JJ's Down Jamaica Way

JJ's Down Jamaica Way
Reggae Reviews


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Album Review: Freddie McGregor - FM - High Times LP

    Freddie McGregor - FM - High Times LP (1979)*

Freddie has never been in my 'top' list of singers, as i've always felt that his voice was just to 'clean', to polished . On saying that, he's still a great singer, with a huge amount of great singles & albums and many many hits. Bobby Bobylon (Studio One 1979) is Freddies most famous album which includes the roots standards Rastaman Camp, I'm A Revolutionist, Bandulo, Wine Of Violence as well as the title track which was a big hit over the '60's riddim "One Step Beyond" .
FM is a compilation of tracks Freddie recorded for the High Times label during the late 70's & early 80's with 90 % of the album produced by famed guitarist Earl "Chinna" Smith & one track produced by Mr McGregor himself. The players of instruments are the Soul Syndicate band & the album was recorded at Channel One studios Jamaica.

Side One of FM kicks of with a lovers tune "Love Ballad" which is an ok song in a soul style, but not really what we want to hear!
 Much better is track 2 which is an adaption of John Holts 'Strange Things', i say adaption because Freddie only uses the chorus & rhythm of Holt's song, using new lyrics to tell the story of the biblical end of the world - armagideon. "What the hell is going on?!" A nice vocal performance from Freddie & some wicked electric lead guitar soloing by Chinna "Melchizedek".
Strange Things was also issued on 7" on the High Music label (1982).

Track 3 'Natural Collie' has a beautiful almost Al Green vibe to it, with a trippy sounding keyboard floating under the vocals. Although it's the softest sounding tune on the LP it could very well be the albums highlight track. It's got a mesmerizing, dreamy quality to it that cry's out for an extended work out.
Sergeant Brown brings us to the end of the first side & is a fast up beat tune bemoaning the removal of the weedfields by one 'Sergeant Brown'.

"What's to be done about the crime?,
Sergeant Brown Sergeant Brown last night you raid the herb fields,
Sergeant Brown Sergeant Brown you stole a bag of collie weed.
Bring it back Sergeant Brown...
Told the court it's your evidence, but i just saw you sell it across the fence"

Sergeant Brown was also released on 7" on the Priest Hood label (1979)

Side Two, begins with the heavy "Leave Yah" which is the track on this album that Freddie produced himself, it's a cracker too, with nice use of keyboards & hand drums. Lyricly it calls for all evil doers to stop their fussing & fighting  & for the righteous to  'leave yah' and

 "go to a place where there is happiness , whole lotta love & some conciousness,
 teach the children so they will learn,
 na skin up na grin up, play no ease up we haffe leave yah"

Track 2 has Freddie updating his own  I'm A Revolutionist here called simply Revolution. He's done a fantastic job too, featuring some very polished playing by the band, with Chinna trading guitar licks with the horn players & once again some very nice keyboards over the rootsy but relaxed riddim.

"I'm a revolutionist I dread no deal with critisim
We are go repatriate

Track 3 Mark Of The Beast is a warning to beware of Satan & his evilous plans.

"Satan is a sly old fox if i catch him i'll lock him in a box"......

Track 4 brings us to the end of this 8 track LP & is Freddies rendition of the reggae standard "Mission Impossible".

To sum up, it's an excellent album, if a little on the short side, and apart from the lightweight 'Love Ballad' the other seven tracks are superb with some exemplary musicianship by the Soul Syndicate with a very 'roots but polished' production from Chinna Smith. Now for the bad part - & it is BAD! The pressing of this LP is atrocious, giving new meaning to the description "frying bacon"! What should be a highly polished roots album is marred by a terribly crackly pressing. By the middle of Mission Imposible when you should be enjoying a cool organ influenced groove your having the music drowned out by a noisy "Ssscrrrrch" on every revolution!
I haven't heard an 'original press' of this LP, my LP is more likely a repress from the 1990's & it, like several other LP's on the High Times label are ruined by the terrible sound quality. 'FM' definately needs to be reissued because underneath all that noise there is a great album, but until there is a clean pressing on CD or LP of this album i'd not be tempted to buy it unless i could listen first.

j j

Side 1                                            Side 2
1.Love Ballad          3.47                 1.Leave Yah                  4.12
2.Strange Things      3.00                 2.Revolution                  4.20
3.Natural Collie       3.48                 3.Mark Of The Beast     3.58
4.Sergeant Brown   5.02                  4.Mission Impossible     4.40

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Musical Treasure for your Musical Pleasure.........

Here you will find reviews of a range of Original Press & Repress 7" (45rpm) records from the 1960's through to the 1980's.....

Lloyd Parks - Officially/Version - Parks 7" (1975 Original Press)                                           
Born in 1948 Lloyd Parkes started his musical career  back in 1960's when he played in the Invincibles band alongside Ranchie McLean Sly Dunbar & Ansell Collins, he then went on to form the vocal duo The Termites with fellow singer Wentworth Vernal, together they released their first single "Have Mercy Mr Percy" & the LP Do The Rock Steady (1967) for the legendary Studio One label.

Here we have the original self produced version of Lloyd's lovers rock classic "Officially" which he re-did for Joe Gibbs afew years later. In a very pleading soulful style Lloyd sings to his love "that if you wanna be my quee-ee-eeen you got to make it officialy & if you wanna be my bri-ii-iiide we got to be officially....officially" over a stop start riddim which seems about to come to a halt each time Lloyd coos "..I love ya"...then suddenly it's off again for another verse. A song with a great hook that almost defies the listener not to sing along with it, perfect to swing & sway too with the one you love.....So there you have it, a strong & oh so soulful vocal over an chugging extremely well played riddim - what more could you ask for...?

Lloyd Parks - Officially/Version - Joe Gibbs 7" (1978)

This second cut of Officially was done for Producer Joel Gibson better known as Joe Gibbs & backed by his studio band The Professionals three years after Lloyd's own Park's label release.The beat has been sped up a bit for this cut of the song & it has that sparkly clean Joe Gibbs mix that feature on so many of his productions, but don't get me wrong , theres nothing clinical or sterile about this records sound, in fact i'd be hard pressed to choose which version i like the best?

King (Watty) Burnett - Paul Bogle/Version - Clocktower Records 7" (c1974-75) 

Watty Burnett from CongosProduced by Lee Perry this tune is abit of a mystery. Theres no mention of it in David Katz's People
Funny Boy & apparently no listing in Jeremy Collingwoods 'Kiss Me Neck" either. In fact it actually sounds more like Max Romeo than Watty Burnett???

Over a heavy sombre riddim Watty/Max asks the questions 

"Do you remember William Garden? Do you remember Paul Bogle?
 Who were they? Who were they?
They were freedom fighters, they were freedom fighters
They were beaten down til their back was black & blue oh yes
And how it grieve my soul & how it grieve your soul, they were heroes out there...."

Perhaps a sermon is a better description of this song? It's style certainly reminds me of a preacher asking his congregation to remember their black history & the people who were heroes in Jamaica's early struggle for equal rights for all it's people no matter the colour of their skin. Heavy lyrics to match a heavy version side which really does showcase the powerful bass riff & powerful it is......babylon walls come tumbling down me a tell yu!

Piki - Piki Rock - Rhythm Shack 7" (1987)

I'm astonished at just how authenticaly old this record sounds, released in '87 it sounds like it could of originated from the late 60's early 70's era. Unbelievably good it could easily stand it's ground with anything that came out of Treasure Isle or Studio One around the same time. Piki Rock is an instrumental featuring what sounds like a melodica dualing a harmonica over a lively rhythm with plenty of Lynn Tait style guitar frills throughout. Iirc Piki is a musician from Germany.
The B side - Teddy Irie  - Drum Pan Sound, which is an 80's ragga tune & is nothing to do with Piki Rock.

Bobby Sarkie - Better World/Life Is A Dream Dub - Rhythm Shack 7" (1976)

Bobby Sarkies career started in the 1960's where he was a member of the vocal group the Bellstars with Cedric Myton & Devon Russell. When the Bellstars ended Myton & Russell went on to form the Tartans vocal group with Prince Lincoln Thompson, while Sarkie went on to sing the tune Better World originally issued on the Third World label & credited to Bobby Sarkie & The Emortals.
Strangely on this repress the B side of Better World originally called  'Popeye' has been replaced with the dub version of another Bobby Sarkie record Life Is A Dream which was originally on the US issued Shashamarnie label.
I'm thinking that the vocal cut of Life Is A Dream was probably meant to be on the B side - & not the dub version, which would make more sense.
Better World deals in lyrics concerning

Tony Brevette - Need To Belong/Words Of Prophecy - Rhythm Shack 7" (1976)   Click to show "The Melodians" result 4

Tony Brevette Melodians

Junior Delgado - Every Natty/Version - Observer 7" (1975)

Produced by Niney the Observer aka George Boswell

Junior Delgado - Born To Be Wild/Version - Incredible Music 7" (c late 80's Original Press)
Prince Ranking - Cramp Babylon Plan/Version - Hungry Town 7" (1978 Original Press)

This is the DJ cut of Barrington Spences

Gregory Isaacs - Bumping & Boring/Version- African Museum 7" (Original Press)
Clint Eastwood - Jump & Pawn/Version - Ossie 7" (Original Press)

NZ connection to UK's African Head Charge/On - U Sounds

New Zealanders may have heard that well known kiwi musician Dave Dobbyn recorded an album with ON-U Sounds Adrian Sherwood in 2008.

‘Anotherland’, his 2008 release, was produced by legendary dub-reggae maestro Adrian Sherwood and Skip ‘Little Axe’ McDonald. Recorded in London with New Zealand musicians Ross Burge (drums), Marcus Lawson (bass, harmonica, bvs) and Mark Vanilau (piano, bvs), Sherwood said “The album was a new departure for all of us; a healthy, fruitful creative journey”.
I noticed the track 'Dobbyn Joins The Head Charge' on the new album below. I haven't heard either Voodoo Of The Godsent or Dobbyns album.......‘Anotherland’ though.
African Head Charge Voodoo Of The GodsentAfrican Head Charge
Voodoo Of The Godsent      

In I Head / The Best Way / Take Heed… And Smoke Up Your Collyweed / Stoned Age Man / African Bredda / Mysterious Happenings / This And That And The Other / Undulating / Timpanya / Badman Plan / Dobbyn Joins The Head Charge / God Willing 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reissue Updates: The Latest & Greatest 2010

Sometimes it can be hard keeping up with all the different reissues being......Reissued! so heres a list of some of the best.

With the closure of so many of the great reissue labels over the last few years like Blood & Fire, Makasound, Greensleeves, Motion, Tabou, Hot Pot etc it seems that only Pressure Sounds is left to continue releasing music in the album format along with some recent CD/LP reissues on the Dug Out label.
Heartbeat seems to be dead or dormant, Soul Jazz seem to have stopped releasing reggae albums & Trojan seem happy to reissue the same tracks over & over again.

Luckily it seems that since the demise of the CD/LP releases,  a plethora of 7" 10" 12" repress's have sprung up to take there place.

High Power
Mr Spaulding - What's The Name Of The Sound/Version 7*
Bunny Lie Lie - Love Me A Deal With/Version 7*
Bunny Lie Lie - Somethings Gonna Happen/Version 7*
Al Campbell - Jah Love/Version 12*

Observer 7's
Heptones - Mt.Zion/Version*
Earth & Stone as Officials - Babylonians/Version*
Junior Delgado - Every Natty/Version *
Johnny Clarke - Give Yourself A Try/Version*
Naggo Morris - Jah Guide/Version*
Freddie McGregor - Rasta Have Faith
Heptones - Through The Fire/Version
Rockstones - Burn Me Out/Version*
Rockstones - Oh Jah Man/Version*
Iron Phoenix - Natty Dread Xmas/Version*

Channel One/Deeper Knowledge 7
Midnight Riders - Posse Form A Line/Version*
Stephanie Samuels - Africa We Want To Go/Version
Carlton Livingston - Tale Of Two Cities/Version*

Dizzy Fleming/M Jarrett - Resurrection/Starvation - 14 Karet/DKR 12"*
Thriller/W Jarrett - Nice & Easy/ 14 Karet/DKR 12"
Jewels - Slave Trade - Leggo 7*
Jewels - Love & Livity - Leggo 7*
Aksumites/Nigger Charley - Ark Of The Covenant - Thebes Sound/Deeper Knowledge 12*
Mankind - These Three Girls/Country Life - Mankind 12*
King Kong - He Was A Friend - Concious Music/Digikiller 12*
Phillip Myers - Ghetto Struggle - Junior Militant/Version 7*
Freddie McKay - Take My Hand Oh Jah b/w Naggo Morris - You Want To Get I Out (Yah Congo)12*

Dug Out
Naphtali - Hold Up Your Hand/Version - Vibes Sound/Dug Out 10"*
Little John - What You Want To Be/Little John & Billy Boyo - Disc Jockey - Rusty Intl/Dug Out 12"
Michael Rose - Observe Life/Version - Upsetter/Dug Out 7*

Witty's 7"
Al Campbell - Leave the herbsman business (Witty)
Echo Minott - Follow me (Witty)*
Nicodemus - Earth & moon (Witty)*
Tony Tuff - Cool it (Witty)*
Little John - Cork up dancehall (Witty)
Little Kirk - I don't know (Witty)*

Eclipse 7"
Major Danger - Know fi move (Eclipse)*
Nicodemus - Dollars fi spend (Eclipse)
Sammy Levi - Come off the road (Eclipse)*

Sluggy Ranks - Sodom & gomorrah (Part II)
Icho Candy - Jah Calling All Over The World (Creation) [pressing not that good]
Dixie Peach - Pure Worries (Jah Tubbys)
Dixie Peach - Slaughter (Jah Tubbys)
Dixie Peach - Tonight Is The Night (Jah Tubbys)
King Kong - Ninja (Sunset)*
Culture Paul - Mini Van Man (Music House 12")
Frankie Wilmott - I Won't Give Up (Music House 7"* and 12")
Nitty Gritty- Rising Star- Firehouse 7" ( officially)
Manchez - Struggler - Ujama 7"
Jah Bible- Hugh Griffiths - Ujama/Deadly Dragon 7"
Jah Roots- Gone A Foreign Duke 7"
Horace Martin - King Fe Dem (Fire House)
Barrington Levy - Run Come Ya Man (Puff)
Barrington Levy - I'm Not In Love (Puff)
Tenor Saw - Jah Guide And Protect Me (Tenor Saw)

Ossie/Gold Shop 7"s
Roland Burrell - Rip Off/Gunslinger*
Tony Tuff - Heat In The Place*
King Kong - Dollars Strong
J Osbourne - I'm Moving Up
Lionel Craig - Under Mi Nose - Ossie/Gold Shop 7"

Park Heights/Deadly Dragon 7's
Sluggy Ranks - Prejudice & Black Man Struggle - Park Heights 7"s
Roland Burrell - Don't Think About Tomorrow - Park Heights/DDS 7"
Lilly Melody - Give Me Some More/Version - Park Heights/Deadly Dragon 7*

Life/Jah Life 7"
Carlton Livingston - Wicked Can't Run Away
Skelly Vibes - Natural Mystic
Scion Success - Petty Petty Murderer
T Smith & Cassette & Tape - V.I.B  Life 7"
Scion Success - Young Africans - Jah Life 12"*

Conrad Crystal - Hackle Dem - Jhuggernaut 7
King Kong - Mi Have A Likkle Sound - Sip A Cup 7" (1991)
Trevor Jr - Run Around/Dub - Black Roots UK 7"
S Minott - Worries & Problems/Dub - Jammys 7"


Fat Man 7"
A Pablo - In Moonlight City*
B Brown - No Wicked Shall Enter...
D Wilson - Live Good*
D Carlos - Nice Time
Earl Zero - Please Officer
H Mundell - Jah Fire Will Be Burning
H Mundell - King Of Israel
J Clarke - Jah Jah We Are Waiting
Jr Reid - Jail House*
L Castell - What A Great Day*
Mike Brooks - Money Is Not All Fatman 7"*
Brothers Killing Brothers - Cornell Campbell - Fatman 7"
Johnny Clarke - The Creator/Version - Fatman 7
Frankie Jones - Took Us Away/Version - Fatman 7*

Silvertones/Johnny Osbourne - Let Us Give Jah Praise/Jah Jah Live Forever - Iroko 12
David Jahson - People Bawling/Well Pleased & Satisfyed - Zion Train - KIM 12
Tyrone Taylor - Sufferation - Observer 12"
Mighty Threes - Rasta Business/Satta - ? 12" (limited pressing)
Leroy Brown - Colour Barrier/Gone Gone - Makasound 12?
Kiddus I - Crying Wolf - Shepard 7" Japan
Toots/Maytals - Hold On - Pyramid 7"*
Don Drummond - Dragon Weapon - Pyramid 7"*
Kenny Knots - Watch How The People Dancing / version / dubplate b/w Mikey Murka - We Try / Version (Unity)
Carol Kalphat - African Land b/w Doctor Pablo & The Cry Tuff All Stars - African Medley (Hit Run)12*
Ranking Dread - Africa - Freedom Sounds 7*
Audie Murphy - In A Me - Freedom Sounds
Stranger & Gladdy - Conqueror - Wizzdom

Black Solidarity 7"s
Ezekiel Parchment - West Beirut - Black Solidarity 7*
King Kong - I Nuh Cry /Version - Black Solidarity 7*
King Kong - Kill Them Wid Riddim - Black Solidarity 7*
Robert Ffrench - Mother In Law - Black Solidarity 7

Carol Cole/Zap Pow - Settle Down/River Stone - Kingston Connexion 12"*
Icho Candy as Daddy Culture - Slavemaster -Virgo Stomach 12"*
Bobby Soul - Message From The Congo/Version - Roots Man 7*
Bobby Soul - God Is Love/Version - Roots Man 7*
King Burnett - Paul Bogle/Version - Clock Tower 7*
Natural Roots - Children Of Jah/Version - OnlyRoots 7*
David Jahson - Clean Rasta Dread/Version - Black Spider 7*
Dean Stone - Youth In The Ghetto - Black & White 7*
Anthony Madden - A Mad Experience - Sunflower 7*
Viceroys - Shaddai Children/Version - Victorius Steppers 7
Desi Roots - Weed Fields (Hawkeye)7*
Sharon Little-Mash Up Creation - Shaka 12"*

Justice/Pressure Sounds 7's
Cornel Campbell - Mr Cop/Version
Delroy Wilson - Ease Up/Version*
Vin Gordon/Tony Asha - Roots Of Zion/Lion Of Zion*

Tasha/Digikiller 7's
Michael Palmer - Different Strokes/Version*
Midnight Riders - Wanted/Version*
Steve Knight - Love Me Entertainment/Version*

Solomonic/Dub Store 7"s
Bunny Wailer - Arabs Oil Weapon/Version *
Bunny Wailer/Big Youth - Life Line/Black On Black*
Bunny Wailer - Pass It On/Trod On
Wailers - This Train/Reincarnated Souls

Chopper/Gold Shop
Lionel 'Ganja' Barrett - Rasta Cowboy/Version - Chopper 7
Courtney Melody - No Darkness/Version - Chopper 7*
Bobby Melody - Original Melody
Don Hickey - Cooperate

Bingy Bunny - Coming Home To Zion/Version - Archive 7"*
Sowell Radics - Wheel O Matilda/Version - Archive 7*
Bob Skeng - African Children/Jack The Ripper - Archive 7*

Simple Simon - Hey Bad Boy/Christopher Columbus - Striker Lee/Deadly Dragon 7*
Willie Joseph - Bringle Me Bringle/Version - Striker Lee/Deadly Dragon 7*
Max Romeo - If Them Ever - Impact 7"*
Ras Ronald & Sister Taliba - It's Me Mama/Dub Plate - Forward Roots 10"*
Al Campbell - Foot Stool/Version - Channan Jah 7"*

Pressure Sounds 7"s
Attaras - Brimstone & Fire/Version - Elevation/Pressure Sounds 7*
Freddy McKay - Rock A Bye Woman/Version - Hot Rod/Pressure Sounds 7*
Pat Francis - Guys Get A Blow/Version*
Big Youth - Town Without Pity/Youth In The Garden*
Upsetters - Dub Plate Pressure & Chim Cherie
Paul Whiteman - I Don't Want To Lose You/Version - Pressure Sounds 7
George Dekker - Foey Man b/w Delroy Wilson - This Life Makes Me Wonder (Carib Disco)*

Keith Poppin - Hold Not Thy Peace/Version - Taurus Music 7*
Tristan Palmer - Bad Boys/Version - She Get Up & Skank 7*
Bobby Sarkie - Better World/Life Is A Dream Version - Rhythm Shack 7*
Tony Brevette - Need To Belong/Words Of Prophecy - Rhythm Shack 7*
Eric Morris - Eyrie Feeling/Version - Sure Shot 7*
Invaders/Trinity - Hell & Heaven/Dj - Roots International 7*
Junior Dan - House Is Not A Home/Version - Danites 7*
Prince Hammer - King Of Kings - Island Gold 7*
Alton Ellis - Rhodesia/Red Sea Dub - Joint 7*

Solomonic/Dub Store 7"s
Bunny Wailer - Searching For  Love/Version*
Peter Tosh - Anti Apartheid/Version*
Bunny Wailer - Rise & Shine/Version 12"*
Bunny Wailer - Rule Dance Hall/Version
Bunny Wailer - Armageddon/Version

About Me

i roam the hills above my house with my pack of three bitches.