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...