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Baker's Dozen

Another Wardrobe In My Head: Karl Hyde’s Favourite Albums
Joe Clay , April 25th, 2013 09:07

Following the release of his first solo album, Edgeland, the Underworld singer picks out the jewels of his record collection


The Last Poets – The Last Poets
It’s virtually impossible to find their early records. This particular record – their first album – I’ve tried to play on radio shows before, but it’s difficult because the language that they use is banned on radio. They use words that were then commonplace to describe their brothers and sisters, but are now not seen in the same way. Words that were in common usage in the sixties and now are not and for very good reason. But then they carried a very different potency. The thing I love about The Last Poets is that they are very direct, they pull no punches, they’re speaking to their community in way that Gil Scott-Heron did a lot. He also wasn’t afraid to say exactly how he felt about how his community was living. And The Last Poets did that too, with rhythmical words set to a very simple beat, in this case played on congas. One of their later albums even had Jimi Hendrix on it, and Buddy Miles. But this is the rawest, just a group of voices. They were the forerunners of rap. Using voices in unison to underline phrases and to make certain phrases more forceful, and all of this to an infectious groove. That’s all of what I love about rap music and urban poetry. It became part of what Underworld assimilated in our eclectic nature. The Last Poets throw the gauntlet down. If you want to write about the urban condition, there’s your benchmark. I can’t come close.