Friday, December 16, 2011

El Manisero

I usually try to avoid posting stuff that's been reissued, but today's an exception. I've recorded this single off a 13-year old cassette tape, and it's by one of my favourite bands. It's 'Peanut Vendor' by the Light Of Saba: if you don't know them already PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE go and pay their pension by buying one of their reissues on Honest John's record label - all are excellent, so whichever one you get you will not regret it. 

'Peanut Vendor' is a very well-known song: it was the first million-selling record of Cuban music, and has had over 160 versions - not all of them good (the English lyrics are famously shit). The Light Of Saba version is one of my favourites (the other one is by the Alegre All-Stars), and the other side, 'Wisdom' is one of Michael Ras Star's best songs (second perhaps, to 'Jah Man Of Calvary'). Anyway, I hope you enjoy this. Here's the very first recording of 'El Manisero':

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gunman Connection

Here's some early tracks by dancehall genius Little John. He got his stage name from the fact that he was just 9 when he cut his first record, a great version of 'Give Me The Right' called '51 Storm'. He would've been about 12 or 13 when he recorded this one, and his voice already sounds a lot bigger than his age.

Here he teams up with fellow prodigy Billy Boyo for what I think is one of the best 'connection' songs, and does a solo version on the flip. If you can't quite place the rhythm, it's the In Crowd's 'Milk & Honey' (Dennis Brown also did a version). So, 'Bushmaster Connection' - I hope you enjoy it.

Here's the original:

Saturday, December 03, 2011

A bit of a mystery

Something a little different this week, some UK digital roots. When I picked up this 10" white label from Daddy Kool's at the start of the nineties, they couldn't remember what it was called or who it was by. Someone later called me it was 'Authorised Rock' by Keety Roots so I just went with that.

I'm still not sure who it's by, what it's called, or if it even has a name. If you google 'Keety Roots Authorised Rock' the only results you'll find all show the same 10" single with my handwriting on it. I'm pretty sure there's not too many copies around, but that's about it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Golden Seal

I'm in two minds about this one - sometimes I reckon it's a bit of a potboiler, other times I think it's just beautiful. It has a lush, multilayered, ethereal sound anchored in a heavy bassline. 

I think the problem's that though the sound is very nice, there's no light and shade: it starts, it continues and then it fades out without any real changes. Strange, though it feels there's more going on in the dub. Anyway here it is: Pablo's 'Golden Seal'.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


It's been a while since I listened to today's record, and I'm very glad I just stumbled across the recording I made before selling it a few years back. It's 'Daydreaming Of Africa' by L. (Lloyd?) Jones, a lovely 1978 roots tune on the Xamayca label. It's one of those songs I can never get tired of hearing, a wistful, breezy vocal with really good lyrics and a surprisingly heavy dub. 

While the a-side is really the one for me, a lot of people also go wild for the flip - 'Some African', credited to 'Maxie', who as far as I can tell was Channel One recording engineer Lancelot 'Maxie' McKenzie. It features a raw, keening vocal over a heavy rhythm which segues into 'Declaration Of Rights' for an absolutely stellar dub mix. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Every Knee Shall Bow

Sorry about the lack of posts recently - I've done my back in so I'm trying to cut down on the sitting-down time. Anyway, here's a self-produced tune by Johnny Clarke 'Every Knee Shall Bow', that also features U-Roy and a dark, spacious Tubbys dub.

Clarke's vocal is cool and intense, U-Roy is riding high on a string of hits for Prince Tony - tuff riddim, big tune!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Matador productions from the end of the seventies are a bit of a rarity - Lloyd Daley was pretty much out of the producing game by 1976. He put out the odd tune after that, of varying quality but usually interesting. Today's recording, 'Susan' by Freddie McKay is one of these. 

It's a magnificent song, with a strong steppers rhythm and a mighty horns section paired with a nice wah-wah guitar line. Freddie McKay hits his usual sweet spot: smooth, powerful and passionate - I think he had one of the best voices in reggae.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hell & Sorrow

After singing, 'Black Cinderella' and 'Keep The Pressure Down' for producer Jimmy Radway, Errol Dunkley fell out with him. As a result a couple of songs that had been intended for him were given to other singers instead. Leroy Smart got 'Mother Lisa', Hortense Ellis got 'Hell & Sorrow'.

Years later, Dunkley finally cut his version of 'Hell & Sorrow' for Trevor Bow of the Sons Of Jah. While it doesn't have the impact of Ellis' raw and intense vocal, it's still very nice. The other side is a lovers rock style version of Roger Miller's 'Little Green Apples'. It's a song that's been done over more times than I have fingers and toes - soul fans will probably remember O.C. Smith's cut (although the Temptations did it too) and reggae fans will probably know Dennis Brown's version.

Here's Smith on tv:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Riding West

A big thank you to the Voice of Reason whose comment on 'Piccadilly Hop' suggested today's post. When you've got a hell of a lot of records and not a lot of free time, you can go for years without listening to some of them - even ones you really like. When someone reminds you of a long-forgotten gem and you pull it out of the record box, it can be like hearing it for the very first time.

Tommy McCook's 1978 cut of 'Riding West' is a bit like that. I picked this up in the flea market in Trowbridge some time towards the end of the eighties, quite liked it, stuck it in the banana box with all the other twelves and forgot about for a decade. I rediscovered it towards the end of the nineties after  hearing Billy Hope's original, and really, really liked it. Tommy McCook is great when he goes with the more free-flowing improvisational stuff.  A lot of his R&B, ska and even rocksteady recordings are really satisfying in that way, but for some reason you hear a lot less of it on his reggae sides. Anyway, I'd not listened to it in 6 or 7 years before tonight, and am feeling quite happy.

By the way, the dub is excellent: this is my favourite Bunny Lee / Tubbys dub bar none. It's deep and mellow, with echoing saxophone and a bit of reverb on the kick drum - perfect late-night listening. 

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Buster Meets The Revolutionaries

Here's another great instrumental, 'Idi Amin' by the Prince Buster All Stars. There was a copy on ebay not that long ago that went for $312 - incredibly, gramme for gramme that's still cheaper than crack. Anyway, it's a dark, jumpy horns instrumental recorded at Channel One with a really good dub on the flip. My favourite part's the piano, but that's just me. 

This is massive. Hope you enjoy.

Hop, Skip & Jump

Here's a record that never fails to fill my heart with joy.  It's the magnificent 'Piccadilly Hop' by Chalawa.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Frog Leap

Here's one of my favourite instrumentals, 'Frog Leap' by Mudies All-Stars and an uncredited Ernest Ranglin. My copy's a bit rough, so I apologise in advance. I hope you'll agree that the quality of he music more than makes up for it.

The other side is called 'Dark Shadows' and it's a lovely mellow guitar instrumental on the same rhythm that Jo Jo Bennett used for 'Velvet Mood' (I don't know what the original is).

Update: thanks to the Voice of Reason I now do.  Enjoy:

Friday, September 23, 2011

Collie Mountain

Today's post is a bit of a mixed bag: 'Is Life' by B.B. Seaton, 'Mount Zion' by Vinnie Taylor & the Revealers, 'Collie Mountain' by Bright Wynter, and Trevor Byfield's 'Burning Bush'. 

Of the four, it's probably 'Is Life' that I like best. It was the first song I ever heard by B.B. Seaton, and I still rate it one of his best. The vocal is cool and soulful, and the dub is perfection on a plate.

'Burning Bush' is a massive steppers tune with conscious, intelligent lyrics, rock-hard rhythm and an excellent dub. It's every bit as beautiful as 'Is Life' and a lot more highly-regarded by collectors.

The other two are both good, but not quite in the same league. 'Mount Zion' is a nice uplifting tune produced by Jack Ruby, and 'Collie Mountain' is the next cut to 'Words Of Fire'. 

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Nice 12

'Rebel Disco' is one of my favourite 12" singles from Studio 1 (The other one is 'Tenor On Call'). It's a heavy horns and organ instrumental that just doesn't let up from start to finish. The other side is a sweet vocal by Ken Parker with a really nice extended dub (it has a proper stereo mix).

Under heavy manners and discipline!

The Mighty Travellers (aka The Black Aces) released a few singles and an LP in the mid-seventies and then disappeared forever. Most of their stuff has been reissued by Pressure Sounds and is well worth checking out, especially the two 7" singles, 'South Africa' and 'Close The Gate Dread'.

My favourite recording of theirs is the 7" release of 'Black Black Mind'. The vocal is the sort of mellow roots that I really like, with conscious, intelligent lyrics and beautiful harmonies soaring across a heavy bassline. The Tubby's dub on the b-side takes it to another level entirely - the echo on the vocals still sends shivers down my spine - and to my mind it's one of the very best that I've heard from him.

For some reason, the dub never made it on to any of the reissues.

By the way, I'm hoping someone can remind me what the rhythm is.

Thanks VoR - the only line I could remember was 'I know I'll be blue'!

Roll the thunder!

I've always been a fan of Big Youth, even the singing (he may not've been that tuneful but he had a bucket of soul) so the part of my record rack marked 'Negusa Nagast' has always been pretty well stocked.  Most of his old recordings have been reissued now, and if you haven't already contributed to his pension pot then buy some! Seriously, you won't regret it.

This record, 'Big Youth Skank' is an instrumental cut on the same rhythm as 'Hit The Road Jack', 'African Daughters' and 'Hell Is For Heroes'. The a-side is great, opening with the sound of a gong followed by roaring thunder, squeaky horns and chopping guitar all thrown together in a seriously raw mix. The other side ('Merry-Go-Round') is OK but not really that inspiring.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Mighty Ruddy T

Ruddy Thomas is a name I usually associate with lovers tunes: he did a nice version of 'Every Day Is A Holiday' for Joe Gibbs, for example, and 'Time To Leave Daddy' is simply magnificent. It's not so often that you hear him singing a serious roots tune, but far stranger things have happened.

'Go Home Son' is one of his best: it's the original vocal to Dillinger's 'Five Man Army' and although it has a more commercial sound it definitely holds its own against the other cuts. There's another vocal by Echo Minott: he versions 'Woman In Love' by Barbra Streisand, which I've always enjoyed in spite of myself!

All the clips of the Barbra Streisand version in youtube are restricted use, so I can't embed them. This one is Bronislaw Komarowski, the late speaker of the Polish parliament. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ride On!

Dr Alimantado is one of my favourite deejays, and this is one of his very best records. It's called 'Ride On': if you think you know it from his 'Best Dressed Chicken' LP, think again. This is a different version and it wipes the floor with the other one. 

The dub is superb as well. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Let The People Go

OK posts on consecutive days - yes, I'm a bit bored. Here's a seriously arse-kicking roots tune from Milton Henry, aka Ras Midas: 'Let The People Go'.  It's quite a good follow up to 'Economical Crisis'  - just listen to the lyrics - I would've liked to have posted Junior Delahaye's 'Working Hard For The Rent Man' too but it's just been reissued.

Incidentally, I've always wondered what the connection to the Universal Life Church was.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lucky 3

Let's make it 3 for tonight with a record that recently went for silly money on ebay (I wasn't the lucky seller). We already had 'Son Of A Slave' by Michael Anthony and you've probably heard (or heard of) the monumental 'Living In Sorrows' - this one, 'Sinner Man' is less well-known. My copy's got another vocal on the flip which I really like, 'No Trouble Rasta'. You sometimes see copies that have a dub instead, but I don't see how it could improve.

There's more nice roots tunes to come over the next few days (or weeks), including stuff by Ras Midas, Dudley Evans, Alric Forbes, Ruddy Thomas, the Tonals and King Miguel. Anyway, hope you've liked tonight's picks.

Sweet Reggae Music!

I can't believe we've never posted about Johnny Clarke before. Here's a record that I've always liked more for the b-side than for the vocal - 'Sweet Reggae Music'. Don't get me wrong the vocal's not bad: you can never go wrong with Mr Clarke's singing, but I reckon his lyrics can be a bit hit and miss. The dub reminds me a bit of the b-side to 'Glory Glory' by Beshara; heavy bass, soaring horns and hand drum set off the surprisingly delicate guitar. It has a true stereo mix as well - quite unusual in Jamaican music.

Economical Crisis

Hi everyone, when started preparing this post a couple of weeks ago I'd been woken at 2am by some people breaking into the jeweller's down the road, someone had tried to burn down the Poundland on the corner (talk about setting your sights low!), and you couldn't sleep through all the sirens and shouting. 

It's a great tune by Michael Prophet - 'Economical Crisis Deh Pon Top', and the lyrics really sum up the times we're living through. I've had this for many years and never really listened to it properly before last month.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Pounding Dub!

Here's an nice tune - it's 'Ethiopia' by Carol Cole and I'm sure that most of you know it already. Apart from being a thunderous classic of raw uptempo roots, it's interesting for another reason. This dates from 1980 and it's produced by Isha (Pauline) Morrison, Lee Perry's wife at the time. It seems she didn't actually record it at the Black Ark, but laid down the rhythm at Channel One (it's the same one she used for Winston Watson's song 'Dispensation') and got it voiced at King Tubby's.

The only other tunes I've got on this yellow Orchid label are both produced by Pauline Morrison as well: 'Dispensation' and Lacksley Castell's 'What A Great Day It Will Be'. 'Dispensation' sounds like a Jammy's mix, and 'What a Great Day' definitely is. I reckon that all three may only be connected to the Black Ark by marriage, but my God! What tunes!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Let The Wicked Repent

Here's a self-produced tune by Max Romeo from the early seventies - it's the next cut to 'Let The Power Fall On I' and it came out on his 'Prophet label. It's very, very rare - in fact, my copy's the only one I've ever seen, but it's not the sort of thing that goes for big money. I sold it about 10 years ago, and spotted it on sale again for a couple of euros on the Graal Records website last week.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Forward with love!

I've got a real treat today, a mid-seventies Upsetter production: you may already know it, but if you don't now's the time. 

It's a Canadian press of 'Shining Light' by the Mystic Eyes; if the rhythm sounds familiar, try 'Everywhere I go somebody sees me me, I can't hide'.  I really like the horns on this song and wish that I could find a dub. It's also great that the vocal and arrangements are so completely different to the original.

The b-side is the dub to a different Mystic Eyes tune: 'I'm Feeling Happy' which came out on the 56 Hope Road label. It's an Upsetter production ('Shining Light' isn't) and it is one of the best dubs that ever came out of the Black Ark.

Mystic Eyes are always worth looking out for: they didn't record much but songs like 'Forward With The Orthodox' and 'Perilous Time' make them an essential part of any serious roots collection. Their lead singer, Anthony Johnson also recorded some great tunes on his own - 'Gunshot' is the best-known.


Monday, July 18, 2011

The Man That Cometh

Today's post features 3 great tunes from the start of the seventies. The first is 'Death In The Arena' by Rupie Martin, a nice organ-led instrumental with jangling guitars and shouting. I've been told it's actually the Hippy Boys as produced by Rupie Martin, and that seems kind of plausible.

To be honest, I don't listen to the instrumental side very much, because on the flip you have 'Julia Ceaser' by the Man That Cometh: Charley Ace's first ever recording! As soon as you hear him shout "I said unto my countrymen, we are here not to praise Caesar but to bury him" you know you're on to a winner. The lyrics are smart, righteous and beautifully delivered: definitely a cut above most of the competition.

Next up there's my favourite single by the African Brothers - too bad my copy's in shocking poor condition (sorry about the sound quality). It's 'No Cup No Brock' on the Money Disc label. The vocals and the guitar are great and go together really well. You can download the vocal (with much better sound) from Amazon or Itunes, or pick it up on a couple of different Studio 1 compilations; the version is only on the single. I'd love to hear from anyone who has a better copy that they feel like sharing (you never know, it might happen) - if I ever saw it for sale I wouldn't be able to afford it.

Finally we have a fantastic double-header from the Clandisc stable: 'Foolish Fool' by Cynthia Richards and 'I For I' by King Stitt. 'Foolish Fool' was Richards' second recording (after a tune she did for Coxsone that sank without a trace) and is the one that she's really remembered for. It's a version of a song by Dee Dee Warwick (Dionne's sister) that came out earlier the same year, and is actually the stronger of the two. The guitar lick at the start gives the tune the sort of instant impact that the soul version lacked - that same lick is hidden halfway though the original, and is played by the horn section.

The other side is King Stitt's scorching version of Monty Morris' 'Say What You're Saying' which leaves the original standing. For my money it's one of his very best recordings, and a perfect example of the way a really good toaster can just set a song on fire.

Here are the original versions of the last two songs, hope you enjoy.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Far away, fa-ar away

I posted an obscure LP a while back, 'Calling 1000 Dreadlocks'. One of the comments was from the guy who played melodica on it, and he mentioned that he also played on today's record during the same session. What we got today is one of my very favourite lovers tunes - 'Telephone Line' by Tony J. The melodica is actually one of the reasons I like this tune so much; you don't often hear it used as part of the rhythm section but it just works (sort of like the accordion that you often hear in cumbias). The vocals are great and the ringing phone caps it off without sounding too gimmicky. Unlike a lot of lovers rock from later years, this has a quite a raw mix - and to my mind it's the perfect Summer tune. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


John Holt did a lot of soul covers over the years, and one of his better ones is this one of the O'Jays' hit 'Brandy', a great song about love, loss and loneliness, even if it is about a runaway dog. It has the same country vibe here as it does in the original version and is very nice. The dub's OK rather than outstanding.

The only other O'Jays cover I can think of off the top of my head is 'Ship Ahoy' by the Cimarons - good song but not a patch on the original. Shame really, because they were a great group.

Here's the original, which I also really like:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Back-To-Back Classics!

I posted a Delroy Wilson tune called 'One One' a while back, really lovely roots and a great favourite of mine. Half of today's record is a beautiful, haunting flute cut to that same rhythm - 'Psycho Rhythmic' by Roland Alphonso. I meant to post it at the same time as 'One One' but it was sounding rough - now I've re-recorded it wet with a heavy needle and the difference is just amazing.

The other side of the record is another personal favourite, 'Selection Train' by the Selected Few. It's a lovely roots tune on an updated version of the 'Peenie Wallie' rhythm, and it spawned some great deejay cuts and a couple of cover versions by different vocalists.

Sorry about the lack of activity on the blog. When I haven't been tied up with family stuff I've been trying to rip some of my more fragile dubplates with varying degrees of success.

Here's Carey Johnson's version:

Here's Jackie Mittoo's original, hope you enjoy it:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Today's record is 'It's Allright', a lovely uplifting vocal by a little-known singer called Kwame Heshimu. In case anyone's wondering, Kwame is the name given in Ghana to boys born on a Saturday, and Heshimu means respect in Kiswahili, so there's a bit of both East and West Africa in this guy's name. 

I found this potted biography on the website of the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where he's now a visiting professor:

Kwame Heshimu grew in the shadow of the Blue Mountain. Son of a Cuban expatriate, and a mother, descendant of Jamaican maroons, he spent his childhood in one of the most inaccessible communities on the island. His grandfather, a saxophonist with dance bandleader Ray Coburn, frequently accompanied Rastafarian drummers. Kwame not only became enthralled with the music, but with the Rastafarian vocabulary, or Iyaric, an intentionally created dialect of English, reflecting their desire to take forward language and confront Babylon system. His romance with word, sound, and power had begun.

Apart from this, he recorded another 7", the awesome 'Beast Of Burden', a 12" version of 'It's Allright' and an LP called 'Follow I': all of them worth tracking down. As always, hope you enjoy.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Super dub

'Love Jah Jah Children' is a Big Youth's deejay cut to 'Going The Wrong Way' by Al Campbell. It's very good, but the dub on the b-side is even better. In fact, it's one of the two or three best dubs to come out on any of Phil Pratt's labels. I really like the way Big Youth's vocal punches in and out of the mix - it gives it a rough, raw sound that it wouldn't have otherwise.

Monday, May 16, 2011

 Here's one of my favourite old singles, 'Music Maker'  by the Congoes. It's a great showcase for Cedric Myton's angelic falsetto and has a fatastic and dreamlike dub on the flip.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hello again!

This is one of my favourite instrumentals - 'General Amin', a rough diamond from Joe White, easily as good as the better-known 'Kenyatta'.

I like deep, raw-sounding roots like this -  I also like the jazzier side of reggae - so this presses all the right buttons. It's been a while since my last post, but I've got a lot of new stuff ready that I'll post over the next week or so.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Random Roots

Here are 3 roots tunes selected pretty much at random: 'Mellow Up Yourself' by Bonnie (Bunny) Gayle, 'Land Of Our Birth' By George Whyte & the Black Liberators, and 'I Man A Grass Hopper' by Pablo Moses. They all came out in 1975, but that's a pretty tenuous connection and completely unintentional.

Bunny Gayle was one of the original members of the Viceroys, and may or may not have been the same person as Devon Irons. As a solo artist he recorded a version of 'Yah Ho' for Keith Hudson, plus two singles for Clive Hunt ("Mellow Up Yourself" and the excellent 'Lady Of The Night') and this song that I found on YouTube.

'Mellow Up Yourself' isn't his Gayle's vocal, but he does enough to make sure that the superb and very heavy rhythm track doesn't go to waste. I don't know what label this came out on in Jamaica, could it have been Jigsaw? Treble C is the English release.

George Whyte, who knows? 'Land Of Our Birth' is the only song of his I've ever heard - there is a deejay cut called 'Farmer In The Den' by Jah Lloyd (a lot better than the title suggests). Reggae's littered with artists who left no trace apart from one or two great songs - same as soul, 50's rock & roll and most of the other genres of music that I like. It means you just can't get bored of it because the thrill of discovery is never far away.

Pablo Moses should be familiar to all reggae fans, and 'I Man A Grasshopper' was his first big hit. I remember hearing 'Come Mek We Run' on the radio late at night when I was still at school - it was the first song I'd ever heard by Pablo Moses and it just blew me away. Looking back, I think a good part of what I liked about it was Geoffrey Chung's production and the backing band. This is a similar sort of extended jam, split over the two sides of the single. The vocal's better than 'Come Mek We Run' but I sort of miss the flute.

Back to my youth!

Lovers rock isn't the most highly-regarded form of reggae. When you hear people arguing the merits of different eras, it hardly ever gets a look-in and I think that's a bit unfair. Growing up in England in the eighties, artists like Kofi, John McClean and Sandra Cross provided the soundtrack to some pretty crucial moments in my life and still have a special place in my heart.

My first selection is 'If I Give My Heart To You' by John McLean. Mad Professor produced a ton of really good lovers tunes on his Ariwa label, and for me this is one of the songs of the decade. Honey-voiced John McLean had a few other hits like 'Truly Bowled Over', but never did anything else even half as good as this one. The horns section may've been replaced by a synth, the rhythm may be a drum machine but it hardly matters: the lyrics are smart, McLean sings with the sort of finesse that few singers can manage, and the mix is fantastic light-hearted and playful in the sort of way that you only really hear on Ariwa.

The b-side is 'Doppler Effect' by Professor Doppler (aka Mad Professor). Listen to the drum, bass and piano - it's the sort of rhythm that got done to death at the start of the nineties, but it's also an evolution of the stuff Mad Professor was putting out on his African Connection dub LPs.

The next record is Brown Sugar's magnificent 'Our Reggae Music'. For those of you unfamiliar with them, Brown Sugar were a trio consisting of Kofi, Caron Wheeler and Pauline? Catlin. Kofi of course went on to very successful solo career, and Wheeler is far better known for her work with Soul II Soul a decade later but this is where it all started. The vocals are as great as you'd expect, and John Kpiaye's  guitar is a major bonus. Kpiaye's name crops up on so many great lovers tunes that I decided to do some digging, and after a just couple minutes found this biography! He's the man responsible for the reggae version of 'Swan Lake' and plays guitar on most of Linton Kwesi Johnson's LPs (think of that lovely hook on 'Reality Poem'). He put out an LP of his own a few years back that I really like and recommend - it may not be to everyone's taste but here's a sample:

Finally, here's one of the songs that all other lovers tunes are measured against - 'Ring My Bell' by Blood Sisters. For me this is better than Anita Ward's original disco version. It's not just that the vocal is absolutely flawless and the rhythm is superb - the dub is as good as you'll hear anywhere in reggae and both sides of the record are equally strong. I don't really know anything about Blood Sisters, they seem to have left no traces apart from one great record, a couple of good ones and a few photos on their MySpace page.

I'm going to sign off now with another video, a classic by someone called Melina Carrone, which came out on the back of Human Cargo's 'Carry Us Beyond'. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It's a good little while now, me no fling down no legs

Winston Heywood, 'Bam-Sa-Bo', great tune: this is the original JA press on the Jaguar label, it was issued on Dynamic in the UK. I know absolutely nothing about the singer save that he produced a handful of superb singles at Black Ark, including 'Backbiting', 'Stop The War', and 'Long Long Time', as well as 'I'll Never Fall In Love' for Fud Christian. Bam-Sa-Bo has a good rhythm and nice lyrics; it's all about having fun.
There's a deejay cut on the same label by Dennis Alcapone, backed by Augustus Pablo's melodica version. Alcapone's version is quite listenable, but to be honest he's on autopilot and it's not his greatest performance. The b-side is also pretty nice, but it's one of those ones  where Pablo follows the tune instead of leading it like he does when he's at his best. Both of these two versions make a really nice accompaniment to the vocal, but I don't think that either is really strong enough to stand on its own.

Here's a taste of Winston Heywood's later work:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tear Drops

Yes, the wife's away and I'm bored - so here's another post. 'Let Your Tear Drops Fall' was the first single I ever owned by Horace Andy. It's one of a series that he cut for producer Phil Pratt at the start of the seventies, including 'Get Wise', 'Tag Along', and the original versions of 'Youths Of Today' and 'Money Money' - all of them seriously good tunes, many of them collected on his LP 'Get Wise'. Here's a sample:

'Tear Drops' has more of a soulful vibe, and is one of very few tunes to use melodica in the rhythm section (the only other one I can think of off the top of my head is 'East Christmas Song'). Horace's voice has never sounded smoother and there's a lovely, delicate piano line. If you listen carefully you can even hear some clanking pots and a bit of studio chat towards the end.

The dub starts off very nicely with little drop-out soloing the backing vocals, but gets a bit samey after that. The melodica is one of the things I like best about the a-side, but on the dub it just overwhelms everything else and leaves you wishing for a bit less of it.

Anyway, to round things off, here's the original version of 'Money Money' together with it's deejay cut. I still have 'Evilous Things' somewhere and it has the wickedest dub (incidentally, does anyone have the original issue of 'Tell It Black' by Big Youth with the dub on the b-side? I've been looking for that for over 20 years).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Long time ...

Hi, I'm back. I've had flu, so's my daughter, so's my son - in sequence. You can imagine the fun I've been having this last month or so. Anyway, let's forget about that now and celebrate my return to good health with one of my favourite rhythms.

Sometime in the eighties I was sifting through the secondhand racks in Daddy Kool's when I came across an LP by Trinity called 'Full House'. You may remember it, a couple of excellent tracks, a fair bit of filler, and Trinity wearing dungarees and shades on the cover. Anyway, one of the best tracks on there was called 'Ring Craft', where he's going on about the Ring Craft Posse and his granny's bangles.

The rhythm track is a particularly tough version of 'Holy Mount Zion' by the Actions, which is today's tune (and if anyone knows whose version Trinity used please leave a comment). The Actions were an early incarnation of Well Pleased & Satisfied, who were responsible for some awesome roots tunes during the seventies and early eighties. I'm sure I'm not the only one who was blown away by 'Sweetie Come From America', and for years one of my most treasured singles was 'Living In The Slum' (the Total Sounds version with the dub). Anyway, for anyone out the who doesn't know them, here's a small selection of videos and a link to an excellent interview.

'Holy Mount Zion' on it's own is a great tune, but like I said it spawned a lot of versions. I've never been able to track down Well Pleased & Satisfied's recut, a 12" called 'Open The Gate Bobby Boah' featuring Jah Banna (by all accounts it's fantastic) but I do have two very good deejay cuts by Ken Quatty. 'Jah Lion' was the first one; it's a pretty serious tune. 

All the copies I've heard have been a bit overloaded on the vocal - if you can hear some distortion, it's because the deejay was either a lot louder than expected, or just a little too close to the mic. That said, it's a fantastic version by a really good toaster. Ken Quatty didn't record much, but most of his singles are good.

If anything, the second version, 'Cripple Skank' is actually better than 'Jah Lion'. Here Ken Quatty toasts over a stabbing, in-your-face guitar solo and gives it a rawness and intensity that has rarely been matched. This is one of the best deejay tunes in my collection and it doesn't let up from start to finish.

The b-side is the same cut but without the deejay, and is pretty great in its own right. In case you're wondering, the Jerry All-Stars are named after Jerry Baxter of Well Pleased & Satisfied, nothing to do with Jah Jerry. 

While you wait, here are a few more tunes to get you feeling Well Pleased & Satisfied.  I don't have words to express just what a great group they were, so I'll have to let the music do the talking.