Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Oliver!: Bunny & Ricky - Freedom Fighter (4 April 1992)

Even if I hadn’t liked this track, I would have applied Peel logic in order to include it.  Whereas, the great man was first drawn towards Birmingham based skiffle duo, Terry and Gerry, because they were the names of his former flatmates, so I found myself smiling for similar reasons when Peel back announced this track by Bunny & Ricky.  After all, the reggae duo shared names with my former next door neighbour (Bunny) and a plumber friend of my father (Ricky) who in 1999 came round to the house to do some work while my parents were away on holiday and turned off the water supply to the bathroom.  “I’ll put it all back on tomorrow, Dave, is that all right?” he asked me as he left. “No problem”, I replied.  Except he didn’t come back tomorrow.  Or the day after. Or the day after that.  And my parents were still away for another 10 days.  He wasn’t picking up his phone either.  Anger at the lack of water in the second most important water feature in the house - fortunately, neither the toilet or kitchen sink were affected - was tempered with worry that something might have happened to him.  But 2 days before my folks were due back, he phoned to apologise and say he’d be over later to complete the work.  But he didn’t show and my parents arrived back from a lengthy journey home from the Dordogne to find they couldn’t have bath after passing on the facilities offered by P&O Ferries.  I was just grateful that I was out of work at the time, so could nip to my girlfriend’s house every other day for a shower.  The water was back on within 24 hours of my parents return.

But as it happens, I do like this track, a 1975 release on the Locks label, recorded by Errol Kong and William Clarke, who also saw the tune put out under another name, Bush Weed and Corn Trash.  Peel had come across it in the early stages of his Little Richard cover search.  He’d been playing a lot of records by the American noisecore group, The Meathooks in recent programmes, but nothing they were coming out with is anywhere near as casually bloodthirsty as the contents here, with Bunny & Ricky laying out their freedom fighter (another man’s...) credentials and basically giving instructions that they are coming to clean house.  There’s images of snipers in towers, crowds running for cover, zero-tolerance towards cheats (skanks) and all in the name of fulfilling the more extreme proclamations of Marcus Garvey.  I could imagine this getting plenty of play over at Katch 22’s house.  If Peel had had his wits about him, they probably should have been sequenced to run together.  But as brilliant as Katch 22 were, it’s this deceptively sweet record that carries the more incendiary message.

“Well worth tracking down in the second hand shops...well worth tracking down anything of theirs in the second hand shops.  Bunny & Ricky - who were they and where are they now?” - John Peel, 4 April 1992.

Video courtesy of toddvarrelli.

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