For their landmark 40th release, ZamZam opt for another ‘90s dubplate from reggae royalty Henry & Louis, four years after the pair made an appearance on the label’s debut 7”. Back in 1996, Henry & Louis – real names Jack Lundie and Andy Scholes – teamed up with the legendary Johnny Clarke on “Love & Understanding”, but it was a heavily edited version of the track featuring Schole’s vocals that made an appearance on their “Time Will Tell” LP in 2001. Only now, 15 years later, can listeners finally get their hands on a physical copy of the original.
Despite coming from two pioneers of Bristol’s famously weighty soundsystem culture, “Love & Understanding” is surprisingly delicate. From the opening chord and lightly pulsing drum to the ensuing brass chords and militant snare – not forgetting that melodious earworm of a bassline – each element dutifully and effortlessly supports Clarke’s warming tenor. The pared-back B-side dub provides a dark contrast to the A-side’s soothing tranquillity. The original track is stripped down to its core elements, allowing the accompaniment’s simplicity and rawness to shine through. Setting a darker mood, the once steady percussion now ticks with the irregular metre of an anxious heartbeat, and the brass and vocal harmonies ring out in distorted, fragmented echoes.
It’s a mystery why Henry & Louis chose the edited version over the original for their LP, and a crying shame that it’s taken so long for this cut to make it onto vinyl. But better late than never – both the original track and its dub are relaxing, immersive and bass-heavy delights to be savoured through headphones or a fitting soundsystem. Here’s to another 40 plates from this exceptional label.