(Weed Beat/Greensleeves)

We live in the strangest of times. An invisible enemy attacks our species, kills our weak, stifles our communities, and delivers an after-taste of racism, downward economic spiral and division. Bad days, indeed. If we stay on the course our political leaders have set, things will improve to something resembling the normal we knew.

On this 1979 cut, the great Jamaican vocalist Johnny Clarke – one of Jamaica’s truly supreme singers – delivers an almost prophetic ode to hope and a brighter tomorrow. This tune feature on his seminal Originally Mr Clarke album, alongside the familiar ‘Every Knee Shall Bow’ and ‘Fittest of the Fittest’. On ‘Bad Days Are Going’ he sings “you don’t expect to see the same thing happen every days” and “now is the time for friends”, as if a premonition to what many people experience in the COVID-19 world. All the time his voice is punctuated by a whining understated guitar and an absolutely rock-solid bassline likely to have been laid down by Robbie Shakespeare.

I first dropped on to this tune via the Scientist dub, ‘Bad Days Dub’, which appears on his widely available Scientific Dub album. It had been played frequently in dub sets, but I’d never pursued the original vocal. Collectors will be pleased to note this has been pressed to a Greensleeves 45rpm 12”  – the version I have – which means the sound quality makes it worthy of play on a proper rig. The Weed Beat 7” flipside is slightly different to the ‘Heavy Metal Dub’ version, with less reverb, delay and echo. Indeed, Scientist was at his mixing peak when he reworked this.

This is version for both the serious selector and the casual fan. Upliftment upon hearing these tunes is assured.

Jeff Neems

Jeff Neems is the resident DJ at Wonder Horse, Hamilton’s leading cocktail bar.