BENJI AND BEDDIS: Ebony and Ivory (Charity single – 2020)

Benji and Beddis, together in perfect harmony at anti-racist demo in Newport

Two legends of the Newport punk scene, Benji and Beddis, have joined forces to release a cover version of ‘Ebony and Ivory’ to raise awareness of, and money for, local charities.

‘Ebony and Ivory’ was originally released in 1982 by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder. It was released on March 29 of that year. The song is featured on McCartney’s album Tug of War. A self-empowerment hit that struggles issues of racial equality, the song reached number one on both the UK and the US charts.

Dean Beddis told us “We had already decided to release it before George Floyd was murdered. But now it feels an even more appropriate time to release it. Virus pandemic, isolation, poverty, loss of income and abuse on top of all of this. Time to change, remove the bigots and racists from public service”.

It is an idea that has been bouncing around for a little while now, but Benji and Beddis finally went into the studio to record the song last year. Money will be raised for Eden Gate Night Shelter and food banks in Newport

Eden Gate exists in Newport for those who find themselves vulnerable, either because they have no home or because they are trapped by drugs or alcohol (or sometimes both). Nobody has to feel vulnerable when there are hands willing to help. The key to our programme is engaging those who can cope, to help those who can’t. We are well placed to do that, because our special relationship with Newport churches and their members provides a channel whereby anybody who wants to help is enabled to volunteer and engage with those who need help.

Both Benji and Beddis are stalwarts of the Newport punk scene.

Benji Webbe came to fame as frontman with local outfit Dub War in the 1990s, laying his reggae/raga vocals over the top of the band’s full on punk-metal sonic assault. When Dub War split in 1999 he went on to form Skindred who have since gone on to international fame.

Benji is ‘Port through and through. He is equally at home hanging out with his homies in the Cwmcarn Hotel or teaching crowds of thousands to do the ‘Newport Helicopter’ at festivals all over the world.

Dean Beddis will be familiar to anyone that knows anything about the Newport punk scene. His band the Cowboy Killers spawned moshpits up and down the country in the 90s and the irreverent ‘Las Vegas Elvis shows the world how tribute acts should be – nothing like the band they are paying homage to. His current band, Bad Sam describe themselves as ‘Five fucks screaming and yelling, playing shit with left wing social and personal shit’.

Not only known as an uncompromising singer with an uncompromising band, Dean has had his finger on the punk pulse for over three decades – working alongside Simon Phillips at Rockaway Records, before eventually setting up his own record shop – Kriminal Records.

The combination of Benji and Beddis was always going to have an explosive result. All good cover versions take a song and turn it into something different. That box is well and truly ticked with this release. A worthy, tame, middle of the road tune has been turned into a worthy wild, hardcore beast.

The backing track is provided by a bunch of fellow partners in crime from the Newport scene, including Richard Glover of Dub War and Bad Sam.

The duet belt out the lyrics with passion in their own inimitable raga/punk styles. Needless to say they put a bit more fire into it and it’s more than a little faster and harder than the original. It is impossible to listen to without picturing all involved with huge grins across their faces

“We all know that people are the same where ever you go, there is good and bad in everyone, we learn to live, when we learn to give each other what we need to survive, together alive. Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony”

As poignant now as the day they were written – if not more so.

The tune will be available to download from Bandcamp in the near future. Watch this space for more details.

You will be able to hear an exclusive preview of the song on the Peppermint Iguana Radio show on 9th June 2020.