Tag Archives: Clarks

Clarks – the soundtrack

Following Al Fingers’ excellent and in-depth look at Clarks and its Jamaica/UK connection comes its musical companion.

This 21 track compilation – 12 cuts on the vinyl edition – celebrates an iconic footwear and its role in Jamaican music and culture. The album showcases several tough tunes from the 80s, including Little John’s anthemic Clarks Booty, Laurel & Hardy’s driving Dangerous Shoes and Early B’s pulsating Pedestrian.

Clarks-in-Jamaica-CD-LP-book-pack-shot-hi-res-m

The most well-known Clarks tune today – Vybz Kartel’s smash hit Clarks from 2010 – is not included since the compilation is focused on old school reggae and dancehall. And that’s because Al Fingers wanted to show this deep-rooted love affair and highlight the many artists that have sung about Clarks several years before the Wurl Boss did.

So, put on your mesh marina, your three piece suit or khaki dress and your Clarks and you might be able to carry the swing.

Leave a comment

Filed under Record reviews

Finally time for Popcaan’s debut album

Dancehall singer Popcaan got his break a few years ago when he appeared on Vybz Kartel’s monster smash single Clarks. From then on he has delivered a number of popular singles and cuts from one riddim albums. My personal favourite is The System on U.S. house producer Dre Skull’s Loudspeaker riddim.

And finally Popcaan is on the way to drop his debut album Where We Come From, with Dre Skull serving as executive producer.

The sultry lead single Everything Nice was put out a while ago, and now it’s time for the second single off the anticipated album, that will be out on June 10.

Love Yuh Bad pairs Popcaan’s signature melodiousness and catchy rhythmic flow with skipping percussion and driving strings. It might be that Popcaan’s debut album will be in the same vein as the Vybz Kartel’s Kingston Story, a slow and electro-flavoured set produced by Dre Skull.

Leave a comment

Filed under News

Al Fingers’ fascinating story on Clarks

In early 2010 Vybz Kartel and his former fellow Gaza members Popcaan and Gaza Slim dropped the shoe anthem Clarks on ZJ Chrome’s Mad Collab riddim. In the first verse Vybz Kartel stated “mi nuh love crep enuh Clarks mi prefer, Clarks with the leather yea, Clarks with the fur, Clarks fi di summer, Clarks fi di winter, Clarks fi di sun, Clarks fi di water”.

It became a massive hit that year and was soon followed by two new cuts from the Wurl Boss – Clarks Again and Clarks 3 (Wear Weh Yuh Want) on the Wallabee riddim. At the same time the demand for Clarks increased in the Caribbean.

But this was not the first time Clarks had been celebrated in reggae. Dillinger had done it. Eek-A-Mouse too. But the best known Clark’s tribute up until Vybz Kartel’s anthem is Little John’s Clarks Booty released in 1985. And if you browse record sleeves from the 70’s and 80’s you’re bound to find Clarks. Just look at Dennis Alcapone’s Guns Don’t Argue or Michael Prophet’s self-titled album.

Street style has no boundaries and follows no rules. Converse is worn by punks and rockers all over the world, skinheads prefer Dr. Martens and Adidas Superstars was celebrated by Run DMC in the early days of hip-hop.

The story about Clarks dominance in Jamaican reggae and dancehall culture is fascinating since it’s a shoe partly synonymous with comfortable footwear for children and pensioners. It intrigued London-based DJ, musician and graphic designer Al Fingers so much that he recently put out a nearly 200 page book on the subject.

Pompidou and General Leon in King Jammy's yard in 1986. Photo by Beth Lesser.

Pompidou and General Leon in King Jammy’s yard in 1986. Photo by Beth Lesser.

Clarks in Jamaica is a stylish and colorful photo-essay of Clarks’ celebrated status on the island, where Wallabees and Desert Boots have ruled dancehalls ever since the 60’s. But it’s also a lesson in general Jamaican fashion, social history and the importance of brands and brand values.

Style and fashion are integral to Jamaicans, especially in dancehall culture, and Al Fingers and photographer Mark Read tell the story from Clarks earliest years in the 19th century via its arrival in the West Indies about 100 years ago to today’s iconic status.

Triston Palmer in Kingston in 1982. Photo courtesy of Greensleeves.

Triston Palmer in Kingston in 1982. Photo courtesy of Greensleeves.

It features current and historic photographs as well as never before-seen archival material and is based on interviews with veteran and contemporary artists and producers as well as industry people like Chris Lane and John MacGillivray from Dub Vendor.

Clarks in Jamaica gives interesting insights of how a comfortable shoe established in Somerset in 1825 could be the choice of rudeboy’s and Rasta’s. It also gives an exciting overview of Jamaican fashion and how Jamaican’s dress to impress.

What’s the recipe for its success? Check the book yourself, but it has a little something to do with simplicity, durability and price.

I currently don’t own any Clarks, but ten years ago I had around four or five pairs. When I read this book I suddenly felt an urge to address this problem and update my wardrobe.

Jah Stitch in Kingston in 2011. Photo by Mark Read.

Jah Stitch in Kingston in 2011. Photo by Mark Read.

2 Comments

Filed under Book reviews

Reggaemani’s best tunes in 2010

Like with albums, 2010 has been a pretty decent year with some major tunes. Gyptian – for instance – scored one of the biggest reggae hits in recent years with his hypnotic Hold You.

Apart from Gyptian, Vybz Kartel had two very well received tunes – the anthemic Clarks that have some follow-ups and Jeans & Fitted featuring producer Russian.

In the one drop field producers like Not Easy At All, Frenchie and Irie Ites have kept their flag high in Europe. In Jamaica, Don Corleon and John John produced two of the best riddims this year – Major and Zion Gate.

My best tunes in 2010 are a mixture of hard and sweet and dancehall and one drop. The tunes selected are not necessarily the ones that I’ve played the most, since I wanted a more diverse list than 20 tunes in one drop mode. You’ll probably notice that Hold You and Clarks are missing. Why? What can I say? The competition was just too fierce.

Artist – song title (riddim)

20. Gappy Ranks & Million Stylez – Life
Two European singjays that work very well together.

19. Jah Vinci – Me Alone (Wallabeez)
Bouncy dancehall at its best.

18. Maikal X – Get Away (Police in Helicopter Reactivated)
One of the loudest bass lines in 2010. Ouch.

17. Sena – Work in It (Eyes On My Purpose)
Sena was in the top of my list last year. Work in It is a wicked combination of hip-hop and reggae.

16. Chris Martin – As I Walk Away (Jah Protect)
Beautiful ballad with Chris Martin’s emotional voice over a riddim with acoustic guitar and strings.

15. Jimmy Riley & Fantan Mojah – Tell Me Your Name (Best Trick)
Hard and pulsating riddim that makes you want to dance.

14. Nas & Damian Marley – As We Enter
Hip-hop and reggae fusion at its best.

13. Vybz Kartel & Russian – Jeans & Fitted
Combination of dancehall and hip-hop with pop melodies.

12. Protoje – J.A
A great homage to Jamaica.

11. Kali Blaxx – Nah Trust Dem (Clearly)
Way too under recorded singer on a nice one drop riddim.

10. Chezidek – Walk With Jah (Collie Weed)
Slow and sweet riddim with Chezidek’s distinctive voice.

9. Papa Dee – My DJ Friends
Swedish veteran deejay on a riddim that echoes from the 80’s.

8. Skarra Mucci – Jah Blessings (Jaguar)
Tough tune from this Jamaican singjay.

7. Romain Virgo – Live Mi Life (Boops)
Producer Shane C. Brown revitalizes this great 80’s riddim and Romain Virgo does a great job with it.

6. Sizzla – Music in My Soul (Zion Gate)
King Jammy’s son John John produced this relick of a Bunny Lee riddim. Sweet old school reggae.

5. Johnny Clarke & Fantan Mojah – Rebel With A Cause (Rebellion 2010)
Another great relick. This time from Frenchie who lays his hands on the Creation Rebel riddim.

4. J-Boog – Coldest Zone (Hustlin’)
Very emotional from Hawaiian singer J-Boog. Tough riddim from Bost & Bim.

3. Chezidek – Live and Learn 12”
Some wicked horns arrangements compliments Chezidek’s emotional singing very well.

2. Tarrus Riley – Wildfire (Major)
Tarrus Riley’s take on one of the best riddims in 2010. Smooth and uptempo at the same time.

1. Pressure – Ina Dancehall (Strange Things hip-hop remix)
Pulsating to say the least and Pressure’s flow is beyond belief. I must admit that this was released late December 2009, so it could have been disqualified. But it’s just to good.

1 Comment

Filed under Columns