CapitalLetters_CoverArtEcco a voi la nostra intervista alla storica band dei Capital Letters, tra i protagonisti della golden age del Reggae inglese degli anni ‘70, in occasione della ristampa da parte della Greensleeves Records dell’album “Vinyard”, rilasciato per la stessa etichetta nel 1982. Si tratta del secondo album pubblicato dalla band prima della sua lunga assenza dal panorama discografico. Occorre ricordare che attualmente esistono due band che operano con il nome di “Capital Letters”: la prima, quella che ha risposto alle nostre domande, costituita dai membri originali appartenenti alla formazione degli anni ’70; la seconda costituita dall’ex bassista del gruppo Junior “JB” Brown con l’apporto di altri musicisti, che tra il 2014 e il 2015 ha pubblicato due album per la label inglese Reggae Archive Records e per la sua sussidiaria Sugar Shack Records. Pare che Junior Brown si sia deciso a cambiare in JB’s Capital Letters  il nome della sua band  per evitare confusione tra le due formazioni.

 Ciò che  viene fuori dalla nostra chiacchierata è un breve resoconto sulla storia di questo gruppo e i dei suoi progetti per il futuro. La band di Wolverhampton è pronta per tornare a scrivere nuove importanti pagine del Reggae contemporaneo.

 

 

It is evident, the most striking feature of “Vinyard”, that was released in 1982, is the incredible topicality of some of its tunes, for instance when you play “Baggawolf” or “ No jobs”, you can’t ignore their reference to our political reality. Reggae bands most frequently exhume their most successful albums maybe bringing them on tour. Are you going to prepare a “Vinyard tour” in order to inspire and wake up the conscience of European youht, that, unlike 70’s ­ 80’s ones, seems to live in apathy?

Capital Letters: Yes, Capital Letters are in the process of planning a ‘Vinyard’ European tour, as soon as the full detail are finalised we will be publicising it.

 What happened after the release of Vinyard? 

C. P. : The Vinyard album was recorded during our ‘Headline News’ tour of Europe and was not released straight away. At the end of the ‘Headline News’ tour Capital Letters took a break from the music scene to concentrate on new material ,  it was during this break that the ‘Vinyard’ album was released but by that time the band was Non-functional for one reason or another, that is why there was never a ‘Vinyard’ tour.

CL15

The first decade of the XXI century will be remembered as period of refoundation, seeking for new equilibrium and new directions, for Reggae music. Probably the word “Revival” could be its right label. While in Jamaica the movement of Reggae Revival was spreading, a new generation of young artists, loyal to the foundations, is coming into the limelight. What do you think about it? 

C. P. : it is good to know that the young musicians of today have a feeling for the music and are spreading positive vibes with strong conscious messages through their music and have taken inspiration from great artists like Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Luciano, Bunny Wailer… the list goes on. The future of reggae is in the hands of the young artists.

But together with the Jamaican “Reggae Revival”, in England nowadays we are bearing witness to the return of the 70’s and 80’s generation of English Reggae bands, a phenomenon that we can call “Midlands Revival”. Is it a sort of revenge? 

C. P. : We would not call it Revenge, but back in the early 70’s and 80’s people used to like to go and watch a lot of live music bands that  they were used to. Whereas new bands had trouble filling that gap.  Now in 2015 people who grew up with the newer bands are calling to see these bands today along with the younger generation who can relate to the music of that period.  We do agree it’s a good thing the Midlands produced a lot of bands in the past so good on them to be able to resurface because it appears that they have been missed!

Please, tell us about the English Reggae scene of the 70’s and 80’s, the new generation need to know more about the period that laid the foundations for contemporary European Reggae movement!

C. P. : Back in the 70’s the music scene was very competitive, there were a lot of reggae bands singing a lot of positive and political songs of enlightenment on world issues i.e President Amin produced by Capital Letters on the ‘Headline News’ album . The pay for live bands was very low with no social media like today to promote music, which made it harder for reggae bands in particular trying to establish themselves in mainstream music. The black Echo [sic] music chart, Radio, and live gigs were the only way that reggae bands could judge their materiel.

“Smoking my ganja” was a super hit and today it remains one of the most palyed Reggae tunes , how was it born? Please, tell us some unknown in particular.

C. P. : “Smoking my ganja” was born on a Friday night in our practice room by inspiration. In Wolverhampton we all grew up around people who talked about ‘ganja’ and the stories they told about running away from the police during a police raid and there was a lot of different drugs going around and so we were inspired to make the song. After the released we had a lot of work with the ‘legalise ganja campain’ and every show was a sell-out.

The second thing about the song ‘smoking my ganja’ that no one knows is that the intro to the song is a musical mimic of the police banging down the door before a raid.

Poster Capital Letters VinyardSome month ago the Midland’s vibrations arrived in Italy thanks to the mighty Steel Pulse’s “Handsworth Revolution tour”. Might the Italian massives hope for your live performances where Reggae fans can enjoy the power and quality of the holdover Capital Letters?  

C. P. : Yes, Capital Letters are in the process of planning a comeback tour, as soon as the full detail are finalised we will be publicising it and hope to see our fans in Italy along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riccardo Passantino