My longstanding disdain for white people with dreadlocks is well known, and even extends to the otherwise charming and helpful young man in the local music shop who insists on addressing me as though we are lost siblings*. Even in Upside-Down World, if Hak is to believed, they have Pasty-farians:
“[O]ne of Sydney’s more annoying buskers in the Central Railway Station tunnel [is a] twenty-something Caucasian male, he has the full dreads and teacosy hat, and hops around, obviously convinced that he’s chanelling Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. Except that, er, instead of hitting the offbeat, he hits the downbeat everytime. Watching the faces of passersby – as they realise what’s going on – is truly comical.”
I too have witnessed this strange phenomenon of musicians who don’t quite get reggae. Specifically, they seek the skank, but instead obtain the oompah. This phenotype is not linked to melanin expression. One of the best dub bass players I have ever heard looked a bit like Coronation Street‘s Reg Holdsworth.
In the 70s and 80s the so-called serious music press would mock Sting for his Jah-mehk-i-an accent, and for playing “cod reggae”, but gave the likes of Joe Strummer** a free pass for their attempts at assimilating the style. But The Police got it; The Clash never quite did. And who did the People of Colour subsequently fall over themselves to sample and collaborate with? The widely (whitely?) despised Geordie bassist. It’s also worth noting that within a year of Gordon Sumner (Sting) being born to a milkman in Newcastle-on-Tyne, John Graham Mellor’s (Strummer’s) diplomat father was probably putting the freshly-slapped infant down for the private Surrey boarding school he would go on to attend before beginning his career as a class warrior. Mind you, even today, Sting still can’t seem to keep himself from playing a bass like a guitarist and getting just a smidgen ahead of the sacred pulse. I wonder if Kipper is ever tempted to nudge him back a few milliseconds…
And, for all those no-longer-young Germans who always asked the question when I first met them on school exchange trips to the free half of their country in the 80s, no, I still can’t “break-tanz”.
While I’m on the subject, Christ at Gak Maximum is very angry.
[*I used to go out with a very, very funny and somewhat posh-sounding girl who delighted in mocking herself by saying in a loud RP voice as we walked out of London establishments where I had been addressed by the beige-or-darker, “Goodness! You do have a lot of brothers, don’t you?”]
[**I only recently saw Grosse Pointe Blank. Despite the—in parts inspired—script, the film was nearly ruined by its soundtrack, a cavalcade of cack featuring some godawful musical scribbling from Strummer. If you haven’t seen it yet watch out for Dan Akroyd’s delivery of “Workers of the world unite” as a punchline. Genius.]