4 CD Box Set
January 22, 2010
Disc One: Buy Off The Bar
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 3/4|
"Reggae Legends" is a new Greensleeves series, reissuing classic albums of one artist in a 4 cd box. The first highlights the works of Shabba Ranks, the second one focuses on dancehall don, Studio One veteran and Youth Promotion owner Lincoln 'Granulated' Sugar Minott. The box includes four albums from the mid-eighties, all produced by George 'Powerhouse' Phang, one of them shared with another reggae veteran, Leroy Smart. All four albums appear on cd for the first time.
Sugar Minott has been a driving force in pioneering the creation of reggae music. Contributing his indoctrination to the reggae music from growing up near a dancehall where some of the best sounds of the day used to play. 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 and 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. Presently 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.
This box includes four albums from the man, starting with (arguably) the best set "Buy Off The Bar". At the time of release the album was available here on hard to get import LP. The 1984 album is in showcase style, vocal followed by dub, and sees Sugar in good shape. It seems that the cd was dubbed from disc because the first track skips in the dub part. It is not a typical George "Powerhouse" Phang produced set like "Rydim", but more a raw dancehall set. Probably Sugar produced most of the tracks himself. Anyway, it's a strictly-killer-tunes album which makes it an essential album!
Second in line is 'Rydim'. This album was a regular Greensleeves album, but appears on cd for the first time. The 1985 set is produced in the typical George "Powerhouse" Phang style, a style that was influenced by the upcoming digital sounds in the dancehall and the predominant drum sound of Sly Dunbar. It brought excellent tunes like Feel The Rydim a tune on the same riddim as Frankie Paul's smasher 'Tidal Wave', Old King Cole and Nah Go To South Africa .
From that same year comes disc 3, "Time Longer Than Rope". Musically speaking in the same vein as the album "Rydim", and similar to the album "Buy Off The Bar", it's a showcase set. The album is an above average roots 'n' culture album, with highlights (though there are no weak tracks) Canít Get Me Out, Time Longer Than Rope and Jah You Make Me Sing.
Finally there's disc 4, an album that also features another reggae superstar, Leroy Smart. Leroy Smart was born in 1952 and orphaned aged 2, raised at Maxfield Park Children's Home and educated at Alpha Boys School where he studied singing, drums and dancing. His first single was "It Pains Me" at the end of the 60s. His breakthrough would come in 1973 with "Mother Liza", produced by Jimmy Radway, which topped the local singles chart, and led to "Pride & Ambition" (a tune he recorded before "Mother Liza") becoming a big local hit. After working with Bunny Lee for several years, he recorded another of his best-known songs, "Ballistic Affair" at Channel One, in 1976, and began producing himself in 1977. He has over 35 albums to his name and is regarded as one of Jamaica's most outrageous and colourful characters. This album is similar to "Buy Off The Bar", a more rootsy and raw dancehall album. Sugar Minott licks some good vintage riddims on tunes like Nah Follow No Fashion and Cell Block One. Leroy Smart also has some good tunes to offer. He rides the Solomon riddim on Girls Are Skanking while Mankind A Failure is an excellent roots tune, singing 'don't put your trust in men, put your trust in Jah'.
Excellent vintage box!