Sunday, 30 October 2016

Oliver: Material with Shabba Ranks - Reality (23 February 1992)

If things had worked out as originally planned, this would have been by Sly and Robbie.  The legendary duo were recording an album to be produced by Bill Laswell but found, as time went on, that the record was closer to Laswell's conception than their own.  Although they retained their co-composer credits with Laswell on the majority of tracks, they took their names off the name of the album.  Laswell put the record out under the name of the collective that he had worked under since 1979, Material.

This has been a welcome rediscovery for me today.  I hadn't heard the track since listening to the 23/2/92 recording, but already today I've listened back to tracks that I originally earmarked for inclusion but have rejected on grounds of sameyness, boredom and dubious racial politics respectively. So to hear the bounce and discreet funk of Reality, topped with Shabba Ranks virtuoso patter and interspersed with samples from Morricone's Once Upon a Time in the West and Sly Stone's  In Time has been a wonderful restorative.  Most importantly though it has served as an introduction to the wonderful world of Bill Laswell and Material.  Reality isn't even the best track on The Third Power but pretty much everything I've heard from some of the supplementary listens to some of their other tracks has made them stand out as a discovery that I, and you, need to track down more of.  "Punk-funk-jazz-electro-noise" is the kind of label that Peel might have struggled to say with a straight face, but I have everything crossed that more from Material pops up on his playlists in the future, because this is an outfit to savour.

Video courtesy of Scha De.

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