Nirvana: Battle for Seattle covers album by reggae legend Little Roy

Posted on 24 August 2011
By Richard Lewis
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Legendary reggae singer Little Roy has announced details of the release of his album, Battle for Seattle, through Ark Recordings on Monday 5th September.

A collection of ten songs recorded by Nirvana in a reggae style, the album is the brainchild of Prince Fatty, aka Mike Pelanconi and the Mutant Hi-Fi, aka Nick Coplowe.

The LP features the vocal talents of Little Roy, one of the great singers from Jamaican music’s classic era in the 1960s and ’70s, who cut tunes with Studio One, Matador, Prince Buster and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. Check out the re-imagining of Come as You Are.

The album is released the same month as the 20th anniversary of the groundbreaking Nevermind album which saw Nirvana become one of the world’s biggest bands.

Being a long-term fan of the Washington band, Nirvana were the obvious choice for Prince Fatty when considering the idea of a ‘whole album cover version’. See below for tracklisting.

Obviously, the choice of singer who’d have to step into Kurt Cobain’s shoes for ten tracks, was crucial. ‘I’ve worked with Little Roy for a long time,’ explains Mike, ‘and so I knew tonally it was right for him.’

A man with the ‘right credentials’ Little Roy cut his first single at the legendary Studio One in 1965 and grew up in Kingston surrounded by many of Jamaican music’s biggest hitters, icons such as Prince Buster, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh.

A growing interest in the emerging rasta religion later saw him release some early roots classics such as Prophesy, Christopher Columbus and Tribal War.

With a heavyweight figure like Little Roy on the team, Battle For Seattle was never going to be anything other than totally authentic. However, the album has prompted joy and admiration from everyone that has heard it, on both sides of the musical fence, encompassing reggae and rock.

‘We had the best intentions at heart,’ says Prince Fatty. ‘We had to think about it from both sides. We wanted to be respectful to Nirvana and Little Roy. He’s the real deal. We couldn’t just rip into this.’

Recorded old-fashioned style, using tape and vintage analogue equipment. Prince Fatty’s band included Horseman, Mafia, from Mafia & Fluxy, Bubblers from the Ruff Cut band, erstwhile Wailers guitarist, Junior Marvin and George Dekker of The Pioneers.

Little Roy admits it was a struggle getting to grips with the songs. ‘When I listened to the lyrics as he sung them, I found it hard to pick up on what he was saying.’

The singer stated, ‘The lyrics came too quickly for my ears and were buried in the music. It sounded to me like he was crying out. You have to listen deep to get it. The melody was always there, though, so I knew this was a chance for me to bring them up so people could really hear what Kurt was saying.’

‘People could enjoy the words of these great songs through me singing them in my reggae style, reggae fans like me who didn’t know about Nirvana would love the songs and Nirvana fans could enjoy the music all over again. Music is not a one-road thing, you know.’

Battle For Seattle has had the thumbs-up from the Nirvana camp and from many of their friends, including the band’s original agent Russell Warby who is releasing it on his own label Ark Recordings.

Photographer Charles Peterson, the man responsible for Nirvana’s Bleach album cover shot, who helped define the look of Sub-Pop and Seattle internationally with his edgy black and white shots, provided the front image for the release.

Little Roy feels that the LP matches up to the giants of reggae. ‘Yes, there is a parallel.’ He stated, ‘You know, Bob Marley, he would say, ‘One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain’. So it’s just the same thing, when these Nirvana songs hit you, you’ll feel the music, and no pain.’

Battle for Seattle tracklist:

Heart Shaped Box
Very Ape
Come As You Are
On A Plain
About A Girl
Son Of A Gun

Converse and 100 Club are excited to announce Little Roy & Prince Fatty will present the debut show of Battle for Seattle with very special guests including legendary DJ and Public Image Ltd member Don Letts and Hollie Cook for the August date of their curated series at the legendary London music venue.

Tickets are free and will be available exclusively via the Converse UK website and Size? website from the 16th August.

Little Roy will also bring a full set of Nirvana tracks from the album to both Reading and Leeds Festivals this year.

London, Don Letts and Hollie Cook, 100 Club, 25th August
Reading Festival, August 27th
Leeds Festival, August 28th