Dread Beat an' Blood

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Dread Beat an' Blood
Studio album by Poet and the Roots
Released 1978 (UK)
Recorded 1978
Studio Gooseberry Sound Studios, London
Genre Dub reggae, dub poetry
Length 37:52
Label Front Line
Producer Linton Kwesi Johnson; Vivian Weathers on "Song of Blood"
Poet and the Roots chronology
Dread Beat an' Blood
Forces of Victory
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[1]

Dread Beat an' Blood is an album by Poet and the Roots released in 1978 on the Front Line label. It was produced by Vivian Weathers and Linton Kwesi Johnson. The 'Poet' is dub poet Johnson and 'the Roots' are Dennis Bovell, Lloyd "Jah Bunny" Donaldson, Desmond Craig, Winston Curniffe, Everald Forrest, Floyd Lawson, John Varnom, Lila Weathers and Vivian Weathers. Most of the tracks are based on poems that first appeared in Johnson's 1975 book of poetry Dread Beat an' Blood.

This album was the result of collaboration between Johnson, who had been active as a journalist and reggae critic as well as a poet, and musician and producer Bovell. The combination of Bovell's heavy dub rhythms and Johnson's monotone intonation of his poetry created a whole new genre of reggae: dub poetry.

In subsequent re-releases of the album the artist is sometimes given as Linton Kwesi Johnson. The album was listed in the 1999 book The Rough Guide: Reggae: 100 Essential CDs.[2]

Background and recording[edit]

Johnson first got involved in recording after an acquaintance at the Natty Dread ABC project in Brixton asked him to write copy and advertisements for the Virgin Records Front Line releases.[3] While at a recording studio, Johnson suggested recording a poetry reading, which Richard Branson agreed to finance.[3] After recording three demos, Virgin agreed £2,000 to record the album, which was recorded with Bovell, whom Johnson had previously interviewed for a BBC programme.[3]

Lyrical content[edit]

Johnson was the first person to accurately describe the situation of the black British youth in the inner cities in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This theme runs through most of the songs on this and his other albums but it particularly evident in the last vocal song on the album "All Wi Doin' Is Defendin'" which it is remarkably prescient as it foresees the Brixton riot (1981) in some detail and justifies it before it had even happened. All media commentators and politicians were shocked by this event. Not Linton Kwesi Johnson. Lyrics include "Send in the riot squad quick because we're running wild" "All we need are bottles and bricks and sticks" and these were indeed the principal weapons used by the 1981 rioters. "All Wi Doin' is Defendin' so get ready for war!" for Johnson was correct in seeing the forthcoming riot as an essentially defensive act by the black youth of Brixton after years of victimisation by the police.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks by Linton Kwesi Johnson

  1. "Dread Beat an' Blood" – 2:51
  2. "Five Nights of Bleeding (for Leroy Harris)" – 4:32
  3. "Doun Di Road" – 2:25
  4. "Song of Blood" – 6:26
  5. "It Dread Inna Inglan (for George Lindo)" – 4:04
  6. "Come Wi Goh Dung Deh" – 3:44
  7. "Man Free (for Darcus Howe)" – 5:53
  8. "All Wi Doin' Is Defendin'" – 2:57

On some later re-releases on CD the following tracks also appear

  1. "Command Counsel"
  2. "Defense" (dub)


  • Linton Kwesi Johnson - vocals, percussion
  • Floyd Lawson - bass, rhythm guitar
  • Lloyd "Jah Bunny" Donaldson, Winston "Crab" Curniffe - drums, percussion
  • Everald Forrest - percussion
  • Dennis Bovell - guitar, keyboards on "Doun di Road"
  • Vivian Weathers - bass, rhythm guitar, vocals on "Song of Blood"
  • Lila Weathers - vocals on "Man Free (for Darcus Howe)"
  • John Varnom - guitar on "All Wi Doin' is Defendin'"
  • Desmond Craig - keyboards on "All Wi Doin' is Defendin'"
  • Dennis "Blackbeard" Bovell - engineer, remixing
  • Una Howe - sleeve drawing
  • Julian Stapleton - sleeve design


  1. ^ Dougan, John "Dread Beat an' Blood review", Allmusic. Retrieved 14 February 2016
  2. ^ Barrow, Steve & Dalton, Peter (1999) Reggae: 100 Essential CDs, Rough Guides, ISBN 1-85828-567-4
  3. ^ a b c "An accidental reggae artiste", Jamaica Gleaner, 31 January 2016. Retrieved 14 February 2016