Playlist for the week April 20, 2012
The music heard on Dread of Night comes from a myriad of sources – a lot of vinyl (45s & LPs), cassettes (still a popular medium in JA), CDs, MP3s, reel-to-reel recordings – there may even be a few wire recordings in a back corner of the vault. 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.
Bob Marley & the Wailers – “Lion, Iron, Zion”
The 12″ mix, the original track was recorded in either ’73 or ’74 (no one knows for certain) yet not released until 20 years later after Bob’s passing. A simple storyline again echoing Bob’s tale of the on the run outlaw refusing to fight someone else’s war. Marley had quickly returned to JA in ’66 after a short working stayin the US with his mother in Wilmington, Delaware – until his own draft notice arrived.
Ini Kamoze – “Here Comes the Hotstepper”
Borrowing the distinctive “na na na na na” chorus from the “Land of Thousand Dances” by Chris Kenner, later covered by Wilson Picket, this is Kamoze’s biggest international hit to date topping Billboard’s Hot 100. A hotstepper in JA is patois slang for someone of the run from the law. Kamoze’s signature song was produced by Philip ‘Fattis’ Burrell.
Zap Pow – “This is Reggae Music”
Zap Pow was formed in ’69 by Dwight Pinkney (guitar) Max Edwards (drums), Mike Williams (bass) with the horns of Glen DaCosta (tenor saxophone & flute), Joe McCormack (trombone) & David Madden (trumpet). Both DaCosta & Madden were products of the legendary Alpha Boys School, where countless great JA musicians studied. Pickney, a sought after session player, would later join Roots Radics.
UB40 – “Wear You to the Ball”
Britain’s popular two tone reggae crew’s take on a classic from their Labour of Love sessions where they’ve covered their personal favorite JA oldies. The distinctive lead vocalist Ali Campbell left the the group in 2008 & they’ve struggled a mite since then. Maxi Priest was rumored to be their new front man but the chore went to Ali’s brother, Duncan.
John Holt/The Paragons/U-Roy – “Wear You to the Ball”
The original featuring the great vocalist John Holt & one of rock steady’s most beloved bands of the ’60s, The Paragons, plus U-Roy (born Ewart Beckford). Called the Originator & the Godfather of Rap, the diminutive DJ is a toasting pioneer, chatting over the riddims originally for King Tubbys’ mobile sound system.
The Dub Syndicate – “Dubaddisababa”
The Syndicate is a collaborative effort of drummer Style Scott of Roots Radics fame & dub producer extraordinaire Adrian Sherwood of the U.K. The band grew out of Creation Rebel & often features other acts from the On-U Record’s talented stable notably Tackhead, the original Sugar Hill Gang. This is from the album Echomania.
The Firesign Theater – ‘Rasta Ford Vibrations’
Cornell Campbell & the Eternals – “Can’t Find Dub”
Here’s the dub, the wholly reworking of instrumental tracks, of Cornell Campbell’s “Just Can’t Find Love” off one of the Dub Specialist LPs featuring dub shots coming out of Clement Dodd’s historic Studio One. These were produced by any number of top engineer talents all under the auspices of legendary producer, sound system pioneer and music entrepeneur, Clement “Sir Coxsone” Dodd.
King Stitt (the ugly one) & Andy Capp – “Herbsman Shuffle”
King Stitt (born Winston Sparkes) ran King Tubbys’ Sound System # 1 & chatted over the riddims while U-Roy ran system #2 at the weekly jump ups. The sound system dances date back to the 50s. Andy Capp (born Lynford Anderson) is a producer, engineer & performer who had a big hit with “Pop ATop”. “Herbsman Shuffle” is an early version (dub) of that track. Pioneer DJ toaster King Stitt died in January 2012.
U-Roy – “Wake the Town”
The spirit of the Sound Systems that started it all. Enterprising promoters, often owning both record shops & recording studios, arrive at an open lot or stretch of the beach, set up huge walls of speakers, 6′ bass bins & powerful horns facing out to the sea. Erect a control tower, cordon off the area with roll fencing, fire up a petrol generator to drive the huge amps & charge admittance to the crowds who gladly paid, often skanking to music recorded only hours before. DJ U-Roy would toast, rhyme, dance & chat into the night.
Shaggy – Oh, Carolina
The original recording of “Oh, Carolina” was by the Folkes Brothers in ’60, a run away dance hit in pre-mod London. Noteworthy in the development of reggae, it was the 1st song to incorporate African-influenced Niyabinghi drumming & chanting. Revived in ’93 by Shaggy (born Orville Burrell) it again became an international dance hit, the 1st of Shaggy’s 4 UK #1 singles.
Burning Spear – “I’m Not Crazy”
Winston Rodney, the Burning Spear, is no doubt performing somewhere tonight. A tireless voice for Rastafari, Burning Spear was originally Rodney’s trio, named after the warrior name of Jomo Kenyatta, 1st president of the new nation of Kenya. After attaining international fame working with producer Jack Ruby in ’75, Burning Spear has been a sought after solo act recording & touring continually.
Peter Tosh – “They Must Get a Beating”
An upful rendition of a Tosh standard. An ever-outspoken advocate for justice, here the Wailer calls out for retribution ‘One Time!’ against the downpressors. With the infectious hook of ‘Don’t you wait until your back is against the wall. One step to progress, I know Jah will hear your call’ Peter was to record many varying versions of his works over the years.
The Wailers – “Fire, Fire”
Bob & Peter deliver an Old Testament sermon. This is the original 45 recording from ’68 on their own Wail’N’Soul’M label. Later Bunny would recut it as a love song on his Solomonic Records & Peter would record it solo in ’75. This captures a period when the Wailers & JA music were finding the way from cutting the ska beat in half in ’65 for rock steady & then feeling the way onto reggae in the early ’70s.
Steven Marley & Michael Franti’s Spearhead – “Rebel Music (Three O’clock Roadblock)
Born Stephen Robert Nesta “Raggamuffin” Marley, the 5 time Grammy winner is the son of Bob & Rita Marley. Here he joins American hip hop poet, composer, musician Franti & crew for unreleased takes of one of his father’s classics. Turn up the bass & the volume, but be careful! This stuff will break windows, speakers & leases.
Michael Rose – “You Need Love”
The distinctive voice that blended so well with the late Puma Jones in all those great Black Uhuru recordings, Michael’s ‘tu tu tweng’ & other shout outs & scats have influenced many other singers. His was a successful solo career before & after his initial stint with Uhuru. For a while he left the music business to raise coffee in the Blue Mountains.
The Upsetters – “Freedom Train”
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry is a living legend in Jamaican music. A vocalist, producer, toaster, artist international who’s career before launching out on his own touched virtually every Kingston studio. His studio house band was always credited as The Upsetters & included a who’s who of the great JA studio players over the years. His Wailers recordings are the best. “Freedom Train” is an early blank label 45 release from ’69.
Maxi Priest – “It Starts in the Heart”
From the UK, Maxi shares with UB 40 being the two British reggae acts to have topped the US pop charts. Of Jamaican descent, Priest’s career began singing with a South London sound system before drawing positive international attention with his cover of Cat Stevens’ “Wild World”. He’s collaborated with numerous other reggae stars both on stage & in the studio.
African Head Charge – “The Elastic Dance”
From their ’81 debut album My Life in a Hole in the Ground, here’s the 1st track from this British psychedelic dub ensemble . Formed by percussionist Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah & mixed deep in Adrian Sherwood’s curious layered world of sound, African Head Charge is an ever-changing cadre of some of London’s great dub reggae talents.
Peter Gabriel, Youssou N’ Dour & Shaggy – “Shaking the Tree”
An interesting take on a song co-written & previously recorded by both Gabriel & N’ Dour punctuated with the booming voice of the US Marine Corp veteran Shaggy from the soundtrack of 2002’s The Wild Thornberrys Movie. Shaggy’s fast talking scat-influenced toasting with its’ rolled Rs is termed dogamuffin style dating to latter JA dancehall DJ notables Lone Ranger & Clint Eastwood, both students of U-Roy.
The Wailing Souls – “Firehouse Rock”
Winston “Pipe” Matthews and Lloyd “Bread” McDonald have anchored The Wailing Souls for over 50 years.They’ve recorded with most of JA’s top studios & producers. Their vocals are markedly influenced by the Motown sound they heard on weak radio signals from Miami & New Orleans in the 60s. “Firehouse Rock” is the title track to an ’81 album.
Beres Hammond – “Getting Stronger”
The soulful purveyor of some of the best lovers rock around in the last 20 years, Beres Hammond “Getting Stronger” is off Putting Up Resistance produced by Tappa Zukie. Hammond was the 9th of 10 children, growing up listening to his father’s American jazz & soul records, noting Otis Redding and Sam Cooke as major early influences.
Jackie Mittoo – “Nature Boy”, “?” & “The Night Doctor”
Three from the great Jackie Mittoo, keyboardist, composer & music arranger at Studio One, he was one of the founding members of the legendary Skatalites. Jackie migrated to Toronto in the late 60s where he continued to record & play in local lounges. Throughout the 70s he recorded for Bunny Lee & worked regularly with Sugar Minott in the 80s. He returned to JA in ’89 to join up with the reunited Skatalites, but was forced to leave the tour for health reasons & passed in ’90. The second song is from a white label 45. If you know the title, let me know.
Bob Marley – “The Sun is Shining”
“The sun is shining. The weather is sweet.” Appearing 1st on the Lee Perry produced Wailers’ albums Soul Revolution in ’71 & again on African Herbsman in ’73. Marley later re-recorded the song for his ’78 album Kaya. In ’99 the song was remixed by Danish house producer Funkstar De Luxe. It was the 1st song OK’d by the Marley estate for remixing & reached # 1 on the US dance charts.