Alternately known as St. Che or merely Che, this outfit was basically just Tackhead anyway, which is confusing, because Tackhead was also Fats Comet and/or Mark Stewart’s Maffia and/or Little Axe (though that came later) and/or Keith Leblanc working solo. He was the drummer, the other key three players being bassist Doug Wimbish, guitarist Skip MacDonald and producer, mixmaster extraordinaire Adrian Sherwood. The first three originally connected as the house band for Sugarhill Records but it took colliding with Mr. Sherwood to truly unleash the kind of outfit that defines zeitgeists. Big fat beats, funky grooves, charged samples all toward the kind of soundtrack that a proper apocalypse needs, and the 1980s were nothing if not a rolling apocalypse (if you had the right kind of eyes). As for Che, little is known beyond this single and then, a few years after the fact, an album that hardly anyone heard. Which is pretty much par for the whole Tackhead story. Essential but you’ve got to go looking for it.
“Gary Clail gets the credit here but there are all kinds of folks involved in this coolly groovy yet grimly apocalyptic few minutes from 1991, with On-U Sound at the heart of it all. I’d say the 1980s were more their time, when their fusion of dub, punk, politics, NOISE mattered most. It manifested in various bands, singers, poets, players, but it was pretty much always Adrian Sherwood working the final mix. With a track like False Leader pulling it all together, throwing down a gauntlet that the future’s still trying to figure out. And yes, they are still at it.” (Philip Random)
In which Keith Leblanc, straight outa Connecticut, and by way of outfits like Sugarhill Records, Tackhead, Little Axe (and a bunch more) reminds us of exactly what 1986 felt like – the best part anyway. Big beats (bigger than man had ever heard before), cool noise, strange new technologies alchemizing, boiling over, eager to smash the planet, change everything forever. And they would. Planet smashing was definitely what it was all about in the 80s. The planet needed smashing, musically speaking, that is.
The Final Countdown* is our longest, most random and (if we’re doing it right) relevant countdown yet. Which is rather a long of way saying, we’re not one hundred percent sure yet what it’s all about – just the end of result of a long and convoluted process that finally evolved into something halfway tangible back in early February. The 1297 Greatest Records of All Time (right now right here), if that makes sense. And even if it doesn’t, we’re doing it anyway for as long as it takes, and it will take a while.
Installment #2 of The Final Countdown* went like this.
1275. Towa Tei – congratulations
1274. Negativland – greatest taste around
1273. Little John + The Monks – black winds
1272. Atmosphere – get fly
1271. Brian Eno + David Byrne – I feel my stuff
1270. Flaming Lips – Pompeii am Gotterdammerung
1269. Pet Shop Boys- Where the Streets have no Name
1268. Tranquil – Ruby
1267. Giorgio – Automaton
1266. John Mayall- dry throat
1265. Clash – Jimmy Jazz
1264. Cornelius – tone twilight zone
1263. Lord Sitar – blue jay way
1262. Miike Snow – Animal (Mark Ronson remix)
1261. Japan – gentlemen take polaroids
1260. Dub Syndicate – the precinct of sound
1259. Dixie Hummingbirds- loves me like a rock
1258. Mothers of Invention – America drinks and goes home
1257. Mothers of Invention – Ritual of the Young Pumpkin
1256. Neil Diamond – Free Life
Randophonic airs pretty much every Saturday night, starting 11 pm (Pacific time) c/o CiTR.FM.101.9, with streaming and download options usually available within twenty-four hours via our Facebook page.
Original reggae upsetter Lee Scratch Perry plus the Dub Syndicate plus Adrian Sherwood‘s mix mastery equals Time Boom X De Devil Dead, arguably the greatest (mostly) forgotten album of all time. Mad rants, left field boasts, insights that only make sense once you stop trying to make sense of them — all set to grooves that can’t help but melt in your mind. “Needless to say, we listened to this a lot whilst tripping the old lysergic back in the day. Who ever said reggae wasn’t psychedelic, or the 1980s for that matter?” (Philip Random)
“Strong sense of groove and melody, lots of cool, modern dub tricks – The Strange Parcels seemed to have it all when I first heard them back in 1991 care of On-U Sound‘s Pay It All Back Vol.3 (which remains one of the great compilation albums of any era, as do pretty much all the others in the series). But then, that was about it. An album would eventually show up a few years later, but I was onto other things by then, as was the world, I guess. But I did keep going back to Pay It All Back Vol.3 in general, To Be Free in particular, key ingredient in many a mixtape, dragged to many a house party, bonfire, mountaintop. Soundtrack for this slow apocalypse, still ongoing.” (Philip Random)
“Give the Maffia at least a small part of the credit. Because it was 1984, finally, and the nightmare of George Orwell’s Big Brother hadn’t really materialized. Yes, there was great evil in the world, agents of control trying to shut down all peace-beauty-freedom-love forever. But the outcome was still in doubt, because THEY didn’t yet have music under control. Maybe they had the mainstream (the Whitney Houstons, the Duran Durans, the Huey Lewises and Phil Collinses), but who cared about that crap with wild and inventive indie-DIY stuff erupting all over the margins, in all genres and guises. Case in point. On-U Sound and its mainman, producer, knob-twiddler, DUB adventurer, Adrian Sherwood. He’d been at it since 1980 but I didn’t notice until 1984’s Pay It All Back Vol.1 crash-landed in my brain – a label sampler offering all manner of tortured beats, breaks, samples, meltdowns long before we even had names for such stuff. At least Hallelujah had a familiar melody you could hang onto.” (Philip Random)
African Head Charge were nothing if not truth in advertising. Or as we once heard it put,”It’s like Africa on acid, except you’re at least ten thousand miles from Africa.” What they were was a loose sort of psychedelic dub outfit formed by London based percussionist Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah in the early 1980s, with Adrian Sherwood at the mixing board, having fun with frequencies, noise, rhythm and razor blades (which is how they used to edit audio in those days – direct application of sharpened metal to electromagnetic tape).
In which Mark Stewart (and his Maffia) lay down a dubbed out dirge of struggle and truth, reminding us that George Orwell’s 1984 was spot on if you happened to find yourself on the wrong side of the poverty line in the year in question. “Trying to pay the rent, the main worry’s job security. The busier you are, the less you see.”