The rippers of the 20th century
Could a hymn to death and torture be as moving as a sweet love song? Fans and performers alike are strongly drawn to the eerie harmony of the cathartic power of music and the horror of murder. The proof exists in the big 20e Pop cannon of the century inspired by Jack The Ripper:
[Jamaican Rippers – The Prince Buster All-Stars, Carlos Malcolm & His Afro-Jamaican Rhythm, and Junior English]
During the 1950s and 1960s it was common to find Jamaican artists rearranging and repeating pop hits from the US and UK. There is no ska version of “Jack The Ripper” by Screaming Lord Sutch, but two different ska groups in 1964 wrote and released songs named after England’s favorite psychopath. Prince Buster was one of the most popular Jamaican artists of all time. Buster’s “Jack …” is a first wave ska classic – a cheerful instrument with expressive jazz solos credited to Prince Buster’s All Stars (who were actually The Skatalites plus several other musicians). The obscure Carlos Malcolm & His Afro-Jamaican Rhythm ensemble also recorded an original instrumental titled “Jack The Ripper”. With spooky minor key arrangements in the foreground, Malcom’s track comes across as an eerie praise of ska for the victims of the Ripper.
Reggae singer Junior English made his debut as Prince Buster’s protégé in the early 1960s. In the late 1970s he moved to the UK where he achieved greater success cutting four albums at success in 1978, including an LP titled Jack the Ripper. The record’s title track is a moody stun peppered with austere melodies, hypnotic polyrhythms and dub-style productions. Like its many counterparts, the song’s lyrics form a sobering tale of the Ripper’s exploits and their mysterious nature. Despite its nervous tension, it is one of the most danceable murderous hymns of all.
“Jack the Ripper” by Strychnine (Cleveland, Ohio – 1980)
The best Ripper rocker of the 80s was this thug single. Cleveland’s punk scene is one of the few to last 50 years and this recording is a testament to the passionate fury and originality that has made the southern shores of Lake Erie an ever-green link for creative madness. Shock value and nihilism are the main lyrical motivators, although lead guitarist Bruno Helton’s crushes and the single’s gore / fuzzy cover photo (which looks like a still from a slasher movie) add an element. undeniable fantasy at this riff-fest. Strychnine was a hard rock band that jumped on the punk band later than many of their Clevo contemporaries. Their “Jack…” is an original composition written by “Crazy” rhythm guitarist Joe Uherc. Grungy riffs, arrogant ’70s bluster, and intricate arrangements converge here in one of the most surprisingly eccentric works in The Ripper canon.
[“From Jack The Ripper With Love” by The Redbridge Youth Theater Workshop (London – 1986)]
This single was produced as a stage production and sold to benefit a cancer charity called PEACE. Exactly why such a healthy effort incorporated the grisly legacy of Jack The Knife is a mystery. The front and back covers of the 7 ”contain general information about the performers and the production, as well as the record labels. These elements are easily found, but the music on the record is elusive; this is my fancy way of saying i have no idea what that sounds like. Fans of rare UK / DIY musical theater: can you help fill in the blanks here?
“Heart Attack” by Jack & The Ripper Z (Smyrna, Georgia – 1965)
Best known for The Snails’ bizarre “Snails Love Theme” cut, Perfection Sound Studios was one of the Deep South’s biggest independent labels. Their 1960s releases featured a unifying sound that mixed primitive adolescent rock with a edgy slapback echo, crisp highs, and muddy distortion. Among the label’s best records was Smyrna’s only 7 ”, Jack & The Ripper Z from GA’s garage punks (not a typo; it clearly appears printed this way on the blood red label. of the single). Jerry Thighpen wrote “Heart Attack”, but Will Arnold was the crazy guitar mutilator who led the band through this harsh instrumental. The Perfection group were probably the only ones who used the spelling “Ripper Z”, but “Jack & The Rippers” was a nickname used by many late 20s.e artists of the century, including 1960s garage combos from the United States and Sweden, 70s punk bands from Europe and Australia, and several new wave groups from the 80s.
“I Was a Teenage Brain Surgeon” by Jack The Ripper (Los Angeles – 1959)
Spike Jones was a popular novelty music performer in the mid-1920se century, an omnipresent pop nutcase. Today Jones is half forgotten. Fans of outsider music, noise art and psychobilly Cramps-ian will find a lot to love in Jones’s extensive discography. The artist had a few pseudonyms and released this piece under his darkest pen name. Although it has no direct lyrical connection to the Whitechapel murders, “I Was A Teenage Brain Surgeon” exists in perfect harmony with Jack’s insane legacy.
-More Ripper music mania can be found here.