4 CD Box Set
September 28, 2010
Disc One: The Outlaw Josey Wales
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4||Production : 4||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 3/4|
'Reggae Legends' is a nice (and friendly priced) Greensleeves series, reissuing classic albums of one artist in a 4 cd box. So far the likes of Shabba Ranks, Sugar Minott and Johnny Osbourne have been presented in a '4-inna-box stylee' and now the man with the gruff and gravelly voice is being highlighted on four early 80s albums in the box. Josey Wales aka The Colonel aka The Outlaw was a very popular deejay, almost as successful as his fellow toaster Yellowman. Unlike Yellowman, Josey Wales never went for international name and fame, but he managed to score hits far into the digital era. Often described as singjay (half-spoken and half-sung delivery) he still keeps touring the world.
Josey Wales was born Joseph Winston Sterling in West Kingston, Jamaica, and took his stage name from the Clint Eastwood Western 'The Outlaw Josey Wales'. In 1977 his career took off while working for the Roots Unlimited Sound System alongside Burro Banton. He moved to U-Roy's King SturGav Hi-Fi Sound System, where he teamed with deejay sparring partner Charlie Chaplin in one of the most potent one-two punches of the era, which in turn made King SturGav arguably the biggest sound system around. Josey Wales' first recordings were live performances issued on producer Bunny Roots' Kris Disk label. In the meantime The Volcano Soundsystem had become the most influential sound on the island. Owner, promotor and producer Henry 'Junjo' Lawes pursued Josey Wales to work for him and he began moonlighting for Volcano sound system. In 1983, he issued his first-ever single on the Volcano label, 'Baby Come Home' aka Beg You Come Home, a revamp of the Delroy Wilson classic. The next single Let Go Mi Hand was his breakthrough smash. It used Alton Ellis' 'Mad Mad' riddim, but most people will recognize it as the Michigan & Smiley tune 'Diseases'.
'The Outlaw Josey Wales'(disc 1) appeared later in 1983, and it established him as one of Jamaica's top deejays, behind only Yellowman at his peak. The album used some of the Roots Radics best riddims and has remained a classic dancehall album over the years. Further hits followed, including Bobo Dread and Drug Abusing which appeared on his second album, 1984's 'No Way No Better Than Yard' (disc 2). For this album he worked with Cornerstone producer Mickey Pep and the musicians of The High Times band. Another quality album and it sees Josey Wales in a more rootsy style, riding classic riddims such as 'Heavenless' for The World Is Like A Mirror, the 'Real Rock' riddim on Yu Too Greedy, 'Queen Of The Minstrel' for Maxine and 'Pretty Looks' on Jah Jah Move.
Disc 3 'Two Giants Clash' is a clash album with Josey Wales riding the same Roots Radics riddims as Yellowman. Produced by Henry 'Junjo' Lawes, this set has too much fillers and only few killers. One of the highlights here is Bobo Dread a fine recut of the 'Prison Oval Rock' riddim. Yellowman's lick of the riddim sounds less inspired. Slim Smith's 'Rougher Yet' riddim is used for Yellowman's over the top tune Wrong Girl To Play With You but Josey Wales tells us why he can't 'tek a red-eye girl' on Sorry To Say. Jah A Mi Guiding Star rides the 'Stars' riddim and Yellowman does the same on King Of The Crop.
The fourth disc is the George Phang produced set Undercover Lover. It's 1985 and the digital riddims will start to flood the dancehalls very soon. The Taxi Gang provides the effective backing for Josey Wales' 'sermons'. The title track was a huge hit, using the 'Talk About Love' riddim. Here we hear a take on 'Throw Me Corn', a riddim he would relick later for Jammy's with considerable success as 'Whole Heap A Corn'. Nuffy Nuffy is a decent version of the 'Real Rock' riddim, while Pon Street Again is his rendition of the 'Rockfort Rock' riddim.
He then moved over to producer King Jammy with whom he enjoyed a series of hits that included 'Na Lef Jamaica,' 'Ha Fi Say So,' 'Right Moves,' 'It's Raining,' and 'Water Come a Mi Eye,' among others. The Rulin' album appeared in 1986 on the Black Solidarity label, and several collections of his work for Jammy's also followed in the late '80s. In 1993 he scored big with crooner Beres Hammond. Their combination tune 'Hey Girl' topped the reggae charts worldwide. He stays a popular figure in the dancehall scene and still knows how to get a crowd moving, as we both witnessed at the Reggae Geel festival in 2008.