So many of my `punk’ snob friends insist that the Clash aren’t really punk that it makes me want to scream in their faces about what punk really is. Even pioneers the Sex Pistols and the Ramones are vastly different, so what is it they’re looking for? Despite working with Lee “Scratch” Perry and Mikey Dread, the Clash don’t even really fall into the realm of dub, so essentially they’re a band without a home. The Los Angeles band Future Pigeon, rising from the spliff-produced ashes of Whiskey Biscuit and other various projects, has the same dilemma. Their music definitely falls more into the category of dub than the Clash ever did, but they also share the same DIY and Clash-like political punk mentality, while also throwing in horror movie samples and a sense of humor. The Echodelic Sounds of Future Pigeon is the ultimate party manifesto, and a signal to a long awaited triumphant return of the genre to the indie public.
As is with jam bands and pop-country acts, what has usually kept me away from reggae is its fans. I have too many memories of fellow high school students (and man, was that a long time ago!) putting “Buffalo Soldier” on repeat, so wishing they were `stoners’ and knowing absolutely nothing about the Rastafarian culture. The music itself was not the problem (although it could get tiring); instead it was the jokers who misinterpreted the medium that irked me. I found the second ska revival (the one in the ’90s in the states) even more insulting considering I was a fan of the first revival in the ’80s with the English Beat, Madness, and the Specials. But Future Pigeon has managed to engineer a dub / reggae / ska revival that I find incredibly interesting and highly listenable.
The octet warns gift givers that they aren’t doing anyone a favor, but instead giving them the “Gift Tax” in the opener of the new album. “Mummy” is sure to become a Halloween party favorite with the repeatable lyrics of “I open up the tomb and the tomb goes boom” as well as “I roll up the spliff in the papyrus, I go smoke out the mummy til he gets high / I smoke out him in his sarcophagi.” Deep, driving bass and dance inducing horns provide the backbone for “Evil (Eatin’ at My Soul)” and most of the other tracks on the album. Dance hall organs and Morricone soundtrack guitars make “Yuppy Conquerer” another standout, although at times you could have sampled “Band on the Run” over it to great effect. Ranking Joe guest stars on “High Rolling” while Mikey Dread features prominently on “Wicked Version,” a dub version of the previous “Wicked Man,” a sweet and strutting warning of a reggae number.
As with most records of this ilk, smoking of the sensimilla figures prominently. As such, it is the new quintessential chronic party record. There are just enough effects on each song to make every half-baked guest turn their heads mid-nod. In other words, I haven’t heard as well produced a dub record (at least in the crossover world) in quite some time. To think that this all came from members of a band I saw open for Stone Temple Pilots in 1994! Aw, gwan boy! Dat’s sooo crazy, mon. Are you hungry? I’m getting really hungry for some reason.
The Specials- The Specials
Various Artists- Wild Dub: Dread Meets Punk Rocker
The Clash- Sandinista