Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Norman “General” Johnson - The Chairman of the Board

General Johnson best known as lead singer with Chairmen Of The Board and before that The Showmen sadly passed away, back on October 13th, after a long struggle with lung cancer.

Chairman Of The Board are probably the band that first kindle my love for soul music way back in the early ‘70s when they had massive success with songs like ‘Everything Is Tuesday’, ‘Dangling On A String’ and of course the excellent ‘Give Me Just A Little More Time’. I was filled with great sadness when I heard of his passing as I believe it is listening to those songs on the radio in my formative years that lead me to find such a connection with Northern Soul as a teenager and beyond. Now I just want to say thanks for some really fantastic tunes and more importantly for leading me to the road for Soul!

The musical career of Norman “General” Johnson started out around 1950 when he was part of an accapella gospel group called the Israelites. From here he soon joined a school band called The Humdingers in the mid fifties. They were soon noticed and got to record singles for Atlantic. The songs however were sadly never released. In 1961 they changed label and signed for Minit Records. A name change came with that and The Showmen were born. They released several singles with the label, the most notable of which was the R&B top forty hit ‘I Will Stand’. They then moved to Swan Records in 1965. Here Johnson released a solo effort, ‘The Honey House‘, before as a band they released the superb Wigan floor filler ‘Our Love Will Grow‘.
For a couple of years they continued in this vein hopping from label to label releasing the odd single until in 1967/68, When Holland-Dozier-Holland departed Motown, the trio courted General Johnson and Danny Woods and eventually enticed them away with the prospect of forming a flag ship quartet with Harrison Kennedy and Eddie Custis at their newly formed Invictus label..
Chairmen of the Board were the product of this merger and things got off to a flying start with the release of "Give Me Just a Little More Time". It sold a million plus copies, reaching #3 in the US R&B charts and a very respectable #3 in the UK pop chart. This was swiftly followed by "You've Got Me Dangling On A String" and Everything's Tuesday" that peaked at #19 (US R&B) #5 (UK) and #14 (US R&B) #12 (UK) respectively. Despite this singles success and with two LP’s also released (S/T & In Session), in the US at least, everything was not contented among the group, with Eddie Custis becoming increasingly disheartened and finally leaving in 1972.
Just after Custis leaving Chairman Of The Board hit back with the album Bitter Sweet. The album was somewhat of a relative failure and this accompanied by the Invictus ship hitting troubled waters plus Johnson’s own business disagreements with the label, led to them leaving in 1974. They did though leave a final legacy with the LP Skin I’m In, which spawned “Finder’s keepers“, a break away from the flouncy pop soul to a more gritty funk sound reminiscent of early Commodores. It was met with a warm welcome from the public, but was to be the last time the band would break into the US R&B chart top 10 reaching #7 and also the last top 40 hit in the UK charts peaking at #21.
As well as appearing on all this famous hits General Johnson also was quite a song writer in his own right and wrote and recorded the original version of the ballad "Patches", which won a Grammy Award when covered to great success by Clarence Carter. He also wrote the Grammy-nominated “Somebody’s Been Sleeping In My Bed” for 100 Proof Aged In Soul which peaked at #6 on the US R&B chart supplied the all girl vocal group with their #1 US R&B smash “Want Ads”.
Johnson continued writing and performing Johnson and toured the UK in 1976 with six musicians, including co-founding member Danny Woods as Chairmen of the Board, but their earlier success this time eluded them. With this disappointment the act was broken up immediately afterwards with Johnson signing for Arista Records as a solo artist. Again though in 1978, Johnson reformed the Chairmen of the Board along with Danny Woods and Ken Knox and in 1980, they formed Surfside Records, an independent record label based in Charlotte, North Carolina. The reformed group scored a regional hit with "Carolina Girls", but mainstream success was unfortunately never tasted again.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Reggae Bubblers – Man Heart So Cold

If good, honest, wholesome, Roots and Culture is your thing then look no further than The Reggae Bubblers. This band from the island of St. Croix in the U.S Virgin Islands has a very organic sound with lyrics that are steeped in their Rastafarian beliefs.
Their new album ‘Man Heart So Cold’ is out now and you can read a full review at

The album is available to buy from

Tayo meets Acid Rockers ft. PupaJim - Vampayaa

Out on the 22nd of this month is the new release from Scotch Bonnet subsidiary label Scrub-A-Dub........Tayo meets Acid Rockers ft. PupaJim “Vampayaa”

The track features PupaJim, who is causing serious shockwaves of late in the world of reggae with a voice that sounds straight off an 80s dancehall 7”. Together with Tayo and Acid Rockers they have created a modern steppers classic with a blood-curdling array of remixes.
RSD pulls out all the stops applying his signature Bristol sound on a serious roller while Marcus Visionary steps up the pace with a jump up Karnival banger and Starkey stamps his gutter style with colorful swirling synths.
This is a limited edition 12" heavy weight vinyl press, so grab it before it’sgone.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Protoje "The Seven Year Itch" Sampler

If you follow things on places like Facebook you may have already come across this, but for thoughs of you who don't here is a link for a free sampler at Mediafire that is presented in a mixtape format

The sampler includes all previously released tracks from the upcoming album, including 'Arguments', 'Dread', 'JA,' 'Roll,' and 'Rasta Love' (featuring Ky-Mani Marley). Each track is accompanied by exclusive audio clips of Protoje explaining his creative process, as well as its own artwork designed by Taj Francis. Fans are also treated to a bonus live version of 'Dread,' recorded on the night of Protoje’s first performance at the renowned Jamnesia Sessions in Bull Bay, Jamaica.

According to Protoje “These songs were written over a 7 Year Period, hence the album title 7 Year Itch. I want this Sampler to give people who wouldn’t normally have access to my music, a chance to connect, and to understand why I choose to express myself in this way. All i ask is for ones to share this music. Spread music Spread Love."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dubmatix - System Shakedown

System Shakedown is the excellent new album from Dubmatix. It’s an album with a fantastic classic reggae vibe that’s been mixed with the sounds of now.
It features a host of special guests:

The Mighty Diamonds
Brother Culture
Tippa Irie
Dennis Alcapone
U Brown
The Ragga Twins
Jay Douglas
Kulcha Ites
& Omar Perry

checkout a full review at

by the CD, MP3, Vinyl from Dubmatix.com

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sonia Pottinger Passes Away

Jamaica’s first female record producer, Sonia Pottinger OD, who had been ailing for some time has passed away.
She was probably the most important woman involved in the Jamaican music business having opened the Tip Top Record shop in 1965. She was married to music producer Lyndon Pottinger and in the following year proceed to produce local acts herself.
Her first single as a producer was ‘Every Night’ by Joe White and Chuck. Then throughout the rock steady and early reggae eras, she became very prolific producing hits for The Ethiopians ("The Whip"), Delano Stewart, The Melodians ("Swing And Dine"), Ken Boothe, Alton Ellis and Toots & the Maytals, which were released on her Gay Feet, Tip Top, Rainbow, and High Note labels, then in 1974 she acquired Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label shortly before his passing.

During the 1970s, she started producing albums and worked with Bob Andy, Marcia Griffiths, U Roy and Big Youth. Her most well known album production though is Culture's ‘Harder Than The Rest’, released in 1978.
She continued working into the 1980s dancehall era and produced Archie & Lynn's "Rat in the Centre" before finally retiring from the music business in 1985.
Are thoughts are with her family and friends at this unfortunate time, but we give thanks for the wonderful musical legacy Sonia left behind.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Laurel Aitken - Voodoo Woman [Music for Mods: Soul And Ska Sounds From The Sixties]

Having profiled Laurel Aitken the other month I then came by this new release from Pressure Drop records entitled ‘Voodoo Woman - Music For Mods: Soul And Ska Sounds From The Sixties’ with the emphasis mainly on soul and also, though not in the title, R&B.
Now before Jamaica found its own musical style in the shape of ska the big noise at the dancehalls of the late 50’s was American R&B and opener ‘Voodoo Woman’ is straight up Bo Diddly inspired, pounding piano, brass stabbing, jungle rhythm beating R&B and ‘I Believe’ with its lolloping gait is Professor Long Hair meets gospel. There are some nice soul tunes ‘Jamaica’ is a heartfelt, homesick sounding lament squarely aimed at the new immigrant population of the UK, who were perhaps questioning whether they’d done the right thing in leaving for these shores. ‘Sweet Precious Love’ on the other hand is a real upbeat foot stomper. On the ska front ‘You Can’t Stop Me From Loving You’ and ‘Don’t Play With Fire’ are good ol’ fashioned harmonica powered gems.
A lot of the songs have a feeling like you’ve heard it before with Laurel “borrowing” snippets and ideas long before the Gallagher brothers. ‘Last Night’ is an obvious cover / reworking of the Mar-Keys Atlantic hit while others such as ‘Bewildered Blues’ are more subtle as he steals a piano opening from Kerry Lester’s ‘Love Letters’ while ‘You Left Me Standing’ for some reason making me want to burst into a chorus of The Drifters ‘Save the Last Dance’.This is obviously a must for fans and collectors of Aitken, with almost all tracks new to CD,as it showcases another side to his prolific output, but also this should appeal to those who like tunes with a sixties groove that are more on the obscure side as well as to those of straight R&B. The album is well packaged with great informative sleeve notes by Mike Atherton. I mean I learnt a new great piece of trivia in that Laurels backing singers The Carols were just up the road from me in St Albans! A nicely put together album despite a dubious title, I do hate this compartmentalizing thing, although I can see where they are coming from.

1. Voodoo Woman
2. Last Night
3. Baby Don T Do It
4. You Can T Stop Me From Loving You
5. Seven Lonely Nights
6. I Believe
7. Bewildered And Blue
8. Jamaica
9. Looking For My Baby
10. You Left Me Standing
11. I M In Love With You Baby
12. Glory Hallelujah
13. I've Been Weeping And Crying
14. I Need You Aka Indeed I Love You
15. Let S Be Lovers Aka I Can T Stand It
16. Don T Play With Fire
17. The Mule
18. This Little Girl Of Mine
19. I Want To Love You Forever
20. Pack Your Bundle And Go
21. Bongo Jerk
22. Don T Break Your Promise
23. Never You Hurt The One You Love
24. Sweet Precious Love
25. Darling

Pama International Last Gigs

Pama International are about to set off on their last shows for a while as they take a well earned break from the constant pressures of gigging and recording.
However this does not mean that all will be quite at their Rockers Revolt HQ as they have lined up 4 new albums to be released from early next year.
Dates penciled in at the moment are for

Feb'11 - Intensified - Lunar City Groove (21st anniversary release - brand new album & dvd documentary)

Feb'11 - Maroon Town - Urban Myths (ska/rap/latin grooves from London's globe-trotting sensation)

Mar'11 - The Sidewalk Doctors (London's new kings of rocksteady)

Mar'11 - Pama Intl meet Wrongtom (fresh from his killer reworking of Roots Manuva, Wrongtom is finishing off Pama Intl-Love Filled Dubs)

So to catch the last 5 shows from this stalwart of the UK reggae scene over the last decade catch them at

27/11 Newbury Arlington Arts
28/11 Birmingham Sound Bar
09/12 London Gazs Rockin Blues, Soho
10/12 London Brixton Hootananny (last London show-free entry)
17/12 Folkestone Quarterhouse

Also on the road at the moment are the following ROCKERS REVOLT bands:

12/11 London The Jazz Cafe
26/11 Norwich Arts Centre
10/12 Oxford The Cellar

26/11 London Brixton Hootananny
17/12 Folkestone Quarterhouse

03/11 London Cafe In The Crypt, Trafalgar Sq

05/11 Oxford The Cellar
10/12 London Brixton Hootananny
17/12 Folkestone Quarterhouse


Monday, November 1, 2010


The fantastic new studio album from Bristol phenomenon Babyhead is now available at Rockers Revolt and other good musical outlets.

Following on from the release of their singles 'Jungle Law', 'Think Money' and dubs over this summer, they have now unleashed Babyhead's third and darkest album, 'Heavy Weather'
Both singles were greeted with critical acclaim and global airplay, including here at home; Kiss100-David Rodigan, BBC Radio 2-Alex Lester and xfm's-John Kennedy.

'Heavy Weather' was recorded in Portishead’s “State Of Art” studio and is Rooted in Dub, heavy skank, thunderdrums, blazing horns and sharp lyricism, featureing 13 songs from the rural/urban landscape. It is a personal tale of love, life, politics, sex, death and the greatest British preoccupation - The weather.

Read a full review at.......

you can also catch 'em live
12/11 London Jazz Cafe
26/11 Norwich Arts Centre
10/12 Oxford The Cellar