Sunday, December 19, 2010

Another Patti Page Cover

Thanks to the Voice of Reason for the info on 'Changing Partners', I thought that if anyone knew it'd be him! His mention of Patti Page doing a version (which I didn't know about) brought to mind another record I have, a loose version of 'Tennessee Waltz'.

Here's her version of 'Changing Partners'.

Here's 'Tennessee Waltz'.

Here's 'Tenesee Scank' by Little Alphanso.

It is, of course, rare as hen's teeth - I've never seen any other records on the Sine Wave label either. I suppose that not many people bought this back in the day, and I doubt that there's many people chasing it now, but I like it all the same. It's well-arranged and the organ line in particular is very nice. Little Alphanso, whoever he is, has a good voice too - I wonder if he ever recorded under a different name. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Can someone please tell me what this is?!

It says 'Holt' on the label, and sounds like it might be a Bunny Lee Production.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Howling dogs, rattling chains and spooky moaning sounds - looks like I missed my chance for a topical Halloween post. I really like the dub, which has its own sound, like not much else. The vocal is, of course, a classic.

Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Not a Shaka Killer!

Here's one I've been meaning to post for ages, a lovely delicate vocal by Cornell Campbell backed by Winston Wright's haunting organ version.

I've always wavered between really liking the vocal and not liking it. At the moment I'm really liking it. The b-side is quite simply the best organ instrumental I've ever owned - absolutely superb.

I'm very happy to finally get this onto the iPod, and I hope all of you enjoy it as much as I have.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

No picture this time ...

Think of it like a Christmas present - I'd hate to ruin the surprise. If you really want a clue, think of what might connect Winston Jarrett and Jah Pops.

Big shout to Papa Dave of Reggae Explosion whose donation made this post possible. PS. Thought I'd try putting a password on this one. It's FilesTube

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hand To Mouth

Here's a wicked tune from the start of the eighties: 'Hand To Mouth' by Jennifer Lara. It's quite hard to find on the original label, even the reissues are pretty scarce, but it's well worth hunting down.

I wanted to post something really good this time as a warm-up for my next post. We got our first (and so far only) donation the other day, just after I spotted something on ebay that I've been trying to find for more than 20 years. So although I'd planned to spend the money on beer, I spent it on a record instead. When it arrives, you'll see what it is.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Soul Inflation

Here's a bit of a curiosity: a pretty decent melodica instrumental with a so-so vocal on the other side. The label's very nice as well.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vocal & Deejay

Here's Carlton Livingstone's 'Tale of Two Cities' plus Johnny Lover's deejay cut. Listening to this, it's hard to believe it was Livingstone's first recording. He also wrote the lyrics, and this song announced a major talent to the world. He would go on to record a number of classic tunes including 'Trodding Through The Jungle' and '100 Pounds Of Collie Weed', always impressing with his perfect phrasing and the beautiful tone of his voice.

Johnny Lover (aka Johnny Jones) didn't make a lot of records, but the ones he did make are very much sought-after. He did this record for Brad Osbourne in New York in 1978, the same year the vocal came out, and around the same time he did 'Who You Gonna Run To' which appears on the LP 'Scratch & Company'.

The package is rounded off with two superb dubs. Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I'll keep this post short as I'm writing with one hand and holding a baby in the other. I'm sure we all know Alton Ellis' classic 'Big Bad Boy' - it's certainly been a favourite of mine for many years. My only copy was the release on Giant, with 'Ace 90 Skank' on the flip, so hearing the original b-side was a bit of a revelation.

It just adds wild trombone to the a-side vocal and the result is very interesting. Is there too much going on? Maybe, but it's things like this that make us love Keith Hudson

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Rhythm Master

Here's an uptempo roots tune from 1979. It's 'Higher Man' by Glen Brown, and it's very nice in a far more polished way than the early-seventies tunes he's best known for. The label is one of my favourites - a really simple design that just works.

This is quite a rare record, I got mine off a list at the start of the nineties, flogged it, and then picked up another copy for next to nothing on ebay a couple of years ago. I've never seen it anywhere else - I hope you enjoy it too.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Happy Occasion

French speakers might be able to guess what it is ...

And yes, the bit at the start is a bit of a giveaway.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Horsemouth Strikes Again

Here's a really old deejay track by Mad Roy, better known as Leroy Wallace. It's a version of John Holt's 'A Love I Can Feel', and while it's quite nice, it's not his best. We've already had the magnificent 'Herb Vendor' in an earlier post, and someday I'll post a great vocal he did on Big Youth's Negusa Negast label called 'Far Beyond The Blue'.

The b-side is far older, about 10 years older in fact. It's a nice Jamaican boogie-woogie called 'Chariot Rock' from Sir Coxsone and the Blues Blasters. Coxsone's first love was apparently jazz and a lot of his productions, especially the earlier ones, do have a very jazzy feel to them.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wreck Up My Life

Today's tune is a classic from Leroy Smart - 'Trying To Wreck Up My Life'. It's a superb vocal laid over a heavy Aggrovators version of an old Heptones song called 'Give Me The Right' (also superb).

It has a really good dub - one of my favourite Jackpot b-sides in fact - with some great double-drumming effects and echo. My copy called the b-side 'Channel One Under Heavy Manners' - but I didn't get a label scan before I flogged it years ago, so we're stuck with the only picture I could find. 'Channel One Feel It' doesn't go quite as well with the spoken intro on the vocal - but the message is still pretty clear.

Dillinger did a superb deejay version called 'Trial & Crosses' - his album 'Talking Blues' was one of the first reggae LPs I ever bought and I've always rated it as one of the best deejay records ever made.

Big Joe also versioned it to good effect on his LP 'Keep On Rocking & Swinging'.

As always, hope you enjoy.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Danger Zone In Roots!

Here's another serious roots tune - and this time it's not in any way connected to psychopathic cult leaders or serial kiddy-fiddlers. It's 'Running Star' by Barry Brown, a roots version of 'Danger Zone' that you definitely ought to hear.

It came out on the LP 'Stand Firm', with a disappointingly anaemic bassline. Here on the 7" version you get some proper bass, and a superb dub as well. The vocal and horns still have that slightly tinny sound that they have on the LP, but it hardly matters on a tune this good.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Random Chanting

It's been a while since I posted any proper deep roots music, and it's time to put that right. Here's a tune called 'Marcus Garvey' by Nuwaupu (never heard of them? me neither). It's raw deep and very spiritual, and it's got a sound all of its own.

Was a time you couldn't get this for love or money, it got reissued a few years back and you can still pick up fresh copies on the 'Rootical Dubber' label (try the Blakamix shop if you want one to play out, or just want better sound quality). The flute version on the b-side is especially nice.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

I love cover versions - anything that's done in a different style to what you'd expect - so it was a real treat for me to stumble across today's tune. It's a GG's production called 'How Glad I Am' by the Tidals. They're a pretty good vocal trio who've left no trace beyond a handful of records that they cut in the mid-seventies (a common theme in Jamaican music). 

What interested me is that this is a cut to a jazz tune from the start of the sixties, by a singer called Nancy Wilson. She's a really excellent singer, and I love the song even though I sometimes find her style a bit self-consciously showy. 

Needless to say, the reggae version is very different. I'm not sure if it's less surface and more depth, or just less surface. Anyway, I really enjoy both cuts and I hope you do as well. If you like this, you'll find their sole LP here on one of my favourite blogs.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Busy Day!

The wife & kids are staying with my sister, so I'm home alone with nothing to do apart from putting off painting the kitchen. So since I've got time on my hands, why not have another one?

It's a really nice record from one of the great pioneers of Jamaican music. Owen Gray recorded these songs for Chris Blackwell in 1969.  'Apollo 12' was a big hit with the skinheads here in the UK, but for me 'Understand My Love' is even better. 

There's a very good interview with the singer here - he's interesting guy.
This next tune is 'Rootesman' by I Roy, a wicked wicked deejay cut to Junior Byles' 'Fade Away'. But even better than the vocal side is the dub, which is one of the finest ever released by Channel 1. Seriously, you can't go wrong with this tune!

The dub has been released on a really good Pressure Sounds compilation called 'Drum Sound - More Gems From The Channel One Dub Room 1974 to 1980' (why do they always have dates in the title?). It also has versions to 'Jah Creation' (this alone is worth the buying it for) and 'Ride On Marcus': definitely not to be missed.

Deejay Gem!

Here's a really good version of 'Rockfort Rock' by deejay duo Skipper & Ranking Jermaine: 'Rub & Dub International'. As far as I know their only other record was a version of 'Full Up' called 'Peanuts', also for Harry J.

I really like this one, in spite of the fact that neither one of them could hold a tune in a bucket. It's bursting with energy and good vibes, the backing is top-notch and the mix is clear as a bell. 

I hope you enjoy it too.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sweet Three

Here's an old favourite, the original rhythm  to Mikey Dread's 'Barber Saloon' 'Love The Dread' (thanks VoR). It's 'Not Responsible' by Carlton Patterson & Leroy Brown (I don't know which one). The mix is great, especially on the dub where you get some real impact on the drums.

There are also a couple of versions by Dillinger ('Ah You Me Love' and 'Healing Stream') and Bongo Herman ('Psalms Of Drums'). The next tune is just really sweet, followers of this blog will know that I'm a big fan of Joe White - an artist who never really got the recognition he deserved. 'Pretty Black Girl' was something he cut for Harry Mudie at the start of the seventies, and you can hear that my copy's been played into the ground.

The final tune needs no introduction, one of Horace Andy's very best, and one of the first really big hits to come out of Channel One: 'Girl A Love You'.

Anyway, hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I can't believe I missed out 'Standing Firm' from the list of 'Take Five' versions, especially since it was on my wants list for years before I got it. There are a couple of other versions connected with Jacob Miller as well - such as this (which also slipped my mind).

Although credited to Jah Devon, this is actually Dean Fraser backed by the Fatman Rhythm Section. It's quite a nice jazzy take on the rhythm, a bit faster than most of the other versions, and it has a really good dub.

I've only ever seen two tunes on the Jaques label, this and David Jah Son's 'Jah Is Coming For His Earth One Day' which is a wicked version of 'Every Day Is A Holiday'. I always liked the look of the label as well, not least because I used to love 'The Wizard Of Id' when I was little.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Move & Groove

Dennis Brown cut a string of classic tunes at the start of the seventies for producer Derrick Harriott. Here are two of the best ones (not counting 'Concentration' of course): 'Silhouettes' and 'Musical Heatwave'.  Both of them were included on his 'Super Hits' LP (available on reissue - seriously, you won't regret it!).

When you listen to 'Silhouettes' it's obviously a cover of someone else's tune, but until just now I had no idea who did the original. Thanks to the wonder of YouTube I've managed to cram yet another piece of useless info into my overloaded brain. Here's a group called the Rays way back in 1957:

Here's a wonderful version by Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers:

And here are the Ronettes in 1962:


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Take Five

Dave Brubeck's 'Take Five' (actually composed by his saxophonist, Paul Desmond) became one of the  most popular rhythms in reggae, with endless versions by a stream of singers, instrumentalists and deejays. This record is one of the very best of those versions.

The first Jamaican version of 'Take Five' was Val Bennett's 'The Russians Are Coming' for Bunny Lee, which Lee immediately recycled into Derrick Morgan's 'Great Musical Battle', an assertion of his superiority over Coxsone. Randy's got in on the act next, with Lester Sterling's 'Age Of Revolution'.

Bunny Lee put out two more versions, both masterpieces, in 1977: 'Twelve Tribes of Israel' by Linval Thompson and 'Jah Love' by Dillinger which has one of the best dubs King Tubby ever mixed.

Val Bennett returned a year or two later with a recut called 'Blow Mister Hornsman Blow' over a tuff rockers rhythm that was absolutely perfect for the time. It got versioned into:

Two House Department - Barry Brown
In Bondage - Barry Lee
Blow Brother Joe - U Brown
Step It Ina Africa - Lone Ranger
Hands In The Air Girl - Madoo
Captivity - Barrington Levy
Money - Cornell Campbell

There were also wicked cuts by Rico, Ossie Scott, Reggae Clinic 65, the Disco Reggae Band and the Young Lions (aka Aswad) on different versions of the rhythm. 

 The Ossie Scott version is a must because it's the only one that keeps the time signature of the original.

Finally, one of my favourites - a mighty Gussie-produced lovers cut by the Mighty Diamonds.

Dreadlocks Rock

Here's one of my favourite records - deejay on one side and instrumental on the other. It's 'Dreadlock Rock' by Dillinger, a version of 'Don't Touch Me' by Nicky Thomas, and 'Fort Augustus Rock' by Joe Gibbs & the Professionals which is a seriously ruff horns and bongo cut to 'Beat Down Babylon' (the spoken intro is by Prince Glen, aka Trinity).

This is quite a rare one, and well worth picking up if you see it. There's a wicked deejay cut on the same label, 'Virginia Skank' by Prince Glen, which came out on the back of a reggae version of 'In Heaven There Is No Beer' by the Happs. 

Sunday, August 08, 2010

A Landmark In Reggae

Here's a real treat, Ras Michael's first self-produced record. This was the first time that he recorded his own music, rather than being a hired hand on someone else's session. It's revolutionary, simple and  beautiful music, with a really optimistic and uplifting vibe.

I hope you enjoy this one - personally I love every record on the Zion Disc label, and hope to share some more soon.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Who Have Eyes To See

Here's a tune from Errol Holt, not quite as good as 'Red Eye' or 'Gimmie Gimmie' but still very nice (especially the dub). 

Prince Far I did a deejay cut called 'Talking Rights', which I do have somewhere but haven't been able to locate. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Memories By The Score

Herre's a deejay cut to 'Memories By The Score' by Ansell Linkers (better known as Ansell Cridland of the Meditations). I've seen a few copies of this over the years, but none of them have ever said who the artist was or what it's called.

It's a really nice mix and the deejay is not bad either. I guess it's probably produced by Fud Christian, like the vocal.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Two from '81

 Here are a couple of tunes from 1981; 'Street Of Gold', the Heptones update of the Gladiators' classic, and 'Blood Stain', a sort of early dancehall thing from Peter Broggs. They're pretty different, but both good in their own way.

Of the two I prefer 'Street Of Gold' - it's the harmonies, the rhythm section, and above all the dub that set it apart for me.

I've sorted out my computer problems now, so I'll be posting a bit more often. As always, hope you enjoy.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Party Night

Here's a great party tune by the African Brothers. There's a good little bio of them on  Wikipedia, and there's an excellent compilation called 'Want Some Freedom' which gathers together most of their releases and is still available.

This song isn't really typical of their output, which tends to be a lot rootsier. I like it because it's a lot more of a party tune than stuff like 'Lead Us Father', 'Practice What You Preach', and 'Want Some Freedom' (all of them brilliant, but sometimes you need a break from that sort of thing).

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I'm Your Puppet

Here's a great Jimmy London vocal from 1975, far superior to Glen Brown & Lloyd Parks' earlier version on the 'Slaving' rhythm. Jah Woosh recut this as 'African Sound' soon afterwards.

It's a very different style to James & Bobby Purify's original:

Computer problems are preventing me from posting too much at the moment (bad BIOS flash), but I hope you enjoy this.

Saturday, July 03, 2010


Just a top tune - also provided the rhythm for Dillinger & Trinity's 'Rizla Skank', one of the finest deejay head-to-heads ever recorded.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Heavy Stuff

Today's tune is a seriously heavy 1976 offering from Dillinger, produced by Harry J. It's not on the Studio 1 'Death In The Arena' rhythm - I'd be interested to hear from anyone who recognises the vocal (if one exists).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Todays post is a bit of a strange one. It's the entire works (as far as I know) of some geezer who called himself Caleb Sweetback. Coincidentally, it also features the entire back catalogue of the New York-based Black Spade record label (proprietor: Caleb Sweetback).

Backing on both tracks is provided by Zap Pow and it's rock hard. Sweetback is sometimes off-key, but very listenable and very original. These records are what's known as 'Private Press' in soul circles: some guy's decided he's got something he wants to share with the world, and he's gone and done it all off his own back. Even though we may never know anything more about Sweetback, we should be grateful that he's made the effort to create these two fantastic records.

When I was little, the man who drove my school bus was a salsero called Oscar who'd cut a stack of records but never quite made it to the big time. He used to keep a cardboard box of his old singles under the front passenger seat, and even gave a couple to me and my sister. I lost the single years ago, and have no idea what his last name was, or what his stage name might've been. There must be hundreds, if not thousands, of people out there who cut a handful of really really great tunes before disappearing forever back into their everyday lives.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Wedding Bells

I recently attended Lala's wedding at a nice Iraqi restaurant here in London. I thought I'd mark the occasion with a post of an old tune by U-Roy Junior - a Lloyd Campbell production called 'The Wedding'.

I hope you'll join me in concratulating my fellow blogger and his lovely bride.

And here's that link: The Wedding

Monday, May 31, 2010

Guilty Pleasures

Today it's 'Cry Cry' by Errol Mayes (aka Don Mais of the 'Roots Tradition' record label), and 'Be True To Your Man' by Errol Dunkley. These are the records in my collection that are most likely to get you a slap if your lady's in a bad mood.

There's a fair bit of misogyny in reggae, as there is in rap, and it reflects the fact that this is music made by young men and boys in culture where these attitudes were normal. You see it in some artists more than others (Prince Jazzbo, for example, with all his tracks about concubine). I've lived in countries where it's very common for young women to look for a sugar daddy to look after them. It makes sense in a way, because it guarantees these ladies a good standard of living for a few years at least (instead of a life of constant struggle), and allows them to build up some assets for the future if they're careful. Of course, some of the struggling young men who they leave behind get a bit pissed off.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

High Society

Today's record is one of my rarer ones - 'High Society' by Pat Francis, aka Jah Lloyd. It's from the Rupie Edwards stable, features that really beautiful guitar that we often find on his productions, and is a straight vocal rather than a deejay tune. Jah Lloyd seems to have been a singer in the same way that Big Youth was (check out his versions of 'Second That Emotion' and 'To Be A Lover') - not much technique, but a whole bucket of soul.

The lyrics are paricularly sad in the light of this Blood & Fire post from a journalist who interviewed him for 'The Beat' magazine a year or so before his death in the mid-nineties: "He died from poverty basically. He was a little tiny guy and had severe asthma, I doubt he had access to proper medicine much less the money to pay for it. He lived rough, no fixed place to live, no money for food. His body was found in some park where he'd been living."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

High Locks

Here's a nice pair of instrumentals from Studio 1. It's Pablove's versions of 'Foggy Road' by Burning Spear and the Gladiators' 'Beautiful Locks'. They're both very very heavy, and 'High Locks' is a lesson in how to use echo to improve a mix.

As always, I hope you enjoy.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

White Horse

Here's a good roots tune that I never really liked until quite recently. It's John Steele with 'Selassie On His White Horse' - it's deejay cut to the Black Uhuru's 'I Love King Selassie', and is very nicely dubbed up. I originally bought this for the dub, and didn't really rate the deejay side.

 I still think it's a bit shaky at the start, but once John Steele hits his stride he comes out with some pretty good lyrics, and it works at least as well as U Black's version. This is quite a rare tune, and I'm starting to regret flogging it.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Picnic Plate to Dubplate

Thanks to everyone who commented on the last post - I've been wondering about those extra holes in my dubplates for ages. Anyway, check this out - it's quite entertaining.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Polling Day

It's election day! And what better way to celebrate than with Mr Bojangles' take on the 1976 elections in Jamaica?

It's a version of a classic Treasure Isle recording - 'Those Guys' by the Sensations - and was produced by Sonia Pottinger. Bojangles only recorded a few tunes, but he seems to have been a pretty decent deejay. His lyrics here are a pointed and sometimes very funny commentary on the whole process, and fit really very well with the ebb and flow of the polls during the campaign and the results on election night.

Here's the original Treasure Isle vocal:

Hope you enjoy.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Rare Rare Rare!

Today's pick is one of the rarest reggae LPs ever recorded. Produced by Clem Bushay and mixed at King Tubby's studio in 1974 or 1975 by 'King Tubby Jr' (?), it features a stellar cast who never completely live up to their potential. Only 500 copies were pressed; mine apparently belonged to producer Phil Pratt, who gave it to the guy that owned Daddy Kool, who flogged it to me.

With Dave Barker, Dennis Alcapone and Augustus Pablo as leads, extra arrangements by Alton Ellis, and backing from Skin, Flesh & Bones you'd expect this record to be pretty damn good. It is - sort of.

Disappointingly none of the tracks feature the artists together, but there are still some real gems. The best track is just by Skin, Flesh & Bones on their own, a rootsy flute instrumental called 'South Camp Road Rock'; there's also a very good melodica cut of 'Keep On Moving', a nice tune (randomly titled 'String Hanger') which features Dave Barker shouting a lot, and a couple of interesting dubs.

I'm afraid the Dennis Alcapone tunes are a bit of a let-down, but hey, you can't have it all...

Friday, April 30, 2010

Vintage Roots

Today's post is the serious roots that I promised a couple of weeks back. I got these a few years ago  off a roofer who used to run a sound system back in the day. He told me his wife hated reggae, so they'd just been sat in the attic collecting dust for the last ten years.

First up, a tune that should need no introduction: 'Ten Thousand Lions', the tune that really made Prince Hammer's name here in the UK. It's a monster of a tune, and the b-side over Delroy Wilson's 'Money' is pretty good too. The dub to 'Ten Thousand Lions' is on 'World War Dub', and there's a different mix on the b-side of the original single on Belva - both crucial and well worth seeking out.

Next, a tune that everyone ought to know, 'Gone Down The Drain' by Al Campbell. It's the same rhythm that Barry Brown used for 'Better For I'; it was also used by Rupie Dan for Shaka favourite 'My Black Race'. This got reissued a while back on the Duke Reid label, sadly without its dub. The original 7" (available here) has a different dub to the twelve - equally great.

Finally, there's Linval Thompson's version of 'Full Up': 'Six Babylon'. Nice vocal, good deejay, heavy (if slightly dull) dub. What more could you ask for?

The next post (almost ready) will bring you one of the rarest reggae LP's ever pressed. I'm also getting a couple of my favourite dubplates ready to post, so watch this space.