In which Leonard Cohen weighs in on the stuff of love and confusion and those avalanches that sometimes cover one’s soul. We’ve all known them. In Philip Random’s case, there may well have been some LSD25 involved and yes, in fact, it eventually occurred to him that he hadn’t completely annihilated his ego, and that God Himself wasn’t singing to him from the far side of the room with a face as big as a fireplace. It was in fact a fireplace and a scratchy side of Leonard Cohen vinyl that someone had thoughtfully put on. And it was good.
Speaking of bass culture, (and contrary to popular belief) it needs to be said that White Man in Hammersmith Palais was neither The Clash‘s first reggae song, nor its best — that was Police + Thieves (or maybe something from Sandinista). But it was the first one they actually wrote, Joe Strummer to be specific, slipping out of his punk mindset long enough to wax poetic on politics and music, Robin Hood and Hitler, black and white, everything really.
Skull rattling dub poetry c/o Linton Kwesi Johnson makes it clear that reggae music is mostly about the bass, the way it makes a body (and thus a whole culture) move. The drums, they just keep things rock steady. The guitars, keyboards, horns etc – they’re just along for the ride. It’s the bass that’s going places, and sometimes the poetry, “like a righteous harm, giving off wild like madness.”
“Avant jazz terrorist Copernicus unleashes a rant that comes across like a Catholic mass on bad acid. Or more to the point, he’s riffing on that knife’s edge of impenetrable physics which seems to argue that nothing exists anyway, so go ahead, humanity, blow yourselves away. Nothing gets lost if it never even was in the first place. Not suitable for anyone in middle management.” (Philip Random)
In which Allen Ginsberg drops in on the Clash during the Combat Rock sessions, the mike gets opened and he slam dances Metropolis, enlightens the populous. And so on, off into a mid-tempo ramble on the hungry darkness of living. Whatever was going down in 1981 – nobody in this crowd was looking the other way.