Saturday, 9 April 2016

The Devil's Music: a reggae special

Chase The Devil by Max Romeo & The Upsetters
Lucifer by Junior Murvin
Suzanne Beware Of The Devil by Dandy Livingstone

To close reggae week, not one, not two, but THREE Devil songs for you. The first comes from Max Romeo. Max was banned by the BBC and from performing live in much of the UK back in the late 60s, his material deemed to be overtly sexual. His fourth album 'War Ina Babylon' was recorded with Lee Perry & the Upsetters and released in 1976. It included Chase The Devil, his best known song largely because of it being heavily sampled in the Prodigy's massive 1992 hit Out Of Space. It has since been used by Kanye West, Dreadzone and The Qemists.

Junior Murvin is, of course, best known for his song Police and Thieves which was famously covered by The Clash on their debut album. Murvin's album of the same name from 1977 - which like Max Romeo's 'War Ina Babylon' was produced by Lee 'Scratch' Perry - also contained Lucifer, a vitriolic song about hunting down those who stole, traded and enslaved Africans in history's dark past. None shall escape Murvin's wrath: "Get all the brothers of Lucifer, get all the evil doers of Lucifer." Run, motherfuckers - he's not jokin'!

In 1972, Dandy Livingstone scored a sizeable UK hit with Suzanne Beware Of The Devil. It was a song he had previously produced in 1968 for Nicky Thomas. Livingstone had been recording ska, rocksteady and reggae since 1964, both as a soloist and as a member of various duos. He was hugely prolific, putting out more than 50 singles and six albums before the end of the decade. Among his hits were covers of Sam Cooke's Another Saturday Night, Fats Domino's Ain't That A Shame and Sandie Shaw's Puppet On A String. However, perhaps his most famous song is one he co-wrote with trombonist Rico Rodriguez called Rudy, A Message to You. Rodriguez played on a later, and more famous, version of the song with a bunch of young British upstarts called the Specials. You may have heard of them. Dandy's recording career waned from the mid-70s before coming to an abrupt halt after his final single release in 1980. No new material has emerged from him since.

Does the Devil skank, d'you reckon? He damn well ought to, out of defiance if anything!



  1. Another 3 crackers Robster. I love Suzanne Beware of the Devil and suspect I'll be singing it all morning

  2. Boom! A brilliant set of tunes Robster.