Sunday, 13 March 2016

"Skinhead Moonstomp: Deluxe Edition" by SYMARIP (2008 Universal/Trojan 2CD DELUXE EDITION Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Let's Start Getting Happy Now…Yeah Yeah Yeah…"

Sporting artwork you'd hide from your ailing Auntie Flo and her dodgy ticker, "Skinhead Moonstomp" has always been something of a misunderstood beast. Many people thought the reprobates depicted on the front alleyway cover were Symarip and maybe for that reason, the album never received the attention its deserved outside of the white British working class skinheads who embraced this hugely influential 1970 reggae album with near religious fervour. The group (pictured on the rear) is actually the Jamaican 7-piece THE PYRAMIDS under their nickname. They were also known as SEVEN LETTERS, THE BEES and for touring purposes - SYMARIP and THE SKINHEADS. Hopefully this fabulous and bravely chosen 2008 Deluxe Edition 2CD reissue will change all that...

There's a lot on here - so let's gets to the braces. UK released 29 September 2008 – “Skinhead Moonstomp: Deluxe Edition” by SYMARIP on Trojan 1776718 (Barcode 602517767188) is a 2CD DELUXE EDITION Reissue/Remaster and breaks down as follows:

DISC 1 (63:10 minutes):

Tracks 1 to 12 are the album "Skinhead Moonstomp" by SYMARIP issued April 1970 in the UK on Trojan Records TBL-102
(13 to 23 (with 1 and 2 on Disc 2) are BONUS 7" singles issued in 1969 on the Trojan affiliated "Doctor Bird" Label with the group credited as SEVEN LETTERS.)
Track 13 is "The Fit" [aka "Wish"], Doctor Bird DB-1208 [B]
Tracks 14 and 15 are "Please Stay" and "Special Beat", DB-1194 [A & B]
Tracks 16 and 17 are "Flour Dumpling" and "Equality", DB-1195 [A & B]
Tracks 18 and 19 are "Mama Me Want Girl" and "Sentry, DB-1206 [A & B]
Tracks 20 and 21 are "Soul Crash" and "Throw Me Things", DB-1207 [A & B]
Track 22 is "There Goes My Heart", DB-1208 [A]
Track 23 is "Bam Bam Baji", DB-1209 [A]

DISC 2 (69:16 minutes):
1. Hold Him Joe (UK 7" single on Doctor Bird DB-1209, B)
2. Tomorrow At Sundown (UK 7" single on Doctor Bird DB-1306, B-side to the album track "Fung Shu" - Track 11, Disc 1)
3. Parson's Corner [aka Vindication] 
4. Redeem (Tracks 3 and 4 are the A&B-sides of a UK 7" single on Treasure Isle TI-7054)
5. La Bella Jig
6. Holiday By The Sea (Tracks 5 and 6 are the A&B-sides of a UK 7" single on Treasure Isle TI-7055)
7. I'm A Puppet (UK 7" single on Attack ATT-8013, A - Track 3 above as "Vindication" is its B-side)
8. Feel Alright
9. Telstar (Tracks 8 and 9 are the A&B-sides of a UK 7" single on Trojan TR-7755)
10. Geronimo (UK 7" single on Duke DU-80, A)
11. To Sir With Love
12. Reggae Shuffle (Tracks 11 and 12 are the A&B-sides of a UK 7" single on Trojan TR-7770)
13. All For You (UK 7" single on Trojan TR7803, A)
14. Stingo (UK 7" single on Trojan TR-7814, B)
15. Mosquito Bite
16. Mother's Bath (Tracks 15 and 16 are the A&B-sides of a UK 7" single on Creole CR-1003)
17. Can't Leave Now
18. Teardrops (Tracks 17 and 18 are the A&B-sides of a UK 7" single on Creole CR-1006)
19. Stop The Train
20. Black And White
21. Lasting Treasure
22. That's Nice
23. Funky Broadway

Tracks 1 to 7 are SYMARIP - 8 to 18 credited as THE PYRAMIDS - 23 is credited to ROY ELLIS & RICO'S BAND 

The 20-page detailed booklet has an essay on the band, the album's history and the scene surrounding it by LAURENCE CANE-HONEYSETT co-author of the superb book "Young, Gifted & Black - The Story Of Trojan Records" (see separate review).

Front and rear cover are reproduced on the front and back pages in colour, there's pictures of those lovely and rare UK 7" labels that get collectors weak at the knees, unique foreign picture sleeves, industry adverts, a complete singles and album discography from 1969 to 1971 - and even interviews with the band's principal songwriters MONTY NEYSMITH and ROY ELLIS. Both discs reflect the original Trojan label design and there's a collage of photos of the band reproduced beneath the two see-through trays - all of it very nicely done. (It's also not a BOX SET as Amazon says - it's a DELUXE EDITION 2CD set in the now familiar plastic wrap for the series with a four-way foldout digipak beneath.)

The tapes have been mastered by TIM DEBNEY at Fluid Mastering and the sound quality is similar to the "Tighten Up" DELUXE EDITION in August of 2008 - a mixed bag of the fantastic and the cruddy. This is not audiophile territory - it's reggae music - recorded on a shoestring and all the more gritty and wonderful for it. Having heard this LP on battered vinyl for years, I found most tracks a revelation.

Musically, this is party time. The chugging brass and Ska groove of "Phoenix City" is utterly irresistible and you can just `hear' the roots of THE SPECIALS in "Try My Best".

The extras are cleverly chosen too - not only are they very rare 7"s (many making their CD debut) - they're anthems of the time for that scene. Almost all of the singles have the same set up - a sung A-side with an instrumental on the B - both of which are killer. The cover version of the Joe Meek/Tornados 1962 classic "Telstar" on the back of "Feel Alright" is a typically cool example. At 46 tracks, I'll be dipping into this for years.

Summing up - coupled with the 2CD set of "Tighten Up Volume 1" from August of this year (see separate review), someone in Universal is making damn good choices! It's so good to see great Reggae and Ska get the DELUXE EDITION treatment it has always deserved. A highly recommended purchase and a voyage of musical discovery you'll not regret taking.

PS: the title of this review is the spoken intro to the classic floorfiller "Skinhead Moonstomp"

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