Spiky Dread: Issue One: Punky Reggae & Post Punk Dub 1978-1984


The first release from new label Rongorongo shines a light on the grey area between punk and reggae. Spiky Dread is the result of a few years of hunting by Wrongtom and Ed Zed, who sifted through a plethora of punk and post-punk oddities, picking their favorite approximations of dub and reggae -- a side of punk which is largely overlooked. Opening the set, "America's greatest unknown band" The Offs sat snugly amongst the mutant disco and noise bands of early '80s downtown NYC with an infectious brew of punked-up funk and ska -- their "Cool Down" is a rare moment of downbeat brilliance. The following 13 tracks take in the skanking R&B of The Offs compatriots Bad Brains, dubbed-out Liverpudlian dancehall from Jah Scouse (and two-thirds of Young Marble Giants), a heavyweight bubbler from South London art collective Family Fodder, and the unlikely combination of prog, punk and reggae from Birmingham's Dangerous Girls, responsible for some of the best/worst rhyming couplets ever committed to tape. Acclaimed writer and punk professor Vivien Goldman appears here twice, penning liner notes as well as dueting on the lovers' rock cover of Bob Marley's "Do It Twice" by her short lived group Chantage, with faders manned by dub experimentalist Adrian Sherwood. Catch A Certain Ratio in dub mode in their Sir Horatio guise, while back down to Brighton we hear Peter & The Test Tube Babies tormenting their bassist with "Trapper Aint Got a Bird." Also included is Return Of The Panthers' apocalyptic dub rocker "Calling Captain Nemo," which has sat unreleased for 30 years since these Cardiacs associates split up soon after the recording session. Another Home Counties group Red Beat offer up a sneering skanker produced by Killing Joke's sonic mastermind Mark Lusardi. A brace of Brit-dub legends make an appearance, first on Ruts DC's rhythm collision with Mad Professor and then Dennis Bovell crops up with The Slits, whose Animal Space 12" is as unsettling as it is slinky. Finally, the session wouldn't be complete without a trip to the mecca of UK bass music, and Bristol serves up two of its finest uneasy skankers via the dislocated dub of Glaxo Babies versioning their own post-punk staple "Who Killed Bruce Lee," and the frenetic steppa "Work" by Electric Guitars closes off the comp with a jerky response to Two Tone's ska revisioning.