Prompted by the Leftfield/Lydon appearance in the 45 45s at 45 re-cap……
Afrika Bambaataa was one of the pioneers of hip hop, coming to prominence in the late 70s as one of the new breed of young black DJs that were being acknowledged as doing things to music that were every bit as evolutionary and revolutionary as the white boys and girls had with the onset of punk and new wave.
The underground nature of hip hop began to go mainstream in the early 80s and Bambaataa was one of the first to land a recording deal but having experienced little success outwith hip-hop/dance fans he began to look for ways to have his music crossover into other genres. And thus Timezone was formed in 1983 with the idea that Bambaataa would work with different musicians on a one-off basis.
The first Timezone single was with a group of German musicians called Wunderwerke to which Rusty Egan (ex-Skids and Visage) also contributed. The following year, Bambaataa got together with Bill Laswell who some have made a strong case for being the best ever and most versatile bass player, and between them they approached John Lydon to add a vocal to the next single. It was a quick in-and-out of the studio effort with Lydon reporting later he had taken a little over four hours to record his part.
World Destruction was the nearest Timezone ever got to success, reaching #44 in the UK singles charts in early 1985. I bought a copy of the 12″ on the back of the video being aired on The Tube on Channel 4, attracted in part to its catchy tune but also by its strident anti-war message. It really is quite hard to imagine now, how a little over 30 years ago, we were on edge that one or more of our political leaders would press the nuclear button.
OK, the production values have dated the tune somewhat, but this is a hugely important record as it was one of the first to fuse hip-hop with electro and rock elements and pave the way for acts like the Beastie Boys to find fame and fortune.
There were two versions of the single made available on the 12″. The largely instrumental alt version at the time felt truly ground-breaking with its use of spoken word samples.
mp3 : Timezone – World Destruction
mp3 : Timezone – World Destruction (alt version)