Music

Wrongtom Meets Deemas J: In East London

Rooted in the past, very much of the here and now Wrongtom and Deemas J produce a great British album.


Wrongtom meets Deemas J

In East London

UK Release Uk: 2012-09-24
Label: Tru Thoughts
US Release Date: 2012-09-24
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It’s Tuesday 23rd October. Looking distractedly out of the window as I contemplate writing this review it’s grey, foggy, damp and worse of all, the clocks go back this weekend which means us poor folks in the UK lose a precious hour of daylight as we sink deeper into winter.

But then the horns kick in on "Old Time Stylee" and I turn my head away from the outside and I’m transported to back to a hot summer, sometime in the '80s, as Deemas’ dancehall/ragga vocals break through under a throbbing bassline and everything is alright again in my world. This album makes you smile, bob your head and skank around the house. It’s utterly infectious.

Producer and DJ Wrongtom has been a fixture in and on the dancehall/dub/club scene for some time, originally making a name for himself with his remix work for indie ska heads Hard Fi. But it was his remix of Roots Manuva’s single “Buff Nuff” which was so well received he ended up in a full blown collaboration with Roots which resulted in the brilliant Duppy Writer album. That album was credited as Roots Manuva meets Wrongtom and sowed the seeds for a number of …meets Wrongtom releases of which this is the latest incarnation (albeit it is now Wrongtom meets…).

In East London plays homage to Wrongtom and Deemas J’s musical upbringing, explicit in the Dancehall tracks that recall greats like Smiley Culture, Tippa Irie and Barrington Levy, but it also serves to show the debt that current London acts owe to the music from this era, from Dizzie Rascal to Plan B highlighting the links from Dancehall to Hip Hop to Grime to Dubstep. But the album, and I guess this is pretty obvious by the title, is also a love letter to London Town.

“Old Time Stylee” has Deemas J talking us through his musical history reminding us of going "On a Saturday / I have a residency / Down a club Labyrinth, a Hackney you see / The jungalist business where we make the party" in his unmistakable London patter. This is such a joyous, head-nodding introduction to the album and segues into the single ‘"Jump+Move+Rock" with a heavier bass line and machine gun vocals from Deemas J which most closely resembles Smiley Culture in his heyday. Apparently all done in one freestyle take, it is almost impossible not to dance to this track.

Next up is “Riot Ting” a social commentary on the riots that struck London (and other cities in England) last year, it doesn’t condemn nor condone the actions of those rioting but neatly sums up some of the causes as to why this could have happened in this day and age. It also nicely brings back to the mainstream, the use of the phrase Babylon, another nod to black culture and language.

“At the Dancehall” is my personal favourite on the album, bringing together elements of dancehall, ragga and jungle all wrapped in a furious vocal delivery by Deemas J with a sparse pulsing backing by Wrongtom, and I think it is in this song that Wrongtom’s influence is so clear and why so many musicians are keen to work with him. He has no ego; he lets the songs speak for themselves. In both the Roots Manuva Duppy Writer lp and this album, he provides a backdrop, a sonic base, and then lets the vocalists take centre stage, but without his brilliantly balanced backing these songs just wouldn’t be the same. He maintains the tempo and interest on the album from start to finish, a timeless reggae bassline running throughout with horns and keys appearing as dancehall, jungle and reggae tracks come and go.

If anything, the second of half of the album has a slightly slower tempo, with Deemas J pulling back on the speed of delivery, slipping into a more reggae vibe on tracks like “Wa Do Dance” and “Late Night Dance” before ending with “East London”, all Linton Kwesi Johnson brooding, as Wrongtom and Deemas J take a late night drive through the city streets of Ronnie & Reggie Kray, where the girls dress up and look glam, boys looking mean in skinny jeans and getting turned away from the ‘packed clubs’ of East London. It paints such a visual picture! And on that note, it is worth noting the sleeve to In East London has been created by illustrator Tony McDermott, responsible for the legendary Greensleeves label look and another tip of the hat to London culture.

In the year where London has re-stated it claim as a leading global city - Queen Jubilees, Olympics and Para-Olympics, James Bond shenanigans and all manner of chest beating - Wrongtom has created a fitting soundtrack, celebrating both the city and the Jamaican music culture that has done so much for black music in England.

This is a great British album.

8

From drunken masters to rumbles in the Bronx, Jackie Chan's career is chock full of goofs and kicks. These ten films capture what makes Chan so magnetic.

Jackie Chan got his first film role way back in 1976, when a rival producer hired him for his obvious action prowess. Now, nearly 40 years later, he is more than a household name. He's a brand, a signature star with an equally recognizable onscreen persona. For many, he was their introduction into the world of Hong Kong cinema. For others, he's the goofy guy speaking broken English to Chris Tucker in the Rush Hour films.

From his grasp of physical comedy to his fearlessness in the face of certain death (until recently, Chan performed all of his own stunts) he's a one of a kind talent whose taken his abilities in directions both reasonable (charity work, political reform) and ridiculous (have your heard about his singing career?).

Now, Chan is back, bringing the latest installment in the long running Police Story franchise to Western shores (subtitled Lockdown, it's been around since 2013), and with it, a reminder of his multifaceted abilities. He's not just an actor. He's also a stunt coordinator and choreographer, a writer, a director, and most importantly, a ceaseless supporter of his country's cinema. With nearly four decades under his (black) belt, it's time to consider Chan's creative cannon. Below you will find our choices for the ten best pictures Jackie Chan's career, everything from the crazy to the classic. While he stuck to formula most of the time, no one made redundancy seem like original spectacle better than he.

Let's start with an oldie but goodie:

10. Operation Condor (Armour of God 2)

Two years after the final pre-Crystal Skull installment of the Indiana Jones films arrived in theaters, Chan was jumping on the adventurer/explorer bandwagon with this wonderful piece of movie mimicry. At the time, it was one of the most expensive Hong Kong movies ever made ($115 million, which translates to about $15 million American). Taking the character of Asian Hawk and turning him into more of a comedic figure would be the way in which Chan expanded his global reach, realizing that humor could help bring people to his otherwise over the top and carefully choreographed fight films -- and it's obviously worked.

9. Wheels on Meals

They are like the Three Stooges of Hong Kong action comedies, a combination so successful that it's amazing they never caught on around the world. Chan, along with director/writer/fight coordinator/actor Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, all met at the Peking Opera, where they studied martial arts and acrobatics. They then began making movies, including this hilarious romp involving a food truck, a mysterious woman, and lots of physical shtick. While some prefer their other collaborations (Project A, Lucky Stars), this is their most unabashedly silly and fun. Hung remains one of the most underrated directors in all of the genre.

8. Mr. Nice Guy
Sammo Hung is behind the lens again, this time dealing with Chan's genial chef and a missing mob tape. Basically, an investigative journalist films something she shouldn't, the footage gets mixed up with some of our heroes, and a collection of clever cat and mouse chases ensue. Perhaps one of the best sequences in all of Chan's career occurs in a mall, when a bunch of bad guys come calling to interrupt a cooking demonstration. Most fans have never seen the original film. When New Line picked it up for distribution, it made several editorial and creative cuts. A Japanese release contains the only unaltered version of the effort.

7. Who Am I?

Amnesia. An easy comedic concept, right? Well, leave it to our lead and collaborator Benny Chan (no relation) to take this idea and go crazy with it. The title refers to Chan's post-trauma illness, as well as the name given to him by natives who come across his confused persona. Soon, everyone is referring to our hero by the oddball moniker while major league action set pieces fly by. While Chan is clearly capable of dealing with the demands of physical comedy and slapstick, this is one of the rare occasions when the laughs come from character, not just chaos.

6. Rumble in the Bronx

For many, this was the movie that broke Chan into the US mainstream. Sure, before then, he was a favorite of film fans with access to a video store stocking his foreign titles, but this is the effort that got the attention of Joe and Jane Six Pack. Naturally, as they did with almost all his films, New Line reconfigured it for a domestic audience, and found itself with a huge hit on its hands. Chan purists prefer the original cut, including the cast voices sans dubbing. It was thanks to Rumble that Chan would go on to have a lengthy run in Tinseltown, including those annoying Rush Hour films.

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