Judge Dread

Jamaica Jerk

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Also known as the Fifth Anniversary EP, "Jamaica Jerk Off" was Judge Dread's celebration of the five years that had elapsed since his unique take on rude reggae first made the British censors blanch, back in 1972. And what a celebration it was. The title track was a deeply Dread-ified version of Elton John's "Jamaica Jerk Off"; not one of the John/Taupin writing team's greatest accomplishments, of course, but one that was tailor-made for the Judge. (Elton John repaid the favor, incidentally, by playing keyboards on Dread's hit cover of "Come Outside.") "Bring Back the Skins," meanwhile, mourns the apparent death of the skinhead movement that Dread had once identified with -- and has been credited with helping engineer the skins' return, just a few short years later. "End of the World" reprises one of Dread's occasional forays into "clean" reggae, a straightforward rendering of the old Skeeter Davis chestnut that was so out-of-character for the Judge that he originally released it under the pseudonym Jason Sinclair. But the highlight has to be "Big Everything," the ultimate conclusion to the "Big Six," "Seven," "Eight," "Nine" saga that brought him to fame in the first place. Not quite a medley per se, individual verses are drawn from a succession of past hits, including all the "Bigs...", "Wet Dream," and "Rudeness Train," and the song swiftly supplanted them all in Dread's live show. After all, who needs "Big Eight" when you can have "Big Everything" and then some? In common with the last couple of years worth of Judge Dread singles, Jamaica Jerk barely grazed the U.K. Top 40. But, when you compare that performance with the fate that had long since devoured most of 1972's other chart debutantes, that was still an achievement to be proud of. All four tracks from Jamaica Jerk, incidentally, can now be found among the bonus tracks on the Captain Mod reissue of Dread's Last of the Skinheads album.

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