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I Murder Hate - On-U-Sound do Burns

Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh/Tolbooth, Stirling
4 stars
“Robbie Burns, we know you’re not dead, it’s just a different frequency,” Ghetto Priest declaims during the culmination of a remarkable collaboration between artist Graham Fagen and Dub producer Adrian Sherwood, which sets the bard’s lyrics to a reggae backing. Commissioned by the Tolbooth’s Blend festival of roots music to coincide with Fagen’s Somebodyelse exhibition in the centre’s adjoining Changing Room gallery, the result is a live extension of Fagen’s earlier Clean Hands Pure Heart project. Where then Sherwood reinvented Auld Lang Syne and The Slave’s Lament, here the full band tackle I Murder Hate, A Red, Red Rose, The Tree of Liberty and A Man’s A Man For A’ That in a magnificent hybrid of styles.

The night before, Sherwood, Ghetto Priest and percussionist Pete Lockett re-launched Sherwood’s On-U-Sound record label at Edinburgh’s Voodoo Rooms with an extended set of chilled-out Dub, replete with Sherwood’s maverick sonic trickery. With Saturday’s two sets augmented by veteran On-U-Sound guitarist Skip MacDonald and folk picker Ian King, the band warmed up with MacDonald’s solo Afro-delic blues and a Ewan MacColl cover.

Following a percussion solo by Lockett, the band tackle all six Burns songs with maximum respect, not least from Sherwood, who mans the controls at the back of the room, lobbing little explosions into the mix, but never drowning out Ghetto Priest’s honeyed vocals. A Red, Red Rose is transformed into the sweetest lover’s rock, while The Tree of Liberty becomes a rolling centrepiece that could happily go on for ever. By the time Ghetto Priest attempts to cast MacDonald’s guitar notes into the spiritual ether, you’d happily hang around twice as long.

The Herald, March 16th 2009

ends

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