'I could Have Been A Contender' is an impressive, almost encyclopaedic overview of 30 years of Jah Wobble and his eclectic, eccentric music.
It's an enormous wade-through, and it's unsurprising that the quality of each finished piece depends almost entirely on who he's been collaborating with.
Examples: The PIL work with Lydon and co is exceptional: 'Poptones' is here like Hercules, as is 'Death Disco' in a version bafflingly called 'Swan Lake.'
A duet with mad Irish God-botherer Sinead O'Connor 'Visions of You' is the collection's ethereal highpoint and the funkoid post-punk 'Snake Charmer' wins, despite being co-written by the frustratingly unreliable Holger Czuzay.
It's pointless trying to make any sense of the chronological aspect of 'Contender,' Wobble is a lunatic for versions, extracts, rehashes and particularly, parts. You can read 'part 1' of some title or other, only to discover part 4 was recorded 10 years previously, and there are no parts 2 or 3! Such is his sheets-to-the-wind attitude - but it's his album, so he can stamp and do what he likes.
'Contender' is always challenging, sometimes inspired and often magnificent. Wobble is kinda the Snakefinger of ethnic industrial disco, the Clock DVA of roots. Every conceivable musical instrument and vocal style from all the corners of the earth are employed: from Evan Parker to the Temple of Sound - The Edge to Brian Eno.
Monstrously, 'Dreadlock Don't Deal in Wedlock' is sadly absent from 'Contender,' an omission which has cost clever-clogs Wobble a star, but depreciates the overall value of this mammoth sampler only minutely.