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Faith Tests

KEITH HUDSON Testing of My Faith

This track is by the deeply-missed Jamaican producer Keith Hudson, unofficially known as the Dark Prince of Reggae. He also plied his trade as a dentist, though his level of achievement in that department must be considerably less spectacular than his dank productions of heavy dub low-end menace. His mid-70's work, for the most part neglected on Trojan's recent The Hudson Affair, ranks with the best of classic-era Jamaican analog productions. The album on which this track appears, Flesh of My Skin Blood of My Blood, is perhaps reggae's What's Going On, its political balance more tipped to the personal than the usual Rasta chant-downs. From start to finish it's full of aching soulful singing and midnight melodies, a shadow companion to Marley's more popular positivism. (Also recommended: Playing It Cool, which features some versions of these tracks and is, almost unbelievably, a darker, more disturbing listen.)

TAPPER ZUKIE feat. KNOWLEDGE Make Faith (12" version)

This track is just fun. Tapper Zukie is another famous Jamaican producer from the golden era, but outside of In Dub, I don't think his stuff necessarily stands above. This track is an exception. I think it sounds like The Selecter in its resolute bounciness. The second half is the dub and unlike some extended mixes it doesn't feel superfluous in the least. The guitar part gets reverbed into space, the tempo kicks up, and some guy named Knowledge toasts about faith: good stuff.


Belief Systems

SPOON I Can’t Believe That Kurt Cobain Is Dead

I don’t know if this can be claimed as an actual Spoon song – it sounds like it predates Telephono, and is probably just Britt Daniels. The charm of the tune extends only as far as the title, and its smirking rejoinder in the chorus; there’s no indication that this is the same songwriter who’ll pen “The Beast and Dragon, Adored.” Think of it as a rather goofy yearbook photo, shot at his parents’ house, an issue of Spin tossed on the carpet, a four-track on his closet dresser, a practice guitar on a stand with a skinny tie lazily strewn over it, and Risky Business sunglasses on the nightstand (if you want to go ahead and complete the image of Daniels rocking out in his underwear, that’s your prerogative – just don’t follow through and make him a Scientologist).


From American Primitive Vol. 1: Raw Pre-War Gospel, on John Fahey’s Revenant label. In league with this collection’s “I’m Gonna Cross the River of Jordan Some O’ These Days,” “This Time Another Year You May Be Gone,” “I Am In the Heavenly Way,” ad nauseam, it’s a song about death, not as an unfortunate end (see above), but rather a much-welcomed return journey. Popular music still hasn’t gotten over its death-obsession, but then again, neither has the culture. At least they had a mitigating mythos then. Those were the days…