Various Wild Dub: Dread Meets Punk Rocker Downtown

It’s a well-known fact that the early punks found their impulse for social rebellion in Jamaican culture, but how this influence translated into musical terms is usually undermined in our cultural histories. Wild Dub fills in the lack with 13 tracks by punk rock bands doing their versions of the "version.” Mikey Dread’s dub of the Clash’s "Bankrobber” is the most legendary of the selections here, but as Vivien Goldman points out in her liner notes, it wasn’t the first to attempt this kind of crossover. Billy Idol’s Generation X did a dub-down on 1977’s "Wild Dub,” although it amounts to little more than a danceable deconstruction of the original with reverb for effect. The energy on the "brink style dub” of the Slits’ "Typical Girls” and Red Beat’s 11-minute "Red Beat” fare better and even show riddim-ic strains of what would eventually materialise into drum & bass more than a decade later. The Ruts and Stiff Little Fingers are more roots in their dub-wise interests, while new wavers like PiL, Killing Joke and the Pop Group use dub to churn their angst into experimental disco. The inclusion of Grace Jones and the black punk outfit Basement 5 recall to the multi-racial character of this scene just as the unnamed "rock against racism” track at the end reiterates the politics of the time. (Select Cuts)