prison break
by Benjamen Walker
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


[Ed. - Benjamen Walker is the passionate, knowledgeable and unstoppable force behind a whole bunch of radio, in Boston and beyond. We first got in touch when he was putting together Blog Jockeys, an NPR piece that was one of the very first big-media looks at mp3blogging. Last week, he was in NYC on a secret mission. This week, he's here with us - and spitting fire.]

Destroyer - "Notorious Lightning [live]".

My introduction to this mp3 blog thing came from trying to find a recording of Destroyer's absolutely mind-blowing performance at this year's south by southwest in Austin, Texas. I have been a fan of this band ever since finding a copy of Thief in the slush pile at WZBC, a radio station I work at in Boston. I do like the latest release, Your Blues, but its a bit uh, weird... Listening to Daniel Bejar and the talented members of Frog Eyes perform the material from Your Blues was much more enjoyable - the songs resonated with an intensity and power that is not included on the little silver disc. So, like I said I decided to search out if anyone out there in the audience recorded the performance. I found Ryan's site the catbirdseat, and while there was only a review of the show there were a bunch of mp3s and links to other mp3 blogs, and thus, one million hours later ? I was not only hooked but extremely excited about what I felt was an actual NEW thing. I cannot stress how wonderful that feeling is ? to happen upon something you find truly original ? especially ON THE INTERNET. Long story short, I pitched the NPR program On The Media the idea and lo and behold I did a piece that you can listen to here, or here (the latter version has more lawyers in it). (fyi: the term "mp3j" is not my fault)

Anyway I am thrilled that Sean asked me be a guest er mp3j "person" - So lets start off with my recording of Destroyer performing Notorious Lightning - live at the middle east rock club in Cambridge, Massachusetts where I hail from these days. Now, I don't want to sound like I am dissing your blues, the only point I am trying to make is that, performed live, the songs are BETTER. Rumor has it that Merge is going to officially release a Daniel Bejar/Frog Eyes recording of your blues soon ? I can't wait! [buy Your Blues]

PS: Ok.. I just wrote this (8.18.03) and clicking on the catbirdseat to put the link in... I find that Ryan has linked to a CBC mega post of Daniel Bejar/Frog eyes tunes.. sigh.. and I thought I was going to be COOL!!!!! Sigh... for all of you out there who think this mp3 bloggin thing is easy: well you are WRONG!

Dennis Lobban ? "Runnin' from Babylon [live]".

In November 2001 I found myself in Kingston, Jamaica producing a late night talk radio show on Jamaican radio. My adventure began in Tower Street Prison with a bunch of Harvard professor types who politely tapped their shoes and swayed their hips as murderers, rapists and victims of police corruption performed reggae for us. It was a giant production; the prison officials really wanted to distract our attention away from the fact that the men of Tower Street live in conditions pretty much the same as when the stone dungeon building was used to offload slaves in plantation times. Dennis Lobban was really the only performance that blew me away. I remember marking my mini disc to make sure I didn't erase it. And then one of the guards leaned over and told me that this giant intense Rastafarian was in fact the man who shot and killed Peter Tosh. I never got a confirmation on this until a few months ago, when I returned to Kingston for more prison/radio wackatudness (including another concert at Tower Street). The running man performed another tune, this time introducing himself as Dennis something. Well, when you type in "Peter Tosh" and "Dennis" into Google you get this:

Staying at Tosh's home during this time was an old friend of the Wailers, Dennis Lobban. However, he left in a fury after an argument with Tosh's girlfriend, Marlene Brown, returning a few days later on September 11, with a gang of friends. Lobban later claimed he had merely intended to threaten the artist, and perhaps rob him, but panicked. The end result was that Tosh and all six of his friends who were hanging out in the room were shot in the head. Tosh lay dead, as did the radio DJ Jeff "Free I" Dixon and a third friend. Marlene Brown, ex-Soul Syndicate drummer Carlton "Santa" Davis, and two other of Tosh's friends miraculously survived. Lobban was arrested and sentenced to death.
I am still unsure if this song is a cover or a version of a reggae standard, or if this is in fact Mr. Lobban's own creation ? But the performance is most certainly his own. When you hear the crowd go crazy, midway into the song, it is because Dennis is running in place totally frothing at the mouth, determined to stay one step ahead of Babylon. I am amazed at how the visual intensity and insanity of this performance translates sonically.


My favorite unknown genius is my fren B-lite, the world's only blind rapper who performs with the aid of photoshopped PowerPoint karaoke slides. Think Giorgio Moroder doing the hotel conference room circuit ,delivering inspirational life-affirming lectures for the low-wage-earning artistically inclined.

Like all misunderstood geniuses, B-lite struggles with the fact that he is still unemployed and not famous - BUT - I am proud to say that recently he has sold almost all of his possessions so that he can take some ridiculous tour across North America where he will most certainly perform to crowds numbering in the tens... Fame is just around the corner now!!! Check out his website for the tentative tour schedule ? maybe he's coming to your town.

On the website there are also about a dozen songs up for your listening pleasure. You might as well start with the introduction, where you can hear what its like to be a slacker-bee. My favorite number is definitely the ode to poor boy/rich girl love, "Curbside Lover," because it's got the line "hey girl just because I'm taking the bus doesn't mean there isn't room for both of us!"

But I also love "Peepers", one of the many songs B-Lite wrote about autumn for a series of radio programs I put together called Decline and Fall. And then of course there is the Wallmart song, containing the line: "just look at this country it's a piece of shit, you can't do anything but drive around in it."

and on that note...

John Prine ? "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Any More".

Sean and his fellow Canadians may not realize just how bad things have become here in Freedomburg but I just have to say that thanks to that half-wit born-again dry-drunk in the White House and his administration of blood-sucking Fascists I have had the worst 4 years of my life. Now, I'm not trying bum anybody out here with some political rant but I know I am not the only one has discovered that there is nowhere to hide from these fuckers, not in music, not in books, not in art. Yes, they have ruined everything. But the real pain comes not from this gang of criminals that is hell bent on taking us all over the precipice but the mother-fucking idiotic PEOPLE who are letting them get away with it (and my friends, if my recent unscientific poll of taxi drivers in Singapore, Jamaica, Africa, Geneva and Canada means anything, us ?good' Americans are totally screwed ? because the world just isn't buying this line about there being a difference between the American people and the American government anymore - but can you blame them???) Well, the point of all this is that I have found a song that, when I find myself weeping and gnashing my teeth in total fucking despair, helps me feel a tiny bit better. Maybe it will work for you too.

Posted by Benjamen Walker at August 27, 2004 12:50 AM

wow....Benjamin. Your post makes mine look a post-it note!

Posted by bmr at August 27, 2004 8:26 AM

Is the link broke?

Posted by Anonymous at August 27, 2004 9:01 AM

That B-Lite is hilarious. I think the mid-80s bad synth sound has something to do with him being unrecognized but, I don't know, I find it oddly appealing.

Posted by Tuwa at August 27, 2004 10:09 AM

Your political paranoia seems to approach near-psychosis levels. Have you considered getting treatment for your condition? It might make you feel better. A professional counselor or psychologist could help you get over the feeling that your life has been ruined.

Posted by Robert at August 27, 2004 10:45 AM

I started listening to the Dennis Lobban track before I began reading what you wrote about him. When I read that he was the man that shot Peter Tosh, I stopped the tune, feeling disgusted that I was even listening to the man who murdered such a great artist. Of course Tosh was not without some fucked up qualities, but I'm surprised you would share a tune by his murderer. To me it felt like it somehow dishonored the wonderful legacy of Peter Tosh.

However, I totally agreed with what you wrote about the John Prine tune.

Posted by Jules at August 27, 2004 11:16 AM


I just missed you by 8 minutes.. I really wish I could talk about this with you in person.. really, I understand what you are saying (and Peter Tosh's qualities by no means made him deserving of what happened.. in fact.. I am pretty sure that Peter was actually HELPING mr. Lobban) Its a horrible horrible story. But I have been doing a lot of prison work regarding rehabilitation for the past few years.. and I have to say that Mr. Lobban is at quite a disadvantage here.. I mean all the other guys who have done horrible things have at least the potential to become rehabilitated.. but this guy, will never make it past the fact that he killed a great artist..
And he is an amazing performer too - like I said.. the crowd (mostly made up of fellow prisoners along with the professor types) really dug his act..

I am sorry if I upset you.

and Robert -

near psychosis?? try total psychosis!

Posted by bw at August 27, 2004 11:33 AM

if you're interested, i wrote instructions in the comments of this post on how to convert that Destroyer CBC session to mp3s.

Posted by pinder at August 27, 2004 1:49 PM

what a coincidence, I think I've just crossed into psychosis too. thanks for the tunes. john prine's one of those artists I never actively seek out, but he pops up when he's most needed.

Posted by gretchen at August 27, 2004 2:44 PM

lovin' on the b-lite!


Posted by dana at August 27, 2004 2:51 PM

So glad you folks are lovin the b - lite

you must send away for the DVD!

for info

it adds a whole other dimension to the fun

Posted by bw at August 27, 2004 3:14 PM

I wonder...has anyone even scrolled below your post to see my post? I hope so, because I think those songs are great....maybe they are just not compelling to the group?

Posted by bmr at August 27, 2004 3:20 PM

Playing your recording 'Notorious Lightning'on wzbc right now! :-P

It's grebt!

Posted by Amar at August 27, 2004 3:38 PM

hi there--love the destroyer recording--thanks for posting it! Can anyone hook me up with the rest of the songs (as mp3s?) I am technologically challenged! In return, here's a link to the interview I did with the Destroyer himself earlier this year.

Posted by tyler at August 27, 2004 3:57 PM

you feel disgusted to LISTEN to a song by a murderer of someone great? god that's so infantile. it's not like you're making out with him or busting him out of jail.

great post by the way bw, i especially dig the b-lite stuff.

Posted by justin why at August 27, 2004 4:51 PM

It made me so happy to jaunt over here and see a Destroyer track. Last night was spent listening to a bunch of recordings on CBC Radio 3 and I fell in love with them all. It is my goal to find Thief now. So, thank you for posting this.

Posted by Darcie at August 27, 2004 10:09 PM

Gee, what are the odds of a tree-hugging, yogurt-eating, NPR type expressing a distaste for the current administration? And doing so in such eloquent terms? Maybe things will go your way in November, and your buddy Kerry will be in the White House, sticking his finger out the window to check which way the wind is blowing, doing his Paul Hamm imitation and flip-flopping around the oval office before settling on some half-assed compromise position that will ultimately leave the entire country at risk. Give me someone with the backbone to make a decision and live with its consequences any day.

Posted by myob1 at August 28, 2004 12:09 AM

Doesn't matter how bad D Lobban's was or - no excuse to take another person's life - celeb or not (not to mention attempting to kill SIX people at once over a disagreement). It's fine that he can entertain the prisoners but nothing about his life should be celebrated. Why is it his life experiences relevant? by that measure, it's worse for a rich man to shoot a poor man or is it equally reprehensable? You are TOTALLY WRONG to record him and TOTALLY WRONG to celebrate any part of his existence. You have great taste in music but frankly, I thin there are at least 1 million talent musicians we should hear from before we reort to being entertained by a mass murderer.

Posted by rbelkin at August 28, 2004 3:05 AM

man sean, since when is your audience comprised of narrowminded bushlovers? this is starting to scare me.

damn you npr hippies with your good music and your legitimate news! you will flip and flop all over the white house with your "well thought out decisions" and your "logical conclusions" like a DYING FISH.

bush is in the water, breaaaaathing away. and maybe if you stopped hugging trees for a few seconds you'd REALIZE THAT.

(on a quasi-serious note, ben, you should check out mc frontalot's exceptional "special delivery" if you're looking for another pleasing "protest" song )

Posted by justin why at August 28, 2004 7:52 AM

myob1- you don't know what the word consequence means... but you have convinced me that I made a mistake with my little political rant.. the fine readers of STG DO NOT deserve to have to read your ignorant filthy comments... and for this I apologize to all the readers of STG (especially to the innocent yogurt eaters!!)
rbelkin - I guess you don't believe in the idea of rehabilitation. Some times, when I find out what these guys in prison have done, I am not so sure I believe in rehabilitation either. (and believe me mr. lobban'c crime is MINOR compared so some of monstrous things some of the men in Jamaica?s prisons have done) .. but at the end of the day I do believe in rehabilitation - especially when art and music are involved. But I am sorry if you think I am celebrating this guy.. not my intention.
thanks for the tune justin why!

Posted by bw at August 28, 2004 11:07 AM

Yay! MP3 blogs bringing together Democrats and Republicans to listen to the same music! Way to unite the nation, Sean.
D&Rs: You may now return to tearing your country apart.

Posted by JKelly at August 28, 2004 4:23 PM

on the subject of prison and rehabilitation -- I go hot & cold for "This American Life", but this episode's my all-time favorite, about a prison production of Hamlet. it almost makes me cry... and features the Langley Schools version of Desperado at the end.

thanks for your short & sweet comment to the right-wing guy on my site, ben. it was my first weirdo troll comment. I wouldn't mind a dialogue, but he didn't have much to contribute.

Posted by gretchen at August 28, 2004 5:44 PM

"thanks to that half-wit born-again dry-drunk in the White House and his administration of blood-sucking Fascists I have had the worst 4 years of my life."

"But the real pain comes not from this gang of criminals that is hell bent on taking us all over the precipice but the mother-fucking idiotic PEOPLE who are letting them get away with it"

Nothing ignorant or filthy there, I suppose.

Your message gets lost in your rhetoric. Why is it that most left wing true believers are so much less tolerant of opposing views than us right-wingers? Probably a case of logic envy.

Posted by myob1 at August 28, 2004 9:52 PM

"Most left wing true believers are so much less tolerant of opposing views than us right-wingers?" Yep - that Patriot Act is a shining beacon of tolerance - and trying to find a way to "legally" shimmy-shammy around prohibitions on torture? That's tolerant, I guess. And now that I think of it, claiming that, as President, he doesn't have to listen to anybody else and can do what he wants - that's "tolerant" too - but what of?

And "logic envy"? Hoo-booy...let's start with the criteria for who's a felon in Florida, maybe then move on to what to do about 9/11 (19 Saudis? Surely it's Saddam!).... Oh, and there's a word for making decisions in the absence of all reason, and then sticking with them in the presence of all reason against them - and that word is "stupidity." If any left-winger truly is suffering "logic envy" toward right-wingers, it's as delusional as experiencing penis envy while viewing a drag king...

Posted by 2fs at August 30, 2004 12:58 AM

You can continue to let Al Franken and Michael Moore do your thinking for you. I'll think for myself. And what do we tell the kids living down the street whose father perished in the World Trade Center? "Sorry, guys, that was, like, years ago and, um, well fighting the whole terror thing is really getting kind of sticky and all -- I mean people are getting killed and are doing stupid things to prisoners, and it's just all so, like MEAN -- so if you don't mind we'll just sort of drop the whole thing. Don't mind those holes in the sky where Daddy's office used to be. Or those holes in your heart where you keep your love for him. Now where did I put that new social welfare program ... there it is, right next to my new tuition reimbursement bill for foreign flight school students!"

Posted by myob1 at August 30, 2004 2:05 AM

oh wonderfully enlightened point myob!! ps:

Posted by justin why at August 30, 2004 4:48 AM

Anyone who can describe torture condescendingly as "mean" (the all-caps is a nice touch) clearly is a bit lacking in the empathy department - and using that, along with supposed sympathy for 9/11 victims, as a rhetorical bludgeon is, well, let's just say "unsubtle." You might better ask, if that's your concern, why the war in Iraq has by all accounts *increased* the number of terrorists (eminently predictable, by the way - and predicted). You might also ask why Bush's EPA rushed to certify the air quality in the vicinity of WTC - thereby endangering the health of people who returned to work there. Please note: "thinking" involves taking account of facts. Even if I did "let Al Franken and Michael Moore do my thinking for me," facts are facts. Attacking my integrity as a thinker doesn't help your argument - just as attacking Kerry's integrity only shows how panicked the Bushistas are: they sure as hell can't run on their guy's record, since it's incompetent at best in absolutely everything.

That's probably enough cluttering up Sean's site. I'd clutter up yours, or that of the other Republican who posted...but whaddaya know, both of you neglected to include links. Anonymity is so brave.

Posted by 2fs at August 31, 2004 1:08 AM

It appears that the Dennis Link is broken. I am interested in hearing the track or even speaking with you about your experience in with Lobban.

Posted by Niambe Tosh at November 2, 2004 1:20 PM


My name's Tommy Kennedy IV, as this is my first message I'll give you some background info... I work for Oxfam in the Music Department on the Portobello Road - we still need volunteers so if you are interested pop in and see John or Jackie. It's a great place to work and good for your karma.

I am also a Music Promoter at the Mau Mau Bar, 265 Portobello Road, London W10. We have had some fantastic acts play there - 'JCOO1', big up to JC, House Music Legend 'Angie Brown', the Infamous 'Alabama3', 'Howard Marks', 'Krakowski', 'Carnival of Souls', 'Stolen Colours', Blues duo 'Dave & Paulo', 'Miles Winters Roberts', Legendary 'Shaky Vic' and the Sensational 'Anna Jacyzn' to name but a few.

This Saturday 14th May 2005, we are hosting a 'Make Poverty History' Live 12 Hour Marathon for Oxfam at the Mau Mau. From 12 noon to 12 midnight. We've got acts coming from all over London including - 'Tricity Vogue' a cheeky Jazz ensemble, 'Tattooed Youth Gone Wrong' with Brixtons finest MC SKP, 'Tom Mansi and The Ice Breakers' a modern Blues Project, 'Pozitive Play' from Zambia wicked Soul, 'Stolen Colours' and Jervis and his band 'GLC' from the Fiddles & Sticks on All Saints. Between acts we have an equally diverse selection of DJ's including 'Claire54' - uplifting house, 'I-Shen' playing Reggae, 'Marco' 70's & 80's and 'Sammy' playing Northern Soul. More acts T.B.C.

anyone interested in playing ring me on 07880 726544 or email

free untill 7pm and then a £5 donation

Dont miss this

Posted by Tommy Kennedy IV at May 10, 2005 9:53 AM

Wow man that story about Dennis Lobban is wild. Do you think you could poet the mp3 again? Thanks, David

Posted by Daivd Asher at September 14, 2005 8:10 PM

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about said the gramophone
This is a daily sampler of really good songs. All tracks are posted out of love. Please go out and buy the records.

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about the authors
Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

Emma Healey writes poems and essays in Toronto. She joined Said the Gramophone in 2015. This is her website and email her here.

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Dan Beirne wrote regularly for Said the Gramophone from August 2004 to December 2014. He is an actor and writer living in Toronto. Any claim he makes about his life on here is probably untrue. Click here to browse his posts. Email him here.

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