Musikmeldungen aktuellMusikstromKolumnenSoundcheckPopalphabetGastbeiträgeWeblinksKontaktinfo
Darker than Blue Teil 1 : 2

When it comes to Jamaican music in the 1970s, "versioning" typically refers to groundbreaking work by dub producers such as Lee "Scratch" Perry, King Tubby, Scientist, and Keith Hudson in recycling rhythm tracks, whether borrowing from earlier rock steady, ska, or reggae numbers or spinning out reverb-heavy, mixing-desk virtuosic instrumental versions of new recordings. Blood and Fire is a UK-based reissue label that with some notable exceptions (Horace Andy, Gregory Isaacs, and the sublime vocal duo The Congos) leans toward the hazier (in Keith Hudson's immortal phrase, "studio kinda cloudy"), dubbier, producer-auteur end of the spectrum that was Jamaican music in this period.
     Darker than Blue proposes a different kind of versioning. Nearly all of its tracks are covers of American soul songs by, among others, Curtis Mayfield, War, Bill Withers, Mandrill, Kool and the Gang, and . . . Randy Newman? (The Tamlins do an a-OK version of his song "Baltimore," a track that had recently been recorded and popularized by Nina Simone.) These covers tend toward the straightforward and unironic. There's not a lot of signifying. There is nothing as oddball as The Upsetters' "Kimble" (based on The Fugitive) or their string of Sergio Leone-inspired instrumentals. Nor is Darker than Blue structured like Van Dyke Park's Discover America (covers of Trinidadian songs about American pop culture) or Haruomi Hosono's Bon Voyage Co. (a Japanese artist surveying Western Orientalist kitsch). Rather than playing up the culture clash, compilers Steve Barrow and Mark Ainley have instead brought together songs whose versioning is consonant. It's striking how smoothly these pieces translate (smoother than the other way around, i.e. from reggae to American soul), and if you're not familiar with the original songs, it's unlikely that you'd identify these as cover versions.
     The compilation takes its title from Lloyd Charmers' 1975 cover of Curtis Mayfield's "We People Who Are Darker than Blue." Mayfield's first version appears on his 1970 solo debut, a go-for-broke effort that catapulted him beyond the shadow -- glorious shadow that it was -- of his former group, The Impressions. Mayfield's original version is a pocket symphony whose arrangement moves from a shimmering string section anchored by Tortoise's dream drum sound through a series of increasingly Hollywood musical twists and turns, veering from Mayfield's sanctified, spoken benediction atop a percussion breakdown into a Live and Let Die-style (very much so, avant la lettre) brass arrangement and finally a harp breakdown -- redefining the "blues harp"? -- that invokes Alice Coltrane. Not only that, but "We People Who Are Darker than Blue" immediately segues -- a segue that is shorter than some of the pauses contained within the song proper -- into the extraordinarily rousing "Move on Up."

Weiter >>


Musikmeldungen aktuell | Musikstrom | Kolumnen | Soundcheck | Popalphabet | Gastbeiträge | Weblinks | Kontakt