Here on my Reggae Blog I want to introduce you to my favorite artists and albums, write about recent concerts and hopefully will be inspired to discover new music through your comments and in turn inspire you to check out some of the most amazing tunes ever to be recorded.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Here’s a little CD I picked up lately: Sufferer by the Kingstonians. The songs on this album were recorded for Derrick Harriott between 1968 and 1970. Tracks are as follows:

1. Your Love
2. Singer Man
3. Sufferer
4. Hold Down
5. I'll Be Around
6. Winey Winey (Reggae)
7. The Clip
8. Rumble Rumble
9. Come We Go Moonwalk
10. Complicated Scene
11. Easy Ride Reggae
12. Nice Nice

The whole album is really strong, especially the first four songs. The title track just absolutely blows my mind! This is an awesome example of the transition period from Rocksteady to Reggae. The songs clearly have a Reggae beat (mostly), but the harmonies and instrumentation still remind of the earlier Rocksteady recordings.
The only information I found about the band online is as follows:

Founded by lead singer Jackie Bernard, The Kingstonians started out in the 60s recording for producer JJ Johnson. Between 1968 and 1970 they recorded under the supervision of producer Derrick Harriott their best sides like "Singer Man", "Sufferer" and "Winey Winey". After some less successful sides for Leslie Kong and Rupie Edwards the group broke up.

I am also unable to find any other recordings by the group, even though the short biography from reggaecd.com indicates that they recorded more than the material for Harriott. Hell, even my beloved book by Lloyd Bradley let’s me down on this one, the only thing that he mentions about them except that these recordings were there peak is that the fellow artists that Derrick Harriott produced at this time included Toots and the Maytals, the Melodians, Desmond Dekker and the Pioneers.

This is really a shame considering the quality of this album. Of course there are numerous examples of this in reggae history but it always hurts. I am going to be sad now…

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

I just keep on going. Third post tonight, I have to get it out though, but who will ever read it all? This one will be short. I just put on a Studio One album by Cedric 'Im' Brooks called Im Flash Forward after being done with the Yabby You/Trinity songs. This material has been recorded in the early to mid 70s, and it uses rhythm tracks from that period. Tracks are:
1. Glory To Sound
2. Give Rasta Glory
3. Father Forgive
4. Walking Through
5. Free Man
6. Right Time
7. Smiley
8. Why Can't I
9. Idle Berg
10. Picture On The Wall

The album is pretty nice throughout, even though it's not his best stuff. However, Father Forgive, played on the rhythm of Declaration of Rights by the Abyssinians is absolutely amazing and Idle Berg, a version of Horace Andy's Skylarking is really good as well. And the funny coincidence is that all three will be at the Summerjam this July, Cedric as a tenor-sax player for the Skatalites. Which of course means you will find reviews about their stuff further down. It all goes in cycles...
Well, I just have to. It has really been more than a month since my last post? Wow time flies by. I have been away for break in between, too, but still. I did read a very good book on the history of Jamaican music over break. It’s written by Lloyd Bradley and is called This is Reggae Music – the Story of Jamaica’s Music. 500+ pages full of anecdotes from artists and producers he interviewed together with his own views and comments spanning from the mid-50s Soundsytem scene in Kingston to the creation of the Jamaican music industry at the turn of the century all the way to the creation of modern Dancehall after the digital invasion. For any big Reggae fan interested in the background of the music, cultural, political and economical, this is a great read!

Contour has published a preliminary line-up for the Summerjam, and boy there have been some nice additions again. Tryo are coming over from France. Some of my friends back home are especially excited about this. They are a crazy Roots acoustic band with an amazing stage show and some really nice songs. Can’t wait to see them. Rico Rodriguez will be there, original trombone player, got his greates fame during the Two Tone era recording with the Specials. Him and the Skatalites at the same weekend, fantastic. All the legendary instrumentalists from the 60s that are still alive will be at the Jam this summer! Some cool German Reggae with the Sam Ragga Band and Turtle Bay Country Club. Dub Syndicate, and also Ken Boothe. Some Dub, some more Roots. I have never seen Ken Boothe before, so I am really excited about this opportunity as well. So be there if you can!!!!!

So here is the record I want to introduce today: Yabby You meets Trinity at King Tubby’s Dub Station. First, the track list:

Yabby You Meets Trinity At Dub Station

Di Gun Gun Fever - Trinity
My Neighbour - Yabby You & Trinity
I Know Where I'm Going - Trinity
Natty Bongo - Yabby You & Trinity
Warm Dem - Yabby You & Trinity
I Just A Dread - Yabby You & Trinity
Stand Up And Fight - Yabby You
Black Starliner - Yabby You

This record combines some exceptional, albeit often overlooked talent. Yabby You, aka Vivian Jackson, is a great producer/singer from the Roots era. Yabby acquired his nickname from the drawn-out, chanting refrain on his 1972 debut single, "Conquering Lion": "Be You, Yabby Yabby You". As leader of the Prophets (additional personnel at various times included Alric Forbes, Dada Smith, Bobby Melody and the Ralph Brothers), Yabby recorded a remarkable series of roots reggae classics, including "Jah Vengeance", "Run Come Rally", "Love Thy Neighbours", "Valley Of Jehosaphat", "Judgement On The Land", "Fire In Kingston", "Chant Down Babylon' and many others, mostly appearing on his own Vivian Jackson and Prophets labels in Jamaica. Jackson also gained a reputation as a producer of other artists, including DJs Trinity, Jah Stitch, Dillinger, Prince Pompado, Tapper Zukie and Clint Eastwood, and singers Wayne Wade, Junior Brown, Willie Williams, Patrick Andy, Tony Tuff and Michael Prophet. Said Trinity is actually one of my favorite DJ’s, I really like his harsh, scratchy voice, which is perfect for this kind of music. The most notable album he recorded, in my humble opinion, is the 1977 Soundclash with fellow DJ Dillinger. His biggest hit was the Joe Gibbs produced Three Piece Suit, on the same rhythm that was used for Uptown Top Ranking by Althea And Donna. Finally, King Tubby, well if you like Reggae you have heard his name before. He was one of the innovators of Dub music in the early 70s and his talent at the controls and feel for the Dub music, together with his exceptional knowledge about the actual hard ware, made him truly Mr. Dub. He built his own studio and helped many others, including Lee Perry’s famous Black Ark. He was the mixer of choice for producers like Lee Perry, Augustus Pablo and Bunny Lee as his customers in the mid to late 70s. Bunny Lee once said of him “He could mix music outta the mistakes people bring him – like every spoil is a style to King Tubby. […] He do it all live, too. He don’t built it up bit by bit, him jus’ leggo the tapes and do his thing.” Where ‘his thing’ means the multi track mixing in perfection unchallenged in music history I guess. Especially considering the kind of resources he had to work with. I got the quote from Lloyd Bradley’s book by the way…

Here is the history how Tubby discovered Dub and some more of his live (I admit, it’s stolen. Go to the Iceberg to check out cool biographies):

King Tubby grew up around High Holborn Street in Central Kingston before moving to the capital's Waterhouse district in 1955. He started repairing radios and by the late 50s had begun to experiment with sound system amplifiers. By 1964 he was operating his own Tubby's Home Town Hi-Fi, where he later incorporated a custom reverb and echo facility into his system. At the same time he was working as disc-cutter for Duke Reid and it was here that he discovered that he could make special versions of well-known rocksteady tunes. By cutting out most of the vocal track, fading it in at suitable points, reducing the mix down to the bass only, and dropping other instrumental tracks in or out, Tubby invented dub. Initially the technique was used for "specials" or dub plates - custom acetates made exclusively for sound system use. The spaces left in the mix allowed sound system DJs to stretch out lyrically, predating the emergence of US rappers by some years. Record producers soon began to see the potential of these versions. Joe Gibbs' engineer, Errol Thompson, working at Randy's Studio 17, had started employing rhythm versions as b-sides by 1971. To keep ahead of the competition, Tubby acquired an old four-track mixing console from Dynamic Studios. He then introduced further refinements - delay echo, slide faders, and phasing. By late 1971 he was working with producers such as Bunny Lee, Lee Perry, Glen Brown, Augustus Pablo and "Prince" Tony Robinson. The latter issued records that credited Tubby as mixer, including "Tubby's In Full Swing", the b-side to a DJ track by Winston Scotland.

Throughout the 70s Tubby mixed dubs for all the aforementioned producers, in addition to Roy Cousins, Yabby You, Winston Riley, Carlton Patterson and Bertram Brown's Freedom Sounds. His most important work, in terms of sheer quantity, was with Bunny Lee. Lee used Tubby for dub and voicing on rhythms he had built elsewhere with the Aggrovators session band. All the singers who worked with Lee at this time - Johnny Clarke, Cornell Campbell, Linval Thompson, Jackie Edwards, Derrick Morgan, Delroy Wilson, Horace Andy, John Holt and Owen Grey - made records with Aggrovators rhythms, voiced and mixed at King Tubby's. Lee began to issue dub albums featuring Tubby's mixes, and other producers soon followed that lead. Tubby's name as mixer soon appeared on well over 100 albums. A generation of engineers trained under Tubby's supervision, including King Jammy and "Prince" Phillip Smart, both subsequently finding success on their own terms.

Highly recommended songs from the album are:
My neighbor
Natty bongo
Warn them

Well, in the end they are all great! This is reggae at its finest.
It’s about time! Longtime now since I have written anything, and I even got emails asking me whether I stopped! People are reading me! Welcome! Thank You!

The story is that school is just too much for me right now. But today I decided I deserved at least a little break in the evening so I could finally catch up with my darling little blog. But three weeks from now things will be better. And I am going back home to Germany in just a little over a month!

New link: check out the Irie Lion Reggae site, they are a concert, festival organizer from the Belgium and the Netherlands with concert listings (if you are ever looking to see some Reggae in those countries, you will find something here), info around Reggae music and an Irie Name Finder: type in your name and the Rasta elders will give you an irie reggae name! Ideal for uncreative people like me, when they are in the situation that they want to spin some music in a local bar and can’t think of a decent DJ name. I became Mighty Satta and have to say that I am very satisfied. I have to be extremely thankful to those guys, because they actually approached me and asked to exchange links! How the hell did they find me? Cheers Tal, and thanks for reading my site!

Should I write a review? Should I?

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