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Documenting the early days of The Clash, working with Bob Marley, managing The Slits, colliding genres with Big Audio Dynamite: Don Letts appears to have done it all. But there’s one thing he hasn’t done… until now. That changes as Don Letts releases his debut solo album.
A heady cocktail of dub rhythms, island vibes, spoken word and his own sweetly melodic topline, ‘Outta Sync’ is exactly what you’d anticipate a Don Letts artist project to sound like. It’s also notable as one of a few songs that can introduce such a storied life within a single verse: “Now, because of my duality, raised on pop and bass, didn't really bother me, ’cause it's all about the taste, I’m the vinyl generation, and that’s how I got my start, combining clothes and music, and turn it into art.”
The irony is that Letts hadn’t really intended to make music of his own. But then lockdown hit and his old friend, producer extraordinaire, fellow dub aficionado and Killing Joke bassist Youth encouraged him to give it a go, even sending him some basslines to work from The pair ended up working together for nine months, navigating both lockdown and Letts’ arkestral vision. The result is Letts’ debut solo album, which is set to emerge next year. The guest vocalists.
Terry Hall appears on two tracks, and the final track is sung by Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne. They’re also joined by Hollie Cook, who Letts knows via her time in The Slits and her dad, Paul, the ex-Pistols drummer. Zoe Devlin Love, the co-vocalist with whom he wrote Situationist – a song Letts describes appreciatively “as a lifesaver on the record, delivering that oomph when it needs it”.
Last but not least is Honor Letts, aka Letts’ second youngest daughter.
So concluded (sort of) Don Letts at the end (nearly) of last year’s best selling autobiography, There and Black Again. The musician (Big Audio Dynamite kind) DJ (party kind), film director (Grammy winning kind), radio broadcaster (BBC 6Music kind) is finally getting round to the one creative endeavour he’s not yet pursued.
1. Outta Sync
2. Something Coming Off (feat. Hollie Cook)
3. The Universe Knows What You've Done (ft. Terry Hall)
4. Crooked Face
6. Situationist (ft. Zoe Devlin Love)
7. The Doorman (ft. Terry Hall)
8. No Fooling Me (ft. Hollie Cook)
10. Civilization (ft. Honor Letts)
11. Present Dilemmas (ft. Wayne Coyne)