Years ago, my friends and I stood on the lawn at our local amphitheater, what was then known as, Riverport Amphitheater. It's since been renamed twice.
No matter how many name changes the place undergoes, those of us in St. Louis will always call it by the nee, Riverport.
On this particular hot, summer evening, my friend, his younger brother, and I were watching Reggae Sunsplash 1994. This was my first serious exposure to this genre of music.
Maxi Priest headlined the show that year, at least that's what my faded memory tells me about the summer of my 18th year. For the rest of the summer, anything reggae to us was Maxi-whatever.
Robert Guillaume in The Lion King became known as Maxi-Monkey to us. It would seem that this evening was transformative, but like many things, it was temporary.
It's unclear why because that night, attempting to do the electric slide, listening to amazing dance music, and having the time of our young lives has stuck with me more than two decades later.
This record is based around the reggae reimagining of The Clash's Straight To Hell. In a time of racism reborn, songs like this are precisely what we are looking for.
Years before now, in fact not long after the Reggae Sunsplash I attended, Joe Strummer and Horace Andy did some collaboration on a song.
Andy then recorded Straight To Hell, but didn't like the results.
His recording was shelved and life moved on as the world kept spinning. Then years after Strummer's untimely death, Strummer's mutual friend, Eric Blowtorch, heard tale of this record. Andy admitted as such, but that it was unfinished.
They worked together and finished the track and this is what we have here. Being as this is the bastard child borne of punk rock and reggae, both art forms I'm not too familiar with, it's hard to critique the song.
I can tell you that I enjoyed listening to it, but it lacks things that I personally appreciate. In true meta fashion, the following three tracks on the maxi single are songs that heavily sample the first track.
I'm out of my element, but this is an enjoyable set of tunes and they sound good.
More than anything else, 10% of all proceeds from this release are being donated to Doctors Without Borders. Any time an artist can give back to the world around them and make it a better place, well, that's precisely why music exists.
The difference is that Andy is going to help the world's of people who never have heard his music.
Release: Out Now
Label: Iron Records