This group were formed in 1972 in Wolverhampton, England. They originally performed as the Alphabets until they discovered another group with the same name. Initially the group, with a line-up featuring Danny McKenzie (guitar/vocals), Earl Lynch (keyboards/vocals), Junior Brown (bass guitar), George Scarlet (lead guitar) and Wenty Stewart (drums), achieved eminence as a soul outfit on the live circuit. Influenced by their Jamaican roots Capital Letters developed a style that personified the experiences of black youth in the UK. In 1978, they were signed to Greensleeves Records, and recorded the hit single ‘Smoking My Ganja’. Inspired by the single, the Legalise Cannabis Campaign coalition recruited the group alongside Black Slate and Sir George Hi Fi for a benefit concert in the spring of 1979. The popularity of songs relating to both the pleasures and restrictions of smoking marijuana assured the group popularity outside the reggae market. In the summer of 1979 they embarked on a triumphant tour of the college circuit, followed by a series of European concerts. They also released ‘UK Skanking’, which surpassed their debut. Celebrating what was considered the second wave of English-based reggae groups, they enthused ‘UK Skanking it is good / but it doesn’t match up / match up to J.A. style’. The irony was that the hit, with its heavy percussion and bass, was equally as satisfying as many Jamaican productions. An unusual feature of the release was the never-ending b-side ‘Run Run Run’, where the grooves in the vinyl deliberately met without coming to a conclusion. The singles were all featured on the group’s debut album, alongside the tracks ‘Out Of Africa’, ‘Daddy Was No Murderer’, and an ambiguous tribute to the Ugandan leader, ‘President Amin’. Belated recognition came when they were voted as Best New Band by Black Echoes readers at the Reggae Awards show in 1980. The group also achieved a national chart placing in Spain with ‘President Amin’. This unexpected hit led to a second successful European tour. On their return the band joined forces with the Keynote collective promoting ethnic minority groups, including the African-styled Lanzel And Bokoor and the Asian group Punjab Sewak.
Share this page