Wednesday, March 6, 2013

094: 03/06/13 - Anthony Abbinanti of The Drastics

It's episode 094, and we're hanging out with Anthony, of long running Chicago institution, The Drastics to talk about dub, roots, and rhythms. In tandem with this episode, the third installment in Notes and Bolts' weekly lathe series features a new jammer by The Drastics that will be on sale at noon today and end at noon next Wednesday. So get on it!

Download from itunes by clicking here.  

The Drastics: Lightning Train
We're not really known for playing rocksteady but it's one of my favorite styles.  Especially the very early rocksteady dubs before the style really came into it's own.  Back when there was one home-made tape delay shared by a bunch of producers and the dubs were more just about pulling certain sections of the band in and out.  This tune is a great example of when riddim and lyrics meet and the sum is greater than their parts.  I wrote the riddim (UV Rockers) probably 10 years ago when I first moved into Ukrainian Village, but never recorded it.  Our vocalist MC Zulu heard it recently and immediately put these sorta gospel-y vocals to it.  Couldn't have asked for a better pairing.

Badoo: Rockin' of The Ten Thousand
A scorcher on the 'Drum Song' riddim.  One of my favorites.  Badoo sings (in his creepy way) about a night at a soundsystem dance in Jamaica 'Woman and man was in the session, it was a deejay jamboree'.  He even puts himself into the action  'I Badoo start to go, the man Barry Brown, Sugar Minott, Tony Tuff ...'  Typical fare for a sound clash or just a soundsystem dance; lots of food, drinks, dancing, fancy clothes and people chatting lyrics.  This tune is actually preceded by a very similar tune titled 'Rockin of the Five Thousand', on the same riddim released by Badoo in 1980 on a UK 12".  (

The Gaylads: Joy In The Morning
I'll just always go back to rocksteady as playing a fundamental role in the development of Jamaican music.  For only existing about 2-3 years this style carries so much weight.  They have all these sweet little intros that usually have nothing to do with the rest of the song then the vocal harmonies come in and just lift you up.  I don't know what it is about this one that has made it a favorite... Might be purely the juxtaposition of the sad/melancholic riddim with this affirmation-of-love lyric style over top of it.  I'm also a sucker for sad songs over happy sounding music.

King Tony/The Pinstripes: Give Some (Dub)
I've had the pleasure of working with the Pinstripes for some years now.  They came to Chicago from their hometown of Cincinnati in 2010 to record their full length album 'I' with me.  The album (helped by the Pinstripes insane touring schedule) has garnered some high marks from music blogs and their ilk.  So I took the music and dubbed the tracks that worked well in this format.  This is the opening track from that dub album, the original track 'Give Some Love' is about exactly what it sounds like.  You can listen to the whole thing or even buy it (!) at

Twinkle Brothers and Jah Shaka: His Imperial Majesty
Jah Shaka is a recent obsession of mine.  So much that The Drastics have started laying groundwork for a Shaka style album featuring our trombonist Andrew Zelm.  Arguably the king of the UK Dancehall, Jah Shaka lays conscious lyrics and singers over heavy heavy dub riddims that will make you feel high even if you don't smoke.  The Twinkle Brothers (despite having what may be perceived as a silly name) are originally from the Ska years of Jamaican music in the early 1960s.  Over time their music became more and more inundated with Rasta culture, and most of their releases past  the mid 1970s are exclusively dealing with Jah Rastafari.  Check this movie called 'Babylon' from 1980 to see some (good) footage of Shaka inna dance! (

The Drastics: Rock with you
My friend Chuck Wren over at Jump Up and formerly Choke Distribution got his hands on a bootleg vinyl LP of MJ acappelas and thought it would be cool to do a mashup sorta thing.  Just months earlier these 'Motown flies Jamaica' bootlegs had come out and they were pretty terrible but receiving rave reviews online... And all they did was take old Studio One or King Tubby riddims and mashed them with Marvin Gaye acapellas and the like.  The result was awkward as Motown songs are complex and have changes and bridges and sections while most Studio One / King Tubby music is riddim ... that is to say 'one part repeated'.  So I took the original MJ tunes and transcribed em and set em on instruments more appropriate to the reggae idiom and done.  The spooky element is that the project started just weeks before he passed away.  So it then, in turn, became a sorta tribute album .. Though that wasn't the original intention.  I still see the bootleg vinyl around from time to time.

The Drastics: Dim View
Originally I was just suppose to dub this track for JahDan Blakkamore but when I got my hands on the multi-track stems I decided to reconstruct the whole song.  Neither the dub or the remix have made it on to any release.

Complete Playlist:

The Drastics: Lightning Train
King Tubby: Rockin' of The Ten Thousand
The Gaylads: Joy In The Morning
King Tony: Give Some (Dub)
Twinkie Brothers and Jah Shaka: His Imperial Majesty
The Drastics: Rock with you
The Drastics: Dim View

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