There are a few bands in the world who completely encapsulated the mood of their time and influenced a host of other musicians, but who sadly never achieved a place in the global public consciousness and never reaped the rewards they should have been due. One such band is World Domination Enterprises.
WDE were formed in 1984 by Keith Dobson, (a former member of trippy jam band Here and Now) from the ashes of a notorious project called 012, famous for their chaotic, and some would say unlistenable 10 minute guerrilla sets. He embarked on a poster campaign of bus shelters in West London, searching for ‘Gutterfunk bass and drums’ and was soon joined by Steve ‘Jammo’ Jameson, a stalwart of the West London scene where punk clashed with dub sound systems on bass, and a feisty talented young chap by the name of Digger Metters on drums.
World Domination Enterprises had a completely unique sound; Keith (Dobbo) would detune his guitar to a kind of edgy dischord and max out the treble, Jammo tuned down to what I believe was a low C sharp on bass, and wore it lower than any bassist before or since, and Digger was a tight, groovy powerhouse who had mastered the art of hitting his cymbals hard enough that the stands rocked, but never quite fell over.
The sound was like Elvis on PCP meets a very dark Beastie Boys; a kind of 50’s influenced rockabilly but with industrial and punk sensibilities underpinned with grooving subby/dubby basslines. Their live shows were electric, eclectic, angry and funky all at the same time. Jammo’s sinuous basslines provided the perfect complement to Keith’s frenetic bursts of guitar noise and savvy vocals, all performed with an attitudinous hip-swinging, leg-trembling stance. Audiences would go wild for their first single “Asbestos Lead Asbestos” and their unusual cover of “Funkytown”. The lyrical content spoke to a generation disaffected by Thatcher; intelligent youngsters who had left school with little hope of a job or a place in acceptable society. World Domination Enterprises gave these people a voice and fitted perfectly into the late 80’s squatter scene, playing gigs in West London with the Mutoid Waste Company (alternative artists who pioneered making sculptures from scrap and found objects, pre-empting the likes of Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin by nearly a decade) and at squat venues in places like Hackney. Although their sound was unique, WDE were compatible with their contemporaries, bands like Swans, Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers, Test Dept, Einsturzende Neubauten, Crass, Psychic TV and The Birthday Party but with the added sexier ingredients of Rock n Roll and Reggae.
Their initial intention was to release only singles; 5 were put out in the late 80’s, “Asbestos Lead Asbestos” (1985); “Catalogue Clothes” (1986); “Hotsy Girl” (1987); “I Can’t Live Without My Radio” (1988); and “The Company News” (1989). They eventually bowed to pressure and released 2 albums as well; “Let’s Play Domination” in January 1988 and “Love from Lead City” (late 1988).
The band were championed by the late great John Peel, and featured on the covers of both Melody Maker and the NME, and their material maintained high positions in the UK independent charts. Inroads were made into the US college radio scene that was influential in America at the time, and in Europe where they toured three times; they also toured the USSR.
Despite their popularity, WDE were shunted around between different labels, never really finding their spiritual home in the industry. Perhaps this was due to their uncompromising spirit and refusal to commercialise their sound; they stuck to their guns and never betrayed their roots.
In the late 80’s during a depressed period, drummer Digger was recruited by Jehovahs’ Witnesses and things were never the same again; its hard to play tracks like “Hotsy Girl” when a band member has objections to material on grounds of immorality! Despite Keith and Jammo’s best efforts to reclaim him, Digger left the band. He was reluctantly replaced with a young drummer called Simon Doling, but Digger had been such an integral part of the band that it was hard for the other two to continue without him; proceedings eventually ground to a halt in 1990.
Luckily it’s not too late to hear this seminal band; The remastered CD album “Let’s Play Domination” was released on 1st September 2009, and it still sounds as fresh and exciting as it did the first time around. The re-release features all World Dom’s singles as extra tracks, plus one unfinished track. It includes a 12-page CD booklet with photos, lyrics and band-story. The album is available direct from the label’s website for £7.99. Buy it now and hear an amazing piece of forgotten UK music history!