Playlist for the week May 4, 2012
The music heard on Dread of Night comes from a variety of vinyl (45s & LPs), cassettes (still a popular medium in JA), CDs, MP3s, DAT recordings, reel-to-reel tapes – The reggae vault is deep. It’s the sum total of a half century of collecting Jamaican music. Much of this music isn’t readily available elsewhere. Some of it is quite rare & obscure. It’s my distinct pleasure to share it with you. With each show I’ll endeavor to list song titles & a bit of background, but occasionally I may be vexed to recall just what came next & there are many mysterious white label pressings.
Lee Perry – “Night Train”
It’s hard to underestimate what might happen if Lee Perry, artist, producer, prophetic poet, curious character extraordinaire would ever meet up with his heir apparent, Britain’s dub master deep, Adrian Sherwood. Both men were landmark innovators in the world King Tubby created, the x-ray music known as dub. And both were famous for disregarding most of the rules in a lawless genre. The result was “Time Boom X De Devil Dead”.
Bob Marley & the Wailers – “Jammin'”
Here’s the Tuff Gong deep into the groove. Perhaps now rivaling “Louie Louie” for universal party tune. There’s not nearly enough classic Wailers’ jams snoozing in the Island vaults being released. Where’s the dub? Perhaps Chris Blackwell could hand them over to Sherwood, The Mad Professor & Perry, then just stand back. There’s both a hungry market & welcoming massive that would be jammin’ in the street.
Linval Thompson & the All Stars – “Marijuana”
Born in Jamaica but raised by his mother in Queens, NY & returning to JA in his early 20s to work with producer Scratch Perry at the legendary 4 track Black Ark Studio. He also recorded with Bunny Lee before producing his 1st album for Trojan. This is the title track. Thompson would become more interested in producing than performing working with many early dancehall artists including Dennis Brown, The Wailing Souls, Cornell Campbell, Barrington Levy & more. Many of Scientist’s dub creations began as Thompson multi-tracks.
Althea & Donna – “Uptown Top Ranking”
“Give me a little bass an’ let me wind up me waist” they called & an international hit followed. They topped the UK charts in ’78. Backed by The Revolutionaries, Studio One’s house band anchored by Sly & Robbie, 17 year old Althea Forrest & her partner Donna Reid, a year older, never again reached such levels of success. But this infectious hit gonna make ya dance. One of many wonderful JA one hit wonderfuls.
Jackie Mitoo – ?
Here’s another great Jackie organ tune on a white label 45.
Ziggy – “Got the Power”
Besides trying his hand at being a radio deejay with a monthly show on the Sirius satellite network, earlier this year Ziggy contributed a cover of “Blowin’ in the Wind” on the Bob Dylan tribute album ‘Chimes of Freedom’for Amnesty International’s 50th anniversary celebration.
UB40 – “Fools Rush In”
A pop song with lyrics written by the great Johnny Mercer and music by Rube Boom in 1940. At the time Frank Sinatra & Billy Eckstine both enjoyed hits with it. Over the years it’s been recorded by many, but most know it as one of Elvis Presley’s best loved songs. Here’s UB-40’s international club hit mix.
Supercat & Jack Radics – “My Girl Josephine”
Super Cat, elder brother to reggae star Junior Cat, was born William Maragh in Jamaica in 1963 & nicknamed The Wild Apache. He began assisting the crew of Soul Imperial Sound System when he was 7 & released his 1st single at 18. His version of the early Fats Domino rocker “My Girl Josephine” performed with singer Jack Radics was released in ‘94
Bunny Wailer – “One Drop”
One drop rhythm is a playing style in reggae, popularized by the late Carlton Barrett, long-time drummer of the Wailers & before that, The Upsetters, whereby the backbeat is characterized by the dominant snare rimshot & bass drum sounding on the third beat of every measure in 4/8 time. Counting in 4/4 time, the drummer would leave beats one and three open. The expected hit on beat one is then said to be “dropped,” creating the one-drop effect.
Bob Marley & the Wailers – “One Dub”
The One Drop effect? As if an elevator suddenly dropped from under you or you stepped up to a curb that wasn’t there, this is that quirky hitch-step beat that has everyone swaying together. Stand at the back of any large music audience & the entire crowd is reacting to the music in a 1000 different ways. Stand behind a reggae audience & they are all moving in the same fluid wave. That’s One Drop.
Peter Tosh – “Magga Dog”
How many versions of this did Tosh record? Some night I’ll devote the entire show to all the many versions of this gem. It’s a chocked full of parables tune. A magga dog is a mangy dog & the same dog that bites you in the morning is likely to bite you in the evening too. And mark Peter’s words, if you lie down with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas.
Dub Syndicate – “Stoned Immaculate”
Greetings Music Lovers! It all begins with a Style Scott groove & Sherwood at the controls, add samples of Scratch, a long dead Jim Morrison & tastes of Vanilla Fudge, then take it out there to the perimeter where there are no stars. Immaculate!
Burning Spear – “Dub Creation”
In the mid-90s, Winston Rodney – the Burning Spear – set up the Burning Music Production company to handle his own bookings. After a long & fruitful association with Heartbeat Records, Spear & wife Sonia have produced a number of his albums, restarting Burning Spear Records in 2002, giving him a greater degree of artistic control. Since then, he has been based in Queens NY. Burning Spear was awarded the Jamaican government’s Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer on 15 October 2007.
Junior Byles – “A Place Called Africa”
Here are 3 separate versions of the same song, all produced at Lee Perry’s mythical Black Ark studio in his back yard. Perry had 1st met Byles as a member of the trio, The Versatiles when Scratch was scouting talent as chief engineer at Joe Gibbs’ studio. When Perry opened his own studio, Junior Byles saw numerous hits emerge.
Winston Prince – “A Place Called Africa”
Dr. Alimantado (my own personal physician) was born Winston Thompson & here records under the name Winston Prince. He also recorded under numerous other monikers. This track was one of his earliest. “Best Dressed Chicken in Town” was his biggest hits. Since 1983 he has worked exclusively as a producer.
Dennic Alcapone – “A Place Called Africa”
Often recording for more than one producer in the same day, Dennis (born Smith) has worked with a virtual who’s who of Jamaican studio hierarchy besides Perry to include Dodd, Reid, Bunny Lee, Joe Gibbs, Prince Buster, Alvin Ranglin , Prince Tony Robinson & J.J. Johnson
Sly & Robbie – “Miles”
As Jagger & Richards are The Glitter Twins, Sly & Robbie are the Riddim Twins. Here’s another of those white label wonders, but this one I know to be the original test pressing of their composition dedicated to the jazz great, Miles Davis.
African Head Charge – “Hymn”
This is from 1990’s ‘Songs of Praise’. True psychedelic dub from Bonjo & crew plus a wonderful uncredited children’s choir. The mix of heavy primitive rhythms coupled with the sweetly innocent children’s voices creates powerful mental imagery.
The Meditations – “Eclipse”
From the marvelous “Dub Side of the Moon”, a collection of reggae interpretations of Pink Floyd’s rock standard from Easy All-Stars’ Michael G (Goldwasser) & Ticklah (Victor Axelrod). This collaboration has remained on Billboard’s Top Reggae Charts since its’ release in ’83. A more bass & drum heavy version, “The Dubber Side of the Moon”, was released in 2010.
Bunny Wailer – “Pimpers Paradise”
From Bunny’s “Hall of Fame” collection of Bob’s hits. Bunny & Bob spent their childhood’s middle years literally living as brothers when their parents (Bunny’s father & Bob’s mother, Cedella) lived together for several years in Kingston’s Trench Town. Always the quietest of the Wailers, Bunny never cared for airplanes or touring though in their early years he traveled across England & America with The Wailers.
Bunny Wailer – “Jump Nyahbinghi”
Bunny’s music was very influenced by both gospel and the soul hits of Curtis Mayfield he’d heard on American radio drifting down to JA. Bunny chose to live away from the business of Kingston & reside in the Rasta Community at Bull Bay 15 miles away to focus on his music & spirituality. Affectionately known as Jah B, Newsweek magazine called Bunny one of three most influential people in world music.
Bunny Wailer – “Three Little Birds”
The originator of “The Electric Boogie”, Bunny Wailer won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in ’90, ’94 & ’96. Bunny, like many notable devout Rastafarians, has been at odds occasionally with modern western culture in regards to beliefs concerning women & homosexuality.
Lord Creator – “Kingston Town”
Another of your selector’s favorites. Lord Creator was a calypso singer born in Fernando, Trinadad & Tobago around 1940. Whether he’s still with us, I’m uncertain. He began recording in ’59. He recorded “Kingston Town” for Clancy Eccles in ’70. Times got hard after that. The story goes that Eccles saw Creator, homeless and destitute, on a Kingston street in the 90s. Eccles called out to him & Creator fled thinking Eccles wanted to collect an old $30 debt. Eccles chased him down to tell him UB40 had recorded “Kingston Town” on their Labour of Love sessions & Creator had earned substantial royalties. With the earned royalties Creator revitalized his life & career, appearing on oldies shows in Jamaica & touring Japan.
Horace Andy – “Skylarking”
From ’72 here’s Andy’s biggest best loved hit. It first appeared on a compilation lp ‘Jamaica Today’ released by Dodd’s Studio One, but it’s instant popularity at sound system jump ups saw it released quickly as a single. Horace Andy relocated to London in ’85. Like Bunny Wailer, he’s another devout Rasta who’s views have conflicted with more liberal western outlooks & has had to change lyrics on some performances to see release on major labels.
Binghi Bunny – “Kingston 12 Tuffy”
Binghi’s been gone for almost 20 years, but his impact as lead guitarist for Roots Radics set a standard that dominated the dancehall styles of the 80s. Yet as their live work increased elsewhere, particularly in the USA, they were eventually bypassed by other outfits. The digital-ragga revolution sparked by King Jammy’s production of Wayne Smith’s massive hit, ‘Under Me Sleng Teng’, virtually eradicated the need for live musicians overnight & the Radics lost their position as Jamaica’s number one studio session band, although they remained in demand for stage shows. Bingi Bunny died of prostate cancer in January ’94.