The Incredible Search for Hidden Reggae Beats
On this week's World Music Show (4/28) we put on our detective hats and begin a tireless search for hidden Reggae beats in some classic New Wave/Pop songs. Sure, it's going to be a tough job, but with your help, we'll be able to achieve the ultimate trophy--an interesting show to tell the kids about.
However, before I delve into to a line-up of culpable suspects, let us peruse the line up in the first hour. Heading out of the gate first will be a track from "one of the most exciting emerging artists in Africa Today." So says Sean Barlow, from Afropop Worldwide. And he's right. Habib Koite delivers the full package of World Beat sounds. He's a singer, songwriter, guitarist, arranger and a bandleader. He's deft at mixing ancient Malian music with a modern twist. Along with his band Bamada, Koite is a great way to kick off the show.
I'll follow that with a couple of groovy tracks from a great two-disc CD of music culled from the restaurant/lounge called Impala Lounge, located in Paris, France. We'll hear both Mamou Sidibe and a band called Guem. I bet if we close our eyes, we'll be able to imagine ourselves sitting at one of the tables in the lounge, bopping our heads to the beats. A highlight of this set will be a track from Mamane Barka. Barka is one of the last players of a unique instrument called the Biram. The Biram is a holy instrument, protected from the east by the spirit of the lake especially the ancestor of the Boudouma tribe, Kargila. And also from the south, west and north by the spirits of the desert bordering lake . Barka, who is from Niger, is so far the only master of the Biram all over the world. The instrument is really unique looking, too. Check out his website for more information. http://www.mamanebarka.com/
Also featured in hour one will be a few songs sent to me by my pal Joshua Fischer, who is a lover all kinds of music. He's supplied me with some great tunes over the past year, including these by the band Aterciopelados, Bi'd and Fatal Mambo. In the four songs I'll play, we'll travel from Columbia to Brazil and end up in France, with some French Rumba music--a special treat for your ears.
So, that first hour looks pretty good, right? And those are the just the standouts. In hour two, we begin our "Incredible Search for Hidden Reggae Beats!"
Right off the bat, I will tell you that in some of the songs I've uncovered, the reggae beat is apparent--in fact, it'll be extremely obvious. We'll hear tracks from the great Peter Tosh, doing a duet with some guy named Mick Jagger, who apparently is a good dancer and is in some British band called The Rolling Stones (*note, there is sarcasm in this text). Also, when you hear the song "Ghost Town," done by The Specials, you'll hear both a little Reggae as well as a Ska beat--easy, right?
But, in the rest of the selections I've chosen, you may want to ask me: "Ian, what the what are you thinking?" For instance, I'll play a couple of songs from The Police. The Police, who started out as a punk trio, got the idea to incorporate Reggae into their songs after listening to The Clash (whom I'll also play). Besides The Police, The Clash also influenced early punk/new wave musicians like Elvis Costello (who I'll also play). I'll even add a song from Sting from his first CD "Dream of the Blue Turtles," which features a very Reggae-inspired song "Love is the Seventh Wave."
During those early days of New Wave/Punk, it was like a Reggae love-fest. Reggae and Ska were found all over Great Britain, so it was only inevitable that many bands coming out of that time period had tinges or even full on back beats featuring Reggae. But, a couple of the selections you may scratch your head about include a song by a British trio called Fun Boy Three, who do a great cover of the Go-Go's song "Our Lips are Sealed." And, the capper of the hour will be a song from the once all-mighty band that dominated the airwaves and MTV, Culture Club. Yep, when you listen to the song I picked, you'll go away (hopefully) saying, "yes, there was a Reggae beat in that track."
Anyway you slice and dice this week's World Music Show, it'll be a fun adventure in sound. But, you be judge--let me know what you think after tuning in. The World Music Show aires Saturday night at 10:00 p.m. on WCVE Public Radio. You can follow my exploits on Twitter, @wcveworldmusic.