Bobby Kalphat & Sunshot Allstars
CD / Digital Release
April 22, 2013
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : -||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 5|
There are many unsung singers and musicians that layed the foundation of Jamaican music. One of those is Bobby Kalphat; top tier foundation maker that is as influential as Jackie Mittoo, Ernie Ranglin, Sly & Robbie, Augustus Pablo and countless others. Revival Reggae is all the rage right now and the Pressure Sounds crew have just made available for the first time a solid showcase of Kalphat's diverse melodica and keyboard magic. Originally "preleased" in 1977, "Zion Hill Dub" was put out on Phil Pratt's Terminal label and faded into obscurity. Included are seven killer bonus tracks that are pure ites.
Bobby Kalphat was born in Warieka Hills and moved to Kingston 11 to be closer to the hotbed of talent during the Ska era. He concentrated on piano and went to The Royal School Of Music. Initially working in the prison system, he financed studio time and bought himself a keyboard. In the Rocksteady Era, he played with Lyn Taitt & The Jets and Tommy McCook & The Supersonics. He was the first keyboardist with The Hippy Boys; playing with the Barrett brothers and was heavily in demand. He is arguably the first artist to make arrangements with melodica (before Augustus Pablo's 1971 "Java"). Note: he gives due respect to Pablo for taking that theory to the popular level. He befriended producer Phil Pratt at Randy's Studio and the rest is musical galore! Mr.Kalphat has recorded with such heavyweights as Dr. Alimantado, The Uniques, Gregory Isaacs, Prince Far I, Willi Williams, Bunny Wailer, The Roots Radics and countless others. Bobby is still around today and is thrilled to have his musical story unraveled. Raspect to you, Mr. Kalphat!
"Zion Hill Dub" was Phil's idea to showcase Bobby's talents on some of The Golden Age's greatest moments. Studios used were Black Ark, Randy's, Channel One and Dynamic. The musicians used are the absolute best. Drums-Sly, Horsemouth and Santa. Bass-Robbie and Fully Fullwood. Guitar-Chinna, Tony Chin, Duggie Bryan and the late Bingy Bunny. Keys-Bobby, Touter Harvey, Ansel Collins and of course Bobby on melodica. The engineers used were Barnabas, Lee Perry, Carlton Lee, Errol Thompson and Ernest Hoo-Kim!
Terminal Rock has a rustic feel with haunting melodica and just a skanking guitar and piano; prime example of 'yard' approach. What About The Half Version opens with Dennis Brown's eerie vocals and gives way to a Soul Syndicate drenched masterpiece that shows the pure genius of early Chinna licks. Counter Punch was one of Bobby's first cuts (released in 1974). It's a Reggae version of Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" and Bobby mashes it up seriously. One of the early sessions at Black Ark; it shows Lee Perry already a master of fading in and out the bubbling keys and melodica - beautiful! Counter Dub is intense with eerie percussion and total control of the wind instrument by Bobby. Zion Hill is the standout selection. A version of The Heptones' "Party Time"; this timeless riddim features sweeping melodica, fat rimshots and crisp production. Zion Dub is a prime example of why The Golden Age shined so bright. The Sound Of Now is another version of "Party Time"; this time it's more spacy and ethereal. Fat Keys shows Bobby using the melodica as a conversational piece alongside a riddim full of "reggae guitar" and one drop drum style.
Collie Collie is the version of Al Campbell's classic "Take These Shackles" and is one of the strongest tracks of the collection. All musicians are in ital unity! Behold I Come is traced to Al Campbell's "Gee Baby" and has a definite King Tubby character to it. Rock solid arrangement from Bobby and all involved. Garla War is an ode to Augustus Pablo. Along the lines of "Dub Organizer", Bobby is definitely blowin' in the wind mighty. Azar (Get Wiser) is the version of the title track of Horace Andy's 1974 album for Pratt. It features Bobby mashing it on a Moog and a drum pattern that is amazing; totally forward piece of musical art. Raw Roots is a version of Ken Boothe's timeless "Artibella". Bobby is seductive on melodica and it blends seamlessly over a "Surfin" bassline and bubblin keys from presumably Touter Harvey. This song has been covered recently by Beenie Man at Tuff Gong (darn good) but this original is in a class by itself!
John Holt's "Strange Mood" (Studio One) is redone here in a spooky fashion. The chord structure (riddim guitar/piano) is purely royal stuff. Money is the version of Horace Andy's "Money Is The Root Of All Evil". Mr. Kalphat shows off his Moog magic again and this approach was well ahead of its time. He is conversational in this style and there is a Jackie Mittoo influence on this yah one. Dub In Fruits is The Flaming Arrows (Watty Burnett) "Where Can I Lay My Weary Head" and is totally fitting alongside these burning tracks. Bobby has always been a huge fan of Pat Kelly and I Don't Want To Go Version is a fitting end to this musical masterpiece.
Bobby Kalphat's "Zion Hill" has rightfully received the treatment it deserves. There is not one flaw in this collection. It's just a shame how artists like him are not household names. He has played a huge part in the transformation of Rocksteady into Reggae and his contributions are immeasurable to our music. You will kick yourself if you don't pick up a copy of this album. Highest recommendation. Go deh!!!!!!!!