Put it all down to his quaver

Horace Andy (right) has fathered 16 children. He's also had a long career in reggae. By Ben Thompson

Grab your Adam's apple with your right hand. Wiggle it vigorously back and forth while singing a plaintive song of love and regret in the highest voice that is safely available to you. At this point you may think you sound something like Horace Andy, but the pained looks of innocent bystanders probably suggest otherwise. Andy - ne Hinds - got his second name from the pioneering Jamaican sound system overlord, Coxsone Dodd (who wanted him to seem like he might be related to Marcia Griffiths's partner in harmony, Bob Andy), but his voice came straight from heaven.

A distinguished dab of grey at the temples is the only sign that the smartly track-suited man reclining in the management company office has been in the reggae business for a quarter of a century. But the briefest of acquaintances with his album Skylarking - the first release on Massive Attack's new Melankolic imprint - confirms the scope of his achievements. From the title track's captivating Studio One shuffle to his label bosses' ghostly 1994 rearrangement of "Spying Glass", Andy's enduring quaver illuminates a gorgeous gallery of shifting soundscapes.

It must make a nice change to have all his work in one place, rather than scattered through a stack of various artists compilations? "If I were to start again," Andy affirms, "I wouldn't sing for so many different producers, but when you're young you love doing it. If they say, `Come and sing a song', you will."

Further evidence as to the carefree nature of Horace's youth is furnished by his achievements in the field of paternity. "I guess when you're young the record's playing everywhere and girls get pregnant," he explains, with as much winsomeness as a father of 16 can be expected to muster. "But I love my children and I try my best to look after them."

Horace Andy has not had things all his own way in the roots-reggae sex war. He looks back in genial disgruntlement to the early Eighties, when he was living in Connecticut with a wife who refused to let him go to Jamaica to record on the (perhaps understandable) grounds that his intentions towards the womankind of the island were not entirely honourable. "That's one thing with the ladies," Horace observes resentfully, "they don't give you any time for your career - they just want you to be around for them when they get home from work."

The indignity of this period was further compounded by an unfortunate shooting incident (having breezed safely through the numerous perils of the Kingston dancehall circuit, Horace Andy is the only reggae star to boast the distinction of a bullet wound sustained in a Connecticut basement) and an unsuccessful attempt to kidnap two of his children after his marriage foundered. Does he think such tribulations might have contributed to the haunting quality of his singing? "I think it always sounded that way - it's the minor keys that do it."

Horace Andy's exquisitely judged vocal performances have given a valuable extra dimension to Massive Attack's two studio albums to date, and a tape he is carrying with The Clash's "Bankrobber" and "Straight To Hell" on it augurs well for the third. Meanwhile, he looks forward to Melankolic releasing (and 3D, Mushroom and Daddy G perhaps producing) an album of his new material. Given the remarkable extent to which the development of British dance music in the Nineties can be seen to have echoed the reggae blueprints of two decades previous, such symbiosis has a pleasing symmetry about it.

But surely there must be some bone of contention between Bristol and Jamaica? "I still tease them and say they can't DJ - get them in a studio and they will do it but on-stage you say, `Come up and DJ something like a Jamaican DJ would', and they run a mile." Andy laughs. "I probably shouldn't let this out on them, but they can't dance either - Daddy and 3D will try to move, but I've never seen Mushroom take a step."

`Skylarking' is out on Melankolic. Horace Andy will appear at Subterania, London W10, 3 Oct. Booking: 0171-344 0044

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
arts + entsFor a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
booksNew book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
News
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Comedy
Arts and Entertainment

Review

These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, faces new problems

Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Polly Morgan

art
Arts and Entertainment
The kid: (from left) Oona, Geraldine, Charlie and Eugene Chaplin

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised

art
Arts and Entertainment

Review: Series 5, episode 4 Downton Abbey
Arts and Entertainment

Music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
    Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

    How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

    'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

    Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

    Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
    Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

    Terry Venables column

    Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
    The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

    Michael Calvin's Inside Word

    Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past