October is Black History Month in the UK and there are so many things that we need to celebrate and be aware of and the two sites below are worth going into to find out more about Black History in the UK.
I grew up in a very racist environment although the thing that always struck me as an anomaly was that skinheads that I knew targeted any non-white with violence but their preferred choice of music was ska and reggae which was decidedly non-white.
The breadth of what could be put into any story is much too big for the short articles that I write so I am going to concentrate on music by Black UK artists that have touched me and are worth your time.
So here we go.
"You To Me Are Everything" by The Real Thing
I found this performance by The Real Thing from early this year and first became aware of them in the seventies. Four guys from Liverpool 8.
"Back To Life (However Do You Want Me)" from "Club Classics Vol. One" by Soul II Soul
Soul II Soul are a British musical collective formed in London in 1988. They are best known for their two major hits; 1989's UK number five and US number eleven "Keep On Movin'", and its follow-up, the UK number one and US number four "Back to Life"
My problem is that with a lot of these bands I know, bought, and enjoyed their music and still do, without knowing much about their background or who they were. They are rightfully included on this playlist for their excellent music.
"Pass The Dutchie" by Musical Youth
I was in two minds about including this, the fact that it's kids made me think it was just a novelty record, but they spliced two other songs to create this "Gimme the Music" by U Brown, and "Pass the Kouchie" by The Mighty Diamonds and this results in an excellent piece of ska with a video shot on Lambeth Bridge in London.
"Sad Sweet Dreamer" by Sweet Sensation
Sweet Sensation was an eight-piece band formed in Manchester in the seventies, best known for this song. This was fine but not really my thing, but their sadly missed singer, Marcel King was responsible for one of my favourite records ever which I will complete this playlist with, but if you skip to the end you can see and hear what it is.
"Beauty's Only Skin Deep" by Aswad
Not their most famous song but has always been a favourite of mine.
The members of Aswad are UK descendants of immigrants from the Caribbean. They attended John Kelly/Holland Park School. Aswad was formed in 1975 in Ladbroke Grove area of West London.
This is their Facebook page, they are still with us, which is good.
"Dread Beat And Blood" by Linton Kwesi Johnson
I was first introduced to Linton Kwesi Johnson by John Peel and his Dub Poetry often addresses issues of black oppression, but in the video below he shows a wry sense of humour.
Linton Kwesi Johnson (born 24 August 1952), also known as LKJ, is a Jamaica-born, British-based dub poet and activist. In 2002 he became the second living poet, and the only black one, to be published in the Penguin Modern Classics series.
His website is here.
"Money" by Benjamin Zephaniah
Another favourite of mine, I saw him with The Imagined Village and he appeared in "Peaky Blinders". This video is him reading his poem "Money" in my hometown of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.
Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah is a British writer and dub poet. He was included in The Times list of Britain's top 50 post-war writers in 2008.
His website is here.
"Reach For Love" by Marcel King
Released in 1984 on Factory Records, and is one of my all-time favourites. and I have two copies on 12" vinyl. It is also Shaun Ryder's favourite record as well and is a perfect closer for the Black History Playlist.
Marcel King is best known as the lead singer of Sweet Sensation between 1974 and 1977. He died of a brain haemorrhage on 5 October 1995 at the age of 38. The tragedy deepened two years later when his son Zeus, 19, was shot dead in an outbreak of gang warfare in South Manchester.
"Hell Is Around The Corner" by Tricky
I love this song and the music is so Portishead, not surprising as Tricky and Massive Attack are part of the same Bristol sound scene. I added this because of a comment from Naomi Gold, and it is one of many that I maybe should have included, but it is one more for you to enjoy.
His website is here.