Don Letts: Culture Clash (Dread Meets Punk Rockers)

Bob Burnett: Don Letts, with the aid of writer David Nobakht, has released an oral history-style book, Culture Clash: Dread Meets Punk Rockers, about his active life that has intermeshed music, DJ'ing, film-making, fashion and general global cultural merging. It's been well-documented that Letts was in the thick of the London music scene circa mid-'70s where bands such as The Clash, Sex Pistols, Siouxie and the Banshees, etc. played at the Roxy and other small clubs. Letts' legendary reggae and dub-centric mix cassette tapes (known as c90's) inspired and fueled many bands' creative energies--(most notably his close friends John Lydon /PiL and the late Joe Strummer/The Clash) plus were the pulse of many house parties. It was nice to read through this book and see mention made of some great albums--a personal favorite being the late Augustus Pablo's King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown and Tappa Zukie's Man Ah Warrior for instance, as well as nods to other reggae/dub artists such as Linton Kwesi Johnson, Yabby U, I Roy, Bob Marley, Big Youth, Sly and Robbie, Mad Professor and Lee "Scratch" Perry. This is a great resource if you've always wanted to know more about Jamaican-based music (ie. nyabinghi, dub, rock steady, dancehall, reggae) and hadn't known where to start. Just read this book, jot down people and album titles and search them out. (I suggest starting with Augustus Pablo.) As a side recommendation, if you are looking for a nice reggae compilation CD check into Don Letts Presents The Mightly Trojan Sound, a 2xCD compilation. Disc one is singers, players and DJ's--great dancehall and rock steady "pop tune" selections circa 1969-1978. Disc two is the dub disc--floating, liquidy, spacy instrumentals. It's easy to imagine these sounds floating through the streets of London's Chelsea neighborhood when Letts was running the popular clothing store, Acme Attractions. All selections are from the vaults of the Trojan label.

The book also features short commentary on the body of documentary work he's done over the years--including the comprehensive (and highly entertaining ) Punk:Attitude as well as films on The Clash, Bob Marley, Gil Scott-Heron, George Clinton and Sun Ra.

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