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Jah Wobble

Related: bass - music

Jah Wobble in Pil would utililise the pounding reggae bass on a many a tune and as Haile Unlikely Vs the Steel leg recorded his own groovy 12".


Jah Wobble (born John Wardle) is an English bass guitarist, singer, poet and composer. There are several versions of the origin of his stage name: One account places the origin on a drunken, mumbled version of Wardle's name by Sid Vicious; another states it was wordplay based on Wardle's name, and his fascination with the "wobbly" basslines of reggae and related genres, where praise to "Jah"--a near-homonym of "John"--is often offered.

Wobble is a longtime friend of Johnny Rotten and, according to the latter's autobiography, was once on the short list of replacements for original Pistols bassist Glen Matlock. However, the rest of the band considered him "too intimidating"; A dubious distinction indeed, especially given the reputation and actions of Vicious, who was selected to replace Matlock.

Wobble eventually got his start with John Lydon's post-Sex Pistols group Public Image Ltd (PiL). Wobble's playing drew heavily on dub, which has remained an important feature of his music.

He left PiL in 1980--some accounts report he was fired--and has since collaborated with a wide variety of musicians. His explorations into World music predated much of the genre's popularity. His music has spanned a number of genres, including ambient music and dance music, and in 2003, reworkings of traditional English folk songs. Though he has released recordings since the early 1980's. Wobble has been quite prolific from the mid-1990's to the present. He now runs his own label, 30 Hertz Records, and tours regularly throughout England and Europe.

Collaborators include Sinéad O'Connor, Natacha Atlas, Najma Akhtar, Baaba Maal, Brian Eno, Holger Czukay, Pharoah Sanders, Bill Laswell, Bernie Worrell, Björk, Ginger Baker, The Orb, Massive Attack, The Edge, Abdel Ali Slimani, Primal Scream, Evan Parker, The Shamen and Invaders of the Heart.

As well as the work he directs, Jah Wobble was also a member of The Damage Manual.

Outside of music, Jah Wobble worked a regular job in the London Underground as a break from his music career. In an oft quoted tale it is said he once, over a Northern Line tannoy, drunkenly regaled Northern Line travellers of his former musical fame. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jah_Wobble [Mar 2006]


Hurled out of the desolate streets of Stepney at 18 and into the nascent Public Image Ltd. (PIL), Jah Wobble was fundamental in shaping the virulent nihilism of punk into sonic and melodic extremes that evoked everything from dub reggae to Stockhausen. In Lydon, who was always more of a theorist than he dared admit, Wobble found the perfect early foil. It was PIL's avant garde experiments on Metal Box that ushered in a credibility to punk's more frivolous tendencies. "Miles and miles ahead - follow with care" was how the NME described those new sounds.

Wobble was the first musician of that ear to be taken seriously by the older music press, rapidly earning the reputation of a wilful auteur. This was all the more stunning when it was revealed that he had only just picked up a bass, lent to him by Sid Vicious a few months before joining PIL. "Wobble's antics are notorious yet now he has found himself in a position to channel his manic energy into formulating some of the most awesome and original bass lines in modern music", wrote Vivien Goldman in the Melody Maker. -- http://www.30hertzrecords.com/jahwobbl.htm

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