Tuesday, 22 July 2014

REWIND: Asian Dub Foundation: 'Free Satpal Ram' (Primal Scream and Brendan Lynch Mix)

It was due to my love of Primal Scream that I ended up coming across this band. Bobby Gillespie would rave about Asian Dub Foundation in the music press, and in 1998 the Scream remixed their raging 'Free Satpal Ram' single, with the help of producer Brendan Lynch.

Satpal Ram was an Asian man who was wrongly accused of murder and jailed after defending himself in a racist attack. Ram, along with two friends visited a restaurant in November 1986. While there, an argument broke out between the three men and another group of six people who were also in the restaurant, an altercation that was over Asian music being played on the restaurant's radio system. After the fight turned physical, Clarke Pearce was taken to hospital with knife wounds and later died. Consequently, Satpal Ram was arrested for murder and convicted in 1987. Controversy arose among the British media when it was alleged that his barrister did not meet with him, onl;y speaking to him for around 40 minutes before the trial. The jury was claimed to have missed vital evidence because no interpreter was provided to translate for a Bengali-speaking waiter who had been present at the incident. It is also alleged that the judge was to have said he would interpret but also that he couldn't speak the Bengali language. There were also reports of Ram being beaten, starved, repeatedly strip-searched, and made to spend large periods of time in solitary confinement. 

Back then, I was still in secondary school. As part of our PSE (personal and social education) lessons, one of our projects was to give a talk to the class on a chosen subject. Inspired by Satpal Ram's case, I told his story to the rest of my classmates and even handed round a petition for people to sign. Satpal Ram was released from Blantyre House Prison on parole in June 2002.

Asian Dub Foundation play the world premiere of their original live soundtrack to George Lucas' film 'THX 1138' at Celebrate Brooklyn! Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY on August 8th.

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