Weathers’ Bad Weather
By Carl Hanni
Here’s a question for academics and true-blood music lovers
alike: how important is biography and contextulization to fully
appreciate an artist’s work? Or can the work simply do all the speaking for
Consider Vivian Weathers. His recorded output appears to be
limited to a single solo album, Bad Weather, a couple of singles, a
track on a dub compilation and playing bass and some guitar on dub poet Linton
Kwesi Johnson’s epochal first three records. This little burst of activity all
took place between 1978 and 1980; he seems to have evaporated since then.
Biographical information? I heard he was a school-mate of LKJ; other than that,
But Weathers’ one album is so solid and in the pocket that that’s all he needs
to have left a foot print on lover’s-rock reggae. Released on Virgin’s Front
Line imprint in 1978, Bad Weather proffers a British Jamaican take on
roots reggae steeped in American soul and blues. It takes about 20 seconds into
the first track, “Going To The Blues,” to realize that here is, quite
literally, a unique voice. Against a slippery groove Weather’s sweet falsetto slides
in like a whisper in the ear. Weathers can express pleasure and pain
simultaneously; his voice mirrors two sides of the human equation, sweet and
sultry while also melancholy and blue. This duality plays itself out over all
ten tracks of Bad Weather. “Hip Hug” is as as sexy a slow jam
anything cut in a British or Jamaican studio, but again with the push and pull;
Weathers sounds both ecstatic and tortured. Same with the sizzling, slow
burning “The Way You Walk;” you almost fear for Weathers, he seems so
vulnerable and wrapped up in a tenuous lovers embrace. He broadens the palate
to include social (in)justice on and racial identity on “Street
Talk” and “Star of Sufferation” with no loss of intensity.
Weathers band, including several of LKJ’s key players, lays down a tight,
smoking groove. Guitarist John Varnom is the ringer, and his slinky, almost
verbal leads wrap each song in an outrageously sexy soul-blues embrace. Vivian
Weathers struck gold in 1978, and anyone lucky enough to locate a copy of Bad
Weather can share the wealth.
You can leave comments below or e-mail them to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Carl Hanni is a music writer, music publicist,
disc jockey and vinyl archivist living in Tucson, AZ. He hosts the
vinyl-only Scratchy Record Show every Tuesday night at the Red Room in downtown
spins records wherever and whenever he can. He believes that in a better (all
analog) world all records would be released on vinyl, but takes good music from
wherever he finds it–even on CD. His feature piece on legendary bass
player/record producer Harvey Brooks was recently published in Goldmine.