I forgot about the Equals when I was working through the 1960s, but since we’re now turning to look at how punk and reggae intertwined at the end of the 1970s, I suppose this song fits in reasonably well here too. (Plus, the Clash did a fantastic cover of it on Sandinista, which I’m tempted to post as well.)
Anyways, the Equals came from North London and they were notable in the late 1960s for being a multiracial band — a real rarity at the time. Their singer, Eddy Grant, would become internationally famous in 1982 with the song “Electric Avenue.” Here are the Equals on German television.
“Police On My Back” has got to be the happiest song about racial profiling ever written. The bouncy melody, the band’s Hard Days Night clowning in the video, and the bubblegum trope of listing all the days of the week in the chorus all seem totally at odds with the lyric, which is a nightmare scenario of being on the run from police. An odd and interesting track.
And hey, let’s have the Clash doing a version too, live in Japan.