The Mystic Radics story – Foreword: the missing link between cricket and Jah Shaka

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Growing up in pre-internet France, there was one more affordable way to get to hear new music than buying records : audio cassettes.

While a few have over the years become staples I am still religiously listening to to this very day (the Roots Ting single mixes, the Olivier Allot selections, the early days of the French-made Jah Kingdom series by DJ Clyde, etc.), some gradually became mini-Grails on their very own : The Manasseh show’s,  on London-based Kiss FM 100 fell in that category. Everything about the show was impeccable – from the music selection to the opening spoken jingles by one Martin Campbell. Need proof? Just download all these from this link, will you? Yes. That’s what I thought. You’re welcome.

Anyway, a Grail within the Grail was the series of shows that Jah Shaka did as guest over there —Mind? Blown. Imagine him playing pre-releases of Sidney Mankind’s These Three Girls to a flabbergasted Nick Manasseh, dubplates galore… and then, the Mystic Radics ‘Nation Wide’ 12”. “Oldies but goodies,” as Shaka introduced it. That was it. Some day, I’d have this tune, I promised myself.

Well, it only took twenty-or-so years, until I did get the chance to reissue it on my label.

One bright day of 2014, I decided to launch on the hunt for the Mystic Radics, trying to re-trace their career from the meager credits on the 12s of theirs that I knew, all on the same label —which, I assumed, had to be their own, as it never put out any music by anyone else— Water Mount Records.

Oh boy, I thought, let the squinting start again.

After a few hours losing all the eye sight I had left on deciphering the Water Mount label’s credits on the few records they put out, I came to a conclusion: my guy’s actual name had to be a combination of the following occurrences: “C. Moody”, “Carlton Anthony,” “Carlton Moody”, “T. Moody”.

How about… Let’s run a search with “Carlton Anthony Moody” in the UK, first and foremost? Only one hit: a certain Carlton Anthony Moody has trademarked the term “Catchy Shubby” as a form of cricket in this country, some trademark website states. Mmhh… far-fetched. But let’s be overly pragmatic here: that’s the only lead I got. Well, let’s add “cricket” to the search. Now here comes this article:

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Jamaican-born coach who used to “buy a lot of records”… Suspicious. “Tony Moody” could be very well be the “T. Moody” from the label. Plus, the picture is encouraging: this coach on the photograph would have been the right age to sing that tune back in 1984.

Too tempting: a few hours of search later, I had an email address to contact said coach. You’re always kind of nervous getting in touch with people out of the blue like that. But what do you have to loose? There I went again for one of these awkward intro emails:

Dear Mr. Moody,

Ok, it might sound very strange, but here’s the reason for my mail” (…) “I have been after productions from a label called WATER MOUNT that was set I think in the 80s, and as it looks from hours of research on the internet, that the producer on this label was a CARLTON MOODY, and I once found mention of T.MOODY -which I thought could be you ? Is it you? Do you know who CARLTON MOODY might be?

On this same label, I know of a 12” sung by a certain CARLTON ANTHONY so I came to the conclusion that the producers’ full name is Carlton Anthony Moody, perhaps. Anyway, I hope you know what I’m talking about, otherwise it must sound pretty strange”

Etc etc—I don’t mean to kill you with second-hand embarrassment, and I’m sure you get the uncomfortable picture.

(Blank space here symbolizing the next hours refreshing my Inbox every 30 seconds)

And then – ‘You have 1 new message”. It read what you always hope it would:

Dear Mr Carayol,

My name is Sandra Moody, I am Tony Moody’s daughter and Secretary.
Thank you very much for the email, you will be happy to hear that  Carlton “Tony” Moody is the person you seek in regards to the songs.
Mr Moody has expressed his appreciation in regards to your interest in the music and that it has reached all the way to you in France.
However, he would like to know what would be the benefits of his music being on your label Reel-Heavy Music.

I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours Sincerely,

Sandra Moody

Bingo! A couple weeks later, I was on my way to London to go meet THE Tony Moody.

Coming from France where the sport is non-existent, I never realized how big cricket actually is in the UK. Tony gave me an appointment where he works: at The Oval cricket stadium in Kensinhgton, London —which, it turns out, can shame quite a few football stadiums where I’m from, a beautiful arena made of red bricks.

Tony didn’t come alone. As instructed, he had dug in the vaults and when he opened his car’s trunk, it sort of felt like the old Treasure Isle logo: a few very coveted master tapes appeared, in immaculate condition, as well as a handful of vintage photographs that Tony had kept because he was confident, he told me, “that some day, someone would want to document all this.”

By the time I calmed down a little (not a lot), a whole friendly crew had surrounded us: the Mystic Radics au grand complet (yes, this includes Vincent Roswell) all came to spend the rest of the day with us, and reply to my questions. Tony even invited a videographer documentary he knew to film the uncanny encounter!

The next day, after an afternoon as great as you probably imagine, I was back home. I had satisfied my own curiosity about this old 12” obsession of mine, and, very much more importantly in Tony’s eyes, I knew the basics of cricket. I was now ready to launch the Nation Wide reissue process.

In our next episode – the Mystic Radics story – pt. 1.

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