Reggae Anthology ~ Sweet Reggae Music 1979-84
17 North Parade
December 16, 2012
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 5|
VP's long lasting "Reggae Anthology" series sees the release of Barrington Levy's retrospective "Sweet Reggae Music 1979-84". Barrington Levy is among a few Jamaican artists to have scored hits in the roots, lovers rock and dancehall styles. This set focuses on his early work (1979 – 1984) and shows numerous examples of the hit making ability and inimitable style that has made him an icon of the genre.
Born on 30th April 1964 in western Kingston, Barrington Levy was raised in rural Clarendon before returning to Kingston in his early teens. The Mighty Multitudes consisted of only two people, Barrington and his cousin Everton Dacres. They made two records in 1978 with very little success. He entered the sound system scene, joining sounds like Burning Spear and Tape Tone, where a young Henry "Junjo" Lawes got impressed by the young artist.
Barrington Levy came to the scene when (non-digital) dancehall started to gain attention with his distinctive whining voice and ghetto patois phrasing, making him one of reggae's most requested vocalists. Producer Henry "Junjo" Lawes was one of the first producers who recognised his talents and in 1979 Barrington Levy hit the Jamaican and UK charts with Shine Eye Gal on the Jah Guidance label. The combination of the new singer and the top producer caused a sensation right from the start, ushering in the dancehall phase at the same time. The early singles A Yah We Deh, Collie Weed ,the aforementioned Shine Eye Gal and Moonlight Lover were later collected on his debut album "Bounty Hunter", which appeared on the Jah Life label in the States. The riddims tracks were recorded at the Channel One studios while the voicing and mixing was done at King Tubby's Dromily Avenue Waterhouse studio. A young King Tubby apprentice, nicknamed Scientist did most of the mixing.
Barrington's next album "Englishman" was released in England by Greensleeves at the close of the year, signalling the beginning of Junjo's and Barrington's long and productive partnership with the West London label. By the time his 1980 album "Robin Hood" was released, Levy was one of the biggest Jamaican stars, and saw his international fame growing as well, especially in the United Kingdom. A flood of singles, recorded for several producers hit the charts during the following months. Mary Long Tongue, 21 Girls Salute, Tomorrow Is Another Day and Robber man, all of them produced by Henry "Junjo" Lawes. On Channel One's Hitbound label appeared Black Roses and Dances Are Changing, while Joe Gibbs produced My Woman and George Phang did Money Move.
In 1984 he was voted Best Male Vocalist at the UK Reggae awards. He moved to London where he started to work with the former selector of U Roy's Sturgav Sound, Paul 'Jah Screw' Love. With Jah Screw he enjoyed a big hit on the reggae charts with Under Mi Sensi, which was followed by the huge crossover hit Here I Come, which reached number 41 in the UK Singles Chart in 1985. Albums that followed were "Lifestyle" and "Money Move", which then was followed by a British hit album called "Here I Come".
Barrington entered the nineties with the excellent "Divine" album for Island, and has been in the charts since then. He scored big with two cover versions of Bob Andy songs - "My Time" and "Too Experienced", both produced by Jah Screw. In 1998 he released "Living Dangerously" which included a collaboration with one of Jamaica's most prolific deejays, Bounty Killer, and with Snoop Dogg. The release was one of Levy's most successful since the start of the 1990s, and saw him finally achieve some success in the States. He also collaborated with hip-hop luminaries like Heavy D, Wyclef Jean, Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne, to name but a few.