Jah Wobble: ReDux

From post-punk hooligan to Zen bass master.

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Thirty years ago, the Obi-Wan Kenobi of post-punk bass guitarists was a drink and drug casualty scraping a living as a cabbie and London Underground station supervisor. Now clean and sober, a highly respected serial collaborator and prolific recording artist, Wobble is back with another whopping six-disc retrospective.

ReDux contains more than 90 tracks, and still manages to avoid major overlap with his previous career-spanning anthology from 2004.

The material loosely divides into decades and genres, including a handful of gloriously discordant avant-punk flashbacks to Wobble’s career-making stint with John Lydon’s PiL. The later discs feature mostly mellower hybrids of world music and jazz, including memorable guest vocals from the likes of Sinead O’Connor and Natacha Atlas.

An entire disc devoted to spoken-word tracks proves to be a rich showcase of caustic wit, inspired wordplay and street-preacher mysticism. There is new music here, too, including the whooshing psychedelic dance-pop single Merry Go Round and the dad-punk rant Let’s Go Psycho, which suggests Wobble is channelling Sleaford Mods.

The bonus for hardcore fans is an entire album of newly recorded cover tracks, mostly unorthodox takes on classic film and TV themes. John Barry’s achingly lovely title music to The Persuaders gets the Wobble treatment, complete with stream-of-consciousness monologue about ‘canapés on the Cote d’Azur’. The themes to The Sweeney, Get Carter and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly also receive irreverent reggae and ska makeovers.

His wayward muse may pull him in all directions, often with mixed results, but Wobble’s questing and generous spirit has also produced plenty of rare musical treasure./o:p

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.