Sunday, March 20, 2005
Matumbi - Law of the Land
London produced many fine reggae bands in the late 60's/early 70's. In the surge of popularity at this time, it was only natural that 2nd generation of the Windrush diaspora would swing into action, proving that labels such as the mighty Trojan didn't just have to chase the Jamaican sounds, but could go a little closer to home. And amongst them was the perennially excellent Dennis Bovell's outfit, Matumbi.
Ironically, they long masked the fact that they were from London, pretending for at least the first few promos that they were from the Island. Spotted at a Stockwell talent contest, they signed a deal with Trojan when they were only in their teens, and although it all ended in tears with the major domo Brit label, they still managed to create some fine, fine music, hoisting up the Lover's Rock movement by its bootstraps.
Bovell will forever remain a legend, not just because he was the co-creator of Janet Kay's "Silly Games", producer of the Slits and longtime Linton Kwesi Johnson collaborator. Still hugely prolific, the man remain one of the true London-based reggae pioneers.
You can also hear the roots of another British Export, Cymande, in this, their excellent cover of the Temptation's hit "Law of the Land", covered under pressure enforced by Trojan to skank up any other known hits.
Pressure or no, this completely eclipses the original. Killer brass, heavy orchestral stabs over a drop dead beat. Utter class.
(Incidentally, this has just been re-issued on an interesting looking comp, Ultimate British Breaks & Beats, available here)