Title
Artist
Label
Format
Date

Ten Years After
The Royals
Tamoki-Wambesi
CD
October 2, 2014

Track list
  1. Malnutrition
  2. My Sweat Turns To Blood
  3. Stand And Give Praises
  4. Familar Music
  5. Rising Sun
  6. No One Knows
  7. Make Believe
  8. Come A Long Way
  9. It's Real
  10. Down Comes The Rain
  11. Freedom Fighters
  12. Free Speech And Movement
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 4
The fist incarnation of The Royals was formed by Roy Cousins in 1964 and included members Errol Green, Berthram 'Harry' Johnson ("the only youth in the area with a guitar"), Trevor McFarlane and Maurice 'Professor' Johnson, who soon left to set up The Tennors. The group cut their first tune "House On The Hill" for Federal Records, but switched to Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label and recorded "We Are In The Mood". They met members of The Tartans, deejay Froggy (later known as U-Roy) and they did some rehearsals together. In 1967 The Royals changed their name to The Tempests after The Temptations and recorded some 8 tunes for Coxsone Dodd's Studio One label but none were released at the time. Many years later Larry Marshall found that tape and released the classic tune "Pick Up The Pieces" after The Royals' own version on Roy's Uhuru label had become a hit. The bassline for "Pick Up The Pieces" has subsequently become one of reggae's most versioned riddim tracks.

Errol Green and Trevor McFarlane left The Royals and were replaced by Errol Wilson aka Errol Nelson, Keith Smith and Ivan Renee, all from the Waterhouse district. They recorded some (unreleased) tunes for Joe Gibbs. Roy Cousins started to work for the for the parcel post division of the Jamaican Post Office in 1967, and kept recording for various producers, but it seemed to Roy that "whoever he record for they never release", so his next step was to "do it yourself" realising that the only way he could survive in the music business was to finance and produce his own recordings through his work at the Post Office.

His first self-productions were a new version of "Pick Up The Pieces", the beautiful "Down Comes the Rain" and "a next song with Devon Russell". Roy's next two releases, an I Roy version to "Pick Up The Pieces" entitled "Monkey Fashion/Fashion Monkey" and "Down Comes The Rain", came out on Tamoki. The Royals subsequent recordings all came out on Roy's Wambesi imprint. It was going to be the name of the group. but instead their Cuban manager gave them the name The Royals as "every time we change the name it just wouldn't work".

The group provided backing vocals for various artists and producers. The mid 70s proved to be a peak of artistic creativity for The Royals and, with their own releases on Wambesi such as "Ghetto Man", "Promised Land" and "Only For A Time", they established a faultless body of work that few could ever hope to match, using Roy's distinctive lisping vocal technique to its fullest. Their songs from this period were assembled for the "Pick Up The Pieces" album, a definitive high point in Jamaican close harmony singing, which was released in Jamaica in spring 1977. The Royals finally began to achieve a measure of recognition and the album was released in the UK on Mo Claridge's Magnum label. The success of "Pick Up the Pieces" led to a deal with United Artists, with two more studio albums ("Ten Years After" and "Israel Be Wise") following. Roy Cousins then had to undergo intensive eye surgery to save his sight, threatened by severe cataracts. He left The Royals and was replaced by King Tubby's brother, Lloyd 'Scunna' Ruddock, and the group changed their name to The Jays.

Roy Cousins then increasingly concentrated on producing other artists. Throughout the 80s he worked with an incredible amount of singers and deejays from his neighborhood including many of his long time associates such as Winston Jarrett, Devon Russell, Cornell Campbell, Prince Hammer, Gregory Isaacs, Prince Far I, Don Carlos, Winston Francis and The Gaylads and many up and coming stars of reggae music including Sturgav deejay Charlie Chaplin and youth singer Earl Sixteen. He also released a number of exquisite dub sets that further expanded the burgeoning Tamoki Wambesi catalogue. He eventually moved to Liverpool, England, and he made the city his home. He continues to market his extensive back catalogue and is still active in a business that has yet to fully realise or appreciate the genuine qualities of his highly polished output. "Pick Up the Pieces" was reissued in 2002 by Pressure Sounds.

When their second album, "Ten Years After", was released it featured 8 tunes, some of them in 'disco style'. In 1980 the album was released as "Roy Cousins And The Royals Ten Years After". This set contained 14 tracks, none of them in 'disco style'. Years later a cd version was released by Roy Cousins, and this one includes 12 tracks, also without 'disco style' mixes. The highly acclaimed "Pick Up the Pieces" could hardly be equalled but both albums are masterpieces in their own way. "Ten Years After" contains highlights such as the anthemic sufferers song "My Sweat Turns To Blood" and the awesome plea for liberation "Freedom Fighters". The same theme returns in full glory on the closing track "Free Speech And Movement". The aforementioned classic tune "Down Comes the Rain" was recorded around 1972/73 and is the only lovers style track here. "It's Real" deals with the joys of dancing and going to a party. Religious thoughts and feelings are expressed on "Make Believe" (featuring Errol Davis on lead vocal rather than Roy Cousins) and "Stand And Give Praises". With "Familiar Music" the style changes drastically into 'rockers' style, with Sly Dunbar giving his best on the drums.

It's true that their first album remains their 'magnum opus', but also "Ten Years After" is a classic 70s reggae album.