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.