Reggae Anthology: Hard Time Pressure
17 North Parade
2 CD / 1 DVD Box Set
June 17, 2012
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 3/4|
Few artists have had the impact on Jamaica's dancehall scene as Sugar Minott. His releases provided the blueprints for the rise of the contemporary dancehall style, he was also equally influential as a producer, and his extraordinarily popular sound system helped launch numerous new DJs into the limelight. At a young age he started his own sound by the name of Black Roots which then led to the creation of Youth Promotion. In 1969 Sugar teamed up with Tony Tuff and Derrick Howard and formed the group the African Brothers. Some of their releases were "Lead Us Father", "Mystery Of Nature", "Party Time" and "Righteous Kingdom". Due to strong cultural content of the lyrics the group did not receive the type of publicity it deserved so they all decided to pursue solo careers.
In 1974 Sugar Minott teamed up with producer Coxsone Dodd and was the singer responsible for reviving Studio One to its status following the loss of singers like John Holt, Ken Boothe, Alton Ellis to other studios of the day. The first hit for Studio One by Sugar was "Vanity" and songs like "House Is Not A Home", "Hang On Natty" and "Mr. D.C.". which led to his first solo album entitled "Live Loving". He continued to work with Studio One until 1979 when he left and created his own label Black Roots which led to the foundation of the Youth Promotion Crew. Some of the artists that were recorded at this time were Little John, Barry Brown, Triston Palma and Tony Tuff.
Based out of Maxfield Park Square, Sugar Minott's Youth Promotion continued to dominate the competitive reggae scene by voicing young artists like Junior Reid, Yami Bolo, Don Angelo, as well as the late Tenor Saw, Nitty Gritty, Colourman and the Archangel Garnett Silk who did his first recording there. From 1979 to 1981 Sugar Minott had already attained international notoriety and had toured in the US and England and is credited to the development of lovers rock by the release of his album "Music For The Root Lovers", which became an instant success with his English audience. Following this he had a hit with "Good Thing Going", a Jackson 5 cover which went to #2 on the British charts. While Sugar Minott was in England he continued to develop the Youth Promotion and formed the Black Roots Players. Furthermore he was responsible for discovering the musical group Musical Youth. He also did work with Carl Thompson and Bertie Grant, the engineer of UB40.
Sugar Minott had much success with his Black Roots label and helped to develop some popular labels in Jamaica such as Channel One where he recorded the hits "No Vacancy", "Herbman Hustling" and "Devil Pickney" with Sly & Robbie. From works done with George "Powerhouse" Phang, Phillip "Xterminator" Burrell, Donovan "Penthouse" Germain, Top Ranking, Tubby's, Jammys, Tappa Zukie, Bobby "Digital" Dixon and Bullwackies out of New York the new style, known as singjay, emerged. The sounds that made this popular where those of U Roy, King Stereograph, King Tubbys right up to Stone Love. Along with Barry Brown he toured the dance halls and thus emerged the current trend that is seen today in Jamaica.
In 1984 Sugar Minott took reggae music to Japan. Along with the late great Bob Marley, he was the only one who had done this and helped to promote reggae music to the Japanese people. From this he produced the first Japanese reggae star Naki. Sugar Minott remains a favourite in Japan working with companies such as Takian and performing at major concerts like Japansplash.
Sugar Minott's musical influence comes from people like Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke and Johnny Mathis and most importantly Ken Boothe, Alton Ellis and Dennis Brown. Sugar Minott has various styles that he sings such as lovers rock, dancehall and roots & reality. Credit to his career he has over 70 albums and thousands of 45's. Sugar Minott has established a base at 1 Robert Crescent, Kingston 5 Jamaica with Youth Promotion Music Center and Black Roots Production Co. Ltd.. Specializing in recording production - studio facilities include 8 to 24 track - record distribution, rehearsal facilities and music school where aspiring youths from all areas whether the country or the town can come and realize their aspiration in the reggae journey as him.
Sugar Minott passed away Saturday night 10th July 2010 at the University Hospital of the West Indies in St Andrew. According to Peter Burke, a close associate of the singer, Sugar Minott had complained of feeling ill on Saturday and was taken to the hospital where he died at minutes after 10 pm. The cause of death is said to have been him suffering from Angina pectoris – a severe heart condition.
At the end of 2011 VP Records unleashed a stunning digicase in the 'Reggae Anthology' series, offering the reggae massive two cd's and a DVD, thus honouring the man who has brought us tremendous musical joy throughout his long lasting career. Because of legal matters there are no recordings from the crucial Studio One period, except for the tune All Kinda People which uses the riddim track from 'Mr. Fire Coal Man' by the Wailing Souls.
Disc 1 opens with a fine example of Sugar's lovers rock tunes, My Love Is True. That tune was included (inna discomix style) on the 1980 album 'Roots Lovers'. Another tune - Lovers Rock - from that same album opens Disc 2. After My Love Is True there are two conscious tunes from the 1980 album 'Black Roots', Hard Time Pressure and River Jordan. For obvious reasons the compilation includes some tunes from the classic 1979 'Ghetto-ology' album: four alltime roots classics Never Gonna Give Jah Up, Ghetto-ology, Man Hungry and The People Got To Know. The huge crossover hit Good Time Going is included as well. Although reggae purists disapproved this tune, it allowed him the support significantly more ghetto youths.
In 1979 Prince Jammy released the 'Bitter Sweet' album. From that album comes the compelling lovers tune Never Too Young. Although the 1981 album 'African Girl' lacks consistency, it contains several classic tunes. Three tunes from that set here. First there's the title track, then Penny For My Song, one of our Sugar Minott favourites and Ghetto Youths. His awesome rendition of Minnie Riperton's classic 'Living You', he named it Loving Jah, was included in the 1981 album 'Sweeter Than Sugar'.
Drawn from the truly must have sets 'Dancehall Showcase 1 & 2' are Informer and Easy Squeeze (Make No Riot). 'Rough Ole Life' was one of Sugar's masterpieces. He re-recorded the tune in the early 80s for Channel One's JoJo Hookim across the M16 riddim and called it Babylon. For him he also cut Show Me That You Love Me Girl. From his successful collaboration with George Phang comes Feel The Rydim, Old King Cole and Buy Off The Bar. Disc 2 includes two versions of Herbman Hustling, the original Sly & Robbie cut and the Wackies version, a more laid back version called International Herb. Rub A Dub Sound closes this excellent set. The DVD captures Sugar Minott in full effect at Yomiuri East in Tokyo, 1986, bringing a nice medley, and Slice Of The Cake, Nah Go To South Africa and The Love We Had.