Pop Larkin’

Horace Andy‘s Skylarking is, hands down, the finest song written about horseplay and high jinx. An old 17th century term, a skylarker was someone who preferred low-level carrying on and procrastination to the actual completion of a work-related task. Yer commonly-used verb ‘to lark about’ comes from it, dontcha know. Had the song been written by a Scotsman it may well have been called Cairryin’ Oan or Fannyin’ Aboot, but then it’s unlikely the recorded item would have been the quietly lilting, sqeaky-organed, roots reggae track that it is. That one and two and three and four rhythm could bring even the most diligent of workers to a wasteful half hour on the company’s time.

Horace AndySkylarking


Horace Andy outside Rough Trade Records London 1985

From Kingston, Jamaica, Andy carved out a solo career to varying degrees of success. Skylarking harks back to 1972. Released on the ubiquitous Studio One label, it found the singer in fine form. The album is an ever-present in those ‘Greatest Reggae Albums You Should Hear’ lists and, yes, you really should try to have a listen.

For many, certainly this writer and no doubt some of you reading, Horace Andy first came to prominence via the work of Massive Attack, his distinctive, reedy vocals enhancing both Blue Line‘s One Love and Angel from Mezzanine, to name but two.

Confusingly, an album also called Skylarking was released in 1996. Building on his popularity and new-found fame as a member of the extended Massive Attack family, Virgin released a catch-all compilation of hits, misses and everything in-between. If you buy one album called Skylarking though, you’re best tracking down that superb debut from ’72.

Right. (stretches…..yawns…..eases himself out of his chair….) Where did I put that report for work?