One thing I’ve always admired about Milwaukee musician Eric Blowtorch – with whom I’ve collaborated many times across the decades – is his willingness, nay eagerness, to make connections.
While I always noticed the phone numbers printed on Jamaican record labels, Eric went further and dialed the numbers and spoke to the artists and producers. It’s this way that he’s done some great collaborations with the likes of the late great Prince Jazzbo and Black Uhuru’s Duckie Simpson.
But his latest, a cover of The Clash’s "Straight to Hell" recorded with living legends of Jamaican music Horace Andy and Big Youth, is barely short of astonishing, if short of it at all.
"‘Straight to Hell’ remains as relevant now as three decades ago," Blowtorch says. "The estimated 60 million people fleeing Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Mexico all prove that. And when the loudest, most incessantly repeated voices are those demanding more walls and barriers all over the world, of turning away the people in greatest need, and sending them straight back to hell, then we need this song and this performance more than ever."
Andy had recorded a version of "Straight to Hell" in the past, but told Blowtorch that he was unhappy with it; that it needed a better rhythm track. So, Eric being Eric, he said, "I’ll do it."
And Andy assented.
Then, Blowtorch connected with Big Youth (aka the emoji-addicted Manley Buchanan) on Facebook and suggested he take part. Again, assent.
The result is a track that has led the reggae elite to rave. Linton Kwesi Johnson told Eric, "Horace Andy's rendition of the song is heartfelt and timely and Big Youth has added his unique style. You can quote me."
And On-U’s Adrian Sherwood called it "a real gem." Adrian. Sherwood.
"When (Andy’s) ‘Living in the Flood’ was released," Blowtorch says. "Joe (Strummer) mentioned to me that he’d suggested Horace record a version of ‘Straight to Hell.’ Aside from maybe Louis Armstrong’s recording of ‘Star Dust…Read more...