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Bandyt, A Hidden Reggae Gem from Walsall by The Editorial Team

Posted 10/09/2019 20:30:13

Bandyt, A Hidden Reggae Gem from Walsall

'Bandyt' were born in a council flat in Pleck, Walsall (UK) in 1984 when 'Bandyt' and 'Skippa T' were introduced by a mutual friend and known Sound-man,'Cleevi'. The pair, working from Bandyt's flat, soon began collaborating on a series of song writing adventures, working with various local musicians along the journey.

The Story

Reflecting their spiritual search which was very much Rastafari influenced, the duo's efforts during their early collaborations saw the creation of reggae songs such as 'Wake Up - Don't Break Up' and 'So High',the latter of which they would go on to perform at Walsall College. Eventually a settled line up emerged. It was this line up which was to go on to be the most memorable and familiar of the 'Bandyt' line ups and consisted of 'Desi Roots' on bass guitar, 'Skippa T' on drums, 'Ryda' on rhythm/lead guitar, 'Sherman' on percussion, 'Buccaneer Bangarang' providing vocals and percussion and 'Bandit' providing vocals and rhythm guitar. They switched from practising in the Pleck flat (despite somehow never receiving any complaints from neighbours)to an upstairs room at St Michael's Church in Caldmore. That was to be their home for the following 3 years and until the band officially split in 87.

It was a sudden split. Indeed, for the musical world Bandyt provided a short sharp shock much akin to one of the prevailing themes of the day. Bandyt were around long enough to feature on the same bills as Maxi Priest, Sugar Minott and Sandra Cross but at the same time their appearance was so short lived that after their disappearance they left virtually trace of their previous presence.

By the time that 'Medical Card' was recorded in the late *80's the musicians involved were no longer performing live and no band formally existed.

The recording that you hear today began its journey to you from a council flat in Caldmore, Walsall, and will hold its historical position as being one of 'Bandyt's final songs and definately their final surviving recording. Infact, Bandit himself had no idea that the recording that you hear today existed until it was given to him as a gift around ten years later, by Skippa T, who had somehow managed to salvage surviving works.

The band had many social influences but the strongest musical influences during their earliest times together probably came from their joint and individual loves for Caribbean reggae bands/artists like Third World, The Gladiators and Bob Marley (not excluding The Wailers, etc), African-American artists like Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder and the especially important British bands/artists including and probably in particular; Steel Pulse, The Specials, The Beat, High Tension, Peter Spence, Benito Starr, Maka B and Pato Banton.

They played their debut gig at the Walsall 'Afro-Caribbean Community Association' in 85. Their final appearance took place at the 'Band On the Wall' in Manchester in 87.

Bandyt were perhaps the one of the last live bands to play to a full house at Walsall Town Hall when they appeared there alongside 'Sir Coxone' and 'Stereo Master' sound systems in September 1986.

The song itself 'Medical Card' carries a timeless message delivered in almost typical 'Bandyt' musical manner. Their sound was a distinctive twist on the typical Caribbean style of reggae ~ a hard hitting break away from reggae-norms if you like that some have said was ahead of its time. 'Bandyt' were bold and adventurous with their music from the start and so brought with them to venues up and down the U.K songs like 'Call Upon Jah', 'Walk With Jah Loving', 'Don't Give Up', 'Chanting' and 'Spiritual Attack.' ~ with that very clear spiritual and humanitarian message delivered in their own Urban Brit-Reggae style. By the time 'Medical Card' was conceived the band's exuberance of (musical) youth had been replaced by a more sombre and focused mood. 'Medical Card' was written perhaps late 1989 as a portrayal of a young man who has died of a knife injury asking the question "why?" from beyond the grave. If we can consider how and why in British society, concern about the level of knife crime grew rapidly throughout the 90s then the song's significance takes on a new, perhaps prophetic meaning.