Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Don Letts, Stratetime Keith, Steel Leg, Jah Wobble—
Steel Leg v Electric Dread


Released 1978 on Virgin
The Seth Man, May 2000ce
Ahahaha...this is a 12 incher of 4 reckless post-punk/post-dub workouts. Issued in the wake of Public Image Limited’s “First Issue” album, it’s all rough demo spiky-Levene guitar with Jah Wobble wielding his brown-spotting bass into the face of everyone, as usual. It’s deep, spaced dub meeting the throwaway quality demanded of punk at the time with no concessions whatsoever. 1978 was pretty early for such successfully infectious dub from a younger generation born a culture away from Jamaica. Despite (or because of) this, Wobble’s a bassist with Greenwich Town session player feel, and Don Letts raps on “Haile Unlikely,” exiting on the cross-faded dub version, letting the electronic interruptives and echoed drum beats take the feel beyond sung words, as all the best dub does effortlessly.

No doubt Steel Leg was John Lydon in disguise, as the Carlsberg-oiled background punk rant on “Steel Leg” attests, throwing in jibes and vocal noises as only he would. “Stratetime And The Wide Man” is more weightless dub suspension with tinkling percussion and would be a complete space-out were it not for Wobble’s grounding bass audio compass. It goes beyond mere punky reggae partying -- it’s a PIL t-shirt worn by Syd “Family Man” Barrett with the words D-U-B replacing P-I-L, as the Finsbury Park crew’s ancestral memories of multiple Hawkwind records works its way through the mix with electronics like Dik Mik meets The Aggrovators. Future Public Image Limited records would combine further outings of dub, punk and Krautrocking beyond all reasoning, this EP a signpost pointing the way.