Poems over tunes


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Not sure exactly what you'd call it but there's a micro-thing of people talking over music. it's a killer formula but for whatever reason almost all of it is bad and I don't know why. i think it's something to do with the way people read poetry, they do it in a very performative and unnatural tone of voice. I know we've got world class poets on here so maybe there's something to be discussed

There are some good ones though:



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i've had this one on a playlist for a while and it's a weird one, sometimes I think it sounds pretty good and sometimes it makes me cringe. it's almost like some lines land and others make me feel embarrassed. this sort of formula should be really effective but the delivery kills it.



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this one where the bug chucks this dude Anthony Anaxagorou over william baskinski really works I think, despite being incredibly on the nose and earnest, it feels like it should be totally gross but they pull it off



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Moor Mother releases way too much stuff and has no quality control but every now and then she nails this style



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I'm sure you're all aware that there is a whole reggae sub-genre called "dub poetry"

Roger Robinson belongs to that lineage, his album on Jahtari, Dis Side Ah Town ( 8-bit soundz straight outta Leipzig! via Brixton ) is highly recommended ( by me )

Roger Robinson - Smash And Scatteration

I can't help but feel he owes a debt to the UK original, Linton Kwesi Johnson:

Poet And The Roots - It Dread Inna Inglan ( For George Lindo )


I suppose I should mention the JA originators of the style:

Mutabaruka - Set De Prisoners Free

Muta Baruka And African Head Charge – What Is The Plan?

( nowadays he uploads videos to youtube pontificating on some dubious tenet of rasta reasoning )

Michael Smith - Trainer

the Dub Poet martyr, stoned to death for his political beliefs

Linton Kwesi Johnson has recalled how the circumstances of Smith's death are shrouded in controversy:

"As far as I understand the facts, Mikey had attended a political meeting in Stony Hill where the ruling JLP Minister of Education was speaking and [he] had heckled her. The following day, he was confronted by three [persons believed to be] party activists, an argument ensued, stones were thrown and Mikey died from a blow to his head."

edit: the Michael Smith tune, maybe, has a precursor in this Lee Perry production...

both feature breathy flute noodling with fire and brimstone bibically inspired rasta reasoning croaked over the top

Johnny Lover and The Clocktowers - Who You Gonna Run To

^ trainspotter types like me will recognise that the "Johnny Lover" tune is the dub poetry version ( before dub poetry existed, Perry was a genius like that) of Devon Irons - When Jah Come:

Devon Irons - When Jah Come


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how can we forget THE Poem Over Tune To End ALL Poems Over Tunes TUNE EVER ! ?

It's Greenwich - featuring Bobby Bisto


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do the Psalms from "The Bible" count as poems?

if so, then the ultimate dub poetry album has to Prince Far-I's Psalms For I LP

Prince Far-I *- Psalm 23



thread death
Obvious two that spring to mind are YardAct and Sleaford Mods. The influence being The Fall, I think rather than dub reggae.


Cat Malogen
A raft of productions attempted to incorporate the following lines but only one truly nailed

There’s a remix collab featuring Ron Trent mix from nearly a decade later, just don’t think any of em got close to the Bobby Konders zone


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Michael Smith - Roots

the original "stoned to death" dub poet

full on croak ( has to be heard to be believed ) *

heavy as fuck "reasoning"

how he could draw out that croak and not have a sore throat? *

* ( edit: err, "mi cyaan believe it" )


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Blue Aeroplanes's Gerard Langley incanted his own poetry over the music, but on this tune he used a poem by Kenneth Patchen



Can turn naughty

Sarah Webster-Fabio - Work It Out

The band in its infancy here, made up of Fabio's sons and a few of their friends, is like the yang to Bill Withers' tight as a gnat's chuff Live at Carnegie Hall band. These aren't session players by any stretch, but it's exactly the rough around the edges-ness of it that frames Fabio's sage and earthy lines so perfectly.

Boss Soul is one of my desert island discs.

In the studio. From https://www.vinylmeplease.com/blogs/magazine/classics-september-18

A slightly better-known among vinyl collectors release here. Juju's Alchemy of the Blues came out 4 years later and you can hear they'd had some time to practice. More or less the same band, but packing a heavy punch now. The fact that they're all family & friends makes this whole thing hit that much deeper. All 4 of her LPs are worth digging for.

Discovering this group by total chance on Soulseek nearly 20 years ago was one of those moments where you find a piece of music and it's like something you'd always been waiting for but never actually imagined.


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Wordsworth misquoted in a 12 tribes roots style

Fulk Livingstone Reid - Golden Daffodils

I wander lonely like a cloud...

[ sic ]

in dub!

Uprising All Stars - Golden Dub

I wander lonely like a cloud...clou...clou....clo...

[ sic ]


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big up all Welsh man "dem"

shout out to all Crymu posse!

all other posse lie flat!

Dubwood Allstars - Under Dubwood

the poetic don:

Dylan "jah" Thomas, in dub!

starless and bible black...

King Tubby meets the Big D in downtown Swansea!



time passes