Time Is The Master
John Holt
Moodisc / Zojak Worldwide
Digital Release
December 10, 2013

Track list
  1. Time Is The Master
  2. Everybody Knows
  3. Riding For A Fall
  4. Looking Back
  5. Love Is Gone
  6. Stick By Me
  7. Lost Love
  8. It May Sound Silly
  9. Again
  10. Oh Girl
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 4
Four decades after the under-celebrated producer Harry A. Mudie released John Holt's smash album "Time Is The Master" on vinyl, it re-appears in digital format.

Harry Mudie, born in in 1940 in Spanish Town, Jamaica, first came to prominence producing drummer Count Ossie. He caught some of the master Rasta drummer's earliest work on tape in the early '60s, at a time when the percussionist regularly performed at the producer's Spanish Town Scaramouche Gardens Club. In the first half of the '70s, Mudie started experimenting with strings on some of his projects, a first for any reggae producer. His riddims, often laid down at Studio One's 'open' Sunday sessions, were distinguished for being as heavy as any, but also very melodic and well crafted. To add strings, which were were recorded in London, to some records was an odd combination that he made work. Without any doubt the best example were the tunes that appeared on John Holt's "Time Is The Master" album.

John Holt, who achieved prominence in his home country as lead singer of The Paragons, whom he left in 1970 to concentrate on his solo career. He soon became one of the biggest stars of reggae and and his Bunny 'Striker' Lee produced "Stick By Me" was the biggest selling Jamaican record of 1972. The success of the string-laden reggae on his 1973 released "Time Is The Master" album led to Trojan Records issuing a series of similarly arranged albums produced by Bunny 'Striker' Lee starting with the "1,000 Volts Of Holt", which featured reggae cover versions of popular hits. However, these albums weren't as good as "Time Is The Master", a true classic in the history of Reggae music.

If any voice was suited to string accompaniments, it was John Holt's mellifluous tenor, as can be fully expierenced while listening to this series of exceptional songs, all of them underpinned by crisp riddim tracks. To start off the album with the title track "Time Is The Master", an enormous Jamaican hit, is a good thing as this is simply a great tune.
Time is a-going, why not make yourself a plan
And try to be someone
Hold up your head so eyes can see youíre trying, son
Time is the master
But time can be disaster, if you donít care
You, young and gay
You, old and grey
Time is the master
But time can be disaster, if you donít care
John Holt has always been good when it comes to doing cover versions, and here he does truly excellent versions of Brook Benton's "Looking Back" and Ivory Joe Hunter's "It May Sound Silly". Other beautiful songs worth hearing over and over again are his do-over of "Stick By Me" (the biggest-selling Jamaican record of 1972), Delroy Wilson's much covered Rocksteady classic "Riding For A fall", and "Love Is Gone" (on the same riddim as The Heptones' "Love Without Feeling" and Big Joe's "Lick The Face").

If you listen to the tunes featured on this album, it's obvious that John Holt's style, notably slower and more romantic than most of his contemporaries, is a recognisable forerunner of the Lovers rock genre.