Today I had the day in my hands, a tight grip, my fingers clenched around the leg so it couldn’t slip and then as the doors opened and the breeze rushed in I let go and the day was gone. I always think of days when I have no sessions, no studio and no swimming as free days but it’s so not true. In actual fact it’s the opposite, these days are days to catch up on all the things I couldn’t manage on session days, studio days and swim days. It’s then I realise why I couldn’t catch up, there’s too much to do even if I have what I think is time to do it. I suppose I could stop doing French (which was really hard today as I moved onto a higher level). I could stop writing every night and not watch or at least have the football on. I could listen to less music, I could stop gazing at the sea. I could stop looking for records for the archive. I could stop encouraging donations and then having to file records away as well as reorganise and note what essential records might be missing. I could probably buy less records and rent a cottage in the middle of nowhere, turn off my phone, delete Facebook and read everything by Emile Zola. I could then write stories and write songs and sing and play my one guitar on the porch. I could stop with the sessions, I could leave the modern world, sell my guitars and amps, sell the records and live frugally in a beauty spot till I fall off my perch. Nah!
I read today that vinyl had sold more than CDs for the first time since CDs were introduced. But although for people like me it’s great for getting vinyl copies of hard to find records, reissues in perfect condition and new vinyl albums by new artists, we never could have imagined that technology could find a way to destroy our income from selling the records we make. Only big bands can make those big records anymore. Only U2 can sit in the studio figuring out guitar tones, working on the snare drum, doing multiple takes, using all the advantages of a major studio, all the costs justified by the record sales. The problem is that you can also make records with fake Voxes, fake drum rooms and famous producers’ snare drum sounds but I don’t know if you’ve had sex with a robot, but it’s not the same. Even Kraftwerk knew that.
Today was a frustrating day as it was lovely and warm but I didn’t have a chance to appreciate it – straight to pasty land and straight to the studio to wait for a courier who went to the wrong address with my package yesterday, sent me a photo of the Acorn Theatre across the road and told me I wasn’t there to receive it. Great work. Today I got a message saying they would be here between 5 o’clock and 6 o’clock and at 4 o’clock told me tomorrow. A wasted day of expectation.
I did get to speak to Jerome in Berlin whilst pacing around in the street. I’ve sent him bass parts and he is now going to try and put our project together. If anybody would like to come up with a name, please feel free to make suggestions (not too silly). I spoke to him whilst waiting outside for the courier that didn’t come and deliver my package to the wrong address. At one point whilst waiting I sat on the studio steps – on chewing gum. It’s bad enough on your shoe, on your pants it’s a disaster. In Singapore chewing gum is illegal!
The ban remains one of the best-known aspects of life in Singapore, along with the country’s laws against litter, graffiti, jaywalking, spitting, expelling “mucus from the nose” and urinating anywhere but in a toilet. (If it’s a public toilet, you are legally required to flush it.)
Apparently you can get Nicotine gum and sugar-free gum with a prescription these days but this kind of law really makes me wonder about the laws that would be brought in if say an opinionated civilian was given carte blanche. They say that Brexit was an example of letting the uninformed execute decisions that the informed should have made. They also say that if there was a referendum on the death penalty in the UK, that it would have a good chance of returning. I was once pulled up at an airport by security in London when I was wearing an anti-death penalty T-shirt. I explained it was an Amnesty International shirt, “What’s that?”, they said.
Music today starts with Toots Hibbert, charismatic lead singer of Toots And The Maytals. He died last Friday leaving behind the legend and along with Bob Marley and others the legacy of turning Reggae music into an international sensation. Hibbert’s 1968 song “Do The Reggay” is widely credited as the genesis of the genre name reggae. I always struggled to find a Reggae scene outside England, there were catchy commercial Reggae bands in Sweden and Germany and some Reggae inspired acts in Australia but not the scene like here. (You could, of course, include the innovative Dread Zeppelin in the US but I’m not sure they qualify.) I lived in Ladbroke Grove in London for a few years and Reggae was part of the musical furniture. It didn’t just affect the Jamaican community, it was taken on board by British groups especially in the Punk era – The Specials and The Selector, UB40 and The Beat as well as the more Punk orientated bands like The Clash and The Ruts and instead of cultures clashing it was a bringing together with infectious beats, political statements and a whole cultural identity. Although the constitution in Jamaica still allows imprisonment for same-sex unions (but not for women), what does that say? They don’t accept gay people and sexual prejudice continues to be rife. It seems that this attitude isn’t unique to Jamaica despite relatively recent changes in the law (homosexuality was illegal in the UK till 1968). I suppose we can avoid the openly hostile homophobia of Buju Banton (allegedly he had a change of heart) but today openly hostile seems to have been legitimised. The ignorant never learn or as Love and Rockets said on the song No New Tale To Tell from Earth, Sun, Moon (1987):
“You cannot go against nature
Because when you do
Go against nature
It’s part of nature too”
Neville O’Reilly Livingston’s (Bunny Wailer) second album Protest was released in 1977. An original member of the Wailers but unlike the first album Blackheart Man none of the original band play on Protest although there is a version of the Marley/Tosh song Get Up, Stand Up. Famed bassist Robbie Shakespeare plays on the album. For me what I call the straight Reggae albums aren’t the thing, it’s the Dub Reggae that I like the most apart from the Marley classics, Gregory Isaacs, Peter Tosh, haha wait a minute, I feel a list coming on of albums I really like anyway. So, in fact, there’s all kinds of Reggae records I like.
Despite the legends of the Toots and Bunny, my highlight album of the night so far has been Legalize It, the debut album by Winston Hubert McIntosh (Peter Tosh) released in 1976. Two songs were co-written with Bunny Wailer and one with Bob Marley. Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer were original Wailers members and when they left in 1974 due to a conflict over where they played as members of the Rastafari religion, that’s when Bob Marley And The Wailers were named, the last album as The Wailers was Burnin’ although a version of The Wailers reformed after Marley’s death. Both drummer Carlton Barrett and Peter Tosh were murdered in Jamaica. Discovering Reggae is a rabbit hole and you may find yourself on a deep and long journey down it but you could start with a classic, The Wailers’ Catch A Fire. It’s hard with Reggae because Reggae fans don’t seem to listen to anything else and the style seems to be off the radar of non-Reggae fans but remember, quality always wins whatever the genre. I went to Jamaica once, but that’s another story.
Songs Of The Daze
Peter Tosh with The Revolutionaries, live at Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Recorded 07/16/1979.
Peter Tosh (lead vocal & percussions)
Sly “drumbar” Dunbar (drums)
Robbie Shakespeare (bass guitar)
Darryl Thompson (lead guitar)
Mickey Chung (riddim guitar)
Robbie Lynn (keyboard & organ)
Keith Sterling (keyboard & organ)
The Tamlins – Carlton Smith, Derrick Lara & Junior Moore (background vocals & percussions)