Roots Master ~ The Vintage Roots Reggae Singles Volume 1
Claudius Linton
Sun King Records
Enhanced CD
December 24, 2007

Claudius Linton - Roots Master: The Vintage Roots Reggae Singles, Vol. 1 Track list
  1. Crying Time *)
  2. Put Your Shoulder To Jah Wheel *)
  3. Twentieth Century *)
  4. Backra Massa *)
  5. Reach Out
  6. Woman Wash Your Hair
  7. Third World*
  8. Reduce The Arms Race
  9. Road To Life (Previously Unreleased) *)
  10. Chun Pon Nanie
  11. Shoulder To Jah Wheel (Psychedelic Incinerator Dub) *)
  12. P&B Mountain Music (Version)
  13. I've Been In Chains Too Long (Version)
  14. Crying Time (Mono)
  15. Backra Mass (Mono)
  16. Put Your Shoulder To Jah Wheel (Mono)

  17. *) New stereo mixes from the original analog tapes

    Enhanced content: 10 minute behind-the-scenes video documentary
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Cast your vote below.

Essential -Votes: 27-
Very Good -Votes: 6-
Good -Votes: 1-
Average -Votes: 1-
Disappointing -Votes: 2-
A Waste Of Time -Votes: 1-

Total votes : 38
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 4/5 Sound quality : 4/5 Sleeve : 4
Every now and then the avid vintage roots fan is treated to a remarkable collection of tunes from way back, made available in digital clarity by re-issue labels like Pressure Sounds, Makasound and Blood & Fire (which was recently closed for business). In most cases their re-issues didn't contain real obscure material and/or featured real intriguing artists of whom no one could tell what became of them after they disappeared from the scene. It probably takes a coincidence of circumstances to come up with such a release as in case of Claudius Linton's "Roots Master ~ The Vintage Roots Reggae Singles Volume 1", unleashed by Sun King Records from Baltimore MD.

A chance meeting on the beach in Negril, Jamaica, brought Claudius Linton aka Kingman together with American indie-rock musician/producer Ian Jones (Jonah), which not only resulted in recording sessions of Kingman & Jonah with an all-star band of reggae legends in the renowned Tuff Gong Studio, but also led to compiling an album of classic roots reggae tracks from Claudius Linton, so far only available on expensive and rare, often scratchy 45 records.

Claudius Linton and singing partner Cecil Hemmings, known first as the Angelic Brothers and later the Hofner Brothers, rose with Trenchtown's other reggae greats from early 1960's ska singles to the crest of reggae's 1970's heyday. The Hofner Brothers popularity soared when their single "Kingman Is Back" competed in the finals of the 1972 Jamaican Festival Song Competition against the tunes from Junior Byles and Toots & the Maytals. Toots won the contest, but the crowd roared for more of Claudius Linton's powerful vocals and electrifying stage show.

Linton and Hemmings parted ways after recording a half-dozen singles, and Claudius went out on his own. In 1976, Claudius hit the top of the Jamaican charts with the Rasta consciousness anthem "Crying Time" and followed it up with another 8 years of roots reggae anthems. But after recording "Reduce The Arms Race" and "Chun Pon Nanie" with famed reggae producer Jack Ruby in 1984, Claudius Linton disappeared from the scene.

And now, after a very long wait, there's the cd "Roots Master" -- subtitled "The Vintage Roots Reggae Singles Volume 1" (hopefully meaning there will be a next compilation of classic tracks which might include the massive "Hail A Man", "When I Drape You", "Black Star", and "Star Wars" a.o.) -- which brings this veteran roots singer, originator of the vocal style popularized by reggae greats Culture and Burning Spear, the recognition he truly deserves. Included here are a few deadly cuts like the huge "Crying Time", an awesome roots tune which Sun King Records have also released on 7" single, the great "Put Your Shoulder To Jah Wheel", a charging roots piece with real fine guitar picking by Earl "Chinna" Smith and lyrics that are still relevant today, the outrageous "Twentieth Century", and the excellent "Backra Massa".

Besides the aforementioned tracks there's so much more great music to enjoy like e.g. the ska fueled "Woman Was Your Hair" from 1969 with Vin Gordon's wicked trombone solo, and the 1980's recordings "Road To Life", "Reduce The Arms", and "Chune Pon Nanie". A welcome part of this cd is the inclusion of the Version sides, "P&B Mountain Music" ("Crying Time") and "I've Been In Chains Too Long" ("Backra Massa"). On the other hand it's nice to have the three mono versions of "Crying Time", "Backra Massa", and "Put Your Shoulder To Jah Wheel" included here, but they could have been left out as they add nothing special to this cd. But who cares anyway... in particular when it's simply a joy to listen to such gems from the past.

Every fan of vintage reggae music who likes to hear a good voice, conscious lyrics and fine melodies must hold a copy of this cd!