Saturday, July 13, 2019

Old Bill Dutty Babylon

I've said before, a bunch of times, that "Cockney Translation" - Smiley Culture's 1984 debut single - is an important moment in the prehistory of the nuum. Not musically, but because its comparison of black and white slanguage, seems to herald an emerging hybrid youth identity that would blossom in the Nineties with jungle and UKG  -  complete with its own black-white accent where you can't tell the race of the speaker by the sound alone (if you happened to be sitting a few rows ahead of them in the bus, say).

I've said it frequently enough, that it's actually referenced in the Wikipedia entry on Smiley Culture

Well, here's a nice little confirmation of the thesis -  "Marked Up" a jungle track by Psycho & Mr Man (alter-ego of the mighty S.M.F. - Jason Verrall and Peter Hudson) that pinpoints and pivots around a crucial juxtaposition in Smiley's lyric: "Old Bill / Dutty Babylon".

Black and white unite, against a common enemy.

In this song, Smiley's fame allows him to bypass systemic oppressions (a sweet fable that has a sad sour aftertang now given his demise).

Flipside of "Marked Up" also cool.

One day I will have to do the S.M.F. urrrv properly

For now, a tune by them that blew my mind when I heard it on the pirates in early 93

one of those can't believe people make sounds like these" moments

especially when the mad "Strong Island"-like noise comes in about 2.30

even more so when the insane stab riff slash smear shred noise comes in at  3.42 -  "vhs tape all wound up and tangled. a flailing laviathon made out of dial up sound"(Sadmanbarty).


Ian S said...

I read on Facebook in a post from Quentin Chambers that Smiley Culture was part of a gang of ruffians who tried to nick the takings from one of the big illegal Energy raves in '89.


ha, that is a very different interface between Smiley and the hardcore rave continuum than i was imagining!