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Soothsayers - Bad Boys (Red Earth) 7"

Whether they’re giving free concerts at the Barbican or making records, Soothsayers always represent good value. But now they’ve taken it to a whole new level with this nicely presented, suitably heavy vinyl 7” release.

A mature toned Johnny Clarke revisits the place he went to with Shaka at the start of the eighties for a slow but commanding jazz dub style lament over lawlessness, Bad Boys, produced and played by the ‘Sayers and mixed by Manasseh. The sound is unmistakably of vintage but the delicate, liquefied production softens the guitars and synths and turns the bass into aural velvet, while the version gives some space to the melodica, Hanna Barberra style percussion and the famous horn section itself for some cascading riffs.

This is the way to make timeless sounding reggae: add some well integrated touches of modernity but don’t throw out the best elements of the past with the bathwater. Bad Boys is Johnny Clarke’s best tune in years.

Reviewed by Angus Taylor. Copyright 2008.

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