In 2002 French label Makasound released "A Place Called Jamaica", subtitled "Derrick Harriott's productions from the 60's and 70's" a deadly collection of tunes from Derrick's output of the period 1967 to 1976. Now here's the follow up to that compilation set: "A Place Called Jamaica Part 2... Bunny 'Striker' Lee's productions from the 60's and 70's"
Teacher & Mr. T.
Bunny Lee, aka "Bunny" and "Striker", was introduced to the music business by vocalist Derrick Morgan in 1962. Morgan, at that time one of Jamaica's most prolific and successful performers, took Lee to producer/sound system operator Duke Reid, who gave him a job as record plugger for his Treasure Isle label. Following his stay with Reid, Lee began working with Ken Lack, erstwhile road manager for the Skatalites band. By 1966, lack had started releasing records by Ken Boothe, The Clarendonians, Max Romeo, The Tartans, The Heptones and others. Lee's first production, "Listen To The Beat" by Lloyd Jackson & The Groovers, was released on Lack's Caltone label in 1967. his first hit was "Music Field" by Roy Shirley (1967), on the WIRL label. He then began releasing his productions on his own imprint, Lee's. He enjoyed local hits during 1967-68 with Derrick Morgan's "Hold You Jack", Slim Smith & The Uniques' "My Conversation", Lester Sterling & Stranger Cole's "Bangarang", Pat Kelly's "Little Boy Blue" and The Sensation's "Long Time Me No See You Girl". Lee's talent for producing music that was commercially and artistically satisfying ensured his position as the leading hit maker in Jamaica by 1969. during the following four years Lee scored hits with Slim Smith's "Everybody Needs Love" (1969), Pat Kelly's "How Long?" (1970), Delroy Wilson's "Better Must Come" (1971) and the Jamaica song festival winner, Eric Donaldson's "Cherry Oh Baby" (1971), and John Holt's "Stick By Me" (1972). By 1974 he was producing Johnny Clarke on a string of local hits, beginning with "None Shall Escape The Judgement" and "Move Out Of Babylon". Owen Grey had showcased "Bongo Natty" that same year, whilst 1975 saw Cornell Campbell release a series of strong selling tunes beginning with "The Gorgon". Lee, along with producer Lee Perry and engineer King Tubby, had changed the face of Jamaican music, breaking the dominance of the big producers like Clement Dodd and Duke Reid. Bunny Lee's contribution had been to grasp the commercial opportunities created by technological innovations such as the multi-track studio. A riddim track could be made which could then be used as the backing for many songs or ‘versions’, often remixed or ‘dubbed’. in addition to King Tubby, engineers like Prince Jammy and Philip Smart developed their talents on Bunny Lee productions.
During the period 1967-79 Lee produced literally thousands of tracks - vocals, deejay records and dubs - with a wide range of artists, so this worthy collection of tunes is just a tip of the iceberg. Over the past five years or so Bunny "Striker" Lee has issued and licensed his productions from the past. It led to the release of quite a few compilation sets, with often the same tunes appearing over and over again. Luckily this isn't the case with this collection of tunes, and what's more.. the cd also doesn't contain the exhausted Bunny Lee stuff. The album opener, Derrick Morgan's declaimed "Great Musical Battle", was released in 1968 and features a cut of the timeless "Take Five" riddim (originally from Dave Brubeck). This song is about a musical clash between producers Bunny Lee and Clement "Coxsone" Dodd from Studio One. A wicked and also hilarious tune to start with. Glen Adams is featured twice on this cd. First there's his 1969 recorded version of the Beatles' "I Wanna Hold You Hand". Even though we're not overly fond of reggae covers of pop tunes, this one is well done. Secondly Glen Adams - organist with the Hippy Boys/The Upsetters and temporary singer - delivers a solid effort with "I Can't Help It" that comes across the riddim utilized for The Uniques' wonderful cover of Curtis Mayfield's magnificent "Gypsy Woman", also included on this cd. The distinguished singer Leroy Smart - the self-styled Don - achieved classic status on a number of records throughout the 70s including "Pride And Ambition", "Ballistic Affair", and "Happiness Is My Desire". Also the two tracks featured here, the awesome "God Helps The Man" (1973) and the killer "Wreck Up My Life" (1978), belong to the records that brought him fame. A solid toasted cut of Leroy Smart's "Wreck Up My Life" called "Rocking & Swinging" is delivered by the deejay Big Joe. "She's Just A Little Girl" (1967) is one of Max Romeo and Bunny Lee's first collaborations. Romeo - then at the beginning of his musical career - performs a decent tune about respecting women, or rather young girls. Cornell Campbell was already around for quite a while when he became famous in 1975 with the Bunny Lee produced album "The Gorgon". Prior to the release of this successful album Cornell recorded "Jah Me No Horn Yah" for Striker Lee. It's a great cultural tune with the singer's dinstinctive falsetto voice fully shining. More niceness comes from the late Barry Brown. He's present with two great roots & reality tunes, "From Creation" and "We Just Can't Live", both coming in the extended version. Other enjoyable tracks found on this cd are "The Village" (one of the rare pieces cut by Gregory Isaacs for Bunny Lee), "Fernando Sancho" (a wild and exciting toast delivered by a Dillinger at his very best), and Horace Andy's lovers tune "I'll Forgive You", taken from his 1975 released album "You're My Angel".
Another worthwhile release from Makasound that will surely please fans of classic reggae.