Hyperbole: Basement Shakedown

ONE of the last, great undiscovered bands of the Eighties, Basement 5 are completely unknown to most, forgotten by many and utterly loved by a lucky few. Kris Needs nearly went and spoiled it by writing a piece about them for Mojo last year, the bloody bugger, but luckily nobody seemed to take much notice. I’m only telling you now on the condition that you keep all this to yourself, so think on.

Formed, so the story goes, by Don Letts with one-and-a-half grand of Chris Blackwell’s money, Basement 5 occupied a space somewhere between Killing Joke and PIL – like a real-life collision between punk and dub reggae rather than a theoretical one. I only know their stuff because some guy I happened to sit next to during registration at sixth form sold me their 1965-1980 album and the accompanying dub 12-inch for a fiver in 1982.

“You have to play it very loud to enjoy it fully,” said control room wizard Martin Hannett some time later. “It was the most difficult production, I must say, the heaviest. It was 18-degrees in the shade, the end of August. As I recall it has been the most physical album that I’ve ever done. Made me feel like I’d been carrying bricks around. Heavy work. Putting the bass lines in the right place.

“But it was good.”

Read the rest of this piece at the new home of Expletive Undeleted here.

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