Johnny Clarke: ”Rockers Time Now”. From the LP ”Rockers Time Now”, Virgin Records 1976. Produced by Bunny Lee, probably at Channel One.
Within the reggae world Johnny Clarke is a typical "dance hall singer" with his smooth, smooth voice upon classical, yet fresh rhythms. Clarke has been active up to this day. He has also been a backing vocal at a countless number of other artists' records and is also a prolific musician on keyboards.
I-Roy: ”Roots Man Time”. From the LP ”Crisus Time”, Virgin Records 1976. Recorded at Channel One and produced by Bunny Lee.
It's Johnny Clarke's "Rockers Time Now" (previous page) all over again, recreated in the indistinguishable DJ fashion of I-Roy.
The photo on the cover tells its own story. It's from Sharpeville, South Africa, 1960, when the South African police shot directly into a crowd of black protesters, killing hundreds.
Ranking Trevor: Rub-a-dub style, single, 1978. Produced by L. McKenzie.
I chose this sound to be presented here for two reasons: One, it was played everywhere in the spring 1978 when I came to Jamaica, it was the absolute frenzy for a week or two (a typical length of time for a reggae sound to be No 1 at the time). Two, it gives you a very good idea of what rub-a-dub is all about. Maybe not the world's most rich and sophisticated reggae sound. But a hell of a beat to be enjoyed in the boiling sun.
Tapper Zukie: Oh Lord, single, 1978. Recorded at Channel One, mixed at King Tubby's by Prince Jammy, ridim by The Revolutionaries.
So much happened. So many reggae artists and musicians, bands, producers, DJs, so much pressure, so much competition. The way I remember it, however, Tapper Zukie ruled the streets that summer. Maybe I remember it all wrong. Maybe this sound by "Tappa" only lasted slightly longer than the average week or two. But I do remember how the young girls moved graciously to his divine lyrics: "The sista dem a model in-a shorts. Oh Lord!"
U-Roy: Small Axe. From the LP "Rasta Ambassador", Virgin Records 1977. Produced by Prince Tony (Robinson).
U-Roy the Originator of the characteristic talk-over that was practiced so creatively by so many - here he is, with his version of Bob Marley's sound "Small Axe". You can buy anything by U-Roy and be pleased. Still, this is undoubtably one of his best.
Culture: Natty never get weary. Single from Virgin Records, 1978. Also released on probably several albums. Produced by Sonia Pottinger, one of the very, very few women at a controlling level in Jamaican reggae music.
This is one of the sweetest sounds ever from one of the greatest reggae vocal groups, Culture. The group is characterised by their strong militant, some will say revolutionary, leaning, musically countered by sweet, sweet harmonies.
Culture: Natty never get weary / Side B, Dub version. Single from Virgin Records, 1978.
Typical dub, this. By the way, you'll recognise I-Roy's voice at the very start of the dub. It was always like this: Whoever was there in the studio at any time contributed to the present recording if and when it was feasible.
Bob Marley & The Wailers: Bad Card. Single from Tuff Gong, 1980.
Tuff Gong was Bob Marley's own label. Bob Marley rub-a-dub! This is the man showing his street-cred in downtown Kingston.
Dillinger: Dread a de ruler. From the LP "Answer me Question", Gee's Records (USA), 1978.
Dillinger is an extremely versatile DJ/singer. Here he is probably on his most "hard-core", musically. Strictly dread. Also, I chose this sound because the lyrics is quoted in the book's piece of the day.
Burning Spear: Hail H.I.M. From the LP "Hail H.I.M.", Tammi Records, 1980.
Produced by the man himself and Aston "Family Man" Barrett. Burning Spear hailing Haile Selassie the way only Burning Spear can do it.
Culture: Calling Rasta For I. From the LP "Two Sevens Clash", Joe Gibbs/Lightning Records 1977.
This is a Joe Gibbs/Errol T. production. On the cover, Joe Gibbs praises the group's "authentic, vibrant mind-rocking harmonous cultural sounds".
Burning Spear: Slavery days. From the LP "Marcus Garvey", Island Records, 1975.
Produced by Jack Ruby, arranged by Winston Rodney (who is nowadays known as Burning Spear himself).
This is Burning Spear in a more unpolished mode than his contemporary audience may know him by; directly from the ghetto.
The Mighty Diamonds: Them never love poor Marcus. From the LP "Right Time", Virgin Records, 1976. Produced by Joseph "Joe Joe" Hoo Kim, the man behind Channel One Studio. Music by The Revolutionaries.
Among the groups, The Diamonds, Culture, and Burning Spear were probably the most prolific Marcus Garvey-ambassadors through the Seventies (and beyond), making Garvey's name and work known all over the world. The Diamonds are here on their best and most typical.
I-Roy: Tribute to Marcus Garvey. From the LP "Musical Shark Attack", Virgin Records, 1976. Produced by "Joe Joe" Hoo Kim, Channel One Studio, with music played by The Revolutionaries.
Also the DJs competed heavily to promote Marcus Garvey's legacy, resulting in sounds like this one.
Big Youth: Isaiah first prophet of old. From the LP "Isaiah First Prophet of Old", Virgin Records, 1978. Recorded at Joe Gibbs / Harry J Studio.
Big Youth is a DJ artist, which means he is a commentator more than a singer. His project is sincerely social (which in Jamaican reality means both political and religious) and his sound is very compelling.
Big Youth: Writing on the Wall. From the LP "Isaiah First Prophet of Old", Virgin Records, 1978. Recorded at Joe Gibbs / Harry J Studio.
This is another track from the same album as previous page. Social commentary almost buried in deep religious symbolism.
Burning Spear: Black Disciples. From the LP "Dry and Heavy", Island Records, 1977.
Recorded at Harry J Studio, Kingston, this album is Burning Spear's perhaps most compelling sound in my opinion, not only just as "dry and heavy" as the title suggests but absolutely desperate.
Ranking Devon: "Hard Times", a Disco-45 (maxi single) from Dance Beat/Greenway Music, date not given, appr. 1979.
This is a very, very typical reggae Disco-45. Her and on the next two pages you will hear three soundbites from it. This first one gives the ridim ...
Ranking Devon: "Hard Times", see previous page. Music meets Dub.
Ranking Devon: "Hard Times", see the page before previous page. The DJ takes over, or: Version time.
Tapper Zukie & Knowledge: What's Yours. Disco-45 (Maxi-single), New Star, 1977. Produced by Tapper Zukie and Lee Perry.
Tapper's real name is David Sinclair. Born in 1955, the man has made a profound impact on the more heavy roots reggae scene. This is one of Tappa's most compelling productions among many. The little sound-bite you are allowed to get here can be expanded (external youtube link on the right) .
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The Melodians: Rivers of Babylon. From the LP "The King Kong Compilation", Island Records, 1981. Produced by Leslie Kong.
A classicSir production from a great producer.This is "the real and original" Rivers of Babylon production from one of the great Jamaican vocal trios, The Melodians, to melt your heart. The original recording was probably done in the late 60's. The song was was used in the movie "The harder they come", starring Jimmy Cliff.
Desmond Dekker: Israelites. From the LP "The King Kong Compilation", Island Records, 1981. Produced by Leslie Kong.
From the same LP as the one on previous page, this Desmond Dekker sound is equally classic. A re-release of his great hit from 1969.
The Pioneers: Long shot kick the bucket. From the LP "The King Kong Compilation", Island Records, 1981. Produced by Leslie Kong.
An important vocal trio from the late 60's, the Pioneers made it to the UK charts in 1969 with this one. The song's title refers to a Jamaican race horse, Long Shot, that died during a race in 1969.
The Melodians: Sweet Sensation. From the LP "The King Kong Compilation", Island Records, 1981. Produced by Leslie Kong in the late 60's.
Alton Ellis: Let him try. Disco-45, Studio 1. Produced by Sir Coxsone in 1968.
Alton Ellis was a well-known Reggae singer in the generation before the nowadays more famous Gregory Isaacs. He was born in 1938 and died in 2008, having set his mark on both ska, rock steady and reggae. This is probably his most wide-spread sound.
I-Roy: Let me tell you boy. From the compilation LP "Quad Star Revolution", Creole Records, early 70's. Produced by Harry A. Mudie at King Tubby's Studio.
Upon the original Ebony Sisters sound from 1970, the young I-Roy shows what a DJ recording is all about.
Val Bennett: The Russians are coming. From the compilation double-LP "Rebel Music", Trojan Records, 1979.
This is an instrumental with the great sax player Val Bennett, produced by Bunny Lee as a reggae version of a jazz classic.
Dillinger: Rat a cut bottle. From the LP "Top Ranking Dillinger", Third World Records, 1977. Produced by Bunny, also known as "Striker" Lee.
The DJ artist Dillinger has been extremely productive throughout the years - he was born in 1953 and was as such a member of the "second generation" of DJs. His style is both very typical for his time and an excellent example of real roots entertainment.
Lloyd Parkes and We the People: The feeling is right. On a Disco-45 also featuring U-Brown, Studio One, 70's (next page).
Lloyd Parkes is really a bass player, but he has doubled as a backup-singer occasionally turning into a solo singer. This sound, certainly from the early or mid-70's, is about as typical a dance sound as you can get.
U-Brown: Keep on coming a de dance. Disco-45 also featuring Lloyd Parkes, Studio One, 70's.
Equally typical as the sound on previous page, the DJ artist U-Brown takes over and turns it all into something else.
Lee Perry: Little Sally Data. From the LP ”Colombia Colly”, Island Records, 1976.
Lee Perry, aka King Scratch, Jah Lion and lots of other names. The definite multi-artist in Reggae music. Always in control; of course he has recorded, mixed and produced every bit of this LP himself.
Lee Perry: Sexy Natty. On a Disco-45 from the 70’s. Produced by the man himself at his own Black Ark studio under the label Black Art.
Another killer from the arguably greatest reggae creator ever.
Errol Scorcher & The Revolutionaries: Cardiac Arrest. From the LP ”Rastafire”, Ballistic Records, 1978.
A sweet and typical Revolutionarlies/Channel One production with one of the less fussed-about DJ artists Errol Scorcher as co-producer.
Lee Perry: Cane River Rock. On a Disco-45 from the 70’s. Produced by the man himself at his own Black Ark studio under the label Black Art.
This distinctive multi-artist has made nothing but highlights.
Horace Andy: Babylon leave Rastaman alone. From the LP ”In the Light”, Hungry Town Recoreds, 1977.
A typical tenor voice in the dancehall tradition, Horace Andy has made a rich contribution on the mainstream reggae scene.
Lacksley Castell: Government Man. On a Disco-45 produced by Negus Roots around 1980.
Lacksley Castell is one of the lesser known Jamaican vocals; he died in his early 20’s in the mid-80’s, having recorded only a few but largely distinct productions. This is one of them.
Windel Haye: Flood Victim. On a Disco-45 from Studio 1, 1979.
Another strange sound from Studio One. Produced after a major flood hit Jamaica. This is the flip side of a Johnny Osbourne sound called ”Water more than flour”.
Lee Perry: Fat man. From the LP ”Colombia Colly”, Island Records, 1976.
(Colly means Kali, and Kali means high-grade Weed.) Lee Perry offers social analysis more clear and distinct than any academic paper and more amusing too.
Culture: Stop this fussing and fighting. From the LP ”Harder than the rest”, Virgin Records 1978.
One of the mostly appreciated ”harmony groups” or vocal trios on the reggae scene, and rightly so, Culture is also famous for their social commentary.
I-Roy and the Maytones: Money Trouble. On a Disco-45 from GG’s Records, 1977.
Sound dedicated to the International Monetary Fund, it was immediately a great hit in Jamaica.
Bob Marley & The Wailers: Survival. From the LP ”Survival”, Island Records, 1979.
On the streets in Kingston, everybody knew that the lyrics were meant for the increasingly unpopular prime minister, Michael Manley: ”How can you be sitting there / telling me that you care?”
Errol Dunkley: A little way different, Disco-45; played here is the dub-version on the flip-side. Arawak 1978. Produced by Dennis Bovell (aka Dennis Matumbi at the time).
Errol Dunkley is a ”typical” Jamaican reggae artist whos career spreads from teen-ager debut more or less to this day and a handful great hits in a stream of decent productions. This time, however, we picked the flip-side for its sweet, sweet sound.
Dr Alimantado: Gimmi my gun. From the LP ”Best Dressed Chicken in Town”, Greensleeves, 1978. Recorded at several studios with several of the top studioengineers.
Dr Alimantado is one of the most remarkable of the ”2nd generation” DJs, not unlike U-Roy whom he admired a lot. This record is a compilation of Alimantado recordings from 1973 to 1978 made in different major reggae studios and it is one of the most versatile and most ”must-have” DJ albums ever.
Jah Thomas: Mr. Barrister. From the LP ”Dance Hall Stylee”, Daddy Kool, 1982. Recorded at Channel One Studio & produced by Silver Camel/Daddy Kool.
Jah Thomas (born 1955) is a ”typical” top ranking reggae DJ-artist, unique in his style yet immediately recognizable as a member of a great culture. This sound summarizes brilliantly his style at the late 70’s and early 80’s and it also emphasizes the sincerity with which the DJ culture met the humiliating and never-ending ban against marijuana.
Jah Woosh: Marijuana World Tour. From the LP ”Marijuana World Tour”, Creation Rebel, 1979. Recorded at Randy’s, King Tubby’s and Black Ark Studios in Jamaica. Produced by Rebels of Creation.
There is a lot of entertainment in this hilarious encounter with a world-wide culture of illicit drugs, featuring Hong Kong, Germany, Holland, Lebanon, Columbia, England, Thailand, and Jamaica. Jah Woosh is an easy-going and popular DJ-artist turned producer.
Dillinger & Trinity: Rizla Skank. From the LP ”Clash: Dillinger vs. Trinity”, Burning Sounds 1977. Recorded at Channel One and Chalk Farm studios. Produced by Clem Bushay.
Trinity and Dillinger, two of the most prolific DJ-artists, try to smoke a spliff AND make a recording together, resulting in this memorable track.
U-Roy: Chalice in the Palace. From the LP ”Dread in a Babylon”, Virgin Records, 1975. Recorded at Joe Gibbs’ with Erroll Thompson and produced by Tony Robinson.
Provocatively, U-Roy wants to smoke a chalice together with Her Majesty and gives us priceless soundbites as when he tells the queen that they may not be birds of one feather but should stick together. All from the steaming mid-70’s when U-Roy really ruled.
Lee Perry: Colombia Colly. From the LP ”Colombia Colly”, Island Records, 1976.
Lee Perry, aka King Scratch, The Upsetter +++, arguably the greatest of them all, here with one of reggae music’s most stoned productions, featuring himself as singer and producer. If there was ever a King of reggae music, King Scratch is the one.
Peter Tosh: Legalize it. From the LP ”Legalize it”, Virgin Records, 1976.
Peter Tosh was one of the original Wailers together with Bunny Wailer and Bob Marley. Tosh left the Wailers in 1974 and pursued a remarkable solo career for years until he was killed in 1987. World-famous for this sound, he also made several other hits. His style is uncompromising.