Didn’t they get the memo? Reggae cover of “Strings Of Life” emerges… in Japan!

Of all the strange stories we’ve covered on Ears To The House, this is probably up there with the best of them. Indeed, without the evidence supplied, we wouldn’t blame any of you for dismissing the story and claiming we made it all up. But rest assured all of the following is genuine!

“Strings Of Life” is one of those song titles which many dance music fans will be aware of. If they weren’t around at the time of the original 1987 release – which heavily samples a piano chord progression by Michael James – they might remember the version released by Soul Central on Defected in 2004 or various other interpretations to emerge over the years.

In other words, every generation in house music will have come across it at one stage or another. There are even videos online by the likes of garage and house producer Danny J Lewis where he tries to work out exactly how to play that infamous chord progression. He did well, to be fair…

Now there have been plenty of house interpretations of the song – but a reggae one is a first for us. Ears To The House can reveal, however, that one does exist – and it’s come from none other than Japan. And no, the irony of this coming from a country where Derrick May used to tour heavily is not lost on us, either.

According to the blurb on the limited edition vinyl release out at Juno Records – which also contains a reggae rework of “Pacific State” by 808 State – the Inokashira Rangers are “world-renowned for their abilities in covering some of the world’s best-known songs in the modes of ska and reggae… Now the Japanese covertones throw a curveball, for once reworking some honoured dance music cuts. 808 State’s ‘Pacific State’ and Derrick May’s ‘Strings Of Life’ get a thorough skinhead reggae re-examining.”.

Skinhead reggae? As we’re not exactly experts on the genre, we looked into this – and we understand the term is another way of referring to the genre’s early days. And as for their version of “Strings Of Life”, we have to say we quite like it. It takes a few listens to start to appreciate their interpretation. See what you think…

Quite what possessed Inokashira Rangers to rework this particular song is something of a mystery – especially given that Derrick May has been mired in sexual abuse allegations from multiple sources over at least two years now. But on the plus side, the Rangers contributed and created far more on this version than May ever did on his own…

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