Sunday, December 20, 2009

Heavy heavy heavy!

Today's offering is a very rare I Roy tune called Babylon Road .
It's a version of Brent Dowe's 'Babylon Policy' - it's damn heavy, it's damn good. I Roy is close to his best, playful and lyrically inventive, and he's right at the front of the mix.

There are a lot of deejay tunes that you enjoy because they have a great mix (that just happens to include some toasting), with this one you don't really notice the mix until you turn the record over. The dub is seriously heavy with a subtle echo on the guitar, piano and vocal that gives it dreamy feel with a firm focus on the drums, percussion and bass.

It took me years to find this one - hope you enjoy.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Unforgettable Upsetter Time

Here's an Upsetter tune from 1975 (I think), Time by the Unforgettables. The vocal has never really grabbed me, but I really like the dub.

The Unforgettables cut maybe 5 or 6 tunes - and none of the ones I've heard have really blown me away. That said, one of the ones I've not heard ('Many A Call') got put on an Upsetter compilation, and they've all had damn good b-sides.

This is quite a rare one. Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Reggae for yesterday, today & tomorrow

Here's yesterday's record, Mail Man by Charley Ace, a great version of a Stranger Cole tune called 'My Application'. The organ line is unusual but very effective, and the dub has been done in a similar style to what Errol T was doing at Randys. Charley Ace was a superb deejay, and a very under-rated producer - I'm hoping to do a special post on his productions in the near future - as well as owning the coolest mobile record shop in Kingston.

Today's is another great deejay tune, Land Of Poverty by Big Joe. I've never heard of a vocal to this but I recently found an instrumental cut by Rick Frater called 'Sunday Creation'. It's a seriously rare tune, and an absolutely fantastic rhythm.

While I'm here, I may as well bank tomorrow's record as well. It's another deejay tune, More Heartaches,  Lizzy's version of the Beltones' 'No More Heartaches' which was one of the very earliest reggae records. The deejay side is good but I actually prefer the b-side. I'm a sucker for a good instrumental and this bubbling joyful organ cut really hits the spot.

Anyway I hope you enjoy these three, I've been meaning to put them up for a while but just never got around to it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Here's a nice tune from Prince Jazzbo from the start of the eighties.
It's a cut of 'Ting-A-Ling' by the Heptones, which he'd already versioned as 'Ring-A-Ting' in the early seventies. In the eight or so years that separate the two records, Jazzbo's style has changed ('Natty-Ting-A-Ling' owes a big debt to the new style of deejays like Lone Ranger) and so has the mixing at Studio 1. This has a similar sort of mix to the twelve inch singles that Coxsone was putting out by the bucketload in those years - you really notice it on the dub.
I really like this tune, and I hope you will too. Anyway, Enjoy! and don't forget that there are a couple of excellent compilations of Jazzbo's music out there (and if you decide to buy one of the compilations of his Studio 1 stuff, make
sure it's 'Pepper Rock' - the other one has the same songs, but doesn't have the right mixes and is nowhere near as good).

Better late than never...

That tune-a-day thing didn't last long; day 3 and I'm already playing catch-up! In my defence I was still at work at 11pm last night, and when I got home I never wanted to see another f***ing computer for the rest of my life (yet here I am the next morning...). Anyway, this is another old favourite, Horace Andy's 'Children Of Israel' on the Santic label.
This is actually the next cut to 'Pablo In Dub / Hell Boat' (rather than the other way round), which was Leonard Chin's first record as a producer. That was enough of a hit in Jamaica to bring other big-name artists to the young producer; Horace Andy was the first of them, writing the lyrics to 'Children Of Israel' within a couple of hours of hearing the backing track. It's a beautiful impassioned vocal with quite a meditative vibe, and some interesting sound effects on the dub. I didn't actually like it that much when I first heard it, but it grew on me and now I find myself coming back to it again and again and again.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Nice & rare

I want to make up for the lack of action on this blog over the last couple of months so I'll to post a new tune every day between now and Christmas. Who knows, I might even manage it.
Anyway, I'm really thrilled to be able to present this next record. I got my copy of 'Small Axe' off Bob Brooks about 20 years ago (scary how time flies). It was straight off the plane from Jamaica and covered in termite shit; I took it home with detailed instructions on how to clean it (in case you're wondering, termite shit is abrasive so it's best to soak it off). Three days later I was actually able to
play it, and immediately began what turned into a three-year search for the vocal.
What's great about this record? The spoken intro, obviously; the superb rhythm (Dennis Brown's 'Stages In Life') with its heavy bass and organ; Big Joe (maybe not everyone's cup of tea) in fine style;
and one of the best of Trinity's early efforts (as Prince Glen) on the b-side. Don't ask me why, but this one has a special place in my heart.
Small Axe Hi-Fi was Big Joe's own sound system, Golden Stallion was his own label (pre-Shelter Rock) and 'Small Axe' was one of his first self-produced tunes. It's a statement about making it on your own and a nice bit of self-promotion. Trinity hadn't really developed his trademark style at this point in his career, and sounds a lot like Big Joe on this record. That said, his side is still a fine tune - almost (but not quite) as good as his version of 'Beat Down Babylon' ('Virginia Skank', on the Joe Gibbs label - one for the future perhaps).
This is a very rare one, I've only ever seen one copy apart from my own. Here it is.
Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

One Night Dinner

Here's a nice tune from Max Romeo: 'One Night Dinner' was an inflation-themed tune that he cut for Bunny Lee in 1971. Given the theme, it's surprising that it's so big and brassy but it really does work. Listening to it over the last few months I've been thinking that it sad that the lyrics sound so bang up-to-date - 38 years on and we're still going round and round with the same old shit!
Anyway, an old favourite.
Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Here's a tune that doesn't really go with any of the others that I've got done at the moment. "Arab Oil Weapon" was one of Bunny Wailer's first releases on his Solomonic label, and also one of the best. The lyrics are a really satisfying mix of the 1973 oil crisis and the parable of the lamps, and the rhythm is damn heavy. It came out on Solomonic in 1974 or 1975: a 12" remix got reissued on Nighthawk in 1981, but hasn't seen the light since which is a shame. I remember this always used to be mad sought-after, so I was very happy to pick up a wrecked copy for not much at all.

I've not done many posts recently, mainly because of the effort of cleaning up and tagging the records. Take this one for example. It starts out like this (it was also slightly off-centre, so I centered it by eye) - piss-poor condition; lots of crackle and a sort of scouring noise in the
 background. I know a lot of people like their rare tunes with crackling,  but when it reaches this sort of level it gets distracting.

Anyway, after a bit of work, it sounds like this  Listening to it now, I'm thinking it probably needs more rumble filter and less harmonic exciter, but that's for another day.

Hope you enjoy.