Playlist for the week April 27, 2012
The music heard on Dread of Night comes from a variety of sources – much 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.
Ziggy Marley – ”Could You Be Loved”
Here’s Ziggy and the crew live just after leaving Island for Elektra and joining the Hoard Tour. The original song was written by their father aboard an airline flight in ’79 & was recorded for Bob Marley and The Wailers’ final album “Uprising” in ’80. With the end of the millenium the family unit of The Melody Makers ceased to record & tour together as both Ziggy & Stephen launched their successful solo careers.
Rita Marley – “One Draw”
And here’s mother Rita with her playful homage to herb. Rita, the mother of four (Sharon, Cedella, Stephan & Ziggy) of Bob’s 13 children. She & Bob were married in ’66. And although their marriage was hardly conventional by some standards, she & Bob remained connected throughout his life. Rita is a 3rd of The I Three along with Judy Mowatt & Marcia Griffiths, Bob’s back-up singers after his parting with original Wailers, Peter Tosh & Bunny Wailer.
Ken Booth & Shaggy – “Train is Coming”
Born in Denham Town in ’48, Ken’s recording creer was first with Stranger Cole (Stranger & Ken) and later with Roy Shirley (Roy and Ken) before his solo career took off recording for Clemant Dodd in ’66 & his original hit of “Train Is Coming” was backed by The Wailers. Here he teams up with DJ Shaggy for a revised take on his self-penned classic for the soundtrack to the motion picture “Money Train”.
Fattis/Ras Eddie E’z Special – “Dread of High Performance”
Riffing on a dub track from producer Fattis, our platter master Ras Eddie drops classic reggae samples up & down our stretch of the beach. Come on little girl take a walk with me, now who do you love?
Morgan Heritage – “Unjust World”
No less than 5 of Denroy Morgan’s children make up this multi-generational band first appearing at Sunsplash Festival in ’94. Their almost two decade successful career has yielded 15 albums. Denroy’s biggest hit came back in ’81 with “I’ll Do Anything for You”. He was arrested on marijuana possession charges in the Bronx last year & federal charges against him were pending at last report.
Creation Rebel – “Creation Rebel”
The product of the fertile and prolific British producer, mixmaster, and dub genius Adrian Sherwood, Creation Rebel was originally the backing group for the late reggae great Prince Far-I. Creation Rebel worked from 1977-1980, recording some of the best reggae dub music ever during the early English punk era. Easily some of the best and most important non-rock music to be made in England in the late 70s.
Andrew Tosh – “Guidance Dub”
Andrew Tosh – “Guidance Dub”
The son of legendary Peter Tosh, here’s a dub track from son Andrew. The form of music called dub was ifirst nvented by King Tubbys as he was testing various volumes & frequencies’ specific effect on the studio’s record lathe. He was the first producer to record B sides of 45s with not only the vocals dropped out, but with supporting tracks brought forward centerstage, then withdrawn rhythmically, bringing distinct physical reactions within the listeners.
Culture – ”Ticklish Dub”
Some of the best roots music has come from Culture, Joseph Hill’s lead vocals with Albert Walker & Kenneth Dayes handling backing vocals. They initially worked with The Mighty Two, producer Joe Gibbs & Engineer Errol Thompson recording a series of powerful singles at Gibbs Studio, which can be found on their debut album “Two Sevens Clash”.
Culture – “Two Sevens Clash”
After recording with Sonia Pottinger, Culture went on to work & record with many of reggae’s best & brightest. Culture has long a standard as one of the most authentic of the great reggae groups. The original trio parted ways in ’82 with Hill retaining lead in the reformed Culture until his death while on tour in Germany in 2006. His son Kenyatta now leads the vocal trio with Albert Walker & Telford Nelson singing back-up.
The Mighty Diamonds – “Right Time”
Here’s another roots group featuring strong Rasta ties with Donald “Tabby” Shaw, Fitzroy “Bunny” Simpson, & Lloyd “Judge” Ferguson forming The Mighty Diamonds in ’69 & they’re still together today. “The Right Time” is the title track from their ’76 debut. The trio have produced over 40 albums. Both this & The Heptone tune that follows feature Sly Dunbar’s drums & flying cymbals.
King Stitt/I-Roy/ Starlights – “Soldering”
Here’s a short special featuring the great King Stitt toasting over I-Roys dramatized intro to The Starlights underdub “Soldering”. Both the terms ‘soldering’ & ‘welding’ carry a lusty connotation in the dancehall massive’s patois vernacular. A slack euphemism for copulation, this rude little double entendre’ was a JA hit in ’75.
The Heptones – “The Book of Rules”
This is one of the few hits of The Heptones where the lead is sung by Barry Llewellyn. Generally the great Leroy Sibbles took the lead role with Llewellyn & Earl Morgan sharing back-up. The band was a mainstay of Studio One from their initial recordings in the mid-60s then going on to record for Joe Gibbs & Harry J in the 70s. “The Book of Rules” was based on the poem “A Bag of Tools” by American R. L. Sharpe.
Bob Marley – “Soul Rebel”
Sparse and haunting, Lee Perry would record The Wailers at Randy’s Studio 17 in November of 1970, then head for England where Trojan would release the 45 in the UK in December. The song would be re-released on numerous labels. “See the morning sun on the hillside. If you’re not living good, gotta travel double wide.”
The Fugees – “Fu-Gee-La (Sly & Robbie Remix)
The Fugees were a Haitian American trio rising to international fame in the mid-90s. The elements of hip hop, soul & reggae intertwined as the group were producers, rappers & singers Wyclef Jean & American Lauryn Hill plus Haitian rapper Pras Michel. Coupling here with the brilliant Taxi rhythm section of Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare who dominated the studio scene after the Barrett brothers left The Upsetters to become Wailers.
Tiger – “Shoot ‘Em Tiger”
Norman Washington Jackson aka Tiger rocketed to the forefront of the dancehall scene with producers Steely & Clevie (he can be heard on the soundtrack to “Cool Runnings”) until a near fatal motorcycle crash left him frail, sidelined & undergoing speech therapy ”Shoot ‘Em Tiger” captures his a distinctively offbeat toasting style with his tiger growls , grunts, odd vocal effects, rapid-fire rhymes, and witty asides.
Chevelle Franklyn & Shabba Ranks – “Mr. Loverman”
Two in a row from former Danehall Queen Franklyn whose solo hits “No Pushover” & “Nice & Naughty” brought her fame and then she became a JA household name after duos with Spragga Benz, Beenie Man & then international recognition sharing lines with Shabba Ranks, the most successful DJ of his generation, on this which was his biggest international hit record. The cry of “Shabba!” was heard around the world.
Chevelle Franklyn & Michael Rose – “Love Jah”
Here she’s joined by distinctive voiced one time lead singer for Black Uhuru, Michael Rose. After reconnecting with her Christian faith & her rejection of the dancehall lifestyle, Chevelle declared she would devote her life to singing & recording only reggae gospel.
U Roy & Wendy Shaw – “She’s A Rasta Woman
Wendy began her singing career in ’87 fronting the all female reggae band Jahdeeda before going solo in ’89. U-Roy shares the mic with an ode to the Rasta woman off produced by Britain’s Mad Professor. The pairing of a vocalist & toaster has been a very successful recording formuloa in JA since the early ska days.
Mad Professor – ”Babylon Kingdom Must Fall”
A short taste from Neil Fraser aka The Mad Professor. Originally from Guyana, he’s been at the helm of some of the more interesting dub to emerge from the UK, producing over 200 albums working with such notables as Lee Perry, Sly & Robbie, Pato Banton & Jah Shaka. His Dub Me Crazy series was championed by the late John Peel. The Prof’s early recordings stuck to the analog traditions of King Tubbys but Fraser was among the 1st to embrace the new digital horizons.
Toots & the Maytals – “The Sixth and Seventh Books“
Has there ever been a performer anywhere to equal the great Toots Hibbert? Bridging all Jamaican musical genres, Toots is predominately & always a soul singer of the 1st order. “The Sixth and Seventh Books” refer to those extra texts purportedly written by Moses. These further explain the miracles of Judaism & Christianity, but were suppressed by both faiths & written out of the King James version of the Holy Bible. The books became founding works of the Rastafarian faith early last century, as well as influencing the Pocomania, Kumina & Zion Revivalist Christian movements. The ’63 song stresses ”…the Sixth and the Seventh books, they wrote them all.”
Dub Syndicate – “No Alternative But To Fight”
First appearing on Sherwood’s On-U Sound “Pay It All Back” Vol. II compilation, here’s the Syndicate joined by melodica master Dr. Pablo, not to be confused with Augustus Pablo. The Pay It All Back series 1st appeared in the mid-80s in the UK, US & Japan at reduced prices to showcase the acts Adrian Sherwood was currently producing. Variations have popped up every 2 to 6 years since. The latest “Chainstore Massacre”, with a title change but continuing to showcase On-U’s unique stable of artists & Adrian’s amazing output as a producer.
African Head Charge – “Language & Mentality”
Live dub is tricky. The mixer is as important & perhaps more so, than the musicians. I’ve stood behind Adrian & watched him mix Tackhed & Little Ax live. It is nothing short of amazing to see a producer/engineer play a mixing board & a myriad of outboard toys like a percussion kit. This is Sherwood at his work station best while Bonjo & the Head Charge join the memory of Albert Einstein live at London’s Town & Country.
The Techniques – “Queen Majesty”
Based on a Curtis Mayfield song, “Queen Majesty ” is easily one of the most beautiful of the many stunning rock steady vocals to come out of Duke Reid’s legendary Treasure Isle Studios & the all too brief Rock Steady Era. A personal favorite! The Techniques were Duke’s counterpart to Studio One’s Might Diamonds.
Gregory Issacs – “Night Nurse”
First recording unsuccessfully as half of several duos beginning in ’68, he was already a veteran of countless teenage talent shows. Issacs hit gold when he began recording as a solo in ’73 with a long string of JA hits. Gregory recorded in many styles from roots to virtually inventing Lovers Rock with his “My Only Lover”. He became known as its’ foremost purveyor. The mid-70s saw him work with virtually every great & lesser producer in JA forming his own label, African Museum. In ’82 he found international club fame with “Night Nurse”, the title track to his Island album. This coincided with an 6 month Jamaican jail sentence for illegal gun possession & was marked by Issacs’ admitted longtime battle with cocaine addiction. After his release, he again devoted himself to his work. In addition to Marley & Dennis Brown, Gregory Issacs was a featured act who played & recorded constantly throughout his long career. We lost the Cool Ruler to lung cancer in 2010 . He was nominated for a posthumous Grammy for “Issacs Meets Issac” in 2011, his 4th nomination.