Asher Senator – Born To Chat

Released by Fashion Records of Lavender Hill, Clapham Junction in 1986, this album (according to my reggae-expert mate John Eden) represents the arse-end of Asher Senator’s run of mid-80s UK dancehall records.  True, it has a bit a  clean, commercial sound, fairly typical of the burgeoning, inexorable move towards digital production, but still a solid, entertaining ten-track trawl through Asher’s world, and a pungent relic of the era. Nice up!

Part of a small haul of reggae records found in Staple Hill Red Cross ages ago. More to follow…


Grace Jones – Nightclubbing

Finally found a copy of this record in tip-top condition. Shame about the slight blemish on Grace’s face, but that’s only the sleeve, right?

“Pull Up To The Bumper” was the big hit on this album, but the whole thing is an exercise in seemingly effortless in-the-pocket grooves, held down by the Sly & Robbie rhythm section and luxurious, but never over-cooked production from Mr. Whiteworst Blackwell and his team.

This will sit very nicely in the collection, nestled in-between previously thrifted “Warm Leatherette” and “Living My Life” albums. Although I might keep an eye out for another copy with an unspoiled sleeve…

12 inchers

Wayne Smith/Prince Jammy – Greensleeves Disco 45s

A couple of totally spectacular 12″ singles from the dawn of digital dancehall. Prince Jammy’s ‘Sleng Teng’ riddum basically ushered in a new era in Jamaican music, and although the follow-up collaboration with Wayne Smith, ‘Ickie All Over’, doesn’t quite hit the same heights, its still a nifty tune, with an alternative vocal version by Tonto Irie on the flip (entitled ‘Life Story’), and some sweet dub instrumentals too. I think its quite collectible. Shame it doesn’t have an original Greensleeves bag as well, but you can’t have everything.

Edit: Just seen a little article on the Sleng Teng riddim over at The Guardian. Truly an historic recording!

Albums Reggae

Reggae Hits – John Whitehead and his Orchestra

An unexpected amazing find of a disc here.  Unable to find anything whatsoever about it on the web – even the entry on Discogs for the ‘les treteaux’ label is missing an entry for this release (LP 6433).  Not even sure if this is the same John Whitehead that released numerous records with Gene McFadden – and wrote stacks of tracks for the O’Jays ?  Anyone out there know anything about this disc ??

What I can tell you however is that it contains some very tasty versions of reggae standards including an almost note-for-note rendition of Johnathon Richmans – Egyptian Reggae (which the 5 year old in the house now demands be played on a daily basis !!).   Even the covers of uncle Bob Marley ‘Jamming’ is dead good – despite this being a track I can barely stand these days due to total exposure-burn-out !!

The versions of Barbados and Up Town Top Rankin are simply great – no question…  just wish I knew a bit more about the production team/players etc …

Oh and it even features a version of ‘Johny Reggae’ – should please Nick that one for sure !!

Albums Reggae

King Kong – Funky Reggae

Well, here she is fellas: the holy grail of MFP budget records – a collection of hit tunes covered inna reggae stylee.

Imagine the Top Of The Poppers session band out of their minds on collie weed, bashing out a righteous, skankin’ version of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” like it was some divine hymn to Jah.

Alas, we can but dream…

According to Roger St Pierre’s (surprisingly informative) sleeve notes, this was the debut album by King Kong, though I can see no evidence of any further recordings by this tragically forgotten reggae combo. The only clue to their identities being the writing credit Othen-O’Donell-Lucas on the self-penned Heavy City.

But at least they inspired Todd Rungren’s “King Kong Reggae”, from his album Todd, released in the same year.



Reggae Treasure


This 1981 record from Upper Class Records could’ve been a perfectly respectable collection of tunes by a bunch of 2nd division reggae acts from the previous decade, including Bunny Maloney, The Marvels, Maria Mudie and The Diversions (who turn in a fine rendition of that timeless classic ‘Fattie Bum Bum’), but

In their infinite wisdom, the compilors saw fit to include not one, not two, but FOUR songs by hideous studio-concocted white boy one-hit-wonders Typically Tropical.

And of course side 1, track 1 is bloody ‘Barbados’.


Strictly ‘Roots’?!


This is not the kind of fire & brimstone, Old Testament shit that we tend to associate with true Roots Reggae today. Actually, it’s Telstar’s attempt, in 1983,  to squeeze as many Top 40-bothering tracks by Jamaican artists of the pre-Dancehall age onto one 12″ vinyl platter as possible. Which is actually quite useful for me, because I now have tracks like Dave & Ansel Collins‘ “Double Barrell”, Greyhound‘s “Black & White”, Harry J AllStars‘ “Liquidator” and other ‘too obvious to bother with’ hits bundled together in a handy pop-tastic package.

Strange then, that the Bob Marley track should be the album-only “Kaya”. Another non-hit is U-Roy‘s “Rivers Of Babylon”, presumably included to enlighten listeners who only knew the Boney M version.

According to the sleeve, this was another of those ‘Buy One Get One Free’ deals – the companian record, called “Reggae Rock”, ‘follows the reggae influence to today’s pop heroes with such acts as Culture Club, Paul Young (wtf -!!!???) and UB40 leading the way‘. Well, I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for that, then.

Incidently, the shop where I bought this was selling vinyl at the very attractive going-rate of ‘4 for a pound’.  Lovely!


Black Magic

Black Music

One of several soul/funk/disco compilations I found in the PDSA this week. Apparently they’d just arrived that morning, so I was able to cherry-pick the best stuff.

Released in the mid-70s on Arcade Records, ‘Black Music’ is a pretty decent survey of then currently popular music by black artists. As you’d expect, it’s mainly soul and funk, with Rupie Edwards’ “Ire Feelings (Skanga)” the only representative of Jamaican reggae. I vaguely remembered the song’s catchy ‘skanga, skanga’ refrain from childhood, as this was an unlikely top 10 hit back in November 1974. The interesting thing I notice about the song now is that it is, in essence, a dub reggae track, almost totally stripped-down to the backing rhythm, with occasional flashes of guitar and organ, lashings of echo etc. Yet it has a full vocal on top, which seems quite unusual to my ears. And I’m sure it would’ve been a bit of an oddity at the time. The only example of a hit novelty dub record in the UK charts?

Also nice to finally have The Tymes’ “You Little Trust Maker”, even though that one jumps a lot near the end (the vinyl isn’t in great condition unfortunately) along with the O’Jays’ magnificent “Love Train”. Lots of warm sounds from my childhood leaking through here.

It still has the original price sticker, which reveals that it’s first owner bought it in Woolworths for £2.49.