John Holt, born 1947 Kingston Jamaica, was a regular at various talent contests by the age of 12 and in 1963 he cut his first single "I Cried A Tear" for Leslie Kong's Beverley's label. Between 1965-1970 he was the lead singer for the Paragons, who recorded countless hits for Duke Reid, and eventually set off on a solo career that has now spanned nearly 40 years. He is one of the few artists to successfully crossover into the world of pop music with love songs that appealed to the masses while continuing to record cultural music that continued to appeal to his fans at home in Jamaica. This is best exemplified with two songs in particular, both included in the mix, in 1974 he had a huge hit in Europe with the tune "Help Me Make It Through The Night" and just two years later scored big at home with the massive roots hit, "Up Park Camp" which is also in the mix. The man is versatile and in my opinion highly underrated so today I've decided to pay homage to this great singer by providing a sampling of some of his music. Read on...
We start off the mix with one of John Holt's biggest hits "A Love I Can Feel" which was originally recorded by Coxsone Dodd at Studio One in 1970. It comes from the Heartbeat CD The Best Of Studio One.
Next up is a Junjo Lawes produced update of another timeless John Holt classic called "Stealing Stealing" and is taken from the 12" on the Volcano label circa 1983-84.
The next song is called "This Old Lady" and is from a 10" on the Chart Sounds label featuring the backing riddim talents of Sly & Robbie.
The fourth song is "No Man Is An Island" from the greatest hits CD compilation called Holt Like A Bolt on the Burning Bush label.
We follow that up inna Rockers style with "My Desire" produced by Augustus Pablo and lifted from the CD called The Great Pablo on Music Club.
"Left With A Broken Heart" from the 1971 LP Still In Chains is the sixth tune in our mix.
Back to the eighties with Junjo Lawes and the Roots Radics at the helm with a killer uplifting tune, originally released in 1982 as a 7" and 12" on the Volcano label, called "Sweetie Come Brush Me."
We follow that up a song called "Love Like Yours" from a various artists compilation on the Jamaican Gold label called From GG's Reggae Hit Stable produced by the great Alvin Ranglin.
Up next is an absolutely classic tune "Ali Baba" available on a multitude of releases but this time borrowed from the 2002 Trojan CD re-issue of a 1969 various artists LP called Tighten Up Volume 2.
Our tenth track "Man And Woman" is also from a 2002 various artists CD of Rupie Edwards productions on the Trybute label called Rupie's Scorchers.
The aforementioned pop hit "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" in next and is available on the 2003 Trojan 12" Box Set. A nice sampling of Holt's pop abilities, not to mention how a good indication of how "pop" reggae that may have been un-listenable when it was released has aged pretty well. I guess with the Aggrovators doing the backing it's hard to come up with a song that doesn't sound decent!
We jump back to the turntable with another 80's era 10" single which though not credited sounds a lot like a Junjo production called "Not Leaving" on the Holt label. Some nice Roots Radics backing on this track!
Falling back to 1973 and the album 1000 Volts Of Holt also on the Trojan label... this one sounds a lot poppier than "You'll Never Find Another Love..." and to my ears includes some Country-Western influence if you can hear beyond the string arrangements. It's called "Help Me Make It Through The Night."
We'll stick with the strings for another tune, this one is called simply "Tonight" and is ripped from the 1984 re-issue of a 1970 Coxsone LP that was originally released on the Bamboo label.
Getting a little more conscious with the next song, "Last Train From The Ghetto," taken from the classic 1983 Police In Helicopters album on Greensleeves... also done up right by Junjo and the Radics.
Another selection for your listening pleasure follows that, it's called "Don't Give Up," and to be honest with you I have no idea where it came from. I found it floating around my hard drive and decided to throw it in. It's a good song.
We start winding down the mix with "Up Park Camp" from 1976. It's also from the Holt Like A Bolt compilation but originally appeared on the album of the same name on the Channel One label. Obviously this is where Cocoa Tea got the inspiration for his 1991 single, "Riker's Island."
Be prepared to be electrified by the next tune "Let The Wicked Run Away" from the 2003 re-issue of the 1977 Trojan LP 3000 Volts Of Holt.
The second to last track is a classic Duke Reid early reggae hit "Wear You To The Ball." Oddly enough I hadn't listened to the original version of this tune in so long that I found myself adding the missing U-Roy parts... "Did Ya 'ear watta man say baby?" Perfectly on cue I might add.
We wrap up the John Holt mix with an absolutely wicked tune originally recorded by Little Roy called "Tribal War" and it comes to us from a 12" on the Channel One label. One of my all-time favorite reggae tunes!
I hope you enjoy the mix!
John Holt Mix