Title
Artist
Label
Format
Date

Hold On Strong
Rod Taylor
Nagona Music Records - Patate Records / Rocky Tuff
CD
June 16, 2009

Track list
  1. African Soldiers
  2. Open The Gate
  3. Hold On Strong
  4. Storm
  5. Nyahbinghi
  6. Holy Mount Zion
  7. Reggae Feelings
  8. Wasting Time
  9. You're Lying
  10. It's Alright With Me (Showcase Mix)
  11. Soldiers Dub (Bonus Track)
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Total votes : 5
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 3/4
Born in Trenchtown, Kinston 12, Jamaica, on March 2nd 1957, Rod Taylor was known as Rocky T (also 'Rock-stone') as a child after his mother had given birth to him on the kerbside. From the age of twelve, he was singing on that same street corner and entering local talent competitions. After auditioning for the likes of Coxsone Dodd and Joe Gibbs, he then sang in a band called the Aliens with Barry Brown before recording his debut songs "Bad Man Comes And Goes" and "Every Little Thing" for producer Ossie Hibbert. Encouraged by Sugar Minott and Tony Tuff of the African Brothers, he soon gained popularity on the Kingston dancehall circuit, with such renowned soundsystems as Kenyatta, Tippatone, Socialist Roots, Gemini, Kilimanjaro, Sturgav, Youthman Promotion and Stereophonic (where he shared a mic with the late General Echo) all welcoming him to their control towers.

A clutch of classic tunes for the Freedom Sounds label circa 1978 – including "Ethiopians Kings", "In The Right Way" and "Don't Give It Up" – then brought him to wider prominence and paved the the way for further studio recordings produced by the late Prince Far I, Prince Hammer, Don Mais, Manzie's and Mikey Dread, for whom he voiced the unforgettable scorcher "His Imperial Majesty". He then recorded an album for Sugar Minott's Youth promotion label, but that remains unreleased to this day. Therefore the Prince Hammer produced "If Jah Should Come Now" set, which appeared on the Little Luke label in 1980, became Rod Taylor's official debut set. That same year Greensleeves issued his next album called "Where Is Your Love Mankind", which boasted production work from the late Henry 'Junjo' Lawes at Channel One, mixed by Scientist at King Tubby's.

Except for a brace of albums recorded in London for Robert Tribulation's, Jah Warrior and Donville Davis during the mid 90s, little has been heard of this reclusive singer for nearly two decades. And now Nagona Music releases this excellent set for which he teamed up with Mafia & Fluxy, Sly & Robbie and Buta & Astrolab from Fribourg, Switzerland. This copy comes courtesy of Münster, Germany based reggae-shop Irie Records, my favourite address for reggae, providing an extremely reliable mail order service (from mainstream to rare ska, reggae and dancehall) and a great knowledgeable owner making it worthwhile to visit the shop if you can. Irie Records is also the force behind the soon to be released 10" dubplate-style vinyl-release containing the superb opening track "African Soldiers" and its "Soldiers Dub" version that is included as a bonus track on this CD, as well as on the B-side the "It's Alright With Me (Showcase Mix)". In between such gems as the repatriation song "Open The Gate", the call to not give up without a fight title track "Hold On Strong" and the Sly & Robbie driven "Storm" are featured.

The wonderful "Nyahbinghi" chant (beautifully placed in the middle of this album and not opening or closing it, lending it an even more spiritual vibe) and the equally soothing "Holy Mount Zion" are followed by the lyrically much more lighthearted "Reggae Feelings" that however rides a backing as rootsy as the other tunes. The love gone wrong tunes "Wasting My Time With You" and "You're Lying" show over their dubby backings that Rod Taylor is as much at ease with this topic, before he returns to the consciousness of the last (showcase style included) vocal "It's Alright With Me". The majestic dub version of the opener closes this set with extremely solid roots material from an artist who was a consistently popular youthman singer in the late 70s/early 80s.