Just a few weeks after we reviewed the belated release of African Head Charge's latest, another, more recent gem from the always rewarding sonic laboratory of Adrian Sherwood arrives. Here's the pitch: in the early 1990s, Sherwood teamed up with versatile hip-hop guitarist Skip McDonald to bring the dub sensibility to the old blues, and the result was the celebrated Little Axe project.
Well, now Sherwood (aided by McDonald) has decided to give his inimitable progressive dub treatment to an even less likely genre: traditional British folk music. The results are, once again, stellar. None other than folk matriarch Shirley Collins has called this experiment "elegant, witty, daring, and powerful," and she's correct.
It's an unexpected pleasure to hear Ian King's melodious, mature voice taking the 500-year-old "Ah Robin, Gentle Robin" for a stroll through 1970s Kingston, courtesy of one of the best dub producers around. One listen to the King/Sherwood version of the traditional ballad "Death and the Lady" or the echo-drenched King original "Evil Eye" (which incorporates Jacobean verses) and you'll start to wonder why it hadn't occurred to anyone else to cross-pollinate the homegrown folk traditions of those two music-rich islands, Jamaica and Britain.