Thursday, 9 April 2015

Oliver: Ed Robinson - False Alarm (7 December 1991)

Far and away the most compelling of the various reggae tracks I've heard in the Peel shows so far, False Alarm offers a masterclass in vocal phrasing wrapped around a fascinating narrative.  Within the urban crime drama that plays out here, with its clear mentions of cocaine, smuggling, battles with criminal rivals, and the indefatigable belief that "Prince Charm" will come through all his challenges, Robinson and his crew do a fantastic job of simultaneously updating the danger of classic "underworld" reggae (see and watch The Harder They Come for instance) and repackaging the Scarface influenced spirit of hip-hop for a reggae audience.  It's no co-incidence that within a few years, every hip-hop record worth it's salt, featured a toasting cameo from a dancehall/reggae act.

It's plausible that Robinson named this track in tribute to a song with the same title released by Dancehall artist, Nitty Gritty in the mid 80s.  The man born Glenn Augustus Holness was shot dead in June 1991 outside a Brooklyn record shop, lending an eerie undertone to Robinson's reggae crime drama.

Videos courtesy of blazesector74 (Robinson) and Killa Selector (Nitty Gritty).

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