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Baker's Dozen

On Her Radio: Pauline Black's 13 Favourite Albums
The Quietus , November 22nd, 2017 12:17

The Selecter leader and one of 2 Tone's most formidable figures takes Lois Wilson from Jimmy Cliff to Björk in this list of the LPs that shaped her


Jimmy Cliff/Various Artists - The Harder They Come

I met Lawton Brown, a Jamaican politics student when I was supporting Bert Jansch in 1977. I’d left home at 18 to go to Lanchester Polytechnic to study Combined Science and I had started singing folk music, quite by accident as I happened to drink in the pub, The Old Dyers Arms in Spon End, where the local folk club was held in the back room. At one Sunday evening session I saw someone sing a Donovan song and I thought, ‘I can do that’ so I learned some Dylan songs, performed them and that led to me getting offered the Bert slot at a folk club held in The Golden Cup pub. Lawton saw me perform, and took it upon himself to musically and culturally educate me from then on.

He was my introduction into the Jamaican community in Coventry and I remember me and him and many of the musicians who’d make up The Selecter got stoned one day and bundled down to this dingy little cinema in Leamington to watch the film. Up until then I’d only known the world of black America, but with The Harder They Come there was this whole other world of Jamaica, a tiny island but which produced so much amazing music and it felt so exciting. I got the soundtrack straight after, and it was like Jimmy Cliff was the ambassador of reggae, taking it to the rest of the world. The cover art was completely arresting. I’d never seen artwork like that, with a guy pointing two guns at you. It was audacious. And with the blurb on the back, it conjured this very specific black world that I really wanted to be a part of.