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Related: punk - reggae - Roxy club (UK) - UK music
Unidentified photograph of Don Letts
Letts worked as a DJ in the Roxy, a London nightclub during the original outbreak of punk in England. As few bands of that era had yet recorded, there were limited punk rock records to be played. Instead, Letts included many dub and reggae records in his sets, and is credited with introducing those sounds to the London punk scene, which was to influence The Clash and other bands. -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Letts [Mar 2006]
Punky Reggae Party: New Wave Jamaica 1975-1980 (2002) - Various Artists [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Don Letts is a British film director and musician. His film The Punk Rock Movie documents the original UK punk rock movement. His 2003 film Westway to the World won a Grammy award. Letts recorded a 1978 EP, Steel Leg v the Electric Dread, with Keith Levene, Jah Wobble, and Steel Leg. He later became a founding member of Big Audio Dynamite.
Letts worked as a DJ in the Roxy, a London nightclub during the original outbreak of punk in England. As few bands of that era had yet recorded, there were limited punk rock records to be played. Instead, Letts included many dub and reggae records in his sets, and is credited with introducing those sounds to the London punk scene, which was to influence The Clash and other bands. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Letts [Mar 2006]
Punky Reggae Party
In search of the reggae-punk connection.
"Punky Reggae Party" is a song by Bob Marley, recorded in 1977.
The song was inspired by Don Letts' dub reggae DJ sets at the Roxy club in Covent Garden in the late 1970s in between sets by such bands as The Clash, Generation X and The Slits.
"While in exile in London, Bob was introduced to punk bands, such as the Clash. Inspired by their efforts to expose various oppressive tactics used against racial minority groups, the fusion between punk and reggae was imminent. The result was the recording of 'Punky Reggae Party' with producer Lee Perry at the helm. A live version was recorded and released on Babylon By Bus." --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punky_Reggae_Party [Mar 2006]
See also: 1977 - punk - reggae - party - Don Letts - Lee Perry - Bob Marley
The Punk Rock Movie (1978) - Don Letts
The Punk Rock Movie was assembled from Super 8 camera footage shot by Don Letts, the disc jockey at the Roxy club during the early days of the UK punk rock movement, between 1977 and 1979.
The film captures the energy and vibrancy of this period, and features archive live footage of the bands The Clash, the Sex Pistols, Wayne County and the Electric Chairs, Generation X, Slaughter and the Dogs, The Slits, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Eater, Subway Sect, X-Ray Spex, Alternative TV and Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers.
Of his movie Letts wrote;Every generation needs its own soundtrack. In 1977 punk rock was it. It inspired some people to pick up guitars, I was inspired to pick up a movie camera... It was all so new, I realised it wasn't about being just a fan, it was about getting involved... A good idea attempted is better than a bad idea perfected.
The Punk Rock Movie was released on video in 1992 by Studio K7. --http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Punk_Rock_Movie [Apr 2005]
Don Letts explains how he became DJ at the seminal punk hang out, The Roxy: "I took the job at first for the money. I thought the punks were just a bunch of crazy white people. I didn't really tune into it. When I became the deejay and started meeting them, I picked up on what they were doing. I got the job first, and then got all my black mates to work there. Everybody who worked there, besides Andy (Czezowski), was black. We used to make joints before we went to work to sell to the punks over the counter. The people would come up and say, 'Give me two beers and a spliff. No, make that two spliffs and a beer.' They couldn't roll Jamaican cones."
At the time, in an interview with the fanzine, Sniffin' Glue no. 7, dated February, 1977, Letts explained: "Like, to me, the reggae thing and the punk thing... it's the same fuckin' thing. Just the black version and the white version. The kids are singing about change, they wanna do away with the establishment. Same thing the niggers are talking about, 'Chant Down Babylon'; it's the same thing".
The senior figures of the punk movement, led by Johnny Rotten, prided themselves on their knowledge and love of reggae music and it became de rigeur for punk bands to play on the same bill with reggae acts, or as Burchill 'n' Parsons put it: 'throughout 1978 and 1979 every punk show was preceded by interminable Rasta music'. The Clash formally initiated the punk/reggae alliance when they recorded a version of Junior Murvin's Police and Thieves on their first LP. When Bob Marley heard it, he was sufficiently inspired to write a tune called Punky Reggae Party, which appeared as the flip side of, Jammin' (with a Lee Perry-produced dub version on the collectable 12"). -- http://www.ukcia.org/potculture/77/punks.html
RacismIf you add it all up there was no overt racism . You had stupid accusations like the ones at the Jam. Because they used a union jack they must support Right Wing elements. The punks actually had a lot in common with blacks and were certainly more tolerant than other walks of life. Both the Clash and Johnny Rotten ( influential punk figureheads) liked reggae. Don Letts the Roxy Club dj played heavy dub reggae between sets. Chrissie Hynde "The beauty of the punk thing was that ...non discrimination was what it was all about. There was little or no sexism or racism. For a start everyone loved reggae music...There was a kind of innocence, and when I say innocence, I mean innocent ! " The difference between reggae and punk was drugs. Cannabis for the former and amphetamines for the latter. -- http://www.punk77.co.uk/groups/punkthepart2.htm
- Dread Meets Punk Rockers Uptown - Various Artists, compiled by Don Letts [CD, Amazon US] [FR] [DE] [UK]
1. Bag A Wire Dub - King Tubby 2. Fade Away - Junior Byles 3. Marcus Garvey - Big Youth 4. Fisherman - The Congos 5. Rush I Some Dub - Tappa Zukie 6. I Need A Roof - The Mighty Diamonds 7. Black Harmony Killer - Jah Stitch 8. Train To Zion - U Brown (Dicomix) 9. King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown - Augustus Pablo 10. Two Sevens Clash - Culture 11. Wear You To The Ball - U-Roy 12. Pure Ranking - Horace Andy 13. M.P.L.A. Dub - Tappa Zukie 14. Police And Thieves - Junior Murvin 15. Deuteronomy - Sylford Walker 16. The Tackro - Lee Perry & The Upsetters
For all the acres of music press newsprint whipped up by the British punk explosion, in late 1976, actual quality punk rock records were scarce. The movement--the fashion, the attitude, the sense of rebellion--had arrived long before the record companies could capture it on vinyl, so London's Roxy club catered for the discerning clubber with another edgy rebel sound: dub reggae. Compiled by the club's rastafari DJ Don Letts--a future Big Audio Dynamite member, and one-time manager of punk-reggae maidens The Slits--Dreads Meets The Punk Rockers Uptown showcases a selection of the era's breaking Jamaican sounds. There's a wealth of bona fide dub classics here, in the shape of King Tubby's "Bag Of Wire Dub", Augustus Pablo's "King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown", Lee "Scratch" Perry's "The Tackro", and The Congos' "Fisherman". The most intriguing tracks, however, are those included as a signpost towards punk's evolution: see Junior Murvin's "Police And Thieves", later to be covered by The Clash, marking punk's shift away from posturing white guitar rage, and towards defiant, anti-authoritarian multicultural statements. Dreads Meets The Punk Rockers Uptown is a period piece, sure, but it sounds fresh even now. --Louis Pattison for Amazon.co.uk [...]
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