Tag Archives: Smoking My Ganja

Capital Letters’ raw Vinyard reissued

unnamedIn 2013 legendary UK reggae band Capital Letters got back together after an about 30 year long hiatus. They have since recorded a new album – Wolverhampton – released earlier this year. But their earlier material has also been reissued. Reality – an effort collecting 15 tracks originally recorded in 1985 – dropped in 2014 and their debut album Headline News has also been made available again.

Now it’s time for yet another reissue. Vinyard is Capital Letters’ second album and it was recorded and released in small quantities and with poor distribution in 1982. The new edition collects the original ten tracks along with unreleased material taken from the Headline News sessions and a few live studio recordings.

Capital Letters formed in 1972 and is probably best known for their raw and lyrically controversial single Smoking My Ganja and the band was among the first wave of talented reggae acts to emerge in the UK during the mid-to-late 70s. These bands absorbed the sounds of Jamaica and created their own take on reggae. Many of these acts strived for social change singing about the society around them, which was often marked by violence, racism and social inequality.

Vinyard is a prime example of UK roots with its many reality tales and Capital Letters deal with false politicians, unemployment and struggle set to tough drum and bass along with a pumping organ.

This album is rawer than its predecessor and it captures the sound of early UK roots nicely. The CD version comes with in-depth sleeve notes by renowned reggae writer John Masouri and you can read why Capital Letters have renamed Helsinki to Hell Sink I.

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Brand new vintage from Capital Letters

CAPITAL LETTERS View 3A while back the crew at UK’s Reggae Archive Records headed from Bristol to Wolverhampton to meet Capital Letters’ bass player JB. When they headed south again they brought with them tapes and a scrapbook with photos and press clippings from Capital Letters’ short career in the late 70s and early 80s.

Capital Letters only released one album – the acclaimed Headline News in 1979. They also dropped a number of successful singles, and they’re probably best known for the marijuana anthem Smoking My Ganja.

Could the treasure found in JB’s house be a second album from Capital Letters? Yes, but the original tapes were unusable. But that didn’t stop Reggae Archive Records. Instead of shelving the tapes they gave the unmixed recordings to producer and mixing engineer Dave “Oldwah” Sandford.

Reality is the result. It’s a brand new, yet vintage, 14 track Capital Letters album from 1985, the year when everything was recorded. Five of the tracks are the band’s original 1985 mixes, one track is a live recording and the other eight are newly mixed from the original session tapes.

Among the 14 tracks are several dub versions and another mix to their hit song Smoking My Ganja. The album is mostly up-tempo in a punchy, almost ska-driven, style. Check the skanking This is Club Dance or Cocaine.

It also no less than four versions of the title track – the original vocal and the original dub as well as Sandford’s vocals and dub.

Not as great as the band’s rootsier debut album, but it’s nonetheless nice to hear previously unreleased vintage British reggae.

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