"Dub was my sound because of postcolonial movements. I grew up in it. I bathed in it. I breathed it. So why shouldn't it be mine?"
I first heard the foreboding bass line of Vivien Goldman's "Private Armies" in Boston, 1981. Stereophonic sounds crashed into each other, dissipated, and appeared again, and the bass kept it all together while a British woman's voice alternated between sweet sing-song and militant shouts of resistance. That summer, police were violently clamping down on behalf of the new corporate state in the working-class Caribbean community of Brixton, as well as in striking white mining towns across England. As a kid, listening eagerly with big ears across the pond, "Private Armies" evoked all these images in visceral ways that newspapers could not. And that a woman's voice spoke up to the masculinity of oppression put the images in a focus we were not getting in mainstream reportage.
The lead voice and visionary of the project was a music journalist. Vivien Goldman often wrote in NME and Melody Maker about London's "sound systems" and the links happening between white punks and rastas at all-night Blue Parties. Coming from Boston's poor and working class white ghetto where any interaction with nearby poor and working-class black neighborhoods seemed unimaginable, such "crossing over" lit me. A glimpse into this faraway world sparked my own fantasies of class-conscious and cross-cultural intersections.
Thirty-five years after those angry teenage days of alienation, I called my now good friend and ally for a conversation about the new collection of her music—Resolutionary (Songs 1979-1982) (Staubgold Records), covering solo songs as well as her work with The Flying Lizards and Chantage—from that explosive and brilliantly creative period.[ Read More ]