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The Best Of Judge Dread

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Album Review

Sexually explicit (or "slack") lyrics have a long history in calypso and reggae music. But slackness never found a more devoted or bizarre exponent than Alex "Judge Dread" Hughes, a British singer who made a number of albums in the early '70s that were considerable hits in the U.K. Toasting and singing over instrumental tracks that were either created in Jamaica or imitations of classic Kingston rhythms, Judge Dread brought a distinctly English sensibility to the genre. Wordplay and double-entendre that sounded sly and subversive in the mouths of Caribbean artists like Prince Buster and Lord Kitchener came across as schoolboy toilet-talk when delivered by Judge Dread — reggae for the Benny Hill crowd. One of the interesting things that this retrospective collection reveals is that Judge Dread was actually not a bad singer, when he bothered to sing; his (inevitable) rendition of the Chuck Berry novelty song "My Ding a Ling" is nicely done, as is "Blue Cross Code," a refreshingly non-slack number (unless these American ears are missing a piece of distinctively British double-entendre). But for the most part, this stuff is musically derivative and will only be funny to those who are in regular touch with their inner ten-year-old boy.


Born: 02 May 1945 in Kent, England

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '60s, '70s

Although often dismissed as a novelty act, Judge Dread was actually a groundbreaking artist. Not only did he put more reggae records onto the U.K. chart than anyone else (Bob Marley included), he was also the first white artist to actually have a reggae hit in Jamaica. The Judge also holds the record for having the most songs banned by the BBC, 11 in all, which incidentally is precisely the number of singles he placed on the charts. Judge Dread was born Alex Hughes in Kent, England, in 1945. In...
Full bio
The Best Of Judge Dread, Judge Dread
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  • £7.99
  • Genres: Reggae, Music, Rock, Ska
  • Released: 07 October 2003
  • Parental Advisory

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