|Initially, a big part of the attraction of Jamaican music was, at least for yours truly, the quantities of local harmony groups to be found. Nowadays it is difficult to believe since the last ten or even twenty years or so has proven it to be a dying artform in reggae, but the tri-part harmony vocals was once a dominating musical force on the island. Cornerstone groups like the Abyssinians, the Meditations, Culture, the Mighty Diamonds, the Morwells, the Wailing Souls, theViceroys, the Itals and even the Gladiators, before they switched to being an instrumental unit, and countless of others, including the previous wave of rock steady and early reggae trios and quartets such as the Overtakers, the Caribbeans, the West Indians, the Versatiles, the hugely influential Heptones, the Conquerors, the Rio Grandes, the Meditators, the Spanishtonians and dozens more, all provided listeners with some unforgettable and golden moments on wax during the 1960s and seventies. For any serious reggae aficionado, this period has got to be the most outstanding: great harmonies and lead voices, superb session musicians, skillfull engineers, sparse but obviously perfect recording equipment, and not the least those vinyl 45s on charmingly titled labels, many printed in scarce amounts at the time. Many of these groups will never have their stories told, I'm sure, but I've been able to track down at least one whose cult has grown steadily over the past twenty years of even more than enough obscurity, the Jewels' founder and lead singer, Glasford Manning, also known as 'Porti'. This harmony trio made their name in the late seventies for such excellent sides as 'I Jah I', 'Slave Trade', militantly provocative songs like 'Black Is the Highest Culture', or such mellow, sweet lovers rock sides as 'Dream Lover Babe'. They worked mainly through producers Niney and later Leggo Beast, the latter said to sit on at least two albums worth of music from this overlooked group. Porti also cut a few solo records of which 'Prophecy Call', a particular sound system favorite among the UK crowd, has to be something of an underground classic, reissued on a 10" by Niney not long ago. After a handful of more or less extraordinary releases, Porti and his fellow Jewels vanished from the music scene in 1986 after the 'Inside Up Upside Down' (Leggo Sounds) 12" failed to make any impact. But Porti's history in Jamaican music doesn't begin or end with the Jewels, he was also foundational member of Time Unlimited, a quartet which featured among them a young Junior Delgado, as well as Hugo Blackwood, and he began to record for, who else, the late Sir Coxson Dodd in the late 1960s. Read on for more information on this great, overlooked, obscure but highly talented singer from one of the best groups in reggae vocal harmony, the Jewels. My thanks to Porti, Bravo & Terry, Bredda Blackheart, Sis Irie, Donovan Phillips, and Steve Barrow.|
Glasford 'Porti' Manning (Jake Savona. 2014)
Q: What was your start in the music business? I know you did something for Studio One to begin with.
A: Yeah. How I get in the business in the music as a career, I was along in Trench Town and met a group called Delta Cats, and they took me along down by Downbeat (Mr Dodd) on Brentford Road.
Q: What year was this?
A: What year it was? It was '68, coming into '69.
Q: So the early reggae era.
A: Yeah, inna those time. So they said to I now seh they want I to give them a back-up vocalist, so I backed up some tunes with them, two songs with them over by Downbeat studio. So, when I realise too within myself and even the producers them told me say I must form a group for myself, so I get to along now moving out of Trench Town, get along to Duhaney Park in Washington Garden, and I record with a company called Upsetter, Lee Perry. I do a album over there, we and Junior Delgado, Owen Marshall, Orville Smith and I, G. Manning. Yeah. And I formed a group, four of us formed that group and called it Time Unlimited. We does a album over at Lee Perry, move on to a brethren called Niney, and we do two songs for Niney, move on to Rupie Edwards and we do two songs over at Rupie Edwards. Move on from Rupie Edwards now and been down by Leggo studio and now I find say Time Unlimited now seem to Junior Delgado dem, dem feel say dem be the star and dem waan fe go out on dem own, they go and break away. So I formed a group now and call weself the Mighty Jewels. So, Leggo see us, which is down by Cash & Carry where (Gaylard) Bravo is now, Leggo see us and said, well, he would like we to work with him. Well, we start to work with Leggo, we do a greater, great portion of songs fe Leggo, yunno. Nuff songs.
Q: Before we move too fast, you said you met up with the Delta Cats, the group who cut songs like 'I Can't Believe'?
A: Yeah, Delta Cats, a group called Delta Cats.
Q: Who were a part of that group?
A: The member for that group, we call him 'Soul'. I don't quite remember his right surname now, but they called him Souls. He was living in Westmoreland. But I were in Kingston, so he leave from Westmoreland to come into Kingston and get recorded up by there. So, true I could sing that time, they said to I they want I to be a back-up artist for them that time. So I get along with them at that time.
Q: What was the title you recorded, for Coxson?
A: Yeah, that was for Coxson. A tune name 'I Set My Line In the Deep Water To Catch My Love'. Yeah.
Q: So that was the only recording you did for him?
A: I did up there for Coxson, for Sir Coxson. Yeah. So moving on from Sir Coxson now, when I do recording now for myself as a vocal lead-artist, I move on from Sir Coxson and I went up by Duhaney Park. So, when I went up by Duhaney Park now I found myself now with Orville Smith, Owen (Junior) Marshall, Junior Delgado and I, Glasford Manning. So we form a group there and we call it Time Unlimited. So from we start to rehearse now and recording, producers hear we, and producers come and say, well, we can come up by the studio, that is Downbeat... not Downbeat...?
Q: The Upsetter.
A: Upsetters, yes. And we go up by Upsetters and we sung twelve songs there, that is a album. In those days they call it a 'album', when we do twelve songs for him. So we said OK, and we gwaan moving on, moving on 'til we break away and I found we do... Junior Delgado and I and Orville Smith and Owen Marshall sing two tune for Rupie Edwards, 'Run Baldhead (Natty Dread A Come)', 'Rastaman A Dreadlocks Down In A Babylon' (issued as 'Rasta Dreadlocks', available on a nice Trojan compilation, 'Ire Feelings'). And moving from there now I come to Lee Perry now, me and them, and we do an album for Lee Perry. After doing that album for Lee Perry now we went down, and then that...
Q: Let me interrupt you by playing this track, see if you can recall this one (of course I have to take the opportunity to spin some tracks that our subject hasn't heard for years, beginning by playing 'Staring' off a 2003 Upsetter anthology on Heartbeat, a previously unreleased song by Time Unlimited circa '73)?
A: Yeah! That is... yeah, that's for Leggo.
Q: You remember that cut?
A: Yeah man, that's the one that I do for Leggo! Down by Cash & Carry.
Q: But this take is from Lee Perry's vaults you know.
A: For Lee Perry?
A: Yeah! That is the track that I do for Lee Perry. Yeah, that is the track! Yeah. That is the track I...
Q: It's titled 'Staring' on this CD.
A: That is the track I do for Lee Perry, but I remix it for Leggo (rather a recut, actually).
Q: Right, right. But this is one of the first recordings by Time Unlimited, it didn't see release until this record came out. It's been available since '03 or so, included on a CD named 'Cutting Razor'.
A: Yeah, yeah - it's true! It's true, I remember that song. I remember that song, I do it in the seventies. Yeah.
Q: Here is another one I have to play for you, also Time Unlimited (but I can't get the damn CD player to start the track though!).
Q: Hold on (long pause). Well, machines never work when you need them to, right?
A: Yeah, I know that.
A: Can give you problems more time.
Q: Yeah, especially in moments like these.
A: Yeah. (Sings) 'Rastaman is trodding on hooome, to hoooly ziooon, oh yeees...'. We do that one for Lee Perry too.
Q: Right. OK, listen to this one (playing 'Judgement' from the same Upsetter compilation on Heartbeat).
Q: Remember it?
A: Yeah, yeah!
Q: This was entitled 'Judgement', another unreleased Time Unlimited track from the 'lost' LP he did with you.
A: Yeah! Yeah man, is I do that one. Yes.
Q: Did you write a lot together with Delgado at that time, or you created the material seperately?
A: Yeah, I write a lot of song for him too.
Q: But in those days, you wrote the majority of the Time Unlimited material?
A: Yeah, I write most of the materials. Most of the material that Junior Delgado and I and Orville Smith, those brethren, me and them wrote together and get things together, y'know. Me arrange the riddims, sectioned them, I played my guitars, harps and all those t'ings. So, that's how we come together, y'know.
Q: How much did Delgado contribute to the album you were recording with the group?
A: How much? On the LP that we does for Lee Perry, I write the most. I do seven out of twelve songs. I do seven on it, I write seven songs of my materials. I write those songs. The other songs, five songs, is then between Orville Smith and Junior Delgado.
Q: What was your material on it?
A: I do 'Rastaman Is Trodding On Home' (issued as 'African Sound' on Perry's Upsetter label, one Porti is pretty fond of as he starts singin' it again) 'Rastaman is trodding on hooome, to holy ziiion, oh yeeess ah aaah...'. Yeah, and we do...
Q: Listen to this now (playing 'Rastaman Trodding On Home' off Delgado's third Incredible Music anthology). That's the one, huh?
A: Yeah, yeah, that's the one.
Q: Delgado put this on a series of retrospective CD's a couple of years ago (the 'Treasure Found' series).
Q: It was released on a CD out of England, titled 'No Baby Lion'. Did you know about it?
A: 'No Baby Lion'?
Q: Yeah, it is included there covering his history as recording artist.
A: Yeah, but if he... is me who wrote that song, yunno. That is my material, but he put it out differently. And all those t'ings, y'know, I did not know about those t'ings you know, Peter. No, I haven't known about these t'ings, I don't get no contact, no confirmation about these t'ings. So I would like to know... yeah.
Q: I know. Take a listen to this one (spinning 'Rasta Dreadlocks' off the same Delgado anthology), that was for Rupie on the 'Skanga' rhythm.
A: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Winston 'Niney' Holness
Q: That was the first one for Rupie Edwards, 'Rasta Dreadlocks'?
A: Yeah, that is for 'Rupie Edwards, and 'Run Baldhead (Natty Dread A Come)' we do for him.
Q: But at the time you were still recording for Scratch, so this was a song that came out as Heaven Singers, or even 'Heavenly Singers', on the Success label.
A: Yeah. At the time when I record for Scratch, Lee Perry, it was Time Unlimited.
Q: Right, it's the same group but for contractual reasons or whatever it was, this got changed to Heaven Singers.
A: Heaven Singers?
A: Yeah, yeah.
Q: Because the group - or Rupie, probably both - didn't want to cause any problem with Scratch, hence the name-change.
A: No, I never did want to upset Lee Perry at that time, I have to go to... with Heaven Singers, yeah. Moving from there so, after leaving Rupie Edwards I go to Niney, which is the Observer. I do a song for him name 'Jah I' (aka 'I Jah I', which he sings): 'Although the wicked they try to get against I and I, they shall stumble and faaall, stumble and faaaall, they shall stumble and faaall now, so anywhere you see Jah children them a goo - ooo...'.
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