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Old 08-09-2009, 04:09 PM   #31 (permalink)
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I had True Democracy sitting around in my CD rack for the longest time, having not listened to it until a few months ago. Really some of the best stuff out there. I promptly bought Handsworth Revolution.
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Old 08-09-2009, 10:52 PM   #32 (permalink)
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I think David Hinds is capable of tonque and cheek humor in his writting. David's toast on Rollerskate sounds like a lunatic episode in the life of Eek-A-Mouse that he'll turn into a humorous song like Penni Walli/

Life without music
Bimma! murder style
Dem have fe get a beatin'
Say dem have fe get a beatin'
Nothing greater nothing best
Like the music from my wireless
And the only thing that I detest
Is the man who steal my wireless
him ha fe run like a fugitive
Him ha fe run from detective
Samuel Thomas is the thief name
lie must a lead life of shame
Some a dem call him Uncle Sam
Some a dem call him Uncle Tom
Uncle Sam and Uncle Tom
Yes they are the same man
S.A.M. means "stealaway music"
T.O.M. means "thiefer of music"
The druna and the bass
Have fe move me waist
The ridim and skank
Me have JAH fe thank.
The lyrics and song
Me have fe keep me strong
Samuel Thomas him have fe get vank
Him have fe get a beatin'
Him have fe get a beatin'
David is playing a musical game of the dozens with the boombox thief in Roller Stake.

David is well aware that he's overstating his case against the boombox thief and he delights in doing so to the point of absurdity. The dance hall toast is a musical version of a game called the dozens. The most skilled dance hall toasters and rappers honed their skill wordplay by being highly adept players of the dozens, beginning as children in the school yard.

The dozens is a game, common in nearly all black cultures, of exchanging insults sometimes about the intelligence of the opponent, the mother of the opponent or other family members of the opponent. Skilled playing of the dozens displays verbal improvisation of great originality and wittiness. It also requires a thick skin: you lose the contest if you get upset. The most common version of the dozens begins with, " Yo mama's so ugly..."

The origin of the term is unknown. Some conjectures include: it refers to a throw of 12 in craps, 12 being a difficult number to match; but a second theory is that inferior slaves were sold in lots of twelve, the number twelve therefore coming to mean 'wretched; inferior' itself.

Both Jamaican dancehall toasting and old school rap music have stong elements of the dozens and Roller Skates is a showcase of David's own skillful use of humorous word play in the dozens style.

David Hinds has all sorts of humorous asides even in his most serious songs. In the song Soldiers David Hinds humorously responds to "civilizing" influences of colonialism and Christianity with his angry but humorous rejoinder to Babylon:
Give I back I witch doctor
Give I back I Black Ruler
Me no want no dictator
Me no want no tyrant on yah
The term "witch doctor" was a colonial slur for a tribal shaman who practiced the herbalism and the African rituals of the healing arts (which Babylon called "voodoo") In the mind of a colonialist the witch doctor and voodoo were symbols of a supersitious, uneducted and fundamentally evil non-Chrisitian African culture. From the colonialist perspecive it was the white man's burden to tame the uncivilized black savage through Christianity. But David takes the witch doctor insult and slaps Babylon back for their witch doctor insult with his humorous demand to "Give I back I witch doctor." Whenever David delivers the 'witch doctor" line in concert it gets a tremendous response from those who understand his dry and brittle sense of humor.

When Steel Pulse was coming up through the clubs in the late 70s/early 80s, became known for their outlandish stage costumes that parodied archetypal Babylon authority figures like plantation owners, military soldiers, mercenaries, and Ku Klux Klan members. The outlandish costumes and satirical theatrics reminded me of agit-prop theater groups like Bread and Puppet Theater, San Francisco Mime Troupe or Theatro Campesino.

A more recent stage costume adopted by David was a parody of the mercenary soldier of fortune from the Iraq War.

In their live performance you see a humorous side of Steel Pulse that balances the more serious music of their recordings. You can have about as much fun as legally possible at a Steel Pulse performance.

Ladies & Gentlemen of th jury, is this the work uniform of a man who takes himself too seriously?
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Old 08-10-2009, 07:45 AM   #33 (permalink)
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Stepping Out and Rollerskates
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Old 08-26-2009, 02:04 PM   #34 (permalink)
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Finally gave Handsworth a good listen. Well worth it. I had listened to it a few times without really paying attention, and you never notice all the little intricacies that make each reggae song unique until you do. Anyway, really really great stuff.
PESSIMISM, n. A philosophy forced upon the convictions of the observer by the disheartening prevalence of the optimist with his scarecrow hope and his unsightly smile. - Ambrose Bierce
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Old 08-26-2009, 04:16 PM   #35 (permalink)
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^ It's a good 'un isn't it. The second side is one of the strongest sequences of songs on any album, reggae or otherwise.

For anyone who's not in the loop, here's the evidence...

YouTube - Steel Pulse - Prodigal Son
YouTube - Steel Pulse - Ku klux klan
YouTube - Steel Pulse - Prediction
YouTube - Steel Pulse - Macka Splaff
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Old 08-26-2009, 06:02 PM   #36 (permalink)
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Steel Pulse is great. Steppin' Out is one of my favorite reggae jams ever. They just played San Diego last weekend but I couldn't make it. Which is unfortunate.
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Old 08-26-2009, 08:22 PM   #37 (permalink)
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yeah steel pulse is amazing. some of their stuff gets alittle old tho. to me its not as catchy as some other reggae bands
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Old 08-27-2009, 03:41 AM   #38 (permalink)
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True, but the way I see it roots reggae like Steel Pulse is about anything but being catchy. That's more what dancehall stuff concerns itself with, which is basically the antithesis of what the guys have tried to achieve with their career.
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Old 09-03-2009, 01:19 PM   #39 (permalink)
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I've been digging these guys lately thanks to Rastanthology and I'm downloading Handsworth Revolution and True Democracy now.

How cool is this!?

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Old 09-03-2009, 01:39 PM   #40 (permalink)
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Yeah, Steppin' Out's a great tune. It's off their Earth Crisis album, the one that came after True Democracy. It's the album with their biggest hits on it (Rollerskates is there too) but, to be honest, it's far from a favourite of mine.

If anyone's already got True Democracy and Handsworth Revolution and you're scratching your head over where to go next with them, I say give Tribute To the Martyrs and Babylon the Bandit a try - they're both not quite on the same level of flawlessness, but very good albums all the same.
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