A 'Cutt' above the rest
British show band celebrates 40 yearsWednesday, September 01, 2021
WHILE they boast an impressive musical resume that has seen them back over 250 artistes on major events, the Ruff Cutt Band has never attained household name status. The United Kingdom's most prolific backing unit, they are preparing to mark a significant milestone.
Formed in 1980, Ruff Cutt (not to be mistaken with the Jamaican band of the same name) turned 40 this year. It has retained all its original members including guitarist Antonio Phillips, who is currently in Jamaica on a working holiday.
Ruff Cutt was the go-to band for top reggae acts performing in the UK for many years. Dennis Brown, Freddie McGregor, Gregory Isaacs, Mykal Rose, John Holt, Alton Ellis, Marcia Griffiths, Derrick Morgan, Horace Andy, U Roy, Mad Cobra and Shabba Ranks are just some of the artistes they have taken the stage with.
“Forty years is quite a long time. It's good that all of us are still alive and we can reflect on the great work,” said Phillips.
He added that Ruff Cutt has never really been acknowledged for its achievements which entails nearly 100 songs and seven albums.
“No, not at all. But that's what this is all about,” Phillips stated.
'This' is a celebratory event in December, on which Ruff Cutt will back several artistes they have worked with, including fellow Britons Maxi Priest and Bitty McLean.
Keyboardist Carlton Ogilvie, percussionist Antony Thomas, and bassist Kenton Brown are the other original members of Ruff Cutt who came together in Harlesden, a borough in north London with a massive Jamaican and West Indian population. Drummer/vocalist Dan Campbell completed the initial line-up.
All were born in the UK to Jamaican parents and developed an early appreciation for music from their homeland. Phillips settled in Jamaica at age 13 with his family and attended Ardenne High School but it was not until he returned to the UK in 1975 that he became a musician, learning to play guitar at age 18.
Shortly after, he joined a band called Creation Rebel which recorded several albums with respected producer Adrian Sherwood.
Ruff Cutt enjoyed some of their best times during the 1980s and 1990s touring with brand artistes in rock steady, reggae and dancehall. They recorded songs with some of them including Beres Hammond on Say Thank You.
The UK reggae scene has cooled considerably since. Record labels that promoted the sound, like Jet Star, are no longer around while black Britons of West Indian descent are not particularly enthusiastic about the pop culture of the islands.
Antonio Phillips understands that.
“They'll listen to Popcaan still, but we've got to realise that these are different times. They see things differently than we did,” he said.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login