Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sweet Roots

Thought I'd continue the roots theme with a tune from one of my favourite singers - Sugar Minott. 'Africa Is The Black Man's Home' came out onhis LP 'Ghetto-ology'. The 7" mix is different, and I prefer it to the one on the LP.
I really can't recommend Sugar Minott enough to anyone out there who doesn't know him. From his early work with the African Brothers through his classic Studio 1 LPs to the great tunes he did at Wackies he is one of the most solid and consistent roots artists that ever come out of Jamaica. There are lots of albums and compilations available, but the best one to start with is the one that got me hooked: his first Studio 1 LP, 'Live Loving'.
I hope you enjoy this one, it's a gem.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Couple Of Nice Roots Tunes

Here are a couple of nice roots tunes that I was meaning to put up over the weekend, but events (perfect weather for taking the kids out to pick blackberries) intervened. First up is one that I got off a mailing list about 10 years ago, 'Earth Runnings' by the Africans. I bought it because I had another great tune by the Africans on the 'Rebel' label, called 'Have A Grand Time' , it was cheap enough to buy on the off-chance, and the guy who ran the list had it flagged as having a great dub.

He was certainly right about about the dub; but until yesterday when I was trying to figure out how to describe it, I'd never listened to the vocal side all the way through.

It's actually quite a solid roots tune. Judge for yourself:


Second up is a classic roots tune from Enos McLeod with backing vocals by the Mighty Diamonds. Both sides have already been compiled on a Pressure Sounds release called 'The Genius Of Enos' and if you don't know it, I'm hoping this will encourage you to buy it or at least check it out.


BTW, nice to get a shout from Popbitch ("Somebody's roots collection")
- plenty more tunes to come.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Knotty Vision

Today's post features Jackie Brown, one of the forgotten heroes of reggae, in his twin roles of producer and singer. For anyone wanting to know more about him (and he's an interesting guy), there's an excellent interview here:

Anyway, this first post is from 1974, and he's wearing his producer hat: To Leave

Dobby Jones has quite a similar style of singing to Jackie Brown himself, and as far as I've been able to discover, only recorded 6 records. Anyway, the rhythm's great, the vocal's heartfelt & conscious and kind of country style, and there's talk that it was recorded and mixed at the Black Ark. I couldn't find my copy to scan, but I'll post an updated link in the comments when I do.

It was clearly too good to leave at just one cut, so JB sang his own vocal version a couple of years later, and it turned into quite a big hit. 'Knotty Vision' is strong in all the same ways as the original tune, and one of my favourites from all his records. My copy is completely mashed, and although I've did what I could to clean it up, the sound's still quite poor.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Simply Beautiful

Here's a nice vocaI I picked up years ago - it's a version of Sam Cooke's 'Send Me Some Loving' by the sublime Slim Smith. If this is unfamiliar to anyone, I strongly recommend they go and check out some of the many compilations that highlight Smith's beautiful voice - particularly the ones that feature his work with the Techniques (the original 'Queen Majesty' and 'Travelling Man'!) and the Uniques ('The Beatitude', 'Watch This Sound' and too many others to mention). 

He really was in a league of his own, with a beautiful tenor which could extend to a falsetto, and the talent to give a song a depth of feeling that few reggae artists could match. He seems to have had a turbulent life, and died tragically young (age 25) in London in 1973. Who knows how much more wonderful music he might have blessed us with if he'd lived.

My copy is a bit ropy (that seems to be the theme for this week) but it should give you an idea of how great this tune is, and I hope it inspires you to go and check out some more of his stuff.

There it is, so enjoy.