Wednesday, November 14, 2007

General Echo's Cutting Us Some Slack

Now that Halloween is over and I've taken sufficient time off I figured it's about time to get off my lazy ass and get back to blogging and boy do I have a treat for you! We're going to take a slight right turn from the usual roots and culture lyrics I try to present here and get a little slack, or vulgar and or risque to those who are unfamiliar with the term. Today I'm featuring a mix of tunes from one of the most talented DJ's to ever pick up a microphone and though some may find his overt sexual themes a little harsh or inappropriate, his talent in delivering them actually transcends the subject matter.

General Echo AKA Ranking Slackness was born Earl Anthony Robinson on August 12, 1955 and because time is tight today I'll defer to the Guinness Who's Who Of Reggae to provide us with some background... hey c'mon you can't expect me to jump back in with both feet, we've got Christmas coming and I've got my work cut out for me putting together this years Jamaican Christmas Mix 2007! But I digress...

"Echo was one of the first to challenge the predominantly 'cultural' approach of the majority of mid to late 70's DJs, and his influence on the upcoming DJs who made it big in the 80s was profound. He was one of the first DJs to be heard and fully appreciated on yard tapes as he tore up Jamaica on his own Echo Tone Hi-Fi set (he initially made a name for himself by chatting for the Gemini, Stereophonic and Ray Symbolic Sound Systems) and his preference for slack lyrics, particularly his timing and tone of voice, were very popular and widely imitated. Echo felt no compunction about stopping the music altogether if the vibes were right in order to tell a joke or two - a facet which endeared him even more to his followers."

On November 22, 1980 the Kingston police force stopped a car General Echo was riding in and opened fire, killing him and two of his Echo Tone Hi-Fi crew. The cops never offered a decent explanation of why the shooting occurred but because of their, if you'll excuse my language for a word, fucking itchy trigger fingers the world was robbed of a talent who hadn't even begun to fully flourish.

Now this mix isn't quite as long as you've probably come to expect here but it's nearly an hour... besides I wanted to save some of the General Echo for the Culture Versus Slackness or Good Versus Evil rub-a-dub clash that I'm putting together for 2008. Here's what you're gonna hear...

First up in the mix is the song "Titanic" which originally appeared on Echo's 1979 album Rocking & Swing on the Manzie label but comes to us today from the 2007 CD release Teacher Fe Di Class on Steve Barrow's new Equalizer label. I of course went with this version because it's a lot cleaner than the nearly 30 year old vinyl. Second we have the tune "Answer The Telephone" from the aforementioned Rocking and Swing LP... it is also available on the Teacher Fe Di Class release but I didn't to mix it up a little. The third tune is borrowed from a 1980 12" single on the Cha Cha label called "Sister Sue" and features the sweet vocals of the man called Madoo. Next up is "Angelina" from the 1978 LP called People Are You Ready on the Ballistic label. The odd thing about this album is that it is credited to Prince Mohammed on the sleeve and on the label but it only features one song actually performed by the Prince. Now this is where things start to take a turn for the blatantly slack... "Bathroom Sex" from the 1980 Greensleeves LP 12 Inches Of Pleasure produced by my main man Henry "Junjo" Lawes. I'll leave the subject matter to your ears. Echo's AKA Ranking Slackness gives us the sixth tune in our mix. This one is called "Give Me One Of Your Gal Friends" from the Winston Riley production on the Techniques label called simply the Slackest LP. Going back to the Teacher Fe De Class CD for better sound, and also originally appearing on the Rocking and Swing LP is the song "Foxy Mama." I love this tune, Echo's delivery is masterful! "Africa Rocker" from the Prince Mohammed credited LP People Are You Ready is the eighth track in the mix. Up next is a 12" single on the J&M label called "Occupation" followed up by a wicked version that I think you'll dig... I played around with some effects on this so please forgive me if I went overboard. We hop back to the Rocking & Swing LP for tenth track and a tune called "Self Praise." Finally we wrap up the mix with another 12" this one is one of General Echo's biggest tunes, a tribute to martial arts superstar Bruce Lee called "Drunken Master" and the dub version "Round The World" recorded by George Phang on the Island label.

I've always wanted to be a bad ass and use a parental advisory label and now I've got my chance.


13 comments:

Hunter Vaughan said...

nuff niceness again!...for taking the time, our most precious resource, and bundling these mixes of joy!...so we cuttin you some respec!!! thanks...H

Waskrijt said...

whahaha, that 'Bathroom Sex' song is wicked! 'daddy, what are those. Son these are nuts...'

thanks again, for a great mix

doctor_spock said...

thank you so much for this contribution. i think echo is the most skillful dj jamaica has ever known and i remember his slackness lp as an adventure, a sublimely produced concept album that marked the transition from the king tubby style of roots music to what we call today dancehall. maximum respect!

Reggaexx said...

Doctor Spock, you make a very good point about his Slackest LP... one that I never really considered. 1979 was definitely an important year in reggae's evolution and General Echo, and that album in particular, were right at the forefront. His style and influence was so strong throughout the "rub-a-dub" dancehall era and the amount of DJs who emmulated his delivery were so plentiful that it's easy to forget how important and instrumental he was personally. To put it simply... if General Echo hadn't lead the way the DJs in the early dancehall era may not have sounded as great as they did back then and as they continues to sound today.

Skip said...

Thanks so much for making these mixes.

Genral Echo never hurt no one!!!

Leo said...

thank you so much!

willyguttz said...

General Echo is my favorite DJ. He has made some nice non-slack lp's.

His Keep Rocking & Swing has some killer foundation DJ lyrics. He has that Titanic single on this lp.

His misslabeled/misprinted 'ghost' LP has the hardest 'rockers' beats I've ever heard along with killer DJ vocals from Gerneral Echo.

There's a Tribute to General Echo lp with the B-side is a live Stereophonic session and Side a has a lot of singles.

The 12" of pleasure has some killer roots radics beats.

The Slackest LP has the slackest lyrics ever.

My favorite General Echo is off those old Live Tapes.

Clint Eastwood,Ranking Joe,Ringo, & Welton Irie all stole his songs and often made whole lp's.

This mix is a killer selection of Echo's hits.

Thanks.
My copies sound scratchy now.. :(

willyguttz said...

My last post was just me talking about Echo...

but after listening to the mixdown...

This is an exellent selection of both his roots and slack vocals.
You played every wicked Echo cut and 12" single I could think of.
The way you worked the intro into the Titanic cut was great.

This mixdown is a great tribute to the late General Echo.

willyguttz said...

Sorry...
but I was listening and enjoying the mix when I noticed that the Sister Sue cut had the vocal on the right speaker. Your playing the white Techniques 12" press or the Cha Cha 12" press?

Just curious..
as once I played this 12" live and the vocals went to the left and the beat to the right...
kinda threw things off.

Reggaexx said...

Hey Willy - I actually don't own a vinyl copy of the Madoo/Echo tune so I couldn't specifically tell you what label it was on. My copy of that one is strictly MP3. :)

Flamooj said...

tried to download the mix of general echo but the link doeznt seem to work for me,would greatly appreiate if you could repost or if somone here could giv me a link

thanks... and keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Nice to find that you posted this selection of General Echo, including cuts from the LP I reissued on my short-lived 'Equalizer' label.

all the best from Steve Barrow

Anonymous said...

Nice to see Echo's name kept alive via your selection including cuts from the 'Rocking & Swing' set I reissued on my [very] short-lived Equalizer label...all the best
Steve Barrow