Charlie "Eskimo Fox"
|Charlie "Eskimo Fox"
(Photo: Kishi Yamamoto)
Charlie Mus'come has been a drummer and session musician for over 30 years. Being one of the 1st generation of On-U "crew", he worked alongside Adrian Sherwood on many of his earliest productions:
"Nattorius - Alter Riddim" (ON-U CD 89) is the first longplay album by Charlie Mus'come aka "Eskimo Fox", most known in the On-U stable as being a member of Creation Rebel. He also founded the Freedom Fighters and later provided the back-up for many top class Jamaican vocalists. Eskimo recalls his earliest influences:
"...the first vibes to really hit me was early ska. People like Don Drummond and The Skatalites. That was the energy that I was trying to be around musically - the energy, the fitness; I wanted to be amongst it! It was this quick, quick tempo, and the sheer movement of those beats helped me to be physically fit because it was so fast and energetic!"
In the mid 1970s as reggae music became a global phenomenon, the young musician found himself drawn to the UK:
"I was with The Dove Rocks when I first came to UK around 74/75. We were just a group of young guys who started playing together as soon as we came in from Jamaica. We rehearsed hard, and then worked with great men like Alton Ellis, Ken Boothe, Jimmy London, Keith Poppin, Delroy Wilson, Trinity, Dillinger, and Eric Donaldson.
"We were one of the leading backing bands of the time, working with artists as soon as they got in from Jamaica. Singers such as Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs worked with us too. Actually, that was how I met the young Adrian Sherwood! He was in the audience at one of the gigs I was playing at, and he told me his ideas about setting up On-U Sound."
His contribution to early On-U Sound productions has been sizeable as a member of not only Creation Rebel but also working with Deadly Headley, the New Age Steppers, the Singers And Players, the first line up of (Mark Stewart and) the Maffia, and also credits on the first two albums by Dub Syndicate before Style Scott fully took on the percussive duties that he remains synonymous with. Eskimo was also notably responsible for first bringing Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah to On-U Sound via Creation Rebel, and played on several African Head Charge and Noah House Of Dread albums. Eskimo described the series of events:
"It all happened one night down at Dingwalls in Camden Town - Bonjo was in the audience watching me playing, watching me closely, so instinctively, I played to him. So after the gig, I went over to have a word with him, and we start to talk, and he told me he was a percussion player too. You want to know about those early African Head Charge records? Those were extreme, extreme records. In those days I was concerned with sound mixing, and into development of ideas: I like to go into that whole motion. I was crazy about it.
"Good things came out of all those early On-U Sound records. On-U Sound was one of the main [labels supporting] dub in those times. As I said though, so many of those albums I don't even have! "Leaps And Bounds" has a photograph of me on the cover, but I don't even have the record! What a beautiful album, yet I don't even have my own copy!"
Eskimo's first self-credited album collects together a series of his own compositions from 1983 to 2003. His vision is rhythmically uncluttered with solid grooves but on it we get to hear his original songs, music and unique vocal falsetto. He explains how its unusual titled came about:
|The "Nattorius..." LP
"Nattorius is a combination of two words: "Notorious", because On-U Sound albums have always been notorious, and the concept of "nah tarry here", which is a spiritual perspective on life. Because you know, living in this physical form, in this earthly realm, we are all just passing through."
And finally, how did he get the name "Eskimo Fox"?
"I was so shocked by the cold when I first came to England. That's how I came to be called Eskimo! I used to wear this big heavy coat, all wrapped up, and I'd wear a fur hat, and protect my self with a scarf. So people just said to me, "man, you look just like an Eskimo!" So I just stuck with that name. That's how people know me."
(Compiled from an On-U Sound press release, and with permission from an interview with Charlie "Eskimo Fox" by Greg Whitfield: www.uncarved.org/dub/onu/eskimo.html)