Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rocking Machine

Continuing with Studio 1 for just one more post, here's a great track, 'Rocking Machine' by Prince Francis. It's a 1972 version of a song that was a hit for Cliff Richard the previous year. I'm not too keen on the original, but the Jamaican versions just kick arse. Playing the recorder part on the organ works really well, especially when you add those horns at the end of it. 'Rocking Machine' adds a great intro and some spacey sound effects that you don't get elsewhere. As a bonus, it's on the multicoloured Ironside label, which was one of the nicest-looking ones that Coxsone had.
There's also a great version by Dennis Alcapone ('The Sky's The Limit'), a vocal by Teddy Magnus and a really bizarre (but fun) cut called 'Sewing Machine' by Ham & Bone, with a guitar version by Hux Brown ('Plucking Machine') on the flip. All of them are great and well worth having.

In case anyone's wondering, the vocalist on this version is Freddy McGregor. Enjoy.

Here's the original - see what you think.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Coxsone Time

Sorry I've been out of action for so long - a combination of overtime and ebaying has kept me away from my music. I'm dedicating this week to the mighty Studio 1. I've got a couple of tunes that really show it at its best, and a third which reminds me of what Fred Wesley's meant to've told James Brown, 'Boss, you're copying people who are copying you'.

First up, one of my favourites, Larry Marshall's 'I've Got To Make It' - word's can't express what a great tune this is - uplifting and beautifully arranged. As a bonus, we've got a great organ version of Neil Diamond's 'Holly Holy' on the b-side. 

Next 'African Descendants by Alton Ellis. Great rhythm, great arrangements, a classic righteous roots tune if ever there was one.

Finally, there's the Righteous Flames' ''Solid Foundation' from 1978. Using the classic 'Joe Frasier' rhythm it's quite nice, but not quite the same standard as the other two.

Here they all are:

Hope you enjoy.

While you wait for the download, here's the original Sunshine Showdown, Foreman vs Frazier in Kingston, 1973.

Monday, September 07, 2009

How Great Is This Rhythm?!

I've got a proper treat for you this week (sorry the last few weeks have been so lean - I've been rushed off my feet on outside business) - three very rare tunes all on the same rhythm. It's 'Picture On The Wall' - we've all heard great versions by Freddy McKay and Phyliis Dillon, but that's not all there is, not by a long way. What I love about this rhythm is its energy - and almost anyone who sings, plays or deejays over it carries something of that into their performance.

First up, and definitely the rarest and most sought-after is 'We Can Make It' by Pat Satchmo (real name Paul Anthony), which came out in 1971 on Tony Robinson's High School label. This has to be the guy's best ever tune (although his version of 'What's Going On' is damn strong as well), and as a bonus you've got an excellent melodica version by Peter Tosh on the flip. Peter Tosh did a few melodica instrumentals but this one is my favourite - 'A Little Love version 3' is pretty good as well; 'Field Marshall' was hideously distorted on the original pressing (I haven't heard the reissue yet) and the key changes didn't really work for me.

No all-on-one-rhythm selection is complete without a deejay cut, so here goes. My copy of this was a white label with 'Blackbirds' written on it, so that's what I always assumed it was called. Turns out it's actually 'No Turning Back' by Big Joe & Carl Dryden. I'd love to know if a full vocal version exists, but really this version is really just fine - roots deejay laid over a romantic-sounding song. It came out in 1973 on the always-excellent Shelter Rock label, which was a joint venture between Big Joe and Jah Pops. I've always liked this song, but until today I've not really found a good way to showcase it.

Finally we've got another very rare cut, a rootsy vocal by Ronald Phillip called 'Love & Harmony' backed with a wild effects-laden Vin Gordon trombone version called 'East, West, North & South'. It's another one from the Shelter Rock label (1974), and I picked it up while buying records wholesale for someone else; this and Count Ossie's 'Black Up' were the only two I kept for myself.

Highlights for me - Pat Satchmo's vocal, Vin Gordon's trombone - but there's not a bad cut in this lot. Here's the link:

Finally, just to remind us how great the original was:

Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Tempo, my God dis ya soun' in a tempo!

Today's tune is something that I remember very well from when it first came out. Released in 1985 (just before 'Sleng Teng'), 'Tempo' was the first proper digital tune, and is still my favourite even after all these years. The rhythm is close to 'Stalag 17', and the lyrics are a proper anthem to all sound systems.

There's a nice little article in the Gleaner about how the tune was recorded. There's some more here about what Redrose has been up to since.