at
the table and begin another story.
After the Sex Pistols there was The Rich Kids
and after The Rich Kids Glen Matlock formed
The Spectres with ex-Tom Robinson Band guitarist Danny Kustow. The
short lived combo gigged heavily while pursuing both
David Bowie and Alex Chilton as potential
producers, but ultimately issued just two
singles, both in 1980, a cover of Ray Davies' 'This Strange
Effect' and this, their own, 'Stories'.
A recent post over at the ever wonderful Sun Dried Sparrows reminded me of the time I was
browsing in an achingly (and I really mean
achingly) cool, alternative bookstore in
Brooklyn several years ago. It was a
fascinating and incredibly arty shop,
chock-a-block with obscure titles and with ferocious jazz blaring from the in-store sound-system. Anyway, I
was nosing about the shelves, when a skinny young man
stepped from behind the counter and
approached me. He worked at the store and had
recognised my English accent. This was a guy
who wouldn't have looked out of place in the
line-up of a cutting edge band - an
impossibly cool individual. So you can
imagine my surprise at the question he asked
me. 'You're from England...', he said, '...do
you know a TV series called Lovejoy?'
'Errrm...., yes...' I replied, somewhat taken
aback, '...in fact parts of it were filmed
not far from where I live'. At this, the
guy's veneer of cool dropped. 'Oh my God, I
LOVE that show...' he babbled excitedly, '...do
you know when the third season will be out on DVD?'
If only I'd known at the time....
Yes, it transpired that this arty, uber-cool,
bookish Brooklynite was a massive fan of the
venerable East Anglian antique dealer and he
proceeded to pepper me with questions about
the programme for several minutes - fairly
unsuccessfully as it happens, as I'd rarely
watched it myself. His main gripe seemed to
be that, at the time, only the first couple
of series had thus far made it to DVD in the
USA, so he'd had to rely on acquiring
bootleg copies of the show to feed his habit! This was
well before Ian McShane found American fame
in Deadwood, so, to be quite honest, I was
surprised to hear that any episodes of
Lovejoy had been released on DVD in the
States and frankly astonished that the
programme was so admired by such a young hipster.
Now, what's that phrase about not judging a
book by its cover? It seems particularly apt in this case.
The clip for 'Animal', lead single from Moon
Duo's soon-come new LP 'Shadow of the Sun',
features pro-skateboarder (who knew there was
such a thing?) Richie Jackson, indulging in a little light 'psychedelic
skating' - that's without a
traditional board to you and me. I'm in no
way qualified to comment on Mr Jackson's
abilities, although he cuts a fine dash and does look a bit of a
dude, but what I can say, without fear of
contradiction, is that judging by this storming tune, Moon Duo's powers show no signs of diminishing.
From 2012, this is the Batch Gueye Band with the enchanting 'M'beugel'. Batch is
originally from Senegal, but now operates out
of Bristol and this particular tune has been
on regular rotation in my house for the past
couple of years. 'M'beugel' is taken from a self-titled EP, which you can check out in full
If you think the music of saxophonist and
multireedist Colin Stetson is a challenging
listen, try watching him make it. Based in
Canada, Stetson has played with Arcade Fire, Tom Waits, Bon Iver and Anthony Braxton among a host of others, but when he plays solo it's
just him, all him. Listen to the
extraordinary 'The Stars in His Head', try to
work out what on Earth is going on, then
watch a live performance of 'Judges' to find
Hanni El Khatib's 'Moonlight' is a real grower, that's for sure, but, until recently,
growing in tandem with my enjoyment of the
song was my frustration as to what exactly
the brief 'dum dum dum dum' intro reminded me
Cue John Medd's perfectly timed post on
RCA record sleeves (here). Ding! Light-bulb
moment! In my mind's eye, I could immediately see my 14
year-old self flipping over his RCA 7" single of
David Bowie's 'Diamond Dogs' to reveal 'Holy
Holy' on the b-side. Check that 'dum dum dum
dum' intro. Thanks for helping me put my mind at rest John.
At the time I first heard 'The Flow (Hex Remix)', I'm afraid to say that I knew nothing at all about Melanie De Biasio. Now, a couple of hours later, I've learnt that she's described by some as Belgium's Billie Holiday (which could be a blessing or a curse) and that this engagingly skittering mix of an excellent, down-tempo original is due to appear on a Gilles Peterson curated compilation in February. I also know that I'd quite like to hear more.
'The Big Ones' by Ted Heath and His Music is
an LP that I just couldn't leave behind when
I spotted it lurking in a box at a car-boot
sale last summer. I mean, come on. Look at
the sleeve. It has 'Groovy' written all over
it and was either going to be a complete
stonker or an utter stinker. Fortunately it's
the former. Pop hits of the day are given the
big band treatment with pretty good results, though nowhere
more successfully than this all-out assault on golden
oldie (it was 4 years old at the time) '(I
Can't Get No) Satisfaction'. Dig it!
It's not been a good start to 2015 (or end to 2014 come to that) for Mrs S. It takes a lot to slow her down, but a serious bout of flu has completely knocked her for six and she's currently not very well at all.