Despite last weekend’s RSD profligacy, I visited several Ashford chazzas after dropping Asbo elder off at the train station this morning and was rewarded with this tasty dubbed up twelve from former Black Uhuru lynchpin Michael Rose and ubiquitous producers Sly & Robbie on their TAXI imprint for one quid at Oxfam. More X-Terminator than Trojan, but well worth it, as I would tell you.
Here’ s a turn up. Reggae singer John Holt died several months before I purchased this JA press Lp of his last Sunday at the Hythe Cricket Ground boot fair. I’m not a huge fan of his, all that crossover nonsense, with strings and that, set my teeth on edge, but I had hopes for this one given its ‘Down Yard’ provenance.
I have to say I prefer my reggae a little more doctrinaire (i.e. less Lover’s) and less obviously tuneful (i.e. more ‘groove’ based) than this rather old-fashioned (for 1977) album; nonetheless, it’s a good listen and of surprisingly high-fidelity for a record of physical Jamaican origin.
I haven’t been so confused since I found out that Pink Floyd was a band: you’re telling me that Burning Spear is one person? Are you sure? I’ve got, like, seven or eight of their albums. It just seems like a weird ‘stage name’, especially for a reggae artist. I mean, don’t they usually go for American tough guys or anthropomorphised rodents?
Okay, say you’re right, how do you explain the photograph of a trio of men of the back of my copy of the Marcus Garvey? It lists their names right there! And it doesn’t say Bob Smith, Ted Jones and Burning Spear, it says “Rupert Willington, Delroy Hines and Winston Rodney”.
Burning Spear. No, it doesn’t sound right as a man’s name. When he shows up at the pub is it like, “Hi, Burning, come sit down and join us” or when he’s picking up his dry cleaning, does the bloke behind the counter say, “Extra starch in the collar Mr Spear, just how you like it”? No, it’s all wrong.
Yes, I know Bunny Wailer’s mother called him Neville Livingston when he was born, but that doesn’t prove your point that Burning Spear is one man’s name. If anything, it weakens your argument. Think about it: if one of those guys was adopting the band’s name for his own, wouldn’t it have made more sense to be known as, say, Rupert Burning-Spear or Delroy Burning-Spear?
Tell you what. If we’re ever at a party and this guy is there and you introduce us, “Burning Spear, dad. Dad, Burning Spear” and he acts like that is, in fact, his moniker, then I’ll believe you. Until then, I say Burning Spear is what the band is called.
Editor’s Note: I got this second-hand for only £3. An excellent Pressure Sounds comp of BS singles and dubs, I’d say it ranks right up there with Spear’s proper albums (which can sound a bit clinical sometimes), with the versions providing contrast to the vocal takes, Rodney’s voice being an expressive but limited instrument. There are a couple of other vocalists involved, too.
Gregory Isaacs – “Soon Forward” b/w Gregory Isaacs & Prince Far I – “Uncle Joe” “Come Off Mi Toe” (FLS 12112) (1979)
(London, England) — Virgin Records boss Richard Branson yesterday announced the formation of a subsidiary label, called Front Line, which is to be dedicated solely to the release of reggae music.
“It’s important that reggae gets the respect it deserves,” claimed Branson. “To that end, we will be releasing only high quality examples of the style.”
“As further evidence of our esteem,” he continued, “We will budget for the best cover art money can buy.”
Branson cited in particular Gregory Isaacs’ ‘Soon Forward’ 12″ single. “It’s obviously top drawer reggae, but just look at this design: observe how both the artist and song title are correctly spelled,” he noted with pride.
“See too,” the bearded business maven added, “that the catalog number and label IDs are integrated as part the overall look, whose ‘ruff and rugged stylee’ just screams ‘down yard’ to me.”
The Virgin owner also pointed out that the word ‘Reggae’ has been added parenthetically beneath the title, “in case there was any confusion as to the record’s genre.”
Johnny Rotten, who travelled to Jamaica to help Branson sign up reggae artists on the cheap, lauded Front Line’s aesthetics and says he hopes to use the design team on his new, yet-to-be-named band’s first unlistenable Lp.
(Dallas, Texas) — Following an exhaustive trial and nearly two years of research, Johnny Nash has confirmed that you have qualities and characteristics associated with ‘soul’, claiming his observations of the way you walk, talk, move, groove, dance and romance indicated high levels of ‘soul’ presence.
Further stating that your ‘soul’ is ‘good as gold’ and ‘won’t never grow old,’ Nash believes that your ‘soul’ is ‘deep inside’ and that ‘nothin’ in the world can hide [it]’.
Thus far, you have refused to comment on the Nash report, though sources close to you have expressed that, ‘soul is hard to find, so why don’t you come on now and let it shine.’
‘Just let yourself be free, so the whole wide world can see,’ these same sources added.
Editor’s note: Lovely reggae 7″ from the American Nash. Strings don’t detract from the groove.
A mixture of soul covers, originals and unlikely re-imagined country hits was the formula of choice for commercial reggae produced by Pama, Trojan, etc. in the 1970s and set the stage for UB40’s ubiquity the following decade. On this early 80s Lp, Simon’s tremulous, yet powerful tenor strongly recalls international reggae star Jimmy Cliff. No strings here, but it’s still a fairly backward looking (i.e. no Dancehall stylee vibes, which would have been the contemporary thing), professional pop-roots album.
Another pound record from yesterday in almost mint condition, featuring a textured sleeve.
For the immature amongst the Thrifty V readership, Simon’s original songs are published by TIT music. Fnarr, fnarr.
Horace Andy once asked the musical question, “Do you love Reggae Music?” Now Thrifty Vinyl has asked its readers to write in and tell us what you really think about Jamaica’s national music. So, this month’s question…
DO YOU LIKE REGGAE?
- “No, because I find it distracting when I smoke marijuana.” Vicky Verky, Camberwell.
- “I used to listen to it back in College, when I had ideals and before I had a mortgage.” Russ T. Fari, Leeds.
- “Not really. All reggae music sounds the same to me. Mind you, all classical, heavy metal, punk, garage, jazz, pop, dubstep, funk, house, bluegrass, soul, country, folk and blues music sound the same to me as well.” Carl Book-Marx, oop north.
- “As a Trustafarian, I am obliged to like it.” Bobo, Oz.
- “Don’t know it or feel it.” Mary Kettle-Chips, Dover.
- “Yes. I’ve got a cd of Labour of Love by UB40.” Billie Burke, Cheltenham.
- “I went right off reggae when Haile Selassie I died.” – Dyson Hoover, Farnham.
- “Only if it’s on badly pressed JA vinyl.” Beanz N. Franks, Manchester
- “What, do I look like a boring, white, balding, middle-aged man?” – Kevin, London.
- “No. I preferred Jughead.” – Archie, Comics.
- “Definitely. You mean Bob Marley, right?” – Guy Blanco, Never-Neverland.
- “Not especially, but I do have a hilarious ‘rasta wig’.” Sir Jeremy Park-Lane, Westminster.
- “Mento, no. Ska, yes. Rock Steady, yes. Ragga, yes. Dub, no. Jamaican R&B, no.” Richard, Bristol.
- “Wait, reggae comes from Jamaica?” – Bob Whacksibildup, Land’s End.
- “Yes, but just the 70s classics, you know, by Eric Clapton, the Clash, Paul Simon and the Rolling Stones.” Alex Cleaning Product, by a tree.
In fact, D-Roy is the name of the Kensel Green, London record label ‘pon which this reggae 12″ was pressed. Home to Black Uhuru, Linval Thompson, Johnny Clarke, etc. D-Roy also released a fair amount of Lovers’ Rock in its time, including the “A” side featured here. Of more interest to me is the “B”, dubbed up, as it is, blacker than dread.
50p today in Hythe, yay!
Produced by the relatively unheralded Karl Pitterson, this is easy vibes, commercial (but not too commercial) reggae courtesy Island subsidiary, Mango. One gets the overall feeling that the un-militant roots stylings of Pass the Pipe could have been created by any of a number of top reggae artists; nonetheless Toots’ Otis Redding-like timbre and delivery remains a distinctive and soulful instrument. 8/10 shall we say?