Intensified reggae beats from UK

By Cecelia Campbell-Livingston Observer staff reporter livingstonc@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, December 17, 2013    

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This is the final in an eight-part series on reggae bands around the world.

BRITISH nine-piece unit Intensified are big into democracy. So much so, they put their name to a vote when they started out.

According to guitarist Steve Harrington, their moniker is inspired by singer Desmond Dekker's hit song of the same name.

"We named the band after we all put ideas in a hat, then talked through them and voted ... Intensified was favourite! It's from the Desmond Dekker hit ... and other tunes of the day such as the Silvertones' Intensified Change, Prince Buster's Intensified Dirt, Intensified Girls, etc etc," he explained.

Harrington's bandmates are Chas Price (drums); Paul Carter (vocals); Steffi Noell (keyboards); Lee Edgington (percussion); Lewis Atherton (bass); Karl Wirrmann (saxophone); Mikey Doris (trombone); and Simon Clarke (trumpet).

Harrington says he and his colleagues are from Folkestone, a town in southern England. They were inspired by the ska grooves of the 1960s. Ska, which originated in Jamaica early that decade, had a big impact on white British youth back then.

"We were into the whole Skinhead image/rude boy look/scootering scene as teenagers, and British two-tone music," recalled Harrington. "I'd seen a few modern ska bands keeping it alive and wanted to have a go myself."

Their 2011 album, the self-produced, independently-released Lunar City Groove, is Intensified's last recording.

Previously, their albums were distributed by German ska label Grover Records who have worked with contemporary ska bands, as well as pioneer artistes such as Derrick Morgan, Laurel Aitken and Pat Kelly. Lunar City Groove was recorded in Intensified's warehouse studio and features a sound Harrington says the band was totally satisfied with.

The album was included as a free copy to their documentary, Come Forward, produced by two film-makers from Barcelona, Spain.

"We are really proud of the film. It tells our story and also got shown at the Jamaican Film Festival," said Harrington.

Largely due to the band's size, it is not easy making a profit, though Intensified plays regularly throughout England, especially in cities like Birmingham and Bristol.

They also have a following in Europe, performing in Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Sweden and France.

Harrington says Intensified's members are not taken with contemporary Jamaican music.

"Everything moves on, whatever genre....It's just we don't really listen to modern pop music," he said. "Jamaican music like much modern music has become very crass, computerised and over-produced, and the whole gangster rap thing is just not for us. It is very far removed from the old reggae/rocksteady sound we love."



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