I’m not an obsessive compulsive. Seriously, I’m not. However after discovering a beautiful old 45 of Labi Siffre “Watch Me”, I had the compulsion to go to discogs.com and obsessively buy every single Labi Siffre 45 that has non-album tracks. I’m sure lots of people wake up in the morning to find they’ve purchased 14 second-hand records during the night. Right?
Well here’s my justification; Labi Siffre happens to be the most beautiful singer I have ever heard, as well as one of the most prolific writers ever to live. He’s the gentleman responsible for “It Must Be Love”, “I Got The” “(Something Inside) So Strong”, “Bless the Telephone” and more masterpieces than anyone will ever truly appreciate. Despite this, his music isn’t exactly easy to come by. Siffre seems to exist (quite happily it would seem) in this space between the edge of memory and totally forgotten.
For example, just try to find a copy of “Watch Me” on-line. Sure, there’s a YouTube copy of a live version, but the recorded version is nowhere to be found, and that’s the case for a great deal of his material. I don’t advocate piracy by any means (unless its some fucking David Guetta bullshit), but at this level of importance it’s not piracy, it’s archiving, it’s sharing. Every day we wait is another day of damage that’s done to these records. Every day we wait is another day spent in a world almost void of these beautiful recordings. Labi has stated that he has no interest in the music industry any more, choosing to focus his efforts on poetry of a political and human nature, so I really doubt we’ll see his work re-issued any time soon.
In fact, Labi once told me he has “another two or three albums worth” of material recorded, but he doubts it’ll ever see the light. It’s heart breaking, especially considering the outstanding quality of his last album ominously entitle “The Last Songs”.
So as I buy, clean, restore and catalogue as much of Siffre’s music as I can financially withstand, I’ll give you a little snippet of why I am doing so.
Here is Labi Siffre “Watch Me”, the first 45 rescued from a life in a crate.
Labi Siffre “Watch Me”