Saturday, June 19, 2010

Zema - Jubilee

Jubilee from Zema is an album that is right up my musical street! It has to be said though I'd never heard of this artist before, although this is apparently her sixth album!
It was recorded with the classic roots, rock, reggae group, the Gladiators Band at Harry J's Studio in Kingston, Jamaica. Zema has been touring with the Gladiators over the last couple years and this album really demonstrates the musical bond they have developed. The Gladiators bring powerful riddims that really heightens her talents as singer, songwriter and musician. Then to top it all off Zema has produced the album as well! A many faceted lady indeed.
The title and opening track 'Jubilee' gets things off with a very uplifting start in a superb mix, much like The Wailers style circa the 1981 Confrontation LP. I can also hear on this track in particular an instantly deejay able 12” with the commercially, catchiness of something like Althea & Donna.
'Trouble Never Set' is equally excellent and sounds like it could have come from the ‘Rastaman Vibration’ album sessions, while on 'Reap What You Sow' the whole musical backdrop is oozing with old time Rock Steady recording sound, yet faster of course, but has that vibe the way the mix is presented and has a wonderful organ before the fade out.
Fourth track is a cover of Bill Withers 'Aint No Sunshine'. This track was also covered by Horace Andy on the 'You Are My Angel' album and Zema's version is just as good with the riddim having a real past masters vibe against her smokey ‘jazz club’ vocal.
Low point of the album for me is 'Do It In Love'. Can't really put it down to one thing just each to his own I suppose. 'Warning' sees a cracking return to form, although Zema takes abit of a back seat on this duet. The riddim is powerful; with its rumbling bass line presenting a song with a serious message that's not in ya face over this cool tune.
Next its back again with that ‘rock steady’ sound on way the mixdown was performed and again it's faster paced, I really like this mixdown style. The song 'Power In Unity' has another serious message put across softly so one has time to enjoy the sound. 'Time Of Trouble' is another cool tune that harks back again to that Wailers essence.
Penultimate vocal track 'Trod' sees Harmonica and riddim track blending together in fine style, this goes straight back to those virgin frontline albums from late 70s – mid 80s Prince Tony Robinson styleee (producer of Big Youth et al from those golden days)
'Firefall' is yet another classic riddim with a simple yet strong bass line while Zema's wails a conscious lyric.
The last four tracks of the album are some nice dubby workings of 'Aint No Sunshine', 'Reap What You Sow', 'Time Of Trouble' and 'Jubilee'.
In all this album shows a great artistic ability that embraces the classic roots vibes of old and is not to be missed!

Review by...GIBSY

Head over to United Reggae for Skarl's interview with Zema

Friday, June 11, 2010

Henry "Junjo" Lawes

Henry "Junjo" Lawes was born in West Kingston, Jamaica in 1948. He originally started out wanting to be a singer, but failed to impress and it wasn't until 1978 that he got a break in the music business courtesy of singer Linval Thompson. The break however was not out front singing but behind the desk as he assisted Thompson with his self produced 'I Love Marijuana' album. The success and exposure of this album allowed Lawes to then enter the Channel One studio with the young, up-and-coming Barrington Levy in 1979. The pair worked well and quickly produced a series of hit singles that made Levy a star and gave Lawes a reputation as one of the hottest new producers around. Bounty Hunter, Levy's debut album, was also well received and became an immediate big seller. Off the back of this success, Lawes was able to form his own label, Volcano, and he began to work his way through a host of new clients. His raw, street-level sound and use of mainly pre-existing Studio One riddims replicated on new records by the Roots Radics or by Lawes' secondary studio group, guitarist Earl "Chinna" Smith's High Times Band virtually defined dancehall in its predigital phase helping to cement his position as one of the most important and influential producers around.
Among these early releases he produced The Wailing Souls' 1980 classic "Fire House Rock" and its accompanying album of the same name as well as racking up hits for Yellowman. Josey Wales, Eek-a-Mouse, Michigan & Smiley, Charlie Chaplin, Clint Eastwood, Ranking Toyan, General Echo, and Nicodemus, among others.
As well as working with these new artists Lawes turned his hand to helping veteran singers, keeping a similar approach when working with updating their sounds for the new dancehall era. Some of these stars to benefit from his touch included Johnny Osbourne; check out "Ice Cream Love", John Holt, Black Uhuru's Don Carlos, Hugh Mundell, Alton Ellis, Junior Murvin, Leroy Smart, and Ken Boothe.
This approach and style produced some of the biggest Jamaican hits of the early '80s: not only the already mentioned Johnny Osbourne's "Ice Cream Love, but Eek-a-Mouse's "Wa Do Dem,"," Barrington Levy's "Prison Oval Rock," Michigan & Smiley's "Diseases," Michael Prophet's "Gunman" (perhaps Lawes' most famous original rhythm), Yellowman's numerous hits and the young Frankie Paul's debut smash "Pass the Tu-Sheng-Peng". Paul quickly became one of Lawes' most popular protégés, spinning off a series of hits that established him as dancehall's biggest pure singer for a time. Lawes is also credited with helping launch the career of another popular dancehall staple, Cocoa Tea, at this time thanks to hits like "Rocking Dolly".
In 1985 Lawes relocated his operation to New York City, but ran unfortunately soon ran into problems which saw him jailed for the latter part of the '80s. This period of incarceration fell just as the sound of dancehall was being radically altered by the rise of ragga's all-electronic production In 1991 Lawes was released from prison and he returned to Jamaica. Major changes had taken place in the ever evolving music business while he was away and he tried to repeat his previous successes by working once again with a mixture of familiar faces and including Cocoa Tea, Yellowman, and Josey Wales plus some newer ones like Ninjaman, Shaka Shamba, and General T.K. This time round though nothing would match the stunning success of his earlier years, and he eventually wound up moving to Harlesden, North West London. It was here that Lawes met his premature end as he was shot to death by two men (supposed gang members) in a drive by shooting on June 14, 1999; the case remains unsolved.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

This Is Northern Soul! (Part 1)

Now I know this blog is predominantly a reggae biased blog but I have, as you can see if you look through the archives, also been including some of the more soulful and funky elements from my musical tastes on here as well. These tastes have been born from a love of Northern Soul that I first heard many years ago at a local Thursday night club in town called RSG.
Many people have asked me, usually from the continent, what exactly Northern Soul is, and in truth it is hard to explain. Many people will have listened to some of these songs or indeed own them without really knowing how popular they were or still are among many aficionados of the Northern Soul sound.
The scene is based around obscure and rare soul records that have that have a certain beat or feel and just because one artist has a song played at a Northern Soul night doesn't necessarily mean that all of their songs will be accepted on the scene. A Song that springs to mind is Sammy Davis Jr's 'You Can Count On Me' which is sung over the theme to 'Hawaii 5-O' it's a big favourite, but you won't hear anything else from Mr Davis being played. You can also get someone like Edwin Starr who has many songs played at 'Northern Do's', but I don't think you'll ever hear 'H.A.P.P.Y Radio' as it is deemed too disco. So as I say Northern Soul is about the sound rather than the artist. This fact therefore makes it a very 7", 45rpm vinyl thing; you can of course pick up many 'various' albums and CD's now, but for the purists it's still very much the hunt for the rare and hard to obtain 7" vinyl that's where it’s at. This can of course lead to a bit of elitism among a few, but these can be easily ignored and I've always been a believer in that music is there to be heard.
I could ramble on for ages about the good, the bad and the down right awful that is Northern Soul, but hopefully these following words from an unknown soul will say it better. All I will add though is that when these types of records are played I feel a great sense of joy and abandonment of the stresses of life, just listen to the likes of Eula Cooper on 'Let Our Love Grow Higher' or David & The Giants 'Ten Miles High' and tell me something emotive doesn't move within you for no other music can put a smile on my face and a bounce in my step and certainly make me feel 10 miles high when I hear this type of music.

Northern soul is a music and dance movement that emerged from the British mod scene, initially in northern England in the late 1960s.
Northern soul mainly consists of a particular style of black American soul music based on the heavy beat and fast tempo of the mid-1960s Tamla Motown sound. The Northern soul movement, however, generally eschews Motown or Motown-influenced music that has met with significant mainstream success. The recordings most prized by genre enthusiasts are usually by lesser-known artists, and were initially released only in limited numbers, often by small regional United States labels such as Ric-Tic and Golden World (Detroit), Mirwood (Los Angeles) and Shout and Okeh (New York/Chicago).
Northern soul is also associated with particular dance styles and fashions that grew out of the underground rhythm & soul scene of the late 1960s, at venues such as the Twisted Wheel in Manchester. This scene (and the associated dances and fashions) quickly spread to other UK dancehalls and nightclubs like the Catacombs (Wolverhampton), the Highland Rooms at Blackpool Mecca, Golden Torch (Stoke-on-Trent), and Wigan Casino. As the favoured beat became more up-tempo and frantic, by the early 1970s, northern soul dancing became more athletic, somewhat resembling the later dance styles of disco and break dancing. Featuring spins, flips, and backdrops, club dancing styles were often inspired by the stage performances of visiting American soul acts such as Little Anthony & The Imperials and Jackie Wilson.
During the Northern soul scene's initial years in the late 1960s and early 1970s, popular Northern Soul records were usually not recent releases, and generally dated from the mid-1960s. This meant that the movement was sustained (and "new" recordings added to playlists) by prominent DJs discovering rare and previously overlooked records. Later on, certain clubs and DJs began to move away from the 1960s Motown sound and began to play new releases with a more contemporary sound.
The phrase northern soul was coined by journalist Dave Godin, and was first publicly used in his weekly column in Blues and Soul magazine in June 1970. In a 2002 interview with Chris Hunt of Mojo magazine, Godin said he had first come up with the term in 1968, to help employees at his record shop, Soul City, in Covent Garden, differentiate the more modern funkier sounds from the smoother, Motown-influenced soul of a few years earlier:
I had started to notice that northern football fans who were in London to follow their team were coming into the store to buy records, but they weren't interested in the latest developments in the black American chart. I devised the name as a shorthand sales term. It was just to say 'if you've got customers from the north, don't waste time playing them records currently in the U.S. black chart, just play them what they like - 'Northern Soul'.

The venue most commonly associated with the early development of the northern soul scene was the Twisted Wheel in Manchester. The club began in the early 1950s as a beatnik coffee bar called The Left Wing, but in early 1963, the run-down premises were leased by two Manchester businessmen (Ivor and Phil Abadi) and turned into a music venue. Initially the Twisted Wheel mainly hosted live music on the weekends and Disc Only nights during the week. Starting in September 1963, the Abadi brothers promoted all-night parties at the venue on Saturday nights, with a mixture of live and recorded music. DJ Roger Eagle, a collector of imported American soul, jazz and rhythm and blues, was booked around this time, and the club's reputation as a place to hear and dance to the latest American R&B music began to grow.
Throughout the mid-1960s, the Twisted Wheel became the focus of Manchester’s emerging mod scene, with a music policy that reflected Eagle’s eclectic tastes in soul and jazz, and featuring live performances by British beat musicians and American R&B stars. Gradually, the music policy became less eclectic and shifted heavily towards fast-paced soul, in response to the demands of the growing crowds of amphetamine-fuelled dancers who flocked to the all-nighters. Dismayed at the change in music policy and the frequent drug raids by the police, Eagle quit the club in early 1967. Eagle said of the regular attendees, "All they wanted was fast-tempo black dance music... [but they were] too blocked on amphetamines to articulate exactly which Jackie Wilson record they wanted me to play."
By then, the reputation of the Twisted Wheel and the type of music being played there had grown nationwide. By 1969, soul fans were travelling from all over the United Kingdom to attend the Saturday all-nighters. The venue’s owners had been able to fill the vacancy left by Eagle with a growing roster of specialist soul DJs. After attending one of the venue's all-nighters in January 1971, Godin wrote: " is without doubt the highest and finest I have seen outside of the USA... never thought I'd live to see the day where people could so relate the rhythmic content of Soul music to bodily movement to such a skilled degree!
The Twisted Wheel gained a reputation as a drug haven, and under pressure from the police and other authorities, the club closed in January 1971. However, by the late 1960s, the popularity of the music and lifestyle associated with the club had spread further across the north and midlands of England, and a number of new venues had begun to host soul all-nighters. These included the King Mojo in Sheffield, The Catacombs in Wolverhampton, Room at the Top in Wigan and Va Va's in Bolton.
Northern soul reached the peak of its popularity in the mid to late 1970s.At this time, there were soul clubs in virtually every major town in the midlands and the north of England. The three venues regarded as the most important in this decade were the Golden Torch in Tunstall, Stoke (1971 to 1972), Blackpool Mecca (1971 to 1979) and Wigan Casino (1973 to 1981).
Although Wigan Casino is probably the best known, the best attended northern soul all-night venue at the beginning of the decade was in fact the Golden Torch, where regular Friday night soul all-nighters began in late 1970. Chris Burton, the owner, stated that in 1972, the club had a membership of 12,500, and 62,000 separate customer visits. Despite its popularity, the club closed down due to licensing problems in March, 1972 and attention switched to soul nights at Blackpool Mecca’s Highland Room, which had started rare soul nights in late 1971.
Wigan Casino began its weekly soul all-nighters in September 1973. Wigan Casino had a much larger capacity than many competing venues and ran its events from 2am until 8am. There was a regular roster of DJs, including the promoter Russ Winstanley. By 1976, the club boasted a membership of 100,000 people, and in 1978, was voted the world's number one discotheque by the American magazine Billboard. This was during the heyday of the Studio 54 nightclub in New York City. By the late 1970s, the club had its own spin-off record label, Casino Classics.
By this time, Wigan Casino was coming under heavy criticism from many soul fans. Contemporary black American soul was changing with the advent of funk, disco and jazz-funk, and the supply of recordings with the fast-paced northern soul sound began to rapidly dwindle. As a result, Wigan Casino DJs resorted to playing any kind of record that matched the correct tempo. Also, the club was subjected to heavy media coverage and began to attract many otherwise uninterested people of whom the soul purists did not approve.
Blackpool Mecca was popular throughout the 1970s, although the venue never hosted all-nighters. The regular Saturday night events began at 8pm and finished at 2am, and initially, some dancers would begin their evenings at Blackpool Mecca and then transfer to Wigan Casino. In 1974, the music policy at Blackpool Mecca sharply diverged from Wigan Casino’s, with the regular DJ including newly released US soul in his playlist. Whilst the tempo was similar to the earlier Motown Records-style recordings, this shift in emphasis heralded a slightly different style of northern soul dancing and dress styles at Blackpool Mecca and created a schism in the northern soul movement between Wigan Casino’s traditionalists and Blackpool Mecca’s more progressive approach, which accepted the more contemporary sounds of Philly soul, early disco and funk.
Other major northern soul venues in the 1970s include The Catacombs in Wolverhampton, Va Va’s in Bolton, the 'Talk of The North' all-nighters at The Pier and Winter Gardens in Cleethorpes, Tiffany’s in Coalville, Samantha’s in Sheffield, 'Heart of England' soul club all-dayers at The Ritz in Manchester and the Nottingham Palais. As the 1970s progressed, the northern soul scene expanded even further nationally. There was a notable scene in the east of England with all-nighters at the St. Ivo Centre in St. Ives, the Phoenix Soul club at the Wirrina Stadium in Peterborough and the Howard Mallett in Cambridge. Other towns with notable northern soul venues at this time included Kettering, Coventry, Bournemouth, Southampton and Bristol. When Wigan Casino closed in 1981, many believed that the northern soul scene was on the verge of disintegrating. However, the 1970s mod revival, the thriving scooterboy subculture and the Acid jazz movement produced a new wave of fans. The popularity of the music was further bolstered in the 1980s by a wave of reissues and compilation albums from small British independent record labels. Many of these labels were set up by DJs and collectors who had been part of the original northern soul scene. The 1980s — often dismissed as a low period for the northern soul scene by those who had left in the 1970s — featured almost 100 new venues in places as diverse as Bradford, London, Peterborough, Leighton Buzzard, Whitchurch, Coventry and Leicester. Pre-eminent among the 1980s venues were Stafford's Top of the World and London's 100 Club.

Part 2

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Don Carlos - Changes

This album, from one time member of Black Uhuru Don Carlos is his first since 1998's '7 Days A Week'. Now 12 years between releases might be quite a long time but when you are going to come back with an album of this quality and with a bit of diversity in the shape of some re-mixes then all can be forgiven. The veteran performer also has taken on production duties so this album is very much his show and he has got things spot on.
The album begins on a traditional footing with some fine modern roots calling for all rude boys to cease and find peace as badness no pay, and this sets the tone for what is an album of peace and positiveness through belief in the qualities of Jah.
The diversity raises its head on the next track 'Really And Truly' which has a digi feel but still maintains roots reggae sensibilities, but it is the remixes though that really sees a different and to some extent unexpected side to the Don. The first 'My Life', which also appears on here in roots style version, has a kinda slow tempo R& B feel to it while 'Young Girl', a song of forbidden love for a dreadlocks, is in pure drum & bass territory, with brash guitar and synth strings giving the tune a hard edge.
Lovers rock is taken care of with the chirpy 'I Don't Know', the clavinet pulsing 'When' and the late night wistful sax of 'Lady Luck'. For dancehall fans Chaka Demus duets on ' Hallelujah' which despite its slightly dated 90's feel works quite well. One track that did have me reaching for the skip button though was 'Oh Lord' which sounds like it is being performed by a well dodgy cabaret band. I can't swear to it but I'm sure the beat is one of those awful pre-programmed ones that come on cheap keyboards.....urggghh!!
My fave tune on here however though is the rootsy, laid back 'I Love Jah Jah'. Now if 'Oh Lord' had me reaching for the skip button this one is a must for repeat and repeat again! The triumphant sounding horns could almost be pronouncing the arrival of the king himself and really help make it for me.
Don Carlos's voice is still smooth and graceful and the new and original riddims here generally have a great vibe and depth especially due to that good use of brass, the trumpets in particular. A fine album on the whole from a man who maintains roots flavors while not afraid to branch out and add different dimensions to his music.


01 Rude Boy
02 Really And Truly
03 I Don't Know
04 I Love Jah Jah
05 Changes
06 My Life (Remix)
07 Lady Luck
08 Favorite Cup
09 Hallelujah
10 When
11 Oh Lord
12 Young Girl (Remix)
13 My Life (Reggae Version)

Adrian Sherwood

Born August1958 in London, Adrian Maxwell Sherwood has been a pioneering force in UK reggae since the late 1970's. He was brought up in Slough, Buckinghamshire, where he lived next to a Mars Bar factory. He initially showed a bright talent for music while working with the likes of Emperor Rosko, Judge Dread, Johnny Walker and Steve Barnard and gained an early contact with the reggae world through work for the Pama and Trojan roadshows. Also during school holidays he spent time working for the legendary Pama and Vulcan labels.

Whilst still only in his seventeenth year, he co-founded the Carib Gems record label and showed great foresight by issuing the first Black Uhuru sides, not to mention some fine early dub work by Prince Far I, with whom he would work many times before his tragic death in September 1983 in Jamaica. This first attempt to set up a label and subsequent attempts at setting up other labels in the late 70s were quite disastrous, and cost him a great deal of money in the process. Undeterred he pushed on and set up the On U Sound label to house ex-Pop Group singer Mark Stewart's New Age Steppers project, in partnership with photographer Kishi Yamamoto at the birth of the 80's.

The label took a lead from their old Jamaican counterparts and played out as a sound system, thus helping to promote and showcase the sounds they were making. Sherwood was by now also quite an accomplished producer, having learned first hand from Prince Far I and Dr Pablo, and having cut his teeth on Creation Rebel's fine 'Dub From Creation' and various 12" singles released on Hitrun Records, another early label attempt. He was helping set new standards of dub production and produced a vast army of reggae, funk and rock artistes including New Age Steppers, Singers & Players, Creation Rebel, Bim Sherman, Mark Stewart & Maffia, Judy Nylon, London Underground, African Head Charge, Dub Syndicate and in conjunction with Tommy Boy Records of New York City, Akabu.

It was in New York that Sherwood recruited guitarist Skip McDonald, bassist Doug Wimbish along with drummer Keith LeBlanc, together the onetime house band at the famed rap label Sugarhill Records, and under a variety of names (most commonly Tackhead) the trio brought new power and definition to the company's densely-textured recordings.

By the mid-1980s, Sherwood was among the most visible producers and remixers in all of contemporary music, working on tracks for artists as varied as Depeche Mode, Einsturzende Neubauten, Simply Red, The Woodentops and Ministry. He became increasingly involved in industrial music as the decade wore on, producing tracks for Cabaret Voltaire, Skinny Puppy, KMFDM and Nine Inch Nails, and although On-U Sound continued to reflect its leader's eclectic tastes the label remained a top reggae outlet.

On-U Sound helped breaking down the barriers between reggae music and the English independent music, punk and new wave. You can find Adrian's unique touch on the mixer on albums by African Head Charge, Creation Rebel, Dub Syndicate, Mark Stewart, Little Axe, New Age Steppers, Bim Sherman and many others.

His biggest commercial success came in 1991 when self-styled "white toaster" Gary Clail, who had been warm up act for On-U gigs, "Human Nature" peaked at a very creditable #10 in the UK charts. The rest of the 90's were fairly quiet for the label and its activity was mainly kept to reprints on CD from its catalogue. Another reason for the slowing of On-U output was that Sherwood, who had now become a very in demand producer, began collaborating with various artists from various and different music scenes. He produced and remixed people such as Sinead O' Connor, Primal Scream, Air and Asian Dub Foundation. He also produced Bim Sherman's delightful 'Miracle' (Mantra records 1996). This album saw Sherman re-recorded six of his old tunes in an acoustic session at Richard Branson's Manor Studios, accompanied by Skip McDonald on guitar and Talvin Singh on tablas. A trip to Bombay followed where India's finest film musicians provided the extra layers of sound that resulted in probably the roots reggae veterans most unusual, yet accomplished albums. Also in the 90's he established the Pressure Sounds imprint. The label is dedicated to reissuing classic reggae and dub releases and its reputation has just grown and grown until now the Pressure Sounds name is virtually a mark of quality.
Adrian's natural approach to stirring up sounds from different cultures with sensitiveness and taste attracted the attention of Peter Gabriel's Real World Records, who, in 2003, commissioned him his first real solo album. The release of 'Never Trust a Hippy?', titled after Jamie Reid's infamous punk slogan and featuring collaborations with various artists such as Sly & Robbie, Steven "Lenky" Marsden, Carlton "Bubblers" Ogilvie and Jazzwad, brought a new reputation and international visibility to Adrian Sherwood. In 2006 he released his second album 'Becoming a Cliché' that again featuring numerous artists, though with more reggae appeal, such as Lee "Scratch" Perry, Bim Sherman, Dennis Bovell, Little Roy, Lee "LSK" Kenny, Samia Farah, Raiz and Mark Stewart. Also a limited 2-disc version was released simultaneously with the second disc titled 'Dub Cliché'. This year also saw write an original reggae score for the independent film 'Johnny Was' starring Vinnie Jones, Roger Daltrey and Samantha Mumba

Since then information what exactly he is up to now has been well somewhat none existent though you will maybe find more if you keep up to date through the Adrian Sherwood myspace info page

Rasputin's Stash

Rasputin’s Stash, a '70s soul/funk ensemble from the Windy City of Chicago, were the brainchildren of session musician Martin Dumas Jr.
Dumas formed the group, originally an eight-piece, out of fellow session regulars from the city during early 1970. They signed to the Cotillion label and released a self-titled album in 1971. For whatever reasons the band didn't stick together and gradually half of their members had left by the time they recorded their second album for Gemigo, a subsidiary of Curtis Mayfield's Curtom imprint. The remaining quartet of Dumas, Ernest Frank Donaldson, Bruce Butler, and Paul Coleman, shed the possessive of their band name and released another self-titled album, in 1974.
Gemigo eventually went under, and the group was shifted over to Curtom proper for a pair of singles released in the latter part of the decade: "Dance With Me" was released as r-Stash in 1977, and "Booty March" was released as Stash the following year.
In a distribution switch that saw Curtom move from Warner Bros. to RSO, the label's roster was gutted and Stash was one of the victims. After that, the group opted to quit, but not before they did plenty of shows in New York and their hometown, where they were most appreciated. Throughout the years, Rasputin's Stash and all its following incarnations endured as rare groove favourites. In 2000, the U.K.-based Sequel label issued 'The Devil Made Me Do It', a CD compilation of the group's Gemigo material, including several unreleased cuts that were intended for their third album.
A friend of mine came across Rasputin’s Stash first album at a car boot sale back in the late 80's before just before 'rare groove' was about to kick off. It was brought for about a pound (UK) and only really on the strength of the cover. For the cove r despite its simplicity just oozes funk with those Afros and the name just brings visions of coolness. The cover was also a gatefold as I seem to remember despite being only a single album and when opened revealed lyrics on one side and a posed picture of the band on someone's porch emphasizing their coolness. I myself did own a copy of this but I had to pay more than a pound unfortunately and it took a few years of searching, but it was well worth the effort as this is a great slice of funk / soul / psychedelia. Opening track 'Your Love Is Certified' starts of with a bit of a hillbilly twang on a countrified slide guitar before breaking into a get down on it, shoe shufflin', funky groove, with rapid keyboard stabs. For me this is where the band works best when blazing out the funk whether it's on a brisk paced workout like "What's on Your Mind", or on the more sedate, grinding, sweaty Parliafunkadelimentish "You Better Think" or " I Want to Say You're Welcome".
Softer moments are here, as with most albums of this type, but they don't really grab you with the same zest of the others. Songs like "I'd Like to Know You Better", a more soulful outing that dips into light Jazz at one point, but still retains a funky vibe and "Take Me On Back" which despite its fluidity and soulfulness is bit a MOR, or as someone once put it to me a few years ago 'its Radio 2 music', and syrupy.
The main reason for digging this album out though is for A-side closer "Mr Cool". This is without an A+ classic. I expect some real fun was had when writing these tongue in cheek lyrics for this song about a stereotypical pimp from the early '70s, with dark shades, white suit and matching white car. They've really gone overboard with his bragging tales of 'fooling around with the president's old lady' and beating Armstrong to the moon but the soundtrack that accompanies all this is superb. The pulsing organ, big horns, tight little guitar licks and that zigzag drums and wandering bass give the funkiest beat this side of James Brown.
Certainly an album to put more glide in your stride and dip in your hip.


A1 - Your Love Is Certified
A2 - I'd Like to Know You Better
A3 - What's on Your Mind
A4 - Take Me on Back
A5 - Mr. Cool

B1 - You Better Think
B2 - Freak's Prayer
B3 - Dookey Shoe
B4 - You Are My Flower
B5 - I Want to Say You're Welcome

Winston Jarrett - Bushwackers Gangbangers

Winston Jarrett's career has spanned the best part of the last fifty years in which time he has produced some of the most classic and influential songs in the history of Jamaican popular music. In the 1960's Jarrett proceeded to form one of Jamaica’s most infamous groups, Alton Ellis and the Flames and scored a number of early classics like 'Rocksteady', ‘Cry Though' and 'Dance Crashers'.
In the early 1970’s, after the disbandment of the Flames, Jarrett recorded over a hundred songs under his own name and pseudonyms while working with such luminaries as Coxone Dodd, Joe Gibbs, Lee 'Scratch' Perry, King Tubby, and Duke Reid. He has recorded regularly since these heydays with his last release being 'Children of the Ghetto' for Jah Shaka in 2006, but now this...
"What a bizarrely compiled album we have here, 19 tracks and for me makes this far too long and drawn out, which seems to be the norm these days, what ever happened to good old LP trad running length?
A total of 19 tracks, which include three bonus cuts from the seventies and it has to be said from the straight off that the first two bonus cuts, "Fear Not" and its dub sound like they've been taped from an old 'piano key' style tape recorder that we all had in the mid seventies, awful sound quality... I ask why bother to include these on the album which is supposed to be 'brand new'? The third bonus cut "Shaving Cream" sounds better in sound quality but alas dubbed straight from a vinyl 7" it would seem.
The 16 other tracks that appear on Mr Jarretts 'new' album have been compiled in a strange no rhyme or reason manner and without any true care & attention to detail. Levels are all over the place for one ,but yes ,there are a few goodies on here for example track 2 "Bushwackers" and track 6 "Gethseneme" which uses a well known riddim from time, as does "Fools Says", with a faster tempo Abyssinians - Mandela and a cool "Children Get Ready" which uses the 'real rock' riddim in fine style.
On tracks "Dutty Friday" and "Montpellier Collie" again Jarrett can be found voicing over the top dubplate style using really rough sound mixes of studio 1 riddims, though the names of these escape me for now.
The album for me feels very 'homemade' and hastily put together and no one has bothered to even attempt to clean up those Studio1 tracks...((have they a license for this S1 stuff .....a bit bootleggy imo)). All in all very disappointing and it would appear more effort has been made on the album artwork and accompanying pdf sheet rather than the music presentation itself which should be the important thing here! There is just no continuity to it at all!
This would make a far better 'single' album trimmed down to 40 mins, minus the dodgy bonus cuts and studio 1 things and presented with a more 'brand new' passion than is being currently done.

5/10 as it stands could have been a 7/10 easy if they'd have took more care and attention to the compiling on it.

Review by Gibsy

“Bushwhackers Gangbangers” is self-released via his ‘BigMore Productions’ and at the moment is only available digitally.

Full tracklist

1.Story of My Life
2.Bushwhackers ...bassy and rootsy
3.Bushwhackers (version)
4.Lucy Underwood
5.Lucy Underwood (version)
6.Gethseneme – Vanity riddim
7.Gethseneme (version)
8.Dutty Friday
9.Dutty Friday (version)
10.Montpellier Collie
11.Fools Says
12.Solid Foundation
13.Work for Your Money
14.Babylon Red keyboard
15.Children Get Ready
16.Jah Man Paradise

17.Fear Not
18.Fear Not dub
19.Shaving Cream