4 CD Box Set
December 16, 2012
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 4||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4|
Although the legendary roots singer Fred Locks (born Stafford Elliott, 1950, Kingston, Jamaica) has never been a prolific artist, he has always been around since he started his music career in the 1960s as part of a vocal harmony group. His first group, formed in secondary school, was called The Flames, and then, in 1966, he formed The Lyrics with Albert Tomlinson and Delmar Campbell. With this group (in 1969 becoming a duo as Delmar Campbell migrated to the US) he recorded for Studio One ("A Get It", "Girls Like Dirt", and "Hear What The Old Man Say"), Randy's ("Give Thanks", "East To The Right", and a cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water"), and the group's own Lyric label ("Sing Along"). When also Albert Tomlinson migrated (to Canada), Fred Locks formed the short-lived Tony & The Melancholics, before he embarked on a solo career.
Fred Locks acquired his reputation as one of Jamaica's roots heroes in 1975, when his anthemic single "Black Star Liner" was released on the Twelve Tribes-affiliated Jahmikmusik label. His debut album "Black Star Liner/True Rastaman" was released in 1976, and has remained popular with roots reggae audiences ever since. From then up till 2008 he has released six more full length albums including "Nebuchadnezzar, King Of Babylon" aka "Revelations" aka "Love & Harmony" (1980), "Love And Only Love" (1982), "Culturally" (1995), "Never Give Up" (1998), "Missing Link" (2000) and "Glorify The Lord" (2008). All these album contained music in serious 'cultural' mode and were consistent efforts with the Phillip 'Fatis' Burrell produced "Never Give Up" set being the most memorable. At the beginning of 2012 a new project, the 12-track album "Music Is My Calling", done in association with American producer/musician James Lord, was released and got rave reviews.
This wicked box set collects four albums, including the ultra-rare 'Black Star Liner In Dub'. Released around 1976 the dub set is a hard and authentic collection of dubs to all the tracks on the vocal album, the guarded preserve of sound man until now. Furthermore it gives you Pablove Black's rare melodica cut to the title track Jumbo Jet and the deejay cut Redemption Rock by an unknown talent called Drummie. This album is also released as a stand-alone dub album on vinyl. The vocal album is a true must have for anyone who calls himself a reggae adapt. Still it stands as one of reggae's true (roots) classics with the outstanding True Rastaman being one of our favourite all time classics.
In the late 1970s, Fred Locks was also a member of the vocal trio Creation Steppers, along with Eric Griffiths and Willy Stepper, releasing records in Jamaica on their own Star of The East label, and having a hit in Jamaica with "Stormy Night". In 1980, the trio travelled to the UK for a small tour, and began an association with London-based sound system operator and producer Lloyd Coxsone, who released a number of superb heavyweight roots singles by the group, and also some Fred Locks solo records. These were collected on the album Love And Only Love in 1982. Brilliant set!
Disc 4 is the album "The Missing Link". The title of this album refers to a compilation of thoughts and expressions recorded by Fred Locks in 1978 as a follow-up to "Black Star Liner". The singer and his producer Jah "Shoes" Bootie of "Jahlovemuzik Productions" had planned to release these recordings on an album entitled "Rastafari Rules", which was scheduled for 1979. However, it never happened, due to serious problems with the royalties for the "Black Star Liner" album. Thanks to their relationship with VP Records in New York (the company re-released "Black Star Liner" on CD in 1995 and payed a small royalty) the "Rastafari Rules" project was re-activated, however one half of the original recordings had disappeared and the other half had crystallized and could not be restored. The album was given up and considered doomed. Then the missing half suddenly surfaced in Jamaica, also crystallized due to improper storage and age. Thanks to modern technology and the brilliant skills of Wayne Chin the tapes were salvaged, transferred digitally, and ultimately restored. Several tracks were damaged, including Key Of Life of which only the voice, lead guitar. and repeater drums, were saved. The riddim was simulated and redone along with new harmony vocals. Most of the tracks, however, are untouched except for digital remixing. Listening to this roots reggae music, recorded more than two decades ago, one can only confirm that all efforts and hard work to make the release of the "Missing Link" from Fred Locks' repertoire possible, have been truly well worth.