Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bad Manners - Maximum Ska 'N' B

For some reason Bad Manners never really did it for me when they rode on the crest of the 2-Tone wave of the early ‘80s. I don’t know why maybe it was something about the way they looked… scruffy… despite some wearing suits, they were always a bit Mickey Pearce from the UK TV show Only Fools & Horses, or most likely it had more to do with hits like “My Girl Lollipop” and “Can Can” as well as album cuts like “Wooly Bully” and the “Undersea Adventures of Ivor The Engine” they just came over as too much of a novelty act for me. Despite all this though and being a 2-Tone fan to the core (ok they never actually had a studio release with the label) I still brought just about everything they ever released! Including “My Girl Lollipop” on 12”!!

Now however having purchased “Magnetism” a best of on CD a couple of years ago I fear I may have missed the point and treated one of the best and fun 2-Tone acts with a distain they didn’t deserve. Songs like the afore mentioned “My Girl Lollipop” and “Can Can” still grate mind you but songs like the story telling brilliance of “Lorraine”, the summery feel good of “Walking In The Sunshine” and easy going sing-a-long of “Special Brew” are quite superb. The Specials and The Selecter were perhaps more relevant with their songs about the urban decline that was affecting the country then but at least Bad Manners allowed you to forget your worries and just party for the sake of partying’s sake!

They were formed in 1976 while the members were together at Woodberry Down Comprehensive School, Stoke Newington, London with the literally larger than life Buster Bloodvessel (Douglas Trendle to his mum) fronting the band.
Having become quite popular on the live circuit in their native London and with the recent success of bands like The Specials, The Selecter and Madness, Bad Manners were quickly picked up and signed by Magnet Records in 1980. Their first single was the quirky ‘Ne-Ne Na-Na Na-Na Nu-Nu’ which peaked at a respectable #28 in March of that year. This was followed by ‘Lip Up Fatty’ (#28 June 1980) and ‘Special Brew’ which very nearly made the top of the charts but unfortunately stalled at #3 in the August. 1980 also saw the release of their first album ‘Ska-N-B’ which reached #34 in the UK album chart and highlighted their love of the jump and jive sounds of the 40's and 50's as much if not more than Ska!
The band built on this opening success with the release of more hit singles over the next two years including ‘Lorraine’, ‘Just A Feeling’ and of course the big hits ‘My Girl Lollipop’ and ‘Can Can’. There were also two more albums ‘Loonee Tunes’, that has to be in the running for worst album cover ever (It featured a little dog with a bow on its head sitting on a cushion) and then ‘Gosh It’s…’ which saw the band changing style a bit with more Latino and Jazz/Soul style influences and fusions.

This was also were I parted ways with Bad Manners as 2-Tone’s influence faded. The Specials split and The Selecter and Beat would soon follow. Madness were still going but had become more adventurous and were no longer really a “Ska” band and as is always the way, the country’s musical tastes were changing as ‘New Romantics’ and synth pop started to take over. This left Bad Manners in something of a quandary as to which direction to take and they seemed to just slip away eventually calling it quits in 1987.

This parting however did not last long and Buster soon reformed the band with original members Louis Alphonso, Martin Stewart and Winston Bazoomies. He then licensed the Blue Beat Records name and logo and set up office in a 50ft barge in the back garden of his former home in Spring Hill, London, and released albums by Bad Manners, Napoleon Solo and Buster's Allstars. He closed the record label in 1990, and the band found themselves without a recording contract, but still continued to tour. In 1992, Buster travelled to Berlin and signed a deal with Pork Pie Records and "Fat Sound" was released in Europe.
In 1995, Buster Bloodvessel moved to Margate opening a hotel on the seafront called "Fatty Towers", which catered for people with huge appetites and served food like steak & mushroom pie sandwiches and mega sized English breakfasts. While living in Margate, Buster was a regular spectator at Margate F.C. and Bad Manners sponsored the club for one season. "Fatty Towers" closed in 1998 for a facelift, but did not reopen. After its closure, Buster immediately moved back to London.
During the late 1990s, a Third Wave ska revival renewed interest in the band and Bad Manners released "Heavy Petting" in America in 1997. Six years later, Buster decided to set up another record label and the band released "Stupidity" on Bad Records.
At this present time Buster Bloodvessel still performs with Bad Manners in venues all over the UK and Europe. He is the only original member left in the band, but Winston Bazoomies is an 'honorary member' of the group, meaning he can rejoin Bad Manners at any time he wishes to. The harmonica player currently lives in Hackney.
Louis Alphonso and Martin Stewart went on to play in Skaville UK, who released two albums on Moon Ska World in the UK. Martin announced his retirement from the music business in January 2009, and lives in North London. David Farren now plays in The Rolling Stones' tribute band The Rollin Stoned, while Chris Kane is now a session musician. Brian Tuitt runs a recording studio in Surrey, and Andrew Marson now works as a carpenter in and around London. Paul Hyman lives in Enfield and he has often guested with his trumpet with the ska band, Too Many Crooks.
Bad Manners headlined their own music festival known 'Badfest' in 2005 and is still going strong with last years festival featuring a varied line-up that included, along with themselves, Sham 69, Doctor & The Medics, Musical Youth, Max Splodge, Dreadzone, P.A.I.N, The Sex Pistols Experience, The Lambrettas, Girlschool, Eddie & the Hot Rods, Chas & his Band, The Fish Brothers, and more.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Black Roots - The Reggae Singles Anthology

Black Roots - The Reggae Singles Anthology is exactly what it says on the tin as it groups together the single releases from one of the UK’s leading exponents of roots reggae and gives you one the finest collection of singles of this kind you are ever likely to find.

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Monday, September 12, 2011


John Robert Parker Ravenscroft or John Peel as he was better known is the best Radio DJ the UK has ever known, end of….

He had an immensely eclectic taste in music and always sort diversity in programmes, always pushed boundaries and promoted artists working in various genres, including pop, reggae, punk, hip-hop, dance music, heavy metal, death metal, hardcore punk, breakcore, grindcore and every other kind of ‘core’.

The thing that most people probably looked forward to hearing on his shows was his legendary 'Peel sessions', which usually consisted of four songs recorded by an artist live in the BBC's studios, and often provided the first major national coverage to bands and would often propel them to fame. Many of these sessions have been released before, via Strange Fruit vinyl releases, but now EMI along with the BBC have got together to release ‘Movement – BBC Radio 1 Peel Sessions 1977–1979’ a 2CD compilation of some very rare and previously unreleased tracks from these sessions which will includes artists like The Jam, The Slits, XTC, Steel Pulse, Aswad, The Specials and many more.

For more info visit  HERE

John Peel OBE (30 August 1939 – 25 October 2004)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Caroloregians - Fat Is Back

An album of predominantly instrumental cuts that should appeal to fans of bands like The Aggrolites and Greenroom Rockers for its interesting blend of reggae and funkified catchiness. Read more at


A brand new club night is coming to London at the Queen of Hoxton, 1-5 Curatin Rd not far from Shoreditch High Street, Old Street and Liverpool Street tubes.

The night will be hosted by new label Phoenix City Records and this once a month Ska, Rocksteady, Soul & 2 Tone extravaganza will be known as the


The opening night is to be on Wednesday 21st September from 7pm untill midnight with live on stage an appearance by The Lee Thompson Ska Orchchestra (Lee & Bedders from Madness) plus guest DJ’s Don Letts and Mistah Brown (Tighten Up).

This will then be followed by Owen Grey meets The Sidewalk Doctors whose members have previously worked with Pama Intl, Gregory Isaacs, U Roy, African Headcharge and Acid Jazz soul stars Lord Large, plus DJ Cello (Coast To Coast) and more to be announced on Wednesday 19th October.

Tickets for both nights are now available at

Monday, September 5, 2011

Dub Vendor Store To Close

Dub Vendor, probably the most famous reggae record shop in the UK, if not Europe has sadly announced that it is about to close the doors of its shop at Clapham Junction.

Dub Vendor, founded by John MacGillivray, began life in 1976 as a market stall catering for the music needs of the surging West Indian population of Clapham and nearby Brixton. The stall proved such a success that soon a shop was acquired and opened in Clapham and then four years later a second shop opened in Ladbroke Grove right next to the Underground station.

As reggaes popularity grew in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s the little shop in Clapham was struggling to fulfil demand so a move to its current location 274 Lavender Hill was made. This their flagship store also became home to its own in-house recording studio label Fashion Records.

By the end of the ‘80s reggae was still proving to be popular and with the ever-increasing patronage of reggae lovers this meant that in 1991 it was now the turn of the Ladbroke Grove store to move bigger premises just down the road. By the turn of the century reggaes popularity began to quickly wane and as sales fell and the rent increased, plus the introduction of the Western Extension in 2007 to the London Congestion Charge resulted in the store closing its doors to the public just over a year later on the 28th June 2008. Now as from Saturday 10th September 2011 the Clapham Junction record shop will close its doors and as a physical shop will be no more. Dub Vendor the name though will carry on as it becomes an online and mail order service only.

John McGillivray spoke to The
 Independent newspaper and told them that he felt compelled to close the store as he feels interest in reggae in the UK has waned. He said:

“The kids over here, it's [reggae] nothing new to them. Their perception is that it's their mum and dad's music and it doesn't define them in the way it defined previous generations. The music has moved in a different direction. And in Jamaica the music has moved away from where most people in the UK would find it relevant to them.”

A sad day but you cannot help but agree with his words.

For more info visit dubvendor.co.uk


Jah Seal – Itopia

Jah Seal is a singer, producer, sound operator and member of the Digital Roots Movement with Tricky D, Aldubb and Supa DJ Dmitry. In 2008 he released the excellent ITOPIA which was recorded and produced in Berlin, Germany, as a 12" LP, and CD where 8 extra dub cuts were included along with an extended mix of the futuristic roots electronica of 'Jah Soldier' along with an 8-page booklet with lyrics.

The rest of the album moves between the modern roots of tracks like opener ‘Itopia’ and ‘Heart of the Forgiver’, through the rockers/steppers of 'International Criminal' to the easy accessibility of Calypso tinged 'Queen of Spring' and back again.

A very rhythmic album full of conscious lyrics, if you’re a fan of modern roots reggae and haven’t checked it out already you really should.


Friday, September 2, 2011

The Bristol Reggae Explosion Vol 2 – The 80’s

Due out around the 17th October is “The Bristol Reggae Explosion Vol 2 – The ‘80s” from Bristol Archive Records.

Volume 1 released earlier this year featured many great rare and unreleased gems from the West Country city and it looks like volume 2 is not going to disappoint with songs from Black Roots, Joshua Moses, The Radicals and many more.

You can pre-order a copy and download any 2 songs HERE of your choice now!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Prince Fatty - Supersize

With Prince Fatty rumoured to have been elevated to king and about to bring out a new album on Phoenix City Records I thought it might be a nice time to revisit ‘Supersize’ from last year….is that all it is….

Producer, Mike “Prince Fatty” Pelanconi has been bubblin’ around on the British reggae scene since the ‘90s and his talents have not gone unnoticed as he has previously worked with the likes of Lily Allen, Blur’s Graham Coxon and not forgetting the late, great Gregory Isaacs, Dub Syndicate, Luciano and Capleton.
Supersize was the follow up to the critically acclaimed ‘Survival Of The Fattest’ from 2007 and basically just carries on where that one left off with yet more good ol’ fashioned rootsy, dubby reggae. Vocals are supplied by some of reggaes royalty in the form of Dennis Alcapone, Winston Francis, with a sublime cover of Bruce Ruffin’s ‘Dry Up Your Tears’ and Little Roy, who brought out the excellent album “Heat” earlier this year, plus Natty, Horseman and Hollie Cook the daughter of Sex Pistol Paul, whose silky voice paired with Alcapone on that ‘Very Night In Dub’ is one of the highlights of the album. As with Survival where Snoop Dogg’s ‘Gin & Juice’ was covered there are a couple of hip hop covers here as well. The amusing ODB classic ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya’ is given a dancehall work over with Horseman supplying the “chat” as he does on album closer ‘Insane In The Brain’ which takes the iconic Cypress Hill track and adds a lighter air to it with an upbeat vibe.

This is another one of those albums that takes inspiration from the old and brings it up to date. If you’re looking for something to advance the reggae genre then you will be sorely disappointed, but if you want to just listen to some great music based around classic styles then you certainly won’t go wrong here. Whether the new album will offer something new remains to be heard but if it doesn’t and just follows in the blue print of these previous two then I can live with that for they have been two of the most infectious, feel good and fun albums of the last few years.

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