In 1987, Gary Clail emerged as a solo artist from the incredibly incestuous underground British funk/rap/reggae scene that also spawned Tackhead, Mark Stewart, Keith LeBlanc, Strange Parcels, and at least half of the On-U Sound artist stable. Not really a singer and not really a rapper, Clail got his start working the mixing board at Tackhead shows, during which he would chime in with weird political pronouncements from time to time.
Not really a singer and not really a rapper, Clail got his start working the mixing board at Tackhead shows, during which he would chime in with weird political pronouncements from time to time.
His solo work gives a fair idea of what that must have sounded like. Over instrumental backdrops that alternate between reggae (courtesy of Dub Syndicate) and funk (courtesy of various members of Tackhead), Clail intones stentorian pronouncements on such topics as social justice ("Food Clothes and Shelter"), domestic abuse ("The Emotional Hooligan") and vegetarianism ("Beef"). While his arguments aren't always completely coherent ("When ignorance fails/Violence prevails," etc.), there's something so essentially good-natured about his delivery that you can't help but like him.
And then there's the music itself, which, coming as it does from Dub Syndicate and Tackhead, kicks major butt.
Gary Clail slipped quietly out of the music scene in the late 1990s. He went on to buy a church in Penzance, Cornwall, converted it into a guest house and then run it for several years. The most recent word we have however is that he is back to Bristol and keen to gig again. Watch out!