It’s been a mighty long time since Capital Letters released their ode to ‘Smoking My Ganja’ in the reggae/punk heyday of late-70s Britain, but the Wolverhampton wanderers now return with a brand new album named after their home town. Comprising fourteen tracks it is almost certainly the only album ever to feature a song called ‘Wolverhampton’ and another called ‘Jamaica’. The album opens with ‘Jah Music’, setting the initial mood as one of gentle roots reggae along with relatively understated vocals, drawing to a mildly dub-influenced conclusion. The next track, ‘Wolf’, has a similar feel.
Thereafter, ‘Opportunity’ has a slightly harder edge, both lyrically and in its familiar rhythm. The more assertive lyrics continue with the powerful anti-war theme of ‘Dat Nah Stop’, its hard message set within a deceptively light and melodic rhythm and instrumentation. This contrast between placid musical style and serious lyrics is a feature of several of the tracks here and it is a particular strength. The spiritual roots sound of ‘Thanks and Praise’ is clear enough in its meaning, while ‘Tell Me What’s Wrong’ returns to the message of peace, delivered, like ‘Movie Star’, in a vocal style reminiscent of lovers’ rock or even that of a soul ballad.
Capital Letters have been through several personnel changes over the years. The band reformed in 2013 and this is their first album of new music for 30 years. Engineered by Noel Browne at his own studio, this is an intriguing mix indeed; unashamedly retro in some ways, but sounding vital and new all the same.
Capital Letters ‘Wolverhampton’ released on Sugar Shack Records, CD and DDL, March 23rd 2015; additional limited-edition vinyl release of selected tracks and their dub versions.