Linton Kwesi Johnson – Tings An’ Times (1991)

Linton Kwesi Johnson
Tings An’ Times
1991 Intercord IRS 986.939 Germany

Four months into the year and this only the second blog post here (not counting the 12 days of Xmas series)? I wish I could tell you I’ve been off seeking wisdom in the Himalayas away from any internet, or retracing the path of Genghis Khan through the Gobi Desert. But if you were to peek at my Instagram you would find the truth in a succession of extremely similar yet always stunning sunsets and banal snapshots of food and LPs. But never LPs covered in food, because I don’t really ‘get’ most conceptual art, having narrowly escaped the ranks of the lumpen-proletariat in my youth. The no-calorie platters on my (turn)table this Spring have been fairly bourgeois fair, soulful white guys like Lee Michaels, Hall & Oates, or early Steve Miller Band. And I’ve been rediscovering my fondness for Weather Report and Tony Williams Lifetime (Old and New). None of which I apparently deemed worthy of blogging about. Either because it might tip people off that I’ll never actually be as cool as I once pretended in 2008 or simply that I don’t have time to put together coherent blog posts any longer. Is this a coherent blog post? Personally 2019 has been kind of a lousy year. People keep getting sick and dying around me; expectations of 21st-century longevity having gone the way of hover-cars and who really wants to live to 120 anyway? The politics of the entire world have gone to shit in a gilded hand basket in the last few years. Shouldn’t we all be doing something more revolutionary than reading/writing blogs? I guess that’s where LKJ comes in. He is a breath of fresh air in times like these. A brief description of this record is below the nitty-gritty details.

1 Story 5:20
2 Sense Outta Nansense 4:59
3 Tings An’ Times 6:32
4 Mi Revalueshanary Fren 5:19
5 Di Good Life 5:30
6 Di Anfinished Revalueshan 5:33
7 Dubbing For Life 4:03

Recorded At – Sparkside Studio
Mixed At – Fallout Shelter


Accordion – Ian Hill  
Drums – Paul Blake 
Guitar – John Kpiaye
Keyboards – Nick Straker
Organ, Piano, Synthesizer – Paget King
Percussion – Everald Forrest, Geoffrey Scantlebury, LKJ
Piano – Henry Holden
Bass, Percussion – Dennis Bovell
Vocals – Linton Kwesi Johnson
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Steve Gregory
Trombone – Fayyaz Virji, Henry Tenyue
Trumpet – Paul Spong
Violin – Johnny T.

Recorded, engineered, mixed, and produced by Dennis Bovell
Words, music, composition, and additional production by LKJ

Cover painting – Antonio Vignocchi
Photography By – Anthony Brennon

Early 90s and still hitting it hard, this is top-shelf LKJ. Some of the harder edges may have softened, just a bit, since his ‘Forces of Victory’ days but the trade-off is a broader sonic palette on the arrangements. The first track features a violin solo, and the recording features a variety of woodwinds, brass, pianos, B3 organ, and accordions. Whether or not the similarity to Brazilian forró on the track “Di Good Life” is purely coincidental, I can’t say. “Mi Revalueshanary Fren” is a highlight here, easily the funkiest reflection on the early-90s state of post-Soviet radical politics and black liberation you’re likely to encounter. Incidentally, the following year LKJ would publish a book of his poems with the same title that would go on to become (in the mid-2000s) one of the only Penguin Classic editions of a still-living poet.

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