Wednesday, 1 June 2016
Oliver: Subsonic 2 - Dedicated to the City [Peel Session] (2 February 1992)
This blog is read by powerful and influential people within the John Peel community. These are people who can read a request for a missing track by Manifesto, and provide the means for others to hear it. I am indebted to them for their generosity and kindness, and should they be looking in here, I throw myself at their feet and beg them to make it possible for intersted parties to enjoy the wide variety of UK hip-hop that was recording Peel sessions in early 1992. Krispy 3, WBI Red Ninja, The Ragga Twins and this act, Subsonic 2, all turned in notable sessions for Peel in late '91/early '92, but unless you hear the original shows or the day comes when these artists put out the sessions retrospectively, all there is to go on is my word and the studio recordings to give a flavour of what led to their invitations into Maida Vale.
I only heard 2 of the tracks from Subsonic 2's session, which was a repeat of one originally broadcast on 9/11/91. One of them, Tower of Babel, grabbed me on first hearing, but I would not have kept it on a mixtape after listening to it fall apart as it goes from biblical parody to half-arsed anti-censorship rant. But Dedicated to the City was a hit all the way. An unapologetic paean of love to the city, well Northern cities to be more exact, you can tell that MC Robin Morley and DJ Docta D have been stung by London taxi prices before - it categorically rejects the notion that the countryside is in anyway superior, or that upon retirement, all Englishmen want to "move down to Surrey and sit by the fire". The track is full of such laugh out loud moments like that, especially when Morley compares the merits of a tree and a lampost.
The session version differed from the album version offered here by being much more mellow and with a heavy sprinkling of Fender Rhodes off-setting the saxophone. Their session for Peel also featured their signature tune, the cruelly respectful Unsung Heroes of Hip Hop. So inventive and funny were Subsonic 2, that I was sure they had had a far more successful career in terms of releases than it seems they did. Instead their recorded activity was packed into 1990-91 and no further. If they pulled out on their own terms, they would certainly have left me wanting more.
Video courtesy of AMAru.