Solomonic Singles 2: Rise & Shine 1977-1986
Solomonic / Dub Store Records
July 1, 2016
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 4/5||Sleeve : 5|
Bunny Wailer is one of the founding members of the Wailers, and the trio's only surviving member. Born Neville O'Riley Livingston on April 10, 1947, in Kingston, Jamaica, he spent his earliest years in the village of Nine Miles in St. Ann's. It was there that he first met Bob Marley, and the two toddlers became fast friends. In 1952 their families relocated to Kingston. There they met up with another pair of equally keen youngsters, Peter Tosh and Junior Braithwaite. Initially, Marley intended on a solo career, but his hopes were dashed by a failed audition for producer Leslie Kong. The upshot was the four boys now joined forces, along with backing singers Cherry Green and Beverly Kelso, as the Teenagers. They were trained in voice control, harmonies and stagecraft by Joe Higgs. The band's name would change several times before they finally settled on the Wailers.
After their audition for Coxsone Dodd, their career took off immediately with their first single, the anti-violence anthem "Simmer Down." Early on, all four of the boys contributed songs to the group, which enabled the Wailers to continue without Marley after he left Jamaica in 1966, to seek work for a time in the U.S. Over time, however, Bunny's songwriting contributions to the group had lessened, although when he did turn his hand to composing, the results were never less than scintillating. On their own Wail N Soul M label they released several excellent singles. By 1973, the Wailers were untouchable, the biggest reggae band in Jamaica, and on the verge of an international breakthrough. The first leg was a three month jaunt across the U.K., followed by an outing to the U.S. Bunny would never make that second leg, he barely made it through the first. Tensions were rising within the Wailers, a situation exasperated by the tour. He had enough, and upon the group's return to Jamaica, Bunny announced that he would not accompany the band to the U.S.
He now began pursuing a solo career. He launched his own label, Solomonic, with his debut solo single "Searching For Love" in 1972. Further quality tunes followed, such as "Arabs Oil Weapon" and "Pass It On". With the release of his stunning debut album "Blackheart Man" in 1976 he established himself as a force to be reckoned with. High quality singles, mostly pressed in limited quantities, were released through the Solomonic imprint. Next year he came up with the "Protest" album that featured a compelling do-over of "Johnny Too Bad" from The Slickers. The follow-up to "Protest" was "Struggle", a much overlooked set with the single "Bright Soul". The anthemic song is one of Bunny's finest outings: "Remember, Jah Jah children them no bow to the dragon, Them only bow to the conquering lion, Them Jah Jah children them a rock them a iron, Go away, fallen angel". The album "In I Father's House" came next. It features the (album) version of "Love Fire". The tune was a reworking of the Wail N Soul M single "Fire Fire" and resurfaced later on the 1983 album "Roots Radics Rockers Reggae". Some excellent singles were issued, including "Riding" and "Free Jah Children".
In 1980 he surprised the reggae community with "Bunny Wailer Sings the Wailers", a tribute to his former group, lovingly revisiting his own favourites, accompanied by fine musicians like Sly & Robbie, Earl 'Chinna' Smith, Keith Sterling, Winston Wright, Dean Fraser, Nambo Robinson, Headly Bennett and Sticky. By the time the album was released later in 1980, Marley's cancer had been diagnosed, the following spring he was gone. The album "Tribute" was drawn from the "Sings The Wailers" sessions and helped to keep the Wailers' legacy alive. His 1981 showcase album "Rock 'N' Groove", turned to the dancehalls for inspiration, was ignored by the critics but proved to be a success in Europe and the U.S. In that period he issued a bunch of strong tunes that consolidated his reputation, such as "Galong So", celebrating the joy of dancing to the music, the militant song "Rise & Shine" and the anti-violence song "Cease Fire". In the mid 80s the new dancehall style with its digital riddims took Jamaica and the dancehall by storm. Although he has always given a sympathetic ear to the latest innovations in production and riddims, he wasn't anymore in the forefront of reggae music. He released several albums, new stuff as well as retrospective sets, and relies mainly on the loyalty of his fans worldwide. He has won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1991, 1995 and 1997.
Dub Store Records out of Japan is the major Japanese ska, rocksteady, reggae and dancehall reissue label run by the eponymous Tokyo based record store. The label aims at accurately covering the 50-plus years of Jamaican music. In 2010 they got to work with Bunny on re-releasing a selection of his earliest recordings for the Solomonic label. Most of his Solomonic output were released in Jamaica and the U.K. in strictly limited quantities. Original copies have subsequently become highly prized, and highly priced, collector’s items. They are lovingly restored and presented in reproduction sleeves and labels, on limited edition seven and twelve inch singles. Their next step is the release of Bunny’s timeless music on two beautifully packaged CD's and double LP's. Recently we reviewed the "Solomonic Singles 1 : Tread Along 1969-1976" set, the second one is a crucial collection of his Solomonic productions from 1977 to 1986.
This second disc opens with an instrumental tune, the B-side of Peter Tosh's cut of "Anti-Apartheid". The riddim used here comes from Bunny's immortal "Amegideon". It's credited to "Solomonic Reggae Star" and features Peter on melodica. The haunting dub version comes next and incorporates vocal snippets of the original tune. The 12" mix of "Arab Oil Weapon" is a reworking of the biting 1974 tune. The aforementioned "Love Fire" sees Bunny in triumphant shape praising Jah's eternal love: "Jah love, it is like a burning fire, It keeps on burning, burning, burning In my soul, Jah love, it is my one, my one desire, It is gonna set my soul on fire, It'll never grow cold". The 12" mix comes complete with the dub version. "Bright Soul" (12" mix) is one of his most solid slices of work, featuring an subtle but effective horns arrangement. From 1981 comes the dubbed up 12" version of "Rise & Shine". This militant bass powered anthem still stands strong after all these years. Bunny returned to the song on his album "Liberation". "Riding" and "Galang So" are amongst the Reggae Vibes Crew's absolute Bunny Wailer favourites. Voiced in response to the increasing violence "Cease Fire", with its assured production and timeless message, stays one of his most enduring tunes. The album rounds off with "Rule Dancehall", Bunny's bubbling answer to the dancehall explosion in the 80's: "Come mek weh show you how fe ram dancehall, come mek we show you how we fe rule them all… East, west north and south, it is I who rule the land. I play original style while others play version". He and The Roots Radics are in fantastic shape, answering and opposing the digital trend of that time.
A brilliant compilation... get it!