Unite Tribe were formed in 2004 and were initially called the Rastafenians, with their main period of activity being around 2006-2008 in Dublin before going silent sometime in 2009 after a move to Berlin. Their height was the launch of the overlooked Enlocari album in March 2007 which received a limited Irish release but was sadly never followed up on. Despite this, copies of it still lurk on the CD racks and hard-drives of Dublin reggae fans and lefties alike.
While the prospect of an Irish reggae band is almost guaranteed to clear out a house party quicker than the guards; Unite Tribe managed to cross the line from cringe to quality and defined themselves as Dublin’s best reggae act for a number of years. Unlike many contemporary bands who shy away from controversy in their early days, Unite Tribe were always overtly political and made a point of being left-wing in both their music and actions from the get go.
Many of their songs focused on anti-war and social justice themes, with the band performing at Irish Anti War Movement (IAWM) demos and inviting progressive causes to set up stalls at the back of their gigs. The long defunct South City Anti War Group (SCAWG) were a mainstay in this regard.
The 7-piece band described themselves as ‘new wave reggae’ and built up a loyal following from gigging in The Spirit Store (Dundalk), the Temple Bar Music Centre and The Trinity Rooms in Limerick. Their album was composed of 11 tracks and recorded in Rush in north Dublin; produced by Wayne Sheehy and engineered by Andy Knightly. We’ll run through some of the highlights of this record later but overall it captures a moment when Dublin reggae peaked as a political and popular genre, something which has not been matched since. The versatility of the band is shown by the range of tracks from the condemnation of the horrors of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war in ‘are you a terrorist?’ to the casual romance of ‘The Tune’ or the melodious ‘don’t let your envy..’.
There is no question that Unite Tribe were a talented band and they received some recognition by getting support acts at The Black Seeds and Israel Vibration shows, being given radio slots and even embarking on a Baltic tour at one stage. It’s hard to find any information on why the band split so we can only speculate that second album syndrome made them run out of steam somewhere in Berlin. But for now, lets shake off the effect of yesteryears cans from your memory and listen to some tunes from 2007 when The Button Factory was still the Temple Bar Music Centre and the closest Richard Boyd Barrett got to the Dail was shouting outside it.
We found a cached relic of their website around 2008 so some of the entries are quoted direct from the band.
This songs deals with the way in which governments attempt to shape the way people think in order to further their political interests, or even private interests. Its also deals with my frustration in seeing my own country, and others, follow, so willingly, the path of America into the greed driven system of capitalism.
The major problem with capitalism is that it allows for a certain amount of people to be very successful at the expense of everybody else, and once these people are in power they are not going to want to give it up. They control the vast majority of the media so they are therefore in a position to influence the way people think. Head Police, our first single, deals with this omnipresent, constant barrage of propaganda in our lives.”
New Wave Red
Medgar Evers Blues
This song is a dedication to all the people who have fought for civil rights around the world. It deals particularly with the struggle of black people in North America in the 50’s and 60’s. Medgar Evers (1925-1963), field secretary of National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP), was one of the first martyrs of the civil rights movement. His death prompted President John F. Kennedy to ask Congress for a comprehensive civil-rights bill, which President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the following year.
The first verse is written in the first person, from Medgar’s point of view. Medgar fought bravely in the Second World War for his country and others, only to return home and discover that white supremacists were just as determined as ever to prevent integration and the progress of black people. It was this that drove him to join the NAACP.
The second verse is a meant as a pledge from the people, the new generation, that we will no longer accept this racist , hate-filled behaviour. That we will no longer stand by and allow guilty men, men who are known murderers of black citizens, to walk free among us, as was the case for so long in southern America where jury after jury would refuse to convict white killers.
The third verse pays homage to others victims of the struggle. Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Earl Chaney were civil rights workers and members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). They were murdered by the KKK on the 21st of June 1964 in Meridian, Mississippi. It is widely believed that this was done with the cooperation of local law enforcement. [….]
These people, along with so many others, are the people to whom we owe so much today. Their bravery and courage helped remould the mindset of generations entrenched with racism.”
Are you a Terrorist?
Written about the Israel-Lebanon war of 2006 which sparked huge demonstrations across the globe, including in Dublin. Like any attempt at a political song, this effort is in danger of being a bit wordy at times.
Don’t Let Your Envy…
We’ll finish up with this lovely tune.
A few tracks made after the album can be found here on their Myspace page, recorded in Eamon Dorans presumably in 2008.