It was October 2003. My bredrin Grizzlite and I headed up to Park City to catch one of my favorites from the 90’s: Lucky Dube. Terrific South African roots singer in the era of apartheid.
A huge favorite with the Pacific Islander community, the club was packed. Everyone singing along on a cool fall night in the mountains.
Grizz and I got a beer and angled ourselves and positioned ourselves on the patio with a view of the stage. Everyone bumping along to Lucky’s melodic Peter Tosh-esque vocals.
All of a sudden the packed dance floor scattered and the music screeched to a halt. A youth had been shot. Later I found out it was a gang assassination. Tribal war in the Polynesian community. Assassins were dispatched from California. They knew their target would be out in the open and vulnerable at a must see event: Lucky Dube is on a par with Bob Marley among the Island community.
Before we knew it, the paramedics had wheeled the victim pass Grizz and I on a gurney. One of the EMT’s was straddling his chest doing CPR. Right next to me, a massive Island dready stepped up and punched the dying man in the face, caving in his nose.
Thinking of the taste, listen to the drum and the bass
Those are the words of Lee “Scratch” Perry.
Two quick stories. There was a big name Reggae group coming to SLC and they had a list of Jamaican and ital juices, salads and other vegetarian delights they expected as part of their rider.
The promoter said, “Sorry guys. There’s no Caribbean market here.” So the group put in as a replacement: 6 bucks of Kentucky Fried Chicken and all the trimmings.
Now KFC is anything but Ital. But I imagine it is like those people who hear about In ‘n’ Out Burger. In Jamaica, something about KFC holds the fascination of the people. Rasta or otherwise.
Story 2: The first KFC franchise is actually in Salt Lake City:
KFC was founded by Colonel Harland Sanders, an entrepreneur who began selling fried chicken from his roadside restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky during the Great Depression. Sanders identified the potential of the restaurant franchising concept, and the first “Kentucky Fried Chicken” franchise opened in Utah in 1952.
So another big name Reggae group came to town. Some way, some how they learned the first Kentucky Fried Chicken (now KFC) was in Salt Lake.
After their soundcheck, they asked to see the first Franchise as if it were a shrine. I wondered did all these dreadlock Rastas go in for Regular or Extra Crispy? My guess is they put their Tams on their head and doubled back through the drive through
Smile Jamaica Annotated Playlist: Sept. 8, 2018; 47 Sec.
Tyrone Taylor – Live Table; 2 of a Kind (Tuff Gong) ’87 JA vinyl
Soul Syndicate – Ghetto-ology Dub (Black Roots) ’80 JA vinyl: Sugar Minott dub album of the hour
Bunny Wailer – Rasta Dread (Natty Dread); Hall of Fame (RAS) ’95 50 Bob Marley covers for Bob’s 50th birthday
Etana – On the Way; I Rise (VP) 2014 roots dawta
Lee Perry – Kentucky Skank; Double Seven (Trojan) ’73 about Kentucky Fried Chicken
Welton Irie – Bubbling Telephone; One and One = Two (JA) 4:20 Cannabis Service Announcement
Adrian Sherwood feat. Bim Sherman & Prince Far I – Pass the Rizzla; 10″ (Green Tea) 2001 mutant dub herbtune
Peter Tosh – African; Kentucky Fried Rockers (bootleg) live at the Rupp Arena, Lexington KY
<Tosh opened for the Rolling Stones on the ’78 Some Girls tour; 58 sec.>
Dillinger – Don’t Watch Your Wife; Top Ranking Dillinger (Rhino UK) ’77; dj to Hortense Ellis on Melody Life
Tchiya Amet – Reservtion Ragtime Blues;
Earth Disciples – So Come On; 10″ (Music Works) early 80’s JA Gussie Clarke prod’n
Set 3: Best of Smile Jamaica 28+ Years
Third World – Tribal War; 96 Degrees in the Shade (Mango) ’76
Hortense Ellis – Breakfast in Bed; I’m Still in Love With You (Heartbeat/Studio One) ’70 Dusty Springfield cover
Norris Reid – Protect Them; Rockers International (Greensleeves) ’80 Augustus Pablo prod’n
Black Uhuru – Sensimilla; Liberation Anthology (Island) herbtune
Mikey Dread – East Portland Dub; Dread at the Controls (Dread at the Controls) ’79 Dub Album of the Hour
Set 4: 7″ Jamaican Jukebox
<I collect 7″ 45 as an adult. Baseball cards as a youth; 18 sec.>
Danny Ray – Revolution Rock; 7″ (High Note) ’76 Clash original
Bobby Melody – Let It Be; 7″ (Errol T) Melodians update
Steve Baswell – I Am Getting Bad; 7′ (Phase One) ’77
Johnny Lover – Ital Locks; 7″ (Clocktower) ’75 dj to Curly Locks
Cedric ‘Im Brooks – Theme From Shaft; 7″ (Soul Jazz) Isaac Hayes cover
Set 5: Vinyl Is Vital
The Wailing Wailers – Ten Commandments of Love; Wailing Wailers (Studio One) ’66 JA vinyl is vital set: Moonglows doo wop cover
<Wailers do doo wop; 74 sec.>
I Three – Sing Joy; Beginning (EMI America) ’86 US – Bob’s female back ups
Inner Circle – Tired Fe Lick Weed in a Bush; The Real Thing (Capitol) ’76 US herb tune
Icarus – Land of Tarot; State of Mind (Russian Roulette) ’84 UK
Armagideon – Spiral Galaxy; 12″ EP (Dubhead) ’98 UK mutant dub
Set 6: Rockers do Reggae
Cyndi Lauper – Witness; She’s So Unusual (Portrait) ’83 Rockers do Reggae Set
Garland Jeffreys feat. Big Youth – Graveyard Rock; Escape Artist (Epic) ’81 NYC multiracial rocker
Eric Clapton – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door; Crossroads (Polydor) ’74 Bob Dylan cover
The Clash feat. Mikey Dread – One More Time + Dub; Sandinista! (Epic) ’80
King Jammy Meets Dry & Heavy in the Jaws of the Tiger – Do Dub Up Your Fight (BSI) 2001 Dub Album of the Hour
The Wailers – Stir It Up; Live 1973-1975 (Starbucks) live on the BBC; May 24, 1973 at the Paris Theatre; London
<Live on the BBC>
Phyllis Dillon – Woman of the Ghetto; Mojo and Trojan Present Reggae Nuggets (Mojo Magazine) ’72
Jah Rej – Binghi in the Jungle; 10″ (Jah Works) 2002 UK militant steppers
Set 8: Mutant Dub
Thievery Corporation feat. Shana Halligan – Love Has No Heart; Temple of I & I (ESL) 2017 DC dubbers: Mutant Dub Set
Young Gods – Dub the Sun (Mad Professor Mix); King Size Dub vol. 2 (Echo Beach) 2001
Destroy Babylon – Barriers; Shadow Army (MusicADD) 2008 NY
Tena Stelin – Intelligent Design; 10″ (Roots Hi-Tek) 2006 UK
Advice after forty years of cratedigging: Buy low, sell high. I ‘n’ I built the Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives when people were shedding vinyl for these over priced gadgets called the compact disk.
Titles I bought for 4 bucks on Haight Ashbury fetches hundreds now on ebay and discogs.
It’s not that I’m cheap. I spend the GDP of small third world nations on music. But I believe a record that is worth hundreds that I paid less than a Lincoln for, makes the sound oh so sweet.
Yet I have wish lists. Things I can’t find cratedigging and must scope online. One of my “white whales” was the 8 track version of Thievery Corporations silky herb tune, Lebanese Blonde.
<$80 dollars for Lebanese Blonde; 55 sec.>
I was coming back from a cratedig in Missoula, Montana. I saw a disk on the new record rack that had a cool cover, name and song titles.
Thievery Corporation – Richest Man in Babylon
Heading back to Salt Lake from my parents’ house in Fort Benton, Montana, I detour through Missoula to cratedig in their cool indie stores: Rockin’ Rudy’s and Ear Candy.
I pushed it too far and hit the dreaded Monida Pass at sundown. Anyone travelling on I-15 heading North knows that pass right at the Idaho Montana border. Not a good place to be in a snow storm.
Twice in 25 years of driving that stretch I had to go 100 miles back to Butte, on icy roads, because the pass was closed to traffic.
I left Missoula too late and hit this pass at the worst time: dusk. As the sun went down at 7,000 feet I watched the road ice up ahead of me.
What every Montana kid is prepared for yet still dreads. Driving over an iced free way with only the guard rails to keep you out of the ditch.
Shit, this is how people die. Slide off the road on Monida. You have about 15 minutes before your car is totally iced over and NO CELL SERVICE.
He died doing what he loved: record shopping.
All right. Here we go. My All Wheel Drive Subaru. This is what I bought you for. Slow way down to about 25 MPH and just pick your way through the sheer ice. Even with AWD, do not hit the brakes.
I soldiered through. What usually takes 15 minutes, took me over an hour. Foot off the gas, when a truck would go by kicking up crystals to make visibility almost zero.
Once you hit Spencer, Idaho on the other side of the Pass, the road thaws a little. All through this, I am listening to Richest Man in Babylon and focused on their supple riddims, heavy bass and international vocalists. Kept me from freaking out through the worst of the road hazards.
As soon as I got home, I ordered their entire catalog. So, yeah $80 for one of their rare singles. Priceless.
Thievery Corporation led to my last half hour Mutant Dub Sets: 21 sec.
As Judy Mowatt sang: Many are called but few are chosen. I have been offered a job. General Giorgio of the Space Force needs me.
I will be the Minister of Lunar Agriculture; 103 sec.
Scoffers tell I ‘n’ I that this is just more cash for the Military Industrial Complex. Maybe so, but as an Ancient Astronaut Theorist, I think the Anunnaki might return to put a stop their puny creation, mankind’s, weaponization of Space.
I plan to Make the Anunnaki Great Again! As a Sumerian Fundamentalist, I am with my people!
<Ancient Astronaut Theorists approve of the Space Force; 25 sec.>