Wednesday, 19 November 2008
Babylon Cashing In
Despite its 5th form art project-like cover, this album is selling for £350 on Amazon's Market Place!
So I figured I'd post it here, as I'm in a dancing mood; and it's a nice compliment to the New Age Steppers; and Jeez, nobody should have to pay three-hundred and fifty pounds for an album. That's obscene.
Misty in Roots, a collective formed in Southall, London, in the mid-seventies (I believe the music collective was set-up by the Manpower Services Commission; a scheme designed to get people into work, and in pre-Thatcher Britain, if you could convince those working at the social security office that you were destined to be an artist or pop star, then they would accommodate you, and pay for your set of brushes or drum kit, or whatever, and even provide you a space to practice in. Halcyon days...) were one of the best of the British roots and reggae bands.
To see them live was a wonderful experience, and I was fortunate enough to see them a couple of times; once in London, and again, a truly magnificent performance at Glastonbury festival in 1985, where they turned a very soggy, cold and muddy, fucked-up rainy afternoon into one of the best parties I've ever attended.
They played on the smaller stage, Stage 2 (this was quite early days at Glastonbury, and the imaginatively titled branded stages hadn't been conceived yet), and completely packed out the allocated audience space.
Steel Pulse had played the main Pyramid stage earlier on in the day, and had hardly any audience at all.
Two things can be learned from this, I feel, if you're ever thinking of putting on a festival and want reggae music to be a part of it:
1. don't put reggae bands on before three o'clock in the afternoon.
And 2. don't put reggae bands on a great big stage, fifteen feet up in the air.
Reggae and roots music is intimate, the audience need to be close; for the audience is what makes the reggae gig.
This album from 1982, is just that, very, very intimate.
The lyrics here are deeply spiritual; prayer-like in some respects.
Some songs, 'Bail Out', 'Wise and Foolish', are parables; didactic, evangelical almost.
But don't be put off.
Misty in Roots' sound is crucial, tight and wonderfully soulful and celebratory.
The horns and brass that accompany the songs are softly blown.
And apart from the occasional kick arse all-out dub workout - listen in awe to the final two minutes of 'Live Up' - the band are perfectly restrained; and work brilliantly as a single unit.
All the songs here wonderfully evoke those times of the punky reggae party that was so much part of the late seventies-early eighties period; whether it was in London or way out in a field in the middle of nowhere; or Wiltshire as it is known.
The one track that does seem a little out of place on this album is the song 'Jah Bless Africa'. However, this song is a response to the Zeitgeist of the early eighties, and was Misty's homage to the ANC, as the song 'Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika' (the song Misty reinterpreted) was their anthem.
In fact the song was banned in apartheid South Africa, and was always associated with and sung rebelliously by the oppressed.
It is now South Africa's national anthem.
Despite the fact that those who made up Misty in Roots got together in London, their music harked back to the classic Caribbean 70's roots sound (think early Black Uhuru, Dennis Bovell, Jimmy Cliff), and there was also a distinct acknowledgment of their true roots: Africa.
Their version of 'Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika' was part of their outward expression of allegiance, and the track 'Slavery Days' only furthered their connection with their own heritage and past.
This album connects me with my own past.
But then I guess that's what all music does.
Misty in Roots - Wise and Foolish (1982)
Wise and Foolish
Jah Bless Africa
Peace and Love
You can go to Amazon and buy this for £350.
Or you can get this vinyl rip @256kbs for free.
Mine is a little crackly,
but not enough to ruin anyone's pleasure.
And hey, it ain't £350.
So save yourself an awful lot of money and play Misty for yourself here