Album review
Reggae Hit The Town
The Ethiopians
Trojan Records
15 - 03 - 2000

Tracking list

  1. Owe Me No Pay Me
  2. Cool It Amigo
  3. Fire A Mus Mus Tail
  4. Reggae Hit The Town
  5. I'm Not A King
  6. What A Big Surprise
  7. My Testimony
  8. Buss Your Mouth
  9. Mek You Go On So
  10. Here I Come
  11. Praise Far I
  12. What A Pain
  13. Lot Wife
  14. Sound Of Our Forefathers
  15. Starvation
  16. Israel Want Be Free
  17. What We Gonna Do
  18. Promises
  19. Big Belly Horse
  20. Jericho
  21. Big Splash Splash
  22. Build A Bridge
  23. A Better Man
  24. Conquering Lion
  25. Knowledge Is Power
  26. Another Moses
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

Vocals : 4 Backing : 4 Production : 4 Sound quality : 3 Sleeve : 4

The story of the vocal group The Ethiopians - wich includes frontman Leonard Dillon - actually starts in the ska era, somewhere around 1965, when Leonard Dillon made his recording debut, cutting four songs for producer Coxsone Dodd. In Stephen Taylor and Aston Morris he found two capable partners and once on board, the trio began rehearsing in earnest. Around the beginning of 1966 the trio returned to Coxsone Dodd and cut 'Live Good', 'Why You Gonna Leave Me Now', and the track featured on this album, Owe Me No Pay Me. Aston Morris quit the band and the Ethiopians continued as a duo, scoring with tunes such as 'Free Man' and 'For You'.
They moved to Duke Reid and there they cut one of their best tunes ever : 'Train To Skaville'. This tune became a huge hit on the island and broke into the UK pop charts, peaking at number 40 in the autumn of 1967. After this they recorded 'The Whip' and Cool It Amigo for female producer Sonia Pottinger. 'The Whip' became another smash hit for the Ethiopians. In early 1968 the group became a trio once again, with the addition of local singer Melvin Reid. Around the same time the group released their debut set 'Engine 54' and following the release of the LP, the group cut a handful of excellent singles, including Fire A Mus Mus Tail, I'm Not A King and What A Big Surprise.
Around the close of 1968 they recorded the immensely popular 'Everything Crash', the distinctive jerky riddim of which created a blue-print for a style repeated on a series of popular 45s, including 'Hong Kong Flu', 'Woman Capture Man', My Testimony and Bus Your Mouth. In response to the group's considerable success Trojan Records released a second album of their work, entitled 'Reggae Power'. In 1970 the same record company issued a third collection of their material, 'Woman Capture Man'. In the beginning of the seventies they recorded for an impressive array of producers like Vincent Chin, Rupie Edwards, Coxsone Dodd, Duke Reid, Alvin Ranglin, Bob Andy, Prince Buster, Lee Perry and Joe Gibbs, just to name a few. Around 1974 Melvin Reid quit the group and work became less frequent, as the deejay recordings increasingly dominated the Jamaican music scene. Superior singles such as A Better Man, Conquering Lion, Knowledge Is Power, Another Moses and Band Yu Belly, did little to revive their flagging fortunes and to make ends meet, Taylor began working at a petrol station in Washington Boulevard where he was tragically killed after being struck by a passing van in September 1975.
All the tunes found on this album were recorded in the period of time described above. The group's most popular singles are not included here, you'll find them on other Trojan collections : 'The Original Reggae Hitsound' and 'The World Goes Ska'. This album features some highly impressive early roots tunes such as Sound Of Our Forefathers, Conquering Lion, Praise Far I, Starvation, Israel Want To Be Free, Promises and other gems recorded in the early seventies.
With this retrospective of their early, mostly less known, work they will certainly get the awareness and appreciation of their talents not only from the reggae/ska connoisseurs but also from a wider audience.

Teacher & Mr. T.