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.