BRIGADIER JERRY - A SOUNDSYSTEM & RASTA CULTURE TEACHER.
Considered as one of the most influential Jamaican deejays of the '80s, it is surprising to learn that Brigadier Jerry (aka Briggy) made such an impact mainly through sound tapes (i.e. live recordings of sound system dances). Highly respected in Jamaica as a conscious deejay, Briggy was a soundsystem teacher, teaching Rasta culture to the multitudes. He is without equal as a lyrical improviser, despite a scarcity of recordings throughout his career.
Born Robert Russell in the Papine area of eastern Kingston, Brigadier Jerry took his first deejay steps on the sound Emperor Marcus, where Jah Bull put him on the microphone for the first time. He then started to work with King SturGav Hi-Fi, owned by U-Roy, whom Briggy acknowledges as his principal influence and mentor. By 1978 he had joined Twelve Tribes of Israel organization, spreading their message on the affiliated Jah Love sound system, and sometimes recording with other members such as Fred Locks. Freddie McGregor and Judah Eskender Tafari. Encouraged by the latter two he recorded three tracks for Studio One in 1982, before Delroy Stansbury released "Pain" and "Gwan A School" on the Jwyanza label. Aside from Jah Love he worked with several other sound systems, such as Supreme Love, Wha Dat and Black Star. While in the USA, Briggy worked with Downbeat International and acquired a growing following of DJ admirers who often recorded his lyrics. His proper debut album "Jamaica Jamaica" was released on RAS in 1985. It contained a classic version of Bunny Wailer's "Armaggedon". He also recorded several tracks for the Supreme, Techniques and George Phang labels. During the years 1988-1991 he relocated to New York, where he still lives today. On the recording front it remained relatively quiet until the release of his second album called "On The Road" in 1990. Briggy then recorded the album "Hail Him" for Tapper Zukie, which was released in 1993. Another album, a collection of Briggy's music entitled "Freedom Steet", was released by VP Records in 1995.
Brigadier Jerry (along with Josey Wales and Charlie Chaplin) will be performing at big European festivals like Reggae Sun Ska in France, Reggae Geel in Belgium and Rototom Sunsplash in Spain during the summer of 2015.
Sources: The Virgin Encyclopedia of Reggae, Ray Hurford's Small Axe website.
BRIGADIER JERRY - JAMAICA JAMAICA - RAS - 1985
Without doubt the most important DJ release of the decade, which has taken a good three years to finally reach plastic. Then again the actual work of a DJ seems always to have been more important to Briggy, than making lots of records. With this set of 8 tracks, Briggy simply shows why he's been one of Jamaica's top DJ's since the early eighties. The musicians include Judah Eskender Tafari on bass and Albert Malawi on drums who both play it nice and easy. Check 'Kushunpeng' as the best track.
BRIGADIER JERRY - ON THE ROAD - RAS - 1990
Five years later comes Briggy's second album. This one features a mix of the Roots Radics plus a couple of tracks from Steely & Clevie with one track coming from Noel Alphonso & John Allen. While production comes from Dr. Dread, John Hamilton & Briggy. The lyrics and the deejaying as always with the man are impeccable. The Radics on the bulk of the rhythms is more doubtful. A great band, yes, but you don't think of bands in connection with DJ's. 'Dreadlocks Man' built by Steely & Clevie is the way to go.
BRIGADIER JERRY - HAIL HIM - TAPPA - 1993
It's easier to get Briggy into the studio, than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. That alone would make this album an event. That it is a superb set, produced by Tappa Zukie, that brings him right up to date is a double cause for celebration. Briggy’s work on Jah Love, the sound system of the Twelve Tribes Of Isreal, and all the other top sounds that Briggy works, is traditionally where the man can be heard at his very best. These sound system should be sought out by any true lover of reggae music. Until then settle for this album, a fine example of all the best aspects of the singjaying style of deejaying.
BRIGADIER JERRY - FREEDOM STREET - VP RECORDS - 1995
This set works on many different levels. For starters it is a true historical document. An unreleased whole album by any artist is a major event. The fact that it dates from 1979, a major event year in the history of the music with the arrival of the dancehall style. It is also to my knowledge only the third LP that is Twelve Tribes produced, and last but not least it's by Briggy. One of the greatest and most influential DJ's in the entire history of reggae music. On this truly essential LP, you will find him riding cuts of 'Drifter', plus many other great rhythms, all reworked by what became known as the Studio One Band.
BRIGADIER JERRY - SHOWERS OF BLESSINGS - VIRTUOUS WOMAN - 2009
Briggy has got nothing to prove. If he now released 100 albums all at once - it would still not match his output on sound system - to be found on sound system tapes from the late seventies to the present. These tapes from that time to this time, are magnificent!! However as good as they are - most people follow the works of an artist by album, they are the easiest thing to get hold of. So from time to time it make sense for any artist to release something in that format. And here it is. A seven track set produced by Noel Alphonso. It's a great work, great rhythms, great lyrics! The rhythms tend to be roots with a digital feel. It's nice. They are the type that DJ's work best. Briggy - well the man can work lyrics - he makes it seem so easy!