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Asian Dub Foundation

Rafi's Revenge (London)

By • Feb 27th, 2019 • Category: Album review

Listening to this album brought back one of the happiest memories of my life. Primal Scream, Glasgow, 1998, Barrowlands. When you are at a Primal Scream concert, you are there to see Primal Scream and Primal Scream only and it really does not matter who the support band are. They were Asian Dub Foundation. They were loud, fiery and vibrant.

Four guys with nothing but drums, bass and attitude. Lots of the latter. They had messages to blast through us about race, religion and what it was to be an Asian youth in Britain. They had screams of protest to seethe out into our souls about otherwise silent injustices, such as that of Satpal Ram.

This was a group with a pure voice of their own. This was Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto by way of The Clash and Karl Marx. And they had nicked Leftfield’s boom box.

I wondered what they’d sound like on record. ‘Rafi’s Revenge’ was the answer. It showed politics and rhetoric could be fun without losing any of their edge.

Singles came before it, such as ‘Buzzin” and ‘Black White’, which whetted my appetite for more, with their distinctive kick and fantastic live versions of ‘Naxalite’ and ‘Free Satpal Ram’. It gave me a wee thrill and made my heart run all the faster.

It’s got even better with age. Having not listened to it for some time, there are loads of things I’d forgotten about and loads more I’d never even noticed. That driving, drilling, vibrato-like bass sound that underpins every track and makes it gel so beautifully. Those small slight moments of silence that create a slight melancholy.

It’s like James Brown’s love child let loose at an acid house party, as hosted by Lee “Scratch” Perry, Massive Attack and Bob Marley. Also, like Primal Scream, it guarantees that you will get A Good Night Out. The messages are crisp and direct, all delivered with venom, vigour and punch.

You’ll get frost one minute and fire the next. Rafi’s Revenge, like all truly definitive albums, shows you all their tricks and talents in enticing shades of grey. This is an album with fire in its heart. That’s what makes it so exciting.

The danger with deluxe editions is they can be padded out with stuff that doesn’t fit or wasn’t good enough first time round. Not so here. There is a very smooth flow and transition between the two discs. Disc 2 is a bit of a comedown, letting you breathe a bit more. It also lets you into ADF’s influences a bit more and lets you see how such a great album was formed.

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