Mykaell Riley came to talk to the students at the University of the West this morning. Mykaell is the driving force behind the Black Music History project which documents and promotes the history of UK-based black music. He is a fount of knowledge about sound systems, the cross-Atlantic making of reggae and reggae-influenced music, and the way that British pop artists use and used reggae influences in their music. It was great to hear U-Roy (I used to have one of his albums many years ago) and to listen to the influence of James Brown's vocal explosives on Dave and Ansell Collins' Double Barrel.
I have known Mykaell for years- not while he was the percussionist for Steel Pulse, but after that when he was in a band called Bumble and the Beez. He thought Helen and the Horns was a crazy band, with a vocalist/guitarist and three horn players; but Bumble and the Beez had two guitarists, a violin player, a bass player and Mykaell on vocals, cowbell and bass drum.
The 1980s was the age of the oddball band.
I used to record soundtracks at Mykaell's home studio, and now occasionally I watch him singing with Dub Colossus, the reggae/African fusion big band run by Dubulah (who was in Bumble and the Beez). In between, Mykaell had a band called The Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra, who had a hit with Minnie the Moocher.
We are planning on doing something- some sort of event- in the future, that uses the research both of us have been doing, because there are common areas that are very unusual