BBC Takes a Look at LKJ album Dread Beat an’ Blood

Dread Beat an' BloodFound a story on the BBC player where Benjamin Zephaniah reassesses dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson‘s 1978 debut album. Dread Beat an’ Blood which expressed the black British experience as it had never been heard before. Using his trademark spoken word style set to an instrumental reggae beat, the record voiced the frustration of a generation.

The first track I ever heard from the Dub Poet was Fite Dem Back from his 1979 Forces of Victory album on Island. I heard it on a mix tape from David Orlando of the Dub Club fame and it blew my mind. That tune haunts me with it’s call to action of “bash their brains in.”  and I needed to hear more of this throbbing beat with lyrics calling for action against oppressors and aggressors.

So I dived in head first to find his other albums which of course led me to his debut Dread beat An’ Blood of course. It was release right smack dab at the height of punk and ska taking over the world. It’s no wonder it was such a masterpiece. And that cover! Who was that guy with the bull horn and what was he talking to the masses about? Was he a political protestor? Wow was all I could say.

Needless to say the album is a flowing rhythmic statement of intent to not take it anymore and FITE DEM BACK  and should be picked up by anyone into reggae or just very social aware music. In the BBC session I linked to abovve Linton discusses the issues he tackled on the record, such as police harassment, the National Front and the criminal justice system. Thirty years on, how much has changed?

This review from AllMusic I think sums up the album pretty good: The title pretty much says it all. This is a stunning debut and an indication of the great things that were to come. Johnson’s debut is longer on spoken-word pieces than it is on poetry and music, but Dennis Bovell’s influence can be felt in these eight tracks. Songs such as “It Dread Inna Inglan,” which describes the death of George Lindo at the hands of racists, or “Five Nights of Bleeding,” which recounts tales of British police’s capricious use of violence against London’s West Indian population, are moving and confrontational mini-masterpieces of anger and a man searching for justice in a country that seems all to willing too deny it to him and other Afro-Brits. A powerful and compelling record.

Track List:
1. Dread Beat An’ Blood
2. Five Nights Of Bleeding
3. Doun Di Road
4. LKJ feat Vivian Weathers – Song Of Blood
5. It Dread Inna Inglan
6. Come Wi Goh Dung Deh
7. Man Free
8.All Wi Doin Is Defendin

 

I've been involved in the Los Angeles music scene since at least 1995 going to shows, promoting, spinning records and running labels. Ska and Early Reggae are my passion among other things of course.