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04/11/2015
Dangerous Shoes - Clarks in Jamaica

Clarks in Jamaica - Various Artists (Greensleeves VPGSCD7034

“Put on mi Clarks and dem pass dem remarks!” Errol Scorcher

Following publication of his seminal work, Clarks in Jamaica (2012), which has recently gone out of print with second-hand copies selling for hundreds of pounds on line, and a recent lecture at the V & A, DJ Al ‘Fingers’ Newman has now curated this album of the same name. Drawn from over 200 recording that reference the Clarks brand these 21 tracks ably demonstrate the creative vitality of the Jamaican Dancehall scene from the late 70s onwards.

“And mi dally down a Tivoli, fi go buy Clarks booty.” Dillinger

I have to admit it has been some years since I listened to Dillinger’s ‘CB200’, or big Eek –A-Mouse’s ‘Wa Do Dem’, and I had forgotten just how good they are. It was also good to hear Trinity, Ranking Joe, and Josey Wales again. Several of the other later artists, such as Richie Davis, Papa Dimes and Early B are less familiar to me and several of the tracks are making their first appearance on CD.

“She want Ferrucci Jeans, she want Clarks booty.” Culture

This must be the first new Greensleeves/VP album I have bought for about 10 years and very welcome it is too. With such an eclectic roster of artists, featuring both UK and Jamaican produced material, I imagine the licensing of these tracks must have been a very complicated and drawn out process, and might account for the fact that the album is only now available, some three years after the book of the same name.

“Flash out your foot, and show your Clarks booty.” Little John

Using photographs and artwork from the book, the sleeve notes give a brief outline of how Clarks became so popular in the former Caribbean colonies and suggests that possibly no other country loves a brand more than Jamaica loves Clarks. Evidence is also provided to illustrate how, after Prime Minister Michael Manley’s PNP banned the shoes in an attempt to promote and protect indigenous shoemakers (which served only to increase demand for the UK manufactured footwear), producer Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes received 14 pairs of the iconic desert boots in part payment.

This is a very enjoyable album celebrating a lifestyle revolving around the sound system culture of fashion, music and style. Time to put on your Arrow shirt, knit ganzie (Jamaican pronunciation of Guernsey , as in the sweater), diamond socks, and your Clarks booty, and step it ina the dance and show everyone that you’re trash & ready.

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