17 July 2008

Political Mumbo-Jumbo

Rockin' Funky Watergate by Fred Wesley & the J.B.'s from Breakin' Bread (People, 1974) Mr. President by the Heptones with Jah Lion from the Upsetters-Turn and Fire Upsetter Disco Dub (Anachron, 1977) Don't worry, it's not a blog about politics at all! It's an example of what I love about doing this audioblog... I can link songs by the slenderest of threads... So here we have two policaly-themed, or at least related, songs. The J.B.'s were, of course, James Brown's backing band and had some of the most bad-ass musicians of the era. This one's a fine workout, with Fred Wesley wailing from about the middle to some truly sweet rhythm guitar from beginning to end. Songs like this show why I'll always prefer rhythm guitar to lead. And the political side? Just a then-current shout-out to tack on (and chant) to a funky instrumental. Next we leave the US altogether to get a Jamaican perspective on things. It's the classic Heptones track Mr. President, in a devastating dubwise reworking by mad genius Lee "Scratch" Perry at the controls - and this is in '77, the prime of Black Ark Studios. This versions sees Jah Lion adding the hoarse-throated toasting. The dread beat, Scratch magic and Leroy Sibbles' vocals demonstrate why this is an all-time great.

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