Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ranking Trevor - The Original Ranking

As a self-described disciple of DJ Daddy U-Roy, Ranking Trevor is one of the best if not most underrated DJ's to ever pick up the mic. Active in the late 70's and into the early days of "rub-a-dub" little is actually known or written about him. I spent some time scouring a few volumes of reggae reference books and even the WWW and I've really come up with nothing. But even without knowledge of his personal history, the music he recorded speaks volumes about the talent he possessed/possesses.

I found reference to Trevor in an article about the vocal group The Jays that appeared in the Jamaica Observer in 2003 it said, and I quote... "At a time when the deejay phenomenon was raging, Ranking Trevor was right there among the best, with powerhouse cuts like Eastman Skank, Three Piece Chicken And Chips, Rub A Dub Style, Answer Mi Question and War." It was a start but not exactly the all-encompassing biography I had been hoping for.

Then I came across another article online, this time from the Jamaica Gleaner, from June 12, 2005 written by Staff Reporter Toussaint Smith. It was actually a small snippet of an article from 1983 and then included a modern day follow-up interview. The clip from '83 was referencing a show in Brixton that Trevor had performed with Eek A Mouse, Captain Sinbad, Little John and Billy Boyo. So instead of trying to rephrase everything I decided just to quote directly from the article. The complete text can be found here.

And I quote...

"Sunday Gleaner: Tell us about the show.

Ranking Trevor: The show was kept at Brixton, Ace. It featured me, Eek-A-Mouse, Captain Sinbad, Little John, Billy Boy-o. And that was the first time all a we really went to England, so we get a nice response, 'cause the people did like the package.

We performed in Brixton, Manchester, and do another show in Birmingham ­ a dem place deh you find most of the Black Jamaicans, 'cause London is a strict place when it comes to venue.

Me remember when me was doing the song name Answer me Question, me hear when the people dem response and it bring back memories when me done work and come offa de show de man dem a say 'me like how yuh work, a years dem nuh hear a man like me ...' So when me done me get me comments and dem like how me perform and thing. Billy Boy-O do well and Captain Sinbad him do well. Eek-A-Mouse was on the rise with the song name A Wha Do Dem, A Wha Do Dem Dem? time deh me have like Savlamar a run the place and Rub-A-Dub Style and Queen Majesty was hit from way back in the '70s, yuh nuh.

Sunday Gleaner: How has your life changed since?

RT: Well, me end up living a family life in England for over 20 years. Meet a nice girl, she give me two nice kids, yuh nuh. So when me think bout the violence and shootings in Jamaica, it encourage me not to come back home as yet. I was there living a family life though, one and two stage shows same way. Plus me and Clint Eastwood and General Flint, all when dem get the big hit Another One Bite the Dust. I was behind them at that time. Plus we use to do other producing with Errol Dunkley. I always in the music.

SG: You were featured in the French Magazine Natty Dread Le Magazine Du Reggae. What was that like?

RT: This magazine suppose to out fi the last two years now. Me just get my copy, but every year dem come down and choose another artiste, so that's how I get my copy, and it have all the Channel One history. Channel One Revolutionary, 'cause the band weh I work wid, it called Revolutionary, that's the band that made all the backing tracks for my songs, led by Sly as the drummer, Ranchie as the bass, Ansell Collins keyboard man, other man like Skully as percussion and dem thing deh. So the magazine a try capture the past of Ranking Trevor, 'cause it's been hidden for years because me go a foreign go live so long people figet bout me.

Dem hear bout Shabba Rankin, Delly Rankin, Squidly Rankin, but no one remember bout who was the first Rankin. It force me fi mek tune like dat, Who Trouble Trevor Ranking.

SG: What do you think of the reggae industry today?

RT: Right now, the industry is there. The people just want the proper songs to process. Dem only a get it little bit and the dancehall cover it. And dancehall do so much; it a come from all angles. The real authentic music may coming from Tuff Gong, Penthouse, King Jammy's, Bobby Digital ­ is only certain place you get the one drop coming from.

Nowadays, because the one drop take over the whole a Europe, dem have my record a sell fi $300. And most European people really don't like CD, they like vinyl, dem like the scratching inna it and how it fries, because a di Studio One days yuh find dem records.

SG: Do you think the veteran artistes are getting justice now, compared to back then, when it comes to stage show production?

RT: Is only the ones dem weh always get it a get it still, but the ones dem never really get it still nah getting it. But the one dem that upfront and dem have people weh we pick dem. Like me, I don't have an agency, I don't have a management, I don't have a lawyer, because all dem things deh I done already learn it from the studio right to the pressing plant.

But some a we nah get we thing weh we suppose to get, 'cause right now yuh have over US$600 million in France weh every producer try fi get. You have bout 10 top producer run to France to try to get this money and this money is not their money.

It belongs to the artistes, man like Delroy Wilson, Freddie McKay and all dem man deh wey dead and gone out a di music and nuh get nutten. Dennis Brown is the next one; might get a little but him nuh get weh him fi really get. All Gregory Isaacs.

If dem man deh fi really collect the right publishing nuh guy caan talk to dem man deh, 'cause the music is so big ... The little bit weh dem a get is nutten. Most of the man dem like Alton Ellis, The Heptones nah get nuh benefits, is just the little shows dem a do.

SG: What are you up to now?

RT: My plan is to get 60 Ranking Trevor on the road, but when I get out volume one... The problem wey a keep me down fi years is money. My intention is to put out all my songs. Last year when I went to Canada, di people dem say 'boy Ranking Trevor, we glad to see yu, a years."

Well, biography wise that's as good as it gets... so let's get to the music. I have put together a 15 song mix of Ranking Trevor tracks for your listening pleasure and I think you'll dig 'em! I also want to take this space to thank Steve L. over at the Blood and Fire Message Board for hooking me up with 3 of the tracks that are in the mix - these three songs were like missing pieces to a puzzle and I'm grateful to Steve for his generosity.

Here’s what you’re gonna hear…

Starting off the mix, from the B-side of Greensleeves first 12" from 1978, is the track called "War" featuring the vocal talents of the Wailing Souls, the toasting of Ranking Trevor and that distinctive Channel One "Jo Jo" Hoo Kim sound . Following that up we’ve got the single "Ital Stew" from a Channel One 7". The third track was originally released as 7" on the Socialist Roots label and is called "Savalamar Rock." Because my 7" copy of this one is so mutilated, I borrowed it from a 1981 various artist LP called Train To Zion Dub produced by Colin Oldham, engineered by Prince Jammy, Barnabas and Ernest Hoo Kim and released on the Tuff Gong label. Barrington Levy provides the sweet vocal portion of the fourth track called "Wife And Sweetheart Dem A Friend" from 1982 and released as a 12" on the Joe Gibbs label. Next up is the track called "Love And Inity" from Ranking Trevor’s 1978 Virgin Front Line LP In Fine Style. The sixth song is "Pure And Clean" taken from a RAS Records various artists CD called Origination – Sky High And The Mau Mau 1974-1984. "Anti-Lulu" follows that one up and comes from a 1974 7" on the Hitbound label. The eighth track is one of Trevor’s best known collaborations, the song from 1978 is called "Truly" and features the vocal trio The Jayes at the top with Trevor providing the Djing halfway through. It’s from a 1978 12" on the Different label and though this is not the original version released by Channel One and often arguably sighted as the first twelve inch "discomix" ever released in Jamaica, the song itself is of note because of that distinction alone. Besides, it doesn’t hurt that it’s such a nice song… Up next is a song that I’ve been trying to track down for a while now, "Three Piece Chicken And Chips" from 1978, originally released as a 45 on the Hitbound label and also available on the equally illusive Ranking Trevor & Trinity LP called Three Piece Chicken And Chips (One On One) which was released on the Cha Cha label the same year! The ninth tune in the mix is the 12" version of the song called "Whip Them Jah Jah" from the Niney The Observer V/A CD Microphone Attack on the Blood & Fire label. I know this track was originally available in 1979 on the Sufferers Heights imprint out of London and included a track by Horace Andy and a dub version from King Tubby – It’s been on my wants lists for a few years now. Anyway… following up the Niney production is a little tune called "It’s A Good Day" off a 12" on the Ossie and Koos label – production courtesy of Ossie Hibbert – a nice uplifting tune! Next is one of my favorite Ranking Trevor songs, from a 1982 Greensleeves 12" and produced by my beloved Henry "Junjo" Lawes, mixed by Errol Thompson and a nice riddim courtesy of the Hi-Times Band, it's called "A So Me Chat" - dig it! The next track is a tune called "Answer Me Question" which was released on Channel One and was appropriately riding on the timeless Answer riddim (thanks again Steve) Rounding out the bottom two… "Have A Little Love" featuring Al Campbell off a 12" on the KG Imperial label. Finally, we round out the mix with another song from In Fine Style, this one is called "Rub A Dub Style."

Whew – I’ve got to stop writing these lengthy tracklists – I must have spent an hour and a half writing this out!! Check this space for future mixes with simply numbered playlists.


Here's another Ranking Trevor combination track that is definitely worth a listen... Culture w/Ranking Trevor with the song "Trod On" which originally came from a 12" on the Sky Note label and appears here on Distinctly Jamaican Sounds courtesy of an anonymous reader! Thanks!!


Anonymous said...

some of my favorite jamaican 45's

Reggaexx said...

Some nice tunes in there - do you have a tracklist?

Anonymous said...

excelllent collection once again sir.

Waskrijt said...

a great selection with a intresting story. thanks!

spain said...

stella say she want the leg and the wing

XtaFar-I said...

I yah

Like ReggaeXX a say,ya haffe track list? Dem tunes a sweet me too!

Nuff respec'

Anonymous said...

hey man.ranking trevor was my fave back in the 70' three piece chicken & chips on cha cha,savana la mar on socialist roots 45 and various 12" things.didnt have the culture tune..thanks so much

Anonymous said...

Greetings Good People,
I wanted you to check Ranking Trevor Answer mi question music video 2008 on Great Treat!Love u Ranking Trevor!

Leroy Campbell said...

Ranking Trevor is truly a Reggae Icon. and is a living legend. the type of music that Ranking Trevor puts out from mids to late 70's were music that were ahead of its time. I think all singers want a piece of the action because his style were unique entertaining. Ranking Trevor were so hip, every DJ wish they were him . his music were a must have for the dance hall. 2 of my favorites is queen majesty with the Jayes and Money Problems a killer Dub Plate with Horace my opinion Ranking Trevor was and still is the best. Peace

Anonymous said...

thx for the biography. i wanted to learn more about him and couldn't really find anything. cheers.

stingmarley said...

I heard Trevor on my first Dance tape King Attorney Hi Fi @ Newland ST.Catherine. He was alongside U-Brown to this day the wickedest live combination. Trevor is not exagerating about the desirability and price for his records check and you will see-- bad d.j bad,bad bad and much appreciated selection thank you.

Unknown said...

Anyone remember him covering stepping razor. I recall that John peel played it once. Possibly 77 or 78. It's never mentioned anywhere.