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Baker's Dozen

No Boundaries: Dennis Bovell's Baker's Dozen
Neil Kulkarni , October 20th, 2021 09:48

From his time working on classics like The Pop Group's Y, The Slits' Cut and Janet Kay's Silly Games, to the inspiration of Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles, Dennis Bovell takes Neil Kulkarni through his thirteen favourite records


Bob Marley & The Wailers – Catch A Fire

First off, the cover was amazing. The original cover. It opened up like a lighter. I listened to it until it was worn out. My favourite song straight off was ‘Concrete Jungle’. I’d been in a kind of soul/funk covers band, Roadworks Ahead, and a psychedelic rock band called Stonehenge and I had my own reggae band Matumbi by that point. ‘Concrete Jungle’ seemed to be this marriage of reggae and rock, under the influence of Chris Blackwell I think, and to hear the Wailers doing that was so important to me. Island Records of course had a massive stable of rock bands so when Blackwell started making that label the home of reggae artists it was so crucial to that music getting across to people and to a wider audience.

Do you think that if that hadn’t happened with Island, and reggae artists had just stayed on labels like Trojan, reggae as an album-based form wouldn’t have happened? There’s a sense in this period that reggae had to ‘prove’ itself as more than just a fad…

Chris told me once that when he decided to take Bob Marley from Trojan to Island he also took Jimmy Cliff because he thought Jimmy would be reggae’s first star. All these reggae people started gathering down in St Peter’s Square where Island’s headquarter were, and they’d congregate around the recording studio there and it really felt like reggae finally had a foothold here. Island Records and specifically this album, was so important in establishing that.