After he'd been a fixture of the British new wave/punk/underground/alternative scene since the late '70s, 1994's Take Me to God marked Jah Wobble's first major commercial success as a solo artist, reaching number 13 in the U.K. The use of numerous guest musicians (including Can drummer Jaki Leibezeit) gives this a feel of a rotating collective, with Wobble (who plays several instruments here in addition to the one he's most known for, bass) the constant. Quite a few singers contribute, giving this more of a song-oriented feel than some of his other work, some of the more celebrated including Gavin Friday, Dolores O'Riordan of the Cranberries, Senegalese vocalist Baaba Maal, and top world music artist Najma Akhtar. The 66-minute length of these sprawling excursions almost inevitably means the program will drag at times, according to your musical inclinations. Lyrically, too, it's so varied as to make it difficult to connect with a pronounced attitude or viewpoint, the concerns ranging from the almost indecipherably frivolous ("Yoga of the Nightclub") to the numerous references to God that pepper the song titles.
The second album by Jah Wobble's Invaders of the Heart continued the bassist's exploration into ethnic fusion, merging together music from different world traditions with pop production and his own dub-influenced bass guitar. Fans of Wobble's earlier work with Holgar Czukay and Public Image Limited might be surprised and a bit dismayed at first by the glossy production and pop nature of some of the tracks here; one would never have guessed that Wobble would come up with something as commercial as the Latin pop of "Ungodly Kingdom." However, much of the music is remarkable and on each listen seems to contain something new. Wobble is far more interested in experimentation than simply adding world sounds to pop music. The tracks with Middle Eastern influences, including the amazing "Everyman's an Island," are quite remarkable and most feature the fine talents of Natasha Atlas. Meanwhile, the trance-like opener, "Visions of You," which guests Sinéad O'Connor on vocals, is absolutely beautiful. On the title track, Wobble even returns to his past, with he and guitarist Justin Adams bringing the sound of early PiL forward ten years.
Here's the deal: Brian Eno does soundtrack bits for one of British filmmaker Derek Jarman's final productions, "Glitterbug". Then Eno turns over said tracks to dub/world-meister Jah Wobble for further tinkering. Result: amazing! This is one of those instances where the mysterious and elusive 'third mind' that so many have spoken of in quality collaborative work has come out in force and created something that's perhaps a bit beyond the scope of either of the two participants, taken alone. The 'action' here keeps moving, in a very cinematic manner, throughout the tracks that make up this release, and you get the feeling of being drawn along in a complex musical journey through spaces that seem at once familiar and suddenly very alien.
Jah Wobble is perhaps the only man who could safely assume the mantle of the UK's King Of Dub. 'I Could Have Been A Contender' is the first true major retrospective that chronicles the entirety of Jah Wobble's dazzling career. Includes three PIL classics, 'Public Image', 'Poptones', & 'Death Disco'. Remastered three CD set featuring 37 tracks total.
Even when paying homage to the Moroccan music she grew up with, vocalist Natacha Atlas can't help but let the multicultural and modern seep in. With bossa nova, Western pop, and just a thin slice of electronica figuring into the mix, the "back to my roots" album Mish Maoul is a rich collection of music that doesn't sound decorated but natural coming from an artist who prides herself in being a musical nomad. Easy to believe a nomad's memories of her homeland would be foggy and sentimental, and easy to believe the modern nomad's soundtrack would sound something like this – only something like this because this is far and away Atlas' most personal album. Suitably, she seems totally in charge of its construction, making interesting production choices with the help of Temple of Sound, Timothy Whelan, and others. For someone who has worked with Transglobal Underground, Art of Trance, and Jah Wobble in the past, the restraint Atlas uses on the rhythmic and ritualistic "Hayati Inta" is surprising and creates an intoxicating tension with only a slight bit of electric guitar revealing this isn't a field recording.