Title
Artist
Label
Format
Date

Blood Dunza ~20 Reggae Classics
Johnny Clarke
Smith & Co. Sound & Vision
CD
November 28 - 2003

Track list
  1. Just Call Me African Roots
  2. Declaration Of Rights
  3. None Shall Escape
  4. Peace In The Ghetto
  5. Blood Dunza
  6. Legalise It
  7. Enter Into His Gates
  8. Play Fool Fi Get Wise
  9. Going To The Ball
  10. Move Out A Babylon
  11. Satisfaction
  12. Don't Stay Out Late
  13. Keep On Moving
  14. Hold On
  15. Ten To One
  16. Nobody's Business
  17. Memories By The Score
  18. Crazy Baldhead
  19. I Man Come Again
  20. King Of The Arena
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 4/5 Sleeve : 5
The Dutch Reggae Goldmine ( a division of Smith & Co Sound & Vision) is a label which will be dedicated to releasing classic reggae material from as many sources as possible both in the form of single artist and multi-artist compilation CD's and 12 inch vinyl singles.
Their Johnny Clarke compilation set "Blood Dunza" contains 20 tracks that have been selected by reggae fanatic Michael "Mikey B" Bakker.
In the second half of the '70s, reggae singer Johnny Clarke was one of the most popular singers in the Jamaican dancehalls. Together with Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs he ruled the Jamaican music scene. Despite his huge successes in his motherland Jamaica, Johnny Clarke never gained the international recognition that both Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs managed to get outside Jamaica. Nevertheless, Johnny Clarke can be considered as the founder of the modern dancehall style of singing and he influenced singers such as Linval Thompson, Barrington Levy, Sugar Minott and Frankie Paul.
Johnny Clarke was born in January 1955 and grew up in Whitfield Town, a Kingston ghetto area located not too far from Waltham Park Avenue, Greenwich Town and Maxfield Avenue. Early 1973, he recorded a number of songs for Rupie Edwards like "Don't Go", "Julie" and "Everyday Wondering". After that Johnny moved to producer Edward 'Bunny' Lee from Greenwich Town who already proved himself as a successful producer, being in the business since the early '60s. Bunny Lee was one of the first producers to show how old Studio One and Treasure Isle riddim tracks could be recycled for a new generation audience. Because Lee did not have his own studio, he employed a method of working which was completely different to the working method of other producers. Well established producers like Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd and Arthur 'Duke' Reid were able to experiment with their sound unlimitedly in their own studios, whereas Lee had to buy studio time per hour at studios like Randy's and Channel One. From an economic point of view it was therefore important to keep studio time at a minimum by having the musicians playing a classic riddim track which they already were familiar with and by using each riddim more than once. During the mid '70s Bunny Lee led the way with the characteristic flying cymbals sound developed by his drummer Carlton 'Santa' Davis to create a different sound than fellow producer Winston 'Niney The Observer' Holness had. Lee's method of working was soon taken over by other new producers like Joel 'Joe Gibbs' Gibson and Joseph 'Jo Jo' Hookim, who also started to update the Studio One and Treasure Isle riddim catalogue.
Johnny Clarke perfectly fitted in Lee's method of working. Because he spent so much time hanging around the studios, he became known as the 'studio idler', a nickname given to him by Lee. Being around at the studios made Clarke capable of fitting his lyrics onto the new versions of classic riddim tracks which Lee was building with his session band The Aggrovators. Johnny Clarke was offered the opportunity to voice an Earl Zero track None Shall Escape The Judgement at King Tubby's and the song became one of his biggest hits, being popularized by Tubby's who made the tune an instant soundsystem favourite by running them onto dubplate (acetate or lacquer disc) and selling them to sound systems like the London based Lloydie Coxsone. The rest is history...Johnny became one reggae's leading voices during the 70s.
This album includes some of the great tracks which Johnny Clarke recorded for Bunny Lee. Included are the great African Roots, dealing about a favourite subject of Rastafarian influenced singers as well as the peace anthem Peace In The Ghetto. The alltime roots favorite Blood Dunza is an horns driven plea for equal rights and justice instead of mankind chasing money and vanity (in the '70s dunza was popular Jamaican patois for money). Play Fool Fe Get Wise is about people who use their brains to outsmart others. Both Enter Into His Gates and Move Out Of Babylon were extremely popular roots tunes and were amongst the first string of hits to appear from Johnny Clarke. The latter appears here in a recut of the song which has been recorded in the '80s utilizing the slower rub-a-dub or dancehall style riddim track in stead of the militant steppers riddim which featured on the original version. The same style of riddim can be heard on a recut of None Shall Escape The Judgement, on a revamped version of the soundsystem favourite Hold On, on I Man Come Again, which adapts a few lines of Bob Marley's Duppy Conqueror, and on a version of the Abbyssinians' original Declaration Of Rights. Both Going To A Ball and Nobody's Business see the rootsman in a more mellow lovers mood.
Like any other Johnny Clarke album, this compilation is a mix between original Johnny Clarke compositions and covers versions of Jamaican classics. Already mentioned above is the cover version of The Abbyssinians' classic "Declaration Of Rights", but there are more. Johnny covered a number of tracks made famous by The Paragons. Featured on this album are Satisfaction and Memories By The Score. The Madlads originally recorded the track Ten To One at Studio One which is updated here by Johnny in fine style. The boastful King In The Arena rides the riddim track of Roland Alphonso and The Soul Vendors' Studio One instrumental "Death In The Arena". Bob Marley also seemed to be an inspiration for Clarke. Johnny's fine version of Crazy Baldhead can be found here along with Keep On Moving which happens to be a Curtis Mayfield original. Johnny also takes on Peter Tosh' Legalize It, an appeal to legalize ganja (marihuana). Finally, there is the Lord Creator penned Don't Stay Out Late.
Check out this impressive list of backing instrumentalists :
  • Drums : Carlton 'Santa' Davis, Lowell 'Sly' Dunbar and Carlton Barrett
  • Bass : Robbie Shakespeare, Aston 'Family Man' Barrett and Lloyd Parks
  • Rhythm Guitar : Tony Chin, Aston 'Family Man' Barrett, Winston 'Bo Peep' Bowen and Dwight Pinkney
  • Lead Guitar : Earl 'Chinna' Smith
  • Organ : Winston Wright, Bernard 'Touter' Harvey and Ansel Collins
  • Piano : Ossie Hibbert, Keith Sterling and Errol 'Tarzan' Nelson
  • Percussion : Barnabas and Noel 'Scully' Simms
  • Tenor Sax : Tommy McCook
  • Alto Sax : Lennox Brown
  • Trumpet : Bobby Ellis
  • Trombone : Vin 'Don D Junior' Gordon
Recorded at amongst others Randy's Studio, Treasure Isle and Channel One, Kingston, Jamaica Recording engineers include Errol Thompson, Sid Bucknor and Ernest Hookim.
Voiced and mixed at King Tubby's Studio, Kingston, Jamaica Mixing engineers include Osbourne 'King Tubby' Ruddock, 'Prince Phillip' Smart and Lloyd 'Prince Jammy' James snr.
"Blood Dunza" shows Johnny Clarke and Bunny Lee at their best....Great classic stuff !