Episode 4: It's Grim up North

Writer Danny Robins talks about the music featured in episode 4 of Rudy's Rare Records

It’s Jamaica vs Manchester this episode.

Adam goes to an inspirational weekend of business seminars in a Mancunian hotel and Rudy tags along to cause as much trouble as possible, despite his deep distrust of anyone who lives north of Birmingham. Whilst there, they meet the business guru Bernard Sheedy, played by the very funny Justin Moorhouse. He and Rudy get into a rather entertaining argument about where has produced the best music in the world – Bernard’s hometown of Manchester or the sunny Caribbean island of Rudy’s birth.

So, tipping our hat to our Northern setting, we hear Girlfriend in a Coma, by The Smiths, one of the bands Bernard holds up as evidence of Manchester’s musical genius. Judging by Morrissey’s famous comment that “all reggae is vile”, you’d think there couldn’t be anything further removed from our usual Rudy’s Rare Records musical output, but then I stumbled across this on Youtube, an early demo of the song by the band with a very reggae-sounding backing beat, apparently inspired by Bob and Marcia’s Young Gifted and Black. Interesting...

The rest of the music this episode is business as usual; our traditional blend of reggae, ska and hip hop. There’s the infectious 60s classic Train to Skaville by the Ethiopians to kick us off as Adam and Rudy head North, followed by Raphael Saadiq’s excellent Radio – a track that always sets my pulse racing. Saadiq, if you haven’t come across him, is an interesting guy; a Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter and producer who has worked with a huge array of talent from The Rolling Stones to Joss Stone, via Mary J Blige and Stevie Wonder and Jay-Z. This song is taken from his 2011 album Stone Rollin’, which is a masterpiece I wholeheartedly urge you to seek out.

Rudy’s case that Jamaica is the musical capital of the world is reflected here by a nice spread of fine artists from that island. Toots and the Maytals weigh in with Pressure Drop, a song I’m sure we have used before in a previous series of RRR, but hey, it’s so good... There’s the very early Bob Marley track Simmer Down – I don’t think you’d recognise it as him if you didn’t know – and we have the great and very much still active Jimmy Cliff, who of course sings our theme tune Miss Jamaica and also Ruby Soho, a recent track taken from his excellent Rebirth album which came out this year. It’s a cover of a song by punk band Rancid, whose lead singer Tim Armstrong produced Cliff’s album. There’s also the lovely Jamaica is the Place to Go from way back in 1955, when calypso ruled. With lines such as “Yes Jamaica is a sunshine land, you’ll love Jamaica for it is grand”, it feels like a particularly foot-tapping advert from the tourist board.

Our other guest star this week is Brinsley Forde, the former lead singer of Aswad who pops up playing himself as a motivational speaker at Bernard’s business weekend. I won’t spoil it, but at the end of the episode, he delivers a hilarious original song inspired by one of the running jokes in this episode, but we've also included a couple of classic Aswad tracks here for good measure too.

What haven’t I mentioned? Oh, yes, to make up our full roster of songs we play a couple of more recent hits – the oddly spelt Hot in Herre by Nelly, a rapper who always insisted on wearing an elastoplast on his face for some reason; if there was ever a sexier hip hop dancefloor filler, I’d like to hear it. And we have Inner Circle’s worldwide 90s smash hit Sweat, something Adam finds himself doing for A La La La La Long time when he goes for a massage at the hotel with unexpected consequences.

I hope you enjoy the music in the episode and if you want to hear the songs in full click on the YouTube links below or listen to the Spotify playlist I have made for the episode here.

Miss Jamaica – Jimmy Cliff

Train to Skaville – The Ethiopians

Radio – Raphael Saadiq

Shine – Aswad

Simmer Down – Bob Marley and the Wailers

Sweat (A La La La La Long) – Inner Circle

Jamaica is the Place to Go – Charlie Binger and his Quartet

Hot in Herre – Nelly

Ruby Soho – Jimmy Cliff

Don’t Turn Around – Aswad

Pressure Drop – Toots and the Maytals

Girlfriend in a Coma – The Smiths

Danny's playlists