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: