Michael Cullen Murphy – All Change At The 5 and Dime. – Lp Review and coverage.

So the Lp and Cd are finally released, as of Dec 1st you can find it available at the following locations to purchase.

Clear Spot in the Netherlands, and for Northern Europe – Mail Order and Online.

Blue Matter – U.K. and rest of World.

Discogs – Everywhere dependent on Vendor.

I’ll add other vendors when I come across them, at the moment the USA is an issue, mainly becuase of their postal costs and prohibitive treatment of U.K. based artists, hopefully a distributor is being found currently by the label though and I hope to be able to direct American listeners there soon.

So the Lp was reviewed on Terrascope, a very well respected ‘magazine’ for those interested particularly in Psychadelic music, unsuprisingly they concentrate on the one truly Folk Psych sounding track. But that’s really cool, one thing I love is that everyone has a different tune or tunes that they like on the Lp.
Here’s the review to read here if you prefer.

The most recent Blue Matter release to date, Michael Cullen Murphy’s ‘All Change at the 5 and Dime’, is a bit of an outlier, insofar as it doesn’t feature any of the other Blue Matter stable of musicians as accompanists. That’s not to say American country-folk singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (and reggae expert in another life!) Mike Murphy performs solo; these nine songs of love and loss and yearning all feature contributions from Andy Stokes and Grant Allerdyce on drums and percussion, Orlando Shearer on double bass, Kirsten Hammond on violin, Jules Lawrence on musical saw and Tom Walker on pedal steel guitar, the latter of which elevates songs such as ‘The Best Thing I Ever Did (Was Leaving You)’ above the notable to the utterly brilliant. The stand-out track however has to be the fabulous ‘The Day That We Have Here’ which features guitar played in the Nick Drake style underpinned by distinctly psychedelic backing. ‘Been Here and Gone’ which closes the side is also a bit of a stand-out by dint of the fact that it features some gorgeous, albeit unidentified, background ambience (keyboards, perhaps?) and closes with the traditional sound of English church bells, which isn’t something you hear every day on either a Country or a Western record. If ever you’ve dug a Bruce Cockburn LP, then I would heartily recommend this album. And if you haven’t, well you have a double treat in store: buy this, and then go find ‘Sunwheel Dance’.

(Phil McMullen)

In Shindig too!


Johnny Clarke – Can’t Get Enough

Originally on Art & Craft record label, this re-issue is delivered on Lantern Records. Even though it appears to have been out for a while, I thought I’d tell you about it, as I’ve only just cottoned on myself.

First released in 1982 the Lp was rare, sought after, difficult to find and expensive if you did finally source it. It has been released on Cd a couple of times in the interim as ‘Morning Star’ yet it’s taken 40 years for it to see the first Vinyl re-release. A handful of the tunes were released as 12″ singles by Art & Craft and also re-released at later dates, including the super heavyweight ‘Rude Boy’ which I have owned both on original press and revive. (If you are looking for that tune, buy the original, the re-press has none of it’s heavy crisp presence, and lacks quality).

Like most Johnny Clarke work it’s a collection of covers and originals, and benefits from a Roy Shirely song ‘Music Field’ probably the only Roy Shirley track I’ve ever liked, even a little bit!!

Johnny Clarker Lp - Can't Get Enough

Those of you who have known me for a time may recall my authoring of two websites dedicated to the work of Johnny Clarke and this was one Lp I never owned, I’m glad to do so now because unlike many Reggae Lps it is consistent & isn’t just a collection of singles rammed together with filler tunes. It benefits from the Roots Radics rhythms, laid down at a time when the Dancehall sound was just coming to the fore. It’s a good listen from start to finish, again a rare thing in Reggae Lps, one Lp that you’ll leave on the whole way through to enjoy.

Apparently it’s a Ltd number release, though of course that’s quite possibly just a label ply to get you to buy it as I can already see it was on sale, ceased to be on sale, but somehow has appeared again; one always wonders in that instance if that is because they’ve pressed it a further time!

Anyway, heartily recommended, though as with all Lps these days, not cheap. I know Lionvibes has it, though I will admit to shaving a whole 50p off the price and getting it from a Discogs seller.

Folk, Folk Psych and Alt Folk

So, I like my Folk Music with a twist.
As a young teen, I liked Steeleye Span. That wasn’t the most popular thing I could have done when all the other kids were Nutty Boys, Antz, New Romantics, or Causals besporting the latest Sergio Tachini tracksuit, or Mods in a Parka.. Mods, I mean, Modernists, 20-30 years after the movement, lots of old guys on scooters, FFS! Just stupidness.

Anyway, back to it, … I collected some of the songs that I like on the following podcast, hoping that someone somewhere would enjoy the selection, and with at least 1 download, someone has, could the next person be you? https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/thehalfofsix/episodes/2020-11-06T04_56_04-08_00

Michael Cullen Murphy – All Change At The 5 And Dime, Vinyl and Cd Release December 1st.

So a date was finally sorted, it’s out Dec 1st this year and can be bought directly from the label here https://www.bluematterrecords.com

After delays that meant the original June release date had to be pushed forward to December (not an ideal month for a new release), my Lp is finally out, out sitting on the shelves in dusty little hidden record stores and in the storage of Blue Matter Records. It has been advertised in Shindig Magazine, and hopefully will receive some glowing reviews (I’ll let you all know about that one).

If you’re thinking about getting a copy, don’t let it sit too long before you do as it is a Ltd edition, first pressing, first Lp, the Cds are limited too, so please support your 54 year old, ‘first time at the pressing plant artiste’ and treat yourself to an Lp, that I think may be the start of something very special indeed.

Thanks to all,


Michael Cullen Murphy – Growing Old – Promo Video

So, the Lp is now due out late 2022, early 2023, but the record label Blue Matter launches soon and will have some schpeel about my music on it, and so I thought I’d release this video early for you to check out, hope you like it.

It was filmed and edited near Dungeness in Sussex by Rick Elgood, who amongst others has shot videos for New Order, The Jolly Boys and Don Letts.


Michael Cullen Murphy – Growing Old

Michael Cullen Murphy – Gig July – 2022

So on July 10th this year I will be supporting good frind Nick Saloman and his band, The Bevis Frond at the Crypt Hastings, the gig is all the more daunting as it’s my first for 30 odd years, well sort of, let’s say the first ‘proper’ gig in that long… I’m busy trying to commit lyrics to memory of songs I wrote, recorded and forgot nearly 5 years ago! Details on the poster for tickets etc.

The Lp is due out somewhen then too – All Change At The 5 and Dime

10 Essential Reggae Lps and Cds

Of course it’s strictly a personal choice, why should you listen to me? But all these Lps and Cds are good places to start or finish a collection of Reggae and Jamaican music. I’ll have 10 more for you soon, but for now check out these here musical biscuits.

Listen for thirty years and rifle through your collection and this might be what you came up with. I’ve listened to all these releases over and over again and together they will give you a good flavour of what Reggae, classic Reggae, has to offer.

Number 1 – Lamb’s Bread International – Sylford Walker & Welton Irie

Seriously Heavy

Released on now defunct re-issue label Blood and Fire this Lp has been put out under a few different iterations, bootleg releases, singles, 10″ singles with Dubs and Instrumentals, differing Lps, but this release available on Cd & Lp is one worth having, as a true heavyweight in the diaspora of Reggae Music.

Glen Brown the Lps producer is known for his bass playing and heavyweight mixing and productions, and here Sylford Walker, a singer sought after by Reggae collectors sings over Glen Brown’s rhythms, with Welton Irie a Deejay more well known for ‘Slack’ lyrics doing the Toasting honours over those same heavy rhythms.

Number 2 – A Dee-Jay Explosion – Inna Dancehall Style – Various Artists

Grab the Mic and Chat!

This is a live recording made during a couple of nights at Skateland, a Dancehall venue for Sound Systems in Kingston Jamaica. There are two volumes in the series, this being the first, and I think the best.

It features the Deejaying skills of many of the late Roots and early Dancehall era, and gives the initiate a real flavour of just what a Reggae dance sounded and felt like, with various taking over microphone duties. You get a real feel for the heat and sweat of a vintage Reggae dance and unlike many live recordings it really does seem to pull in the atmosphere and share the joy of being there at the time. Give Thanks and Praise, let the Chalice and the Spliff Blaze.

Number 3 – Truths & Rights – Johnny Osbourne

A True Classic

Truths and Rights, is a beautiful Lp, worth having purely for the song that contains these words.

Render your hearts and not your garments
The truth is there for who have eyes to see
Partiality has no place in this Judgement
Remember the words of prophecy

The Lp was produced by Clement Seymour Dodd for his Record label Studio One, and utilises many of his classic rhythms for Johnny Osbourne to sing over. He entirely makes each and every song his own. There is a beauty to the Lp, and no Reggae collection would be complete until this recording sits amongst it!

Number 4 – Scientist Rids The World Of The Evil Curse Of The Vampires – Scientist

Sparse and inventive Dubs

Scientist was taught by King Tubby, the still reigning King of Dub artists, his abundant skills on the Mixing Desk; and here demonstrates amply that he paid good attention to Tubby’s instruction. Tubby known for his remixes of Golden era Roots Reggae was overtaken in my opinion by Scientist in the late Roots and early Dancehall era, particularly on the Rhythms laid down by the backing band the Roots Radics for Junjo Lawes, which is exactly what this Lp contains. Full of sound effects, and sparse breakdowns of pure Bass and Drums.

The Lp has been re-issued on Greensleeves Records in recent years along with others in this series. Subject more recently to dispute over artistic ownership of the produced works, it’s wrong to assume that Scientist was anything but utterly essential to the sound and success of this series of Lps. Of which this has always been my favourite.

Number 5 – Wha Do Dem – Eek A Mouse

Eek it’s a Mouse!

Eek A Mouse – Aka Rypton Hylton, singer Toaster, producer and one of Reggae’s eccentric characters. This, perhaps his most famous Lp contains the utterly essential tune ‘Gajna Smuggling’. No only are Eek A Mouse’s lyrics, witty, funny, and erudite, but chatted over tough Dancehall era rhythms and this Lp, unlike many Reggae Lps is not just a collection of songs, but works well in the whole, and once you run the first track you’ll want to hear the rest of the Lp.

It has been issued many times, the UK release is on Greensleeves, but it had a Jamaican release, and many others around the World. Once you’ve heard the Mouse you can never go back.

Number 6 – From Chariots Vault 16 Reggae Hits Vol2

Hustle up a copy quick!

Productions from the great singer and producer Derrick Harriot as issued on the Jamaican Gold Cd label, a label which when in existence re-released some of the best early Reggae and is now very sought after. Reissue Cds don’t usually sell for upwards of £40-50 a piece (in some cases). All the Cds on this label are wonderfully indulgent illuminations into the world of Reggae music, but this one is my personal favourite in that it contains Junior Soul’s (Junior Murvin’s of ‘Police and Thieves’ fame) song ‘The Hustler’ a fast Reggae tune that for some reason particularly swings my musical thing. Other Cd releases on the Jamaican Gold label of note are the selections of Lloyd the Matador Daley’s productions on a series of choice volumes.

Number 7 – The Abyssinians – Satta A Massagana

Pure Roots, and including the Reggae Hymnal ‘ Satta Amassagana’.

I first ran into this release in a diminutive book produced as a guide to collectors looking for guidance in collecting ‘100+ Essential Reggae Cds’, which was co authored as I recall by my friend Steve Barrow, the chap who ran Blood and Fire Records. In my early collecting of Reggae I gradually ticked off the releases highlighted in the book and if you can get hold of a copy then it’s very much worth having. The Cd includes classic songs by this vocal group, songs like ‘Declaration of Rights’, ‘Y Mas Gan’, and ‘African Race’, songs that are now so well known that you might consider them Reggae ‘Standards’. I have been lucky enough to see the Abyssinians twice, once with the classic Manning brothers line up, the best concert I have ever had the joy to attend.

Number 8 – Children Of Jah

A Compilation on Cd of the ptoductions of record label Phase One and producer Roy Francis; a collection of wonderful Channel One Studio recorded crisp takes of classic era Roots with heavy Dubs and choice Toasting by Deejay U-Brown from this overlooked producer and label.

Again another issue on Blood and Fire Records. Worth the asking price for the Lopez Walker tune ‘Fly Away’, this will have you chasing down ever more rare 12″ Singles for the next few years, so be wary! It features artists like the Chantells, Terrors, Lopez Walker, jah Berry and U-Brown.

Number 9 – Bitty McClean – On Bond Street

A Collection of early Rocksteady and Reggae rhythms but re-done with new vocals over them by Bitty McClean, it took about 5 minutes for this record to gain Classic must have status.

I was lucky to have picked up a copy at the time it was released in 2004 as the Lps now go for serious money. You can find it on Lp & Cd. They produced this and one other Lp ‘Made In Jamaica’ (2007) in collaboration with Peckings Record Shop and Label, but this is the one to have, the other feels more like a collection of outtakes trading on the phenomenal success of this first issue. Though the tune ‘Sound Boy Killing’ off the second release is worth having the cd for, if you don’t have the stupidly rare single of it.

Bitty is an exceptional singer whose talents suit the vocally centred era of Rocksteady music in Jamaica and the two merge beautifully in this release. A modern classic for sure.

Number 10 – Lee Scatch Perry – Arkology

This three Cd set is a collection of some of the later Lee Perry productions, as the name implies, recorded at the Black Ark Recording Studio he owned and ran. It includes the music of Junior Murvin, The Meditations, Congos, Max Romeo, and many more, lots and lots to listen to and to soak up in the washy reverberations of a Lee Scratch Perry sonic bath. All that good ole Mutron Phaser and compressed hi-hat Tascam Reel To Reel style. Sure there’s lots of Perry Obscurities, and rare 12″ records you could spend piles on first, but if you want to get going with Chicken Scratch, here’s a great place to start.


All Change At The 5 and Dime

L.p. Released June’ish 2022

So a number of years ago I started writing and then recording a collection of songs, with the intention of putting out my own record.
A vanity project.

This happened after being told that a song I had written was ‘a fucking hit song’ by Martin Simpson, the reknowned Folk Guitarist and award winning Singer Songwriter. When someone who has won the BBC Folk Artist Award of the year numerous times and various song writing awards and plaudits around the World tells you that, it’s not like your Mum saying, ‘That’s very good dear, I think you’ve got talent’. you take some notice, and I did and this is where ‘This’ started.

I had longed to see my own L.P. on my record shelf with others, and apart from perhaps being able to give a few copies away and to ‘Demo’ some of the songs that was my only hope and sole intention for the project. But of course I had day dreams, the same dreams I’ve harboured since plugging in a Mic and recording a song at 15 years of age I guess.

Fast forward to around June of last year and Nick Saloman of the band ‘The Bevis Frond’ hears a song, i give him a CDR with others on, he says I’ll listen to it tommorow, he phones me up that evening excited and asks/offers to put it out on a new label he has in the making, Blue Matter. Nick Saloman is a highly respected songwriter himself, with 20+ Lps to his own name, a signing to a large independant label Fire Records, another record label to his (and Ade Shaw’s name) Woznorow, and a World Wide reputation for his music and live gigs. So it was with joy that I gladly accepted his offer. A lifelong ambition reached, with a cherry on top too.

The test pressing has been listened to and approved (after Vinyl Mastering at Church Road Studios Hove, Sussex by Paul Pascoe), and it features 9 songs, and also a number of musicians who helped out on the project. Andy Stokes, Kirst Hammond, Grant Allardyce, Orlando Shearer, Tom Walker, Jules Lawrence and my son Michael Cavan Murphy, the original Moon Boy.

Jim Holden Photographer – Mike Murphy

It was written and recorded over 6 years and is a collection of self penned songs. I’m happy with the result, am already working on L.P. 2 and about to do the first live playing I’ve done in seriousness for about 30 years. I hope you like the Album if you get a copy. I think it’s good.

People ask me what sort of music it is (when they haven’t heard it yet), I loosely and non commitedly say, ‘it’s Americana, well sort of, apart from the one Folk Psych song, in the British Tradition, then there’s the pure country twang of the song, ‘The Best Thing I Ever Did Was Leaving You’, the Murder ballad Creep Country, Gothic Americana, of ‘A Serial killer’s Love Song’, the Folky guitaring and voice on ‘Strings and the Wood’. Then you try to tell them about influences, as if that will help them tag you into something recognisible, Roy Harper, Nick Drake, The Handsome Family, Warren Ellis, Nick Cave, Incredible String Band, the list is as long as my record collection. And that’s about 67feet 😉

In the end, in the final reckoning, Jan, Nick’s wife loves it and that’s good enough for me!

I think the Lp is a collection of songs about time’s passing, about loss of the past and loss of the people who once populated it, place, origin, family, friends, it’s about love, and divorce about the joy of fatherhood. About ageing too; hell I’m 54 and I wanted an antitidote to teenage singers telling me all about the depth and the vagaries of true ‘love’. It’s got a love song from a Serial Killer to his victim on it, a song about the ever revolving centre of a timeless spiritual life, a song about my Dad, my Son, my Ex Wife, and a song to you, right at the end of side two, that finishes with the Bell Ringers of my local Church ringing one night when I was recording.

I’m hoping it sells well and gets a second pressing, and one day while leafing through records at a second hand record shop I find a copy, for a stupidly excessive price.

That’d be enough for me to die with a smile on my face.

Richard Dawson – 2020 – Review

a3287790004_10So Richard Dawson is on Weird Records, but he’s like Weird isn’t he, a bit weird, slightly odd, a touch touched? My Mum says he needs to learn how to tune his guitar, my friends think I need to listen to something, or someone else, … but me, me I think he’s a bit special. You know… Sue’s in the Kitchen cooking tea now, so I better turn it down a bit.. she’s from Sheffield and the Ex was from Widnes so rather mistakenly I feel I understand Northerners. Dawson is from Oop North with it’s grey lid and it’s sideways rains and rustic vistas… Fuck me side three starts up like ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ by The Who, this Northern Folk Soul Mod has got me.. on the run, mentally I won’t be the same again.

I love how he writes it as he sees it and sings it as he writes it, that’s very refreshing. I like what he sees too, the mundane daily business of seeking a spiritual existence in the Crab Nebula of daily grinding shite and in the vernacular of the unspectacular. The Hogarth, an empty bottle rolling windily on a street’s cobbled gutter, the glowing prism of coal light below the UFO in Black Triangle. He points at it in his lyrics, no judgement, but the music says otherwise, otherwise you wouldn’t get the soft cymbal in Freshers Ball. An obvious love song, to someone, whose Bobbie? Doesn’t matter, it’s probably made up anyway. Could be, who knows. Don’t know him, never been to a gig.

Slack Guitar nurses along, lifted by modern sounds of synth, and there are moments I’m thinking, ‘was he listening to the same Heavy Metal as me in the 80s and 90s’? Was he? I’m scratching about for easy categorising scabbings, exploring the slag heaps of a grim NORTH, so ‘File in Pop’, lifting up genre defining funguses to see if Dawson lingers below, eyes gleaming, taking the piss, launching out spores of musical diffusion, confusion and originality. He is is he?


The sleeves of this dbl Lp have lyrics on, that’s good. Some insight.


There’s a lot of shit talked about this guy and his music, so just listen and take from it what you take, I guarantee that it won’t be like anything you’ve ever taken from anyone before, and jee suss, that makes it worthwhile don’t it?


Just an impression.


Listen to it.



Russ Disciple meets Bigmikeydread Reggae Radio

Russ Disciple meets Bigmikeydread Reggae Radio in spiffing Bexhill On Sea.

russdRecently Mr. Russell Bell-Brown and I met up for a bit of a chat about his musical production and his favourite Jamaican tunes. The tunes that signposted him along a long history of listening and collecting Jamaican music, those that mean the most to him and that he loves.

Russ grew up in the outskirts of London England and in the 1980s began to produce UK Roots Reggae, his first bigger break coming when early on in his career his music was frequently commissioned by and played on the Jah Shaka Sound System. A short while later and he and his bother Lol had started BSL (Boom Shacka Lacka) the Disciples own Sound System and both were ruining their backs lifting large bass scoops in and out of vehicles. Such is his dedication to the music.

Russ’s knowledge is deep and the musical selection for this show is chock full of high quality musical nutrition; the show is a must listen for lovers of U.K. Sound system and Jamaican musical culture alike.

It’s a relaxed affair and a damn fine listen. I urge you to check it out. Just search up Bigmikeydread Reggae Radio on Google and look for the 2019 December show.

55The track listing is as follows:

Tommy McCook and the Supersonics – More Love – Treasure Isle 7” Single
Richard Ace – Hang ‘Em High – Trojan 7” Single
Pat Kelly – Workman Song – Gas 7” Single
The Love Generation – Warwick Hill – Grape 7” Single
Burning Spear – This Population – Bongo Man 7” Single
Freddie McGregor – Go Away Pretty Girl – Money 7” Single
Freddie McGregor – Homeward Bound – Studio One 7” Single
Lee Perry & The Upsetters – Jungle Lion – Upsetter 7” Single
Ital Winston – Ride On – Vital Food 7” Single
Gregory Isaacs – Thief A Man – Advance 7” Single
Cornell Campbell – Give The Little Man A Great Big Hand – Justice 7” Single
Leroy Smart – The Road Is Rough – Sweet City 7” Single
Bush Ranger – Ranger In The Workshop – Count Shelly 7” Single
Fred Locks – The Last Days – Jahmikmusic 7” Single
Don Hutchinson – What You Gonna Do – IMF 7” Single
Pablo & Tubby’s – King Tubby’s Meets The Rockers Uptown – Yard Music 7” Single
Hugh Mundell – Africa Must Be Free By 1983 – Rockers International 7” Single
Yabby Youth And The Sons Of Jah – Jah Speak With Lightening And Thunder – TR Groovemaster 7” Single
Wayne Wade – Black Is Our Colour – Mango 7” Single
Frankey – Slavery Days – Maroc 7” Single
Delroy Wilson – Big Man In Town + Version – Third World 7” Single
Junior Ross & The Spears – Babylon Fall – Caribbean 7” Single
Ras Midas – Good Old Days – Jaywax 7” Single
Welton Irie – Blackman Get Up Pon Tan Foot – South East music 7” Single
Trinity – Vampire – Flagman 7” Single
Hugh Brown – The Big Licking Stick – Jackpot 7” Single
I-Roy – Proud Black – Blank 7” Single
Mikey Dread – & The Instigators – Robbers Roost – 40 Leg 7” Single
Makka Bees – Nation Fiddler – Congo 7” Single
Unity Stars – Africa – Nice 1 7” Single

tracing musical lines, talking music, recording, album art, rare records, reviewing, discographies and information