Friday, March 04, 2011

Would The Real King Horror Please Stand Up!

A few years ago when I first started my Halloween mixes, I had read in the 2003 book "Young Gifted and Black - The Story of Trojan Records" by Michael de Koningh and Laurence Cane-Honeysett that King Horror "...was actually Laurel (Aitken) on some sides but not others (it largely depended on which company he was leasing the material to and who was around in the studio at the time." It sounded accurate and I had filed the information away in the back of my brain until a couple months ago...

I was flipping through some CDs and came across my copy of the Trojan various artists release Loch Ness Monster (originally released in 1970) and had some time to actually read the liner notes... needless to say I grew more confused on the subject of King Horror.

The liner notes, also written by Michael de Koningh, say and I quote... "King Horror was quite likely to be a relocated Calypsonian who worked under the name of Lord Davey. Laurel happened to hear Davey's extraordinary voice and immediately thought of the new Reggae sound he was producing, and what an impact his throaty growl would make. To confuse matters, another voice also snarled out as King Horror on rival discs, and this is considered to be Aitken standing in himself, presumably when Mr Davey was unavailable to lend his growl to the romping rhythm track."

So one day, not too long ago, I was doing a search for King Horror online and up pops this compilation, released this year, on the Pressure Drop label called Boss Reggae Sounds - Laurel Aitken Productions 1969-1971 and it included a King Horror tune that I never knew existed! The song is called "The Vampire" and I was worried about getting my hopes up about another schlock-horror King Horror tune but I bought the CD anyway. Turns out that "The Vampire" was the b-side of Horror's 1969 "Cutting Blade" single on the Grape label and sure enough it was everything I hoped it would be. But here's where things get confusing...

In the liner notes of the Boss Reggae Sounds CD we get more confused about the origins of the raucous voiced King Horror... Phil "Enthucol" Etgart also quotes from "Young Gifted and Black - The Story of Trojan Records" by Michael de Koningh and Laurence Cane-Honeysett but digs a little deeper. Etgart writes about "Cutting Blade" the first single on the compilation; "A quick listen to this track will make it quite clear what exactly the "Cutting Blade" in question actually refers to, but to contrast, the identity of the artist himself is shrouded in confusion. For some time many believed King Horror was Laurel Aitken under a 'nom de vinyl,' but play any of his handful of recordings and you will realize that this is not the case. According to Reggae writer, Michael De Koningh: "Horror was actually Laurel on some sides, but not others (it largely depended on which company was licensing the material to and who around the studio at the time). It is widely believed that the rest of the time, Horror was in fact Calypsonian, Young Growler (real name Errol Naphtah Davy), a Trinidadian who in 1961 came to settle in London, where he went on to record several Calypso tracks, the best known of which is probably 'V for Victory', a song celebrating the West Indies cricketing victory over England in June 1966. More recently, the not-so Young Growler was reported to have left for warmer climes, his present whereabouts apparently being Barbados." He continues... "Another who, according to producer, Joe Mansano adopted the moniker was 'a chap in the band called Lloydie, who was, shall we say, not very pretty, so we called him King Horror: He was one of my DJ's - Lloyd the Matador (not to be confused with Jamaican producer; Lloyd 'The Matador' Daley) was his name - Lloyd Campbell.' Just who exactly was responsible for the Laurel produced King Horror tracks may never be confirmed..."

Regardless of who he actually was, King Horror is one of my favorite "skinhead" reggae artists and his horror themed tunes are like gifts from heaven to me. I owe a lot of my year-long obsession of searching for "duppy tunes" to King Horror's "Loch Ness Monster." Now, here's where I'm asking for your help. There are two more King Horror tune that have yet to surface on a CD compilation and my obsession in trying to track them down is causing me to lose sleep at night. In 1970, 2 other tunes were released... one is called "Police" and was originally pressed on the Jackpot label and the other was called "Ghost Hour" and was pressed on the Reggae/Doctor Bird label but as far as I can discern, the record has never been seen with label art. Now, last year I posted something on the Blood & Fire message board pleading for anyone who owns the record to give me a taste of what I may or may not be missing. Thankfully someone responded and was kind enough to email me a 40 second needle-drop on the tune but unfortunately now it has ignited an obsession that I can't seem to shake. How does one find a 40 year old blank labeled reggae record? How does one search for that on ebay or in online record shops? I'm pleading for help on getting this tune!! At this point, I'm willing to settle for an MP3 of the tune because the odds that I'll ever come across this record are slim to none.

In the meantime, I've put together a little mix of King Horror tunes to get your feet movin'! I've left out "Wood In The Fire" because studies have shown that listeners can only take two veiled references to a man's "junk" in one mix. Enjoy!

What you're gonna hear...

1. Loch Ness Monster
2. The Hole
3. Dracula Prince Of Darkness
4. Frankenstein
5. Cutting Blade
6. The Vampire
7. Loch Ness Monster (Take 2) - from the 2004 Trojan records CD release of the same name!

Also... I couldn't resist adding a little wind and thunder at the intro... I have a hard time thinking of King Horror without it! :)



WILLIAM said...

mi check di site everyday

Fadhilah MPA Online said...

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Hueco.Mundo said...

Would you be willing to supply mp3s of these tracks?

I dj for ; currently doing a show called Dub Goes The Heart, and it would be awesome to play these lossy or lossless out to the city come Sunday morning.

Thanks for the youtube mix.

John AKA Reggaexx said...

Unfortunately I have these on vinyl and the only digital copies I have are mp3s. If you would like these to use for your show send me a message via Facebook and we'll work something out!

Anonymous said...

I have to say the liner note writers you mention were generally record dealers who had no real knowledge of who performed what. More comparable with antique dealers rather than commentators. Take for instance the Pama Records Lee Perry produced tune credited to "John Lennon" and the Bleechers, so King Horror is just a nom de disque Although, sometimes, when contracted to one label, artists hid behind pseudonyms.