Alpha One Three
Record Collector – October 2006
Says he’s gonad change his name to Alpha One-Three. TAFKAW, anyone?
Named after his call sign when he was working as a taxi driver in the early-80s, Jah Wobble’s latest album brings together all the usual space-dub and street-smarts we’ve come to expect, but this time riddled with a distinctly autobiographical bent.
Musically it flies from the laid-back acid jazz of I Know Your Name, through a kind of proto-rap-via-Copey of It All Fades Away, and toward the cosmic indie shimmering of I Want. Then there’s the flight of fancy invention of the excellent spoken-word mysticism that makes up The Decline Of The Music Industry, all subsumed with hefty dub beat-blasting throughout – not least the mighty Gardens Of Suburbia.
It’s an album that explores, more than ever, Wobble’s childhood in The Clichy – the estate where he was raised, smack in the middle of the East End – and the cast of characters and post-war bomb sites that formed his early years and subsequent career. It’s inventive, at times risky, and generally vibrantly drawn, with a skewed, broken glass vision and malevolent matter-of-fact joy that darkens matters in all the right places. And if the silly acerbity of the sleeve notes is anything to go by, the forthcoming Wobble print autobiography will be some read too. ***
Uncut – September 2006
Reggaematic adventures from Whitechapel to Heathrow
More structured than much of Wobble’s prolific output, Alpha One Three takes its title from the bass maestro’s days as an East End taxi driver, an era evoked on “It All Fades Away”, with its nostalgia for “The living flesh of Stepney and the smell of cinnamon in Wapping”. Elsewhere, pulsing reggae instrumentals and the dreamy, unsettling “Gardens of Suburbia” provide the soundtrack for divine guidance on the highway of life. The fantasy ramble that is “The Decline of the Music Industry“, meanwhile, provides a mischievous, spoken interlude. ***
The Mail On Sunday – 6th August 2006
..If the globally influenced dub of Alpha One-Three (30 Hertz, out now) by Jah Wobble likewise seems familiar, that’s because he has done as much as anyone to make it so. The former PiL bassist also helped incorporate dub reggae into mainstream pop. Those two interests sounds borrowed from far-flung places and post-punk dub – combine with varied results here. At its best, on When I Look Up At The Sky and It All Fades Away, the album has an evocative tang. The wry autobiographical lyrics should raise a smile among those acquainted with Wobble’s snakes-and-ladders career.
Q Magazine – September 2006
Innovations in dub from Johnny Rotten’s old mucker.
Mr Wobble has unexpectedly emerged as the most enduring musical force of the original PiL line-up. Alpha One Three – a spacier, more spontaneous – sounding record than last year’s Mu – is a concept album of sorts, inspired by the bassist’s wilderness years in the ’80s driving cabs. There are rousing, melodica – drenched reggae spirituals, jazzy soundtrack interludes, hypnotic percussive work – outs, snaking electronic funk, plus a menacing Wobble-voiced monologue about the grim East End housing estate he was raised on. The overall effect is an eerie, occasionally brilliant evocation of dead0fo-night ’80s London, seen through Wobble’s rain-soaked cab window. ***