Pressure Drop – Toots And The Maytals

Back during Clash Week I predicted Pressure Drop would get it’s day in the sun on SFTD. Now we’re in the final countdown I’ve decided to make good on that promise by way of the myriad versions of this song in my record collection.

Honesty box time. As a kid of 18 back in 1992 the version of this I knew best was Izzy Stradlin’s cover version. It was released as his debut single away from GNR fronting The Ju Ju Hounds. I knew The Clash had done a version because it was the B-Side to one of my first punk singles. I saw the song get another reworking from The Specials when they gifted the world an album of covers in the mid-90’s. So I’d kind of known it by the bands who’d covered it for years before I got to properly look into the well from which all this good stuff had sprung.

The pub come gig space I spent my college years in avoiding my college work has featured in many of these posts. From the DJ nights to the ‘Bank Holiday: All Ages All Day Shows’ The Earl was my Rock and Roll Dojo. I went in a keen fan and left ‘Steve The Wise: The Barman who can run a PA and light show, put on a mini festival and tell you trivia for any track on the jukebox while he pours your pint’.

It was there I first really listened to Toots and The Maytals. It was there I really learned about Trojan Records and Roots and Sound Systems and Dub Plates and Toasting and all sorts of links from one genre to another.

The Earl was also the place I heard people make passionate arguments for famous bands least loved albums, where cover versions could wrestle for supremacy with originals and where venn-diagrams would get made with beer mats to illustrate the differences and similarities between Motown, Northern Soul and Revivalism.

Roy was a key figure in the Earl. He occasionally played bass for an eighties pop star who now worked on cruise ships, so he used to disappear for months at a time. When he came back, his knowledge of Reggae, Soul, Blues and Garage Rock was vital to we the bar staffs’ rock and roll education.

It was Roy who put me straight on which version of Pressure Drop was THE version of Pressure Drop. There was a guy in that day called Zippy. Zippy was a gifted guitarist who seemed to play in half the bands who took to the stage in this pub. He had taken to coming in and drinking tea when everyone else was boozing hard. He’d bailed me out with a gift of a Led Zeppelin Boxset when my girlfriend upped and left me one day with a box of my records. Zippy was a prince among men.

Roy and he were critiquing my cassette of covers when Izzy and the Hounds came on one quiet afternoon. Zippy had made a case for Keith Richards version and Roy had moved to motion it didn’t count as a cover when Toots and The Maytals were on that version of the track too. It was a do-over or a re-record “with added Keef” not a cover. The motion was carried and Roy set up a Pressure Drop-athon in the booth mixing cassettes, vinyl and CD’s rummaged from every corner of the venue (he might even have nipped round out to the Record And Tape Exchange to borrow The Specials version) to make his point.

We were laughing hard and pulling passing customers into the debate for a good hour before the case was settled.

There was never really any doubt. From the 1968 album Sweet And Dandy released on Dynamic Sound Studios that Roy was spinning for us and (due to the much documented financial complexity of the Reggae scene) from the 1970 Trojan Records release Monkey Man (this is the one that made it into my collection) Toots and The Maytals made a 5 star classic track with Pressure Drop. You just have to look at who covered it to see that.

Cheers fellas.

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