Resident archivist Jack Dangers reveals ‘The Secret Dub Of The Flying Lizards’ for our listening pleasure
I always thought The Flying Lizards’ version of ‘Money’ was brilliant. It’s got to be one of the best cover versions ever. I was only 13 or 14 when it came out. I remember listening to David Cunningham talking on ‘Round Table’, the weekly reviews show on Radio 1, about how they recorded that drum part in a giant warehouse, and then ran it into the mix off tape when they were in the studio. Completely electronic. Brilliant!
‘Money’ was originally one long track, which starts with the song everyone knows and then goes into this amazing dub workout. They split it for the single, which came out on Virgin, taking the first three minutes for the A-side and putting the rest on the flip under the title ‘Money B’. So the idea of a Flying Lizards dub album would have made sense to Virgin.
The source material for ‘The Secret Dub Of The Flying Lizards’ was recorded in Jamaica in 1978 by Jah Lloyd, a reggae artist who made a handful of highly regarded LPs in the 1970s, including a couple for Front Line, the Virgin offshoot label. The tapes for this were intended to be another Jah Lloyd Front Line release, but for some reason it was shelved.
David Cunningham was offered the tapes by Front Line’s Jumbo Vanrenen to remix. He was expecting to be given a load of time in a Virgin studio to complete the project, but was just handed a reel of tape and left to his own devices – literally.
He set about finding ways to remix a tape which wasn’t multitrack or even stereo. On his website he says he started “inventing (or reinventing) techniques of editing, looping, filtering and subtraction to deal with unremixable mono material”. It was very much a side-project, which he worked on in the evenings and at weekends, not wanting it to interfere with the other projects he was committed to at the time.
Cunningham describes this piece as “musical electronic” as opposed to electronic music. He went on to use the treatments and studio tricks he developed in his collaboration with Patti Palladin and later in his production work with Michael Nyman. The dub album was never released by Virgin, though. Perhaps because The Flying Lizards were having pop hits and it wouldn’t have fitted in with what they were doing.
Cunningham finally got the rights in 1995. He released it on CD on his own Piano label, and in 2010 the German imprint Staubgold put it out on vinyl. Neither issue is scarce, so you can pick them up for around £15.