I'm Free
Bunny Marrett
Bristol Archive Records
June 24, 2012

I'm Free - Bunny Marrett Track list
  1. I'm Free
  2. Natural Princess
  3. Farm Diggin'
  4. Farm Dubbin'
  5. Jazzy Reggae
  6. Jazzy Dub
  7. Times Are Getting Harder
  8. Times Are Getting Harder Dub
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 5
Reggae Music boasts a rich heritage; spanning more than half a century. There are countless artistes of legendary stature but by consequence are not well known. Bunny Marrett is one such figure, virtually unknown outside Bristol Reggae circles. Raspect due, Bristol Archive Records has released his 1986 offering, "I'm Free".

Bunny was born in January, 1941 inna yard. He started out singing in the footsteps of the timeless Blues Busters (Lloyd Campbell/Phillip James) and was influenced by a variety of stylings. He sang the original "My Girl Lollipop" (tune that made Millie Small a star in 1964) before relocating to England. He settled in nicely in the musical trampoline in the seaside town of Bristol. He quickly absorbed American Blues and Jamaican Jazz sounds that were relevant in this era. He rubbed shoulders with the late Jackie Edwards, Owen Grey, Eddie "Tan Tan" Thorton, Rico Rodriquez and Laurel Aitken. Mr. Aitken taught the eager Bunny to play piano. Note: Bunny played on stage with Laurel in Bristol right before Aitken's passing. Bunny kept on dabbling; even getting a radio slot, "Roots Rockers". This was a gig meant for Mikey Dread, who couldn't get a work permit. Bunny was instrumental in the emergence of "The Bamboo Club"; a venue that held talent shows exposing the community to future greats Matumbi and Joshua Moses.

It was Bunny's time to move forward around 1980. Assembling a razor sharp band and superior song writing skills (mad), he recorded his first works in the U.K. The result was the 12" release of "Times Are Harder" on Shoc Wave Records, that instantly caught the attention of the British music world. Achieving more respect, he concentrated on penning crucial songs, not always for himself! Black Roots' first smash hits, "Bristol Rock" and "The System" are his works. When Black Roots disbanded, Delroy Ogilvie was given six of Bunny's work to yard and scored big time. The table was about to turn. By 1986, Bunny had a musical basket and a blistering backing band to go into the studio. "The Startled Insects" backed him up and have the street creds. Drummer Tony Orrell is a legendary jazz musician and fellow member Richard Lewis is a masterclass engineer/producer better known today as "the U.K Scientist". Yes, indeed. The project was quickly completed and shelved until late 2011.

"I'm Free" can be described as a mystical effort; seamlessly natural and simple genius. This is Roots Reggae that draws heavily on jazz and blues stylee. The title track delivers well with a relaxed acoustic approach that flourishes throughout the album. The song depicts the Rastaman's defiance of becoming a political scapegoat. Natural Princess is an earthy song spiced up with great melodica and a rawness that intoxicates. Farm Diggin and its dub is a pure love song. No gimmicks here; fantastic rim shots and a seemingly double bass that sounds like the track was recorded live with no mixing. The highlight track is Jazzy Reggae, an obvious ode to Robert Nesta. It sounds eerily like Bob's "Kinky Reggae". Really tight backing that complements Bunny's decades of hard work and mystical abilities. Its dub is tasty, strictly ital served up with jazz juice. We are treated to Bunny's earlier effort, Times Are Getting Harder. This demands attention, bordering on Rockers style with a vocal prowess akin to bredrin Pablo Gad. It is believed that Joshua Moses and bassman Donovan Jackson were on this last track; pure murder!

British Reggae is usually associated to London. Its northern neighbor, Bristol, was and will always be brimming with talent galore. Bunny Marrett deserves the keys to the City for this magic. His ability to blend Reggae, Blues and Jazz is uncanny. It's not "crossover"; just an earthly blend mixed by the hand of Jah Jah. There is not a note out of place here. Thankfully, Bunny is steppin' pon stage with plenty of dates on the calender. "I'm Free" has stood the test of time and not checking it would be a crime.