A joyous record – rediscovered – from Rupie Edwards in 1974

I bought the 45 rpm “Ire Feelings (Skanga)” by Rupie Edwards in 1974 at Woolacotts, Bude, Cornwall.

I have just re-listened to it, perhaps after 46-odd years, and realised what a gorgeous, joyful record it is. It is absolutely wonderful!

But, I have to say, it was a bit weird buying at the time. It was hardly played on Radio One and it seemed odd. Just unusual.

It was, I learn now, the first “dub” record to hit the charts. It made Number 9 in the UK charts in 1974.

Here’s a little bit of what it says about the record on The Register:

In late 1974, out of nowhere, the first dub hit anywhere in the world leapt into the UK Top Ten.

Upon its release that autumn, Rupie Edwards’ innovatory Ire Feelings had received virtually no airtime on London’s Capital Radio and even less on BBC Radio One – the country’s biggest stations – but the demand from kids in discos and clubs made the haunting, echoing reggae 45 into a massive hit.

And it wasn’t just a “new” artist they were hearing – Edwards, a Jamaican, had never been anywhere near the British charts before – but an entire new genre, perhaps the first that genuinely fused both modern culture and the latest technology.

“I’d actually booked the studio that day to record Shorty The President,” says Edwards now, “and Shorty was late and I had this song in my head to do. So I dropped it. ‘Feeling High’ – and trust me, I was – and Errol Thompson, the mixer from Studio One was then working for me. And we had this big copper pipe I’d dragged in off the street and I whacked it, recorded it, just for the sound. And Errol said ‘I like working with you, you’re always trying new things’.

“So we recorded the song and the next day we mixed it and at one point Errol said, ‘Hang on, it’s different, it’s changed, we should start again’. And I said ‘no, no’, ‘cos I knew that if we started mixing again we’d never get it back. So we finished it and Pat Kelly mastered it, then I left a copy with my partner in the shop I had on West Parade, downtown Kingston. And she rang me that same evening saying, ‘Every time I play it the street block up!’”

BBC repeats and Hitler

– That is a mischievous title, if ever there was one…

One of my favourite presenters was Ray Moore, who graced Radio 2, and also the “ENT-ER-TAIN-MENT tonight on BBC1” trailers, for many years.

He used to humourously refer to BBC TV “repeats” as “a second chance to see”.

This week’s Radio Times uses an even more skilful phrase to describe a repeat.

(I mention en passant that I haven’t read the Radio Times since it used to cost 36 pence. It now costs the princely sum of £3.50, so I am determined to wring every last penny of value out of this week’s edition by reading it from cover to cover.)

Anyway, on Wednesday, BBC2 are showing “Vienna Blood” at 9pm.

Radio Times majestically describes this repeat as follows:

Another chance to see the handsome period crime drama that passed many viewers by. In 1900s Vienna an unlikely duo investigate murders.

I like that: “that passed many viewers by”. Roughly translated as: “no one watched it”.

Anyway, I will watch it this time if only because I am curious to get an idea what 1900s Vienna might have looked like. This is because I am currently reading “Hitler’s Vienna” on the young life of the dictator.

This allows me to say things like “I am finding Young Hitler slow going” or “I am not getting on well with Young Hitler” – the sorts of things I have wanted to say for years.

As an aside, the major thing which comes out of the first 100 pages is how Hitler was utterly obsessed with buildings. In his last days in his bunker, when he should have been worrying about bringing the Second World War to an end without shedding more blood, he spent his days mesmerised by an intricately detailed model of urban regeneration plans for Linz in Austria. The model was so advanced that it even showed lighting at different times of the day and seasons. And he used to show in guests to have a view of it and spent hours staring at it. (Similarly he spent much of his younger days studying Viennese buildings so that he could even describe the surrounding pillars of back doors.)

I kid you not.