Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Let's Cut Through The Bull And Get A Little Wackie

I’m back from vacation and it’s time to cut through the bull, literally, as I give you a taste of Wackies, by request.

Lloyd “Bullwackie” Barnes emigrated to New York in the early 1970’s and by utilizing production and recording techniques he learned in Jamaica he was able to establish one of the first reggae studios in the United States and in turn created his own unique sound that is still highly popular and sought after today by fans of hardcore roots reggae, hence the countless and unending amount of repressing going on. You could easily blow the whole bank account just trying to get caught up! Initially using his house band the Reckless Breed he recorded with local and seasoned Jamaican talent in his basement studio in the Bronx and initially releasing music on labels such as Hamma, City Line and Bullwackie to name a few until Wackies became his main outlet around 1983.

Now before we get to the mix I need to admit… I’m not very knowledgeable about the Wackies Sound or a lot of the artists that recorded for Barnes but I do have an appreciation for what I have heard and own. So if you go into this mix not expecting unearthing of some long-lost super rare tunes we’ll be good. I did try to mix it up by including a few B-sides but it's nothing spectacular so don't get your hopes up. I just wanted to put together a sampler, if you will, so I can give everyone a taste of this important studio, producer and era in reggae music.

Up first we have the group of Christopher Harvey and Clive Davis that called itself Jezreel and the song “Cheating Girl” which is the B-side to the Wackies 12” single “Stop Playing Tricks” from 1983.

Next up is tenor sax superstar and Jamaican music veteran Roland “The Chief Musician” Alphonso from his 1984 Wackies LP called Roll On and the song is named “Gentle Prophet.”

Third we’ve got a Wackies 10” single from Jah Batta and Skatee “Style And Fashion” which is the DJ Version of Super T’s cover of the Dennis Brown hit “West Bound Train.” This is a recent repress of tunes dating from 1983.

Going back to 1976 with the next tune are the Wackies studio band the Reckless Breed with “Basement Scrub.” This is the B-side to the Bullwackies 7” single “Basement Session” from the artist named Joe Morgan.

The Meditations are up next with “We Gonna Make It” from a six-track Wackies CD reissue of an album from 1982 called I Love Jah. This song definitely has a Lee “Scratch” Perry/Black Ark feel to it and it makes for some great listening.

Bullwackie’s All Stars give us the next tune called “Dance Dub.” This one is also a B-side from a Wackies 12” from Joe Sealy and Barrington Spence called “You Don’t Have To Dance.” A nice sampling of Wackies early digital style.

The Rockstones from a Wackies 10” follow it up with the song called “Be My Queen” from 1983.

The Bullwackie’s Rhythm Force give us the eighth tune in the mix called “African Rootie” from the 1999 CD reissue of a 80’s era album Dub Generals. Check out the flute... it provides a nice mellow vibe.

Up next is Jerry Hitler, an artist who miraculously never got mainstream airplay with such a nice name, and the wicked song “What’s Wrong With You” taken from a Bullwackie 7” from 1976. Such a great voice.

One time Heptones lead vocalist Leroy Sibbles provides us with the tenth track in the mix. It’s called “Now You’re Gone” from a Wackies 7” single from 1979.

The Chosen Brothers are up next with the tune “So Much Loving” from a 1976 Bullwackies 7” presumably featuring vocals from the man Lloyd Barnes himself.

Wayne Jarrett follows it up the classic “Youth Man” taken from a Wackies 2002 12” repress. If you’ve never heard this one you’re in for a treat because it is a smooth tune!

Horace Andy is next in the mix with a track called “I Don’t Want To Be Left Outside” from a Wackies repress 12”. Probably the hardest roots tune in the entire mix.

Next we get a little “Lover’s Rock” flavor from Joy Card and a tune that was originally released in 1982 called “Boy I Love You” taken from a relatively recent German Wackies repress.

Finally we end our Wackie Trip with a little tribute to the place that started it all. The final tune is called “Jamaica Sun” by Jerry Johnson from the Wackies LP called For All Seasons circa '84/'85.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Takin' A Vacation - Be Back Soon

I'm going to be away for a couple weeks for a much needed vacation. Unfortunately the locale won't be anywhere nearly as pleasant as the picture would suggest but nonetheless it will be nice to get away. I'll be rested and ready to tackle some new posts as soon as I get back. So forward me any requests in the meantime and I'll see what I can do.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Happy Independence Day 2007

Monday August 6th is Jamaica's 45th Independence Day and I want to wish a hearty and heartfelt happy Independence Day to all the Jamaicans living at home or abroad.

People usually find it odd that a "white guy" living in the middle of America's Suburbia, far removed from the Caribbean would make such a big deal about Jamaica's Independence. But if you happen by my house over the next three days you'll see the Jamaican green black and gold gracing the spot where the stars and stripes usually hang. Thankfully I've have a chance to celebrate Independence Weekend today with some jerk chicken on the grill, a couple Red Stripes and of course a continuous mix of Jamaican music being played at high volume throughout the entire house all day. Tomorrow I'm planning on attending the Independence Sunday Market sponsored by the Jamaican Embassy in Washington DC which is featuring a performance by Bob Andy!

I love Jamaica, its people, its history, its culture and obviously its music more than I have ever been able to explain and I feel an overwhelming sense of unexplainable yet sincere admiration and pride for this little island thousands of miles away from my home and even further from my everyday reality. But enough about me... let's get to the music.

I decided to start the Independence Day mix appropriately with the Jamaican National Anthem which was composed by Robert Lightbourne with lyrics by Hugh Sherlock. Originally the song's two components were not related until pianist/bandleader Mapletoft Poulle, who incidentally went on to contribute his talents to a 1960's WIRL release called Jamaica Mento, did the arrangement. The song was written and chosen as the new national anthem in a contest just before Independence in 1962. I searched for a good vocal version of the anthem but unfortunately either the sound quality was lacking or the instrumentation didn't do it justice. So I chose a stirring orchestral rendition by the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra and included the lyrics from the first verse so that you can sing along at home.

Eternal Father, Bless our land
Guard us with thy mighty hand
Keep us free from evil powers
Be our light through countless hours
To our leaders, Great Defender,
Grant true wisdom from above
Justice, truth be ours forever
Jamaica, land we love
Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica, land we love

An interesting note... the word Guard in the second line was a cause for dispute in 2003 when it was discovered that the lyric originally printed had been inadvertently changed to what was actually being sung... "Guard us with thy mighty hand" was now "Guide us with thy mighty hand." And though the public was encouraged to make the lyrical correction it's been so ingrained in so many minds for so long that the incorrect word is still commonly used.

Now before this post turns into another epic we're going to do the "semi-lazy man's" tracklisting with the rest of the tracks and call it a day. I could easily deviate from the task at hand of providing you a soundtrack for your Jamaican Independence Weekend festivities and don't want to spend the rest of said weekend doing little write-ups about every song in the mix so I won't.

Following the national anthem we have a calypso styled tune from Count Lasher called "Jump Independently", taken from the excellent Trojan Jamaica Box Set. A perfect song to get the celebration off on an upbeat note!

Max Romeo is next with the song called "We Love Jamaica" from an essential CD set, again from Trojan, called Wet Dream: The Best Of Max Romeo. A rather touching tribute to Jamaica from the early reggae era.

Next up is Eric Donaldson with a tribute to his homeland called "Proud To Be Jamaican" taken from a 7" on the Stage Records label from 1984 when Jamaican was then celebrating its 22nd Independence.

The "Big Belly Man" Admiral Bailey kicks it up a notch with the scorching "Jamaica Way" from a 7" on the Jammys label. This one didn't really go with a lot of the other tracks era-wise but the is too good to pass up.

Al T. Joe, whose real name was Trevor Alijoe, gives us "Rise Jamaica (Independence Time Is Here)" originally from 1962 and now available on the Trojan Jamaica set. Like Stephen Nye explains in the liner notes Al T. Joe... "cleverly spells out the benefits of independence." This is a great song!

Again from the aforementioned box set, is Lloyd Charmers and his track called "Jamaica Song." A smooth track which starts off on its own and becomes a medley of two of the best known Jamaican oldies; "Island In The Sun" and "Jamaica Farewell"

Yellowman and Fathead give us "Jamaica A Fi We Country" from the Junjo Lawes produced album Just Cool on the Jah Guidance label. A little pinch of rub-a-dub to give it some spice!

Freddie Notes & The Rudies are up next with "Montego Bay" the title track from the 1995 CD re-release of the group's 1970 album of the same name, again on the Trojan label.

The next song is by Basil Gabbidon and it's called "Going Back To JA" from the excellent VP Records CD release called The Skatalites & Friends At Randy's. A great ska tune to keep things rolling along!

The late great Joseph Hill and Culture continue the mix with a tune called "Down In Jamaica" from their 1979 release called Cumbolo, produced by Sonia Pottinger and released on the High Note label in Jamaica and Virgin and Shanachie abroad. I love this one, besides it's Culture... what's not to like?

Going back to mento we've got the next tune courtesy of the man Lord Lebby, it's called "Sweet Jamaica" and is lifted from the Dip & Fall Back - Classic Jamaican Mento compilation CD set from Trojan Records... man I'm starting to think I should have prefaced this post with a short ad for Trojan, "This Distinctly Jamaican Sounds mix is brought to you today by Trojan Records... that's T.R.O.J.A.N. Your number one source for Jamaican music, available directly online or through finer retailers near you." There... now we can move on.

Jumping back inna rub-a-dub style...Billy Boyo gives us "Jamaica Nice" from the 2002 release of an album originally recorded in 1983 called Zim Zim on the Connecticut based Silver Camel label.

Here we go again with another Trojan release... from the Trojan Club Reggae Box Set is "I Love Jamaica" by Neville Willoughby who was a veteran broadcaster, actor, author and obviously a singer as well. Sadly, Willoughby who spent 5 decades in broadcasting with both the Radio Jamaica and the now defunct JBC, died of injuries sustained in a car accident last December. A good song and a fitting tribute to a man who devoted his life's work to his homeland.

Falsetto master Junior Murvin is up next with a tribute to the girls of Jamaica called oddly enough "Jamaican Girls." Go figure... Odd thing is that he did the chorus without the high octaves. This one comes to us from a Junjo produced 7" on his Volcano label.

The late great, Desmond Dekker gives us the next Independence tune called "Happy Birthday Jamaica" from the double CD set called Israelites - Anthology 1963-1999 on a label called Silverline. Not one of my favorite songs in the mix but it works to well to not include it.

The Voice Of Thunder, Prince Far I is up with his tune called "Jamaican Heros" from his 1980 Trojan release of the same name. Aside from discussing the historical relevance of Jamaica's heroes, this song is pretty odd because you actually get to hear the Prince singing in his distinctively familiar baritone. Wait'll you hear this one.

John Holt follows up Far I with the classic song "Jamaica Farewell" originally written by Irving Burgie and made popular internationally by Harry Belafonte on his 1956 album Calypso. Interestingly enough Belafonte's Calypso was the first record in history to sell a million copies and was number one on the Billboard chart for 32 weeks. Anyway this reggae version, courtesy of Mr. Holt is again from the Trojan Jamaica Box Set.

Eric Donaldson is next in the mix with "Land Of My Birth" from the CD called "The Very Best Of Eric Donaldson" released on the Rhino label. "Land Of My Birth" not surprisingly won the 1978 Jamaican Song Contest; a great proud, patriotic song.

The Gaylads give us another tribute to the girls of Jamaica with "My Jamaican Girl" from the CD called Over The Rainbow's End - Best Of The Gaylads released by our friends at Trojan in 1995.

We end the mix with a rollicking ska instrumental from Baba Brooks & His Band from the 2001 various artists compilation CD called Street Corner - Ska Classics And The Original Rude By Sound on the Metro Music label.


Bob Andy at the Jamaican Independence Market yesterday - awesome!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Strictly Rub-A-Dub Mix 2... To Keep You Rockin' And Swing!

I know it's been a long time in coming but today I am proud to present for your listening, and if you're so inclined, dancing pleasure, the Strictly Rub-A-Dub Mix Volume Two. And like I said with the first mix, the 40 songs will speak for themselves! I received some positive comments about the first one and I hope this second installment doesn't disappoint. Just keep in mind I'm really not an MC or DJ (whichever term you prefer depending on where you're from I guess) I just play one here.

Here's the tracklisting...

1. Morwells – Keep It In The Family
2. Nicodemus – Keep It In Your Family
3. Frankie Paul – Baby Come Home
4. Peter Metro – Better She Gwan
5. Charlie Chaplin – Unfair
6. Yellowman – Better She Ga Lang
7. Frankie Paul – Worries In The Dance
8. Nicodemus – Bubble Nicodemus Bubble
9. Yellowman – I’m Getting Married
10. Yellowman – Getting Divorced
11. Don Carlos – I’m Not Crazy
12. Toyan – Spar With Me
13. Clarence Parks - Gun Man
14. Welton Irie – Put It Down
15. Al Campbell – Bad Boy
16. Simple Simon – Revolution Fighters
17. Sugar Minott – Have You Ever Found A Love
18. Barry Brown – Shoot Up
19. Don Carlos – Mr. Big Man
20. Wailing Souls – Things & Time
21. Charlie Chaplin – Tribute To Marvin Gaye
22. Captain Sinbad – Construction Plan
23. Jimmy Riley – Love & Devotion
24. General Echo – Drunken Master
25. Wayne Jarrett – Chip In
26. Michigan & Smiley – Downpression
27. Peter Metro – Water Jelly
28. Lee Van CleefBam Salute
29. YellowmanBam Bam
30. Leroy Smart – She Love It In The Morning
31. Half Pint – Winsome
32. Lone Ranger – Tom Drunk
33. Yellowman & Peter Metro – The Girl Is Mine
34. Little John – Spin You Roll
35. Sister Nancy – Chalice
36. Josey Wales – It A Fi Burn
37. YellowmanJah Mek Us Fe A Purpose
38. Toyan – It Have Fi Light
39. Charlie Chaplin – Chalice
40. Yellowman - Sensemilla

Strictly Rub-A-Dub Mix 2