New Music Discovery: Basement 5
This is “What’s Making Me Happy This Week,” a weekly feature inspired by the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. It’s pretty self-explanatory.
What’s Making Me Happy This Week is a new music discovery that is nearly 30 older than my last “new” discovery, Kate Nash’s debut album “Made of Bricks.” As you may have noticed from my prior post, two weeks ago I made my first visit in many months to one of my favorite record stores, the wonderful Hold Fast in Asbury Park, NJ. One of my favorite things about the summer is having the opportunity to head out to the Jersey Shore and spend some time in Hold Fast, perusing their punk collection and chatting with Joe, the friendly store owner. In my review of the store, I wrote about the eclectic finds, especially in the punk and post-punk genres – one of those finds is an album that I picked up on my last visit, Basement 5’s 1965-1980.
Before coming across the album, I’d never heard of Basement 5. The album cover intrigued me, as did one key phrase on the back cover: produced by Martin Hannett. Only recently have I developed an appreciation for the amount of influence that a producer has on the sound of a record, and Hannett in particular has been cited as an innovative and influential producer. Hannett makes his presence on an album apparent, as he did during his time developing the sound of Joy Division.
What scared me just a bit was something else on the back cover – the photo of the band. Reggae is one of the few genres that I don’t even consider listening to (all due respect to Bob Marley of course) so a group of Rastafarians didn’t exactly seem my musical bag. Luckily, Hold Fast recently installed a listening station – after 30 seconds of 2 tracks, I knew I had something special. Basement 5 wasn’t a reggae band. They were a London-based reggae-influenced punk band. Or maybe, they were the reggae-influenced punk band (and far more punk than reggae). One of their first gigs was opening for PiL, and their lead singer (and creative force behind the band) was Dennis Morris, legendary photographer of Bob Marley and the Sex Pistols. Of course he was.
It’s fun to randomly pick up an album and instantly want to play it over and over again. Reggae-fusion-punk. Too cool.
And that’s What’s Making Me Happy This Week.