Junior Murvin – who has died aged 67 – will forever be associated with the rebel cool of his 1976 Lee Perry-produced single Police & Thieves. Yesterday morning’s BBC Radio 4′s Today news programme displayed it’s trademark ham-fisted approach to pop culture when eagerly proclaiming the song his shining achievement by managing to misname Paul Simonon “Mick Jones” in an interview introduction and rushing to gush unconvincingly over an excerpt of The Clash’s version.
Personally, I favour another Lee Perry collaboration from the same period, the epic single B-side Memories.
I bought the UK 12inch mix on a shopping spree in a record shop tucked away in an Earl’s Court side street one late afternoon in 1977 on the recommendation of the shop assistant.
At 8mins 45secs, Memories is not only a sonic adventure to match the very best of 70s dub, but also a sweet, romantic song, the yearning, regretful theme over Perry’s bubbling cauldron of rhythms perfectly matched to Murvin’s falsetto whoop (I found Police & Thieves too preaching, which I guess is why it made sense for The Clash – always complaining about being told what to do, they tended towards dictating to their audience).
The flip, Tedious, is pretty good, as were other Black Ark explorations such as Closer Together, but nothing in my view in Murvin’s body of work touches the tenderness of Memories.
Remember him this way: