Thursday, 5 November 2009

Radical Dance Faction (RDF) / Military Surplus

Radical Dance Faction always used to get tossed on the dodgy "crusty dub" pile. This is true to a certain extent considering they used to attract a hell of a lot of crusties to their gigs (what ever happened to crusties?) and their music certainly could be described as dubby. I saw them live many times during the early 90s. I particularly remember one gig at the Electric Ballroom in Camden and still sticks in my mind as one of the best gigs that I ever attended. I recall that I spent a lot of time on stage that night and I'm not too sure why.

Founded by Chris Bowsher in Hungerford, Berkshire and starting out as Military Surplus in 1986 before becoming Radical Dance Faction. The band had many line up changes before splitting up in the late 1990s. Their music mixed elements of reggae, dub and punk. Chris Bowsher, more than a poet than a singer, spoke rather than singing his lyrics. He was often joined on record and on stage by the more accessible and melodic sensibilities of Linda Goodman.

Bowsher wrote about such topics as the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 in the song "Chinese Poem". He witnessed the Hungerford Massacre and wrote about this harrowing experience in "Hot On The Wire" and in the poem "Hungerford Poem".

They released two essential albums: "Borderline Cases" and "Wasteland". both currently unavailable. The latter set featuring hot shot reggae drummer Style Scott, a former member of Roots Radics and Dub Syndicate. A third album "Raggamuffin Statement" followed, but that was a dodgy clumsy hotpoch of recordings of live material and demo-quality material.

The band reformed a couple of years ago as Military Surplus/RDF and played a handful of gigs. One of which was in Hitchin early in 2008, which included Murph from the Rhythmites on guitar, and old time Military Surplus member Steve Swann (Dub The Earth and Revolutionary Dub Warriors) on vocals. Below are some of the pictures I took on the night

A new album was planned for last year but nothing has yet emerged..

Here are three audio clips. "Chinese Poem" and "Hot On The Wire" - both mentioned above, and are on the "Borderline Cases" album. The third clip is of "Babylon" which is on the album "Wasteland"

1 comment:

  1. I *LOVE* this band. Discovered them quite by accident on the B side of a cassette somebody lent me years ago. It needs to be given a chance, if it's to be appreciated. Definately an aquired taste, but well worth the effort.