April 25, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Equals

A decade and a half before the 2-tone movement (and record label) spearheaded the modern ska explosion, 1965 saw the rise of probably the first ever 2-tone group: The Equals.

Made up of Jamaican Londoners the band's sound was as eclectic as its members. They are best known for their huge 1968 hit, "Baby Come Back", which was a pure pop song. And the group knew how to write pop songs, and how to infuse them with a wide range of sounds from northern soul to ska to R&B and even some psychadelia from time to time. There's the funky soul of "Black Skinned Blue Eyed Boys", the mid-sixties beat of Viva Bobby Joe, and the Caribean flavors of "Rub A Dub Dub", "Soul Brother Clifford" and "Laurel and Hardy". The Equals sound is shot through with influences just as wide ranging as well from The Temptations to Sly Stone, The Equals drew equally from just about all musical styles.

While "Baby Come Back" put them in the public's eye (and on millions of turntables worldwide), they are secondarily remembered for being fronted by a young Eddy Grant who nearly 20 years later would ease on down "Electic Avenue" with his own million selling chart topper.

This song here, "Police on My Back", will be recognizable thanks to The Clash who famously made it popular when they covered it in 1979.

The Equals -- Police On My Back

The Equals -- Hold Me Closer (1967)