Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Symbols, Bim Sherman & Matumbi

OK, here's the next lot of twelves, and a slightly different vibe. I've always been into the sweeter side of roots music more than the heavy stuff. The last post of 12" singles featured a few tunes that you'd describe as 'shaka killers' if you were an ebay seller trying to ramp up the price - this one is all great roots, but none of these records really fit that stereotype.

First is one of my favourite twelves: 'Mister Oppressor' by Rudolph Francis and Ranking Blake. I picked it up years ago at Daddy Kool's. They also had the Symbols' version on the Kebra Nagast label, and I ended up getting that too because I couldn't make up my mind between them. The Symbols (different outfit to the midlands-based Black Symbols) did a handful of singles in the late seventies and early eighties, and I remember hearing somewhere that Rudolph Francis was their lead singer. I first heard them on a compilation called 'King Tubby On The Mix' - a wicked tune called 'Motherless Children' that a lot of you probably know already - and have been on the lookout for more of their stuff ever since. Anyway, this record is simply beautiful. I don't have words that can really do it justice: you just have to hear it. 

The next record is 'Lightning And Thunder', one of my favourite records by Bim Sherman. It has that sweet easygoing vibe that I love, and really shows off his strengths as a singer (one of the sweetest voices in reggae!). The dub is also very nice. 

After that we have a very nice slice of Matumbi featuring Rico Rodrigues on trombone - yes, it's 'Solitude'/'Introducing Abu Baka' by the Session Men and Abu Baka.  Apart from the 12" version of 'Death In The Arena' this is the only time I've heard the instrumental part of a record come before the deejay or the vocal. I picked this up second-hand while I was still at school, and it's stayed with me ever since. The b-side has two of Michael Smith's best-known pieces.  I prefer 'Roots' to 'Mi Cyaan Believe It', but to be honest I'm not really a big fan of dub poetry and neither one gets a whole lot of play in my house.

This from a forum post from 2008: "... the man Abu Baka or Abubaka sells hats on Atlantic Road in Brixton. He is an elderly dread who has been selling hats all his life. He told me that when he was a youth (he used to smoke collie weed in a Rizla) in Jamaica, he would take a hat on credit from a manufacturer and sell it in Coronation Market, then take back the money and select another hat on trust. He is name checked in Jah Thomas's 'The Plane Land' for Gibbo."

Finally, there's the Symbols' version of 'Mister Oppressor' - I prefer the piano on the other version, but this one's still a fantastic tune and it comes with a top-class dub. The b-side is a lovely version of Alton Ellis' 1972 classic 'Living In A White Men World'. It's a great song and the Symbols really do it justice. I really like this group and would love to know a bit more about them, so if anyone has any info please stick it in the comments.

Anyway, here they all are; as always I hope you enjoy them.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for another wonderful selection. I discovered your blog just a few days ago and I´m really excited about it.
One thing though: When I downloaded your recent post, I couldn´t find the Symbols-twelve...
Thanks anyway,

lightningclap said...

I'm in California, but I had the pleasure of visiting Daddy Kool's in 1978. Even went into their basement vault, though at that time I was ignorant about what to pick up. All I knew was Island albums.

Anonymous said...

Thx ... don't know anything about The Symbols, but another version of 'Mister Oppressor' is from Tony Tuff called 'Rock Rock' from the Black Roots album 'Presenting Mr Tuff'

Anonymous said...

ah ... and a dub version from Scientist is on 'Scientist Kills The Millennium Bug' called 'Dub Modem' (same track as 'Arcadia Dub' on 'All Hail The Dub Head')

Sherancisla said...

Rudolph Francis was the lead singer of the Symbol....He wrote all of his material except the Alton Ellis Cover....He is still writing great music .... some of his hits include "Sytem", "Children Crying in the Streets" and others....It is surprising to find out that this man music sold aboard and he was never aware or recognised for his effort