Black Slavery Days (T.S.O.S.A)
Honest Jon's
April 23, 2004

Track list
  1. Skulls - Black Slavery Days
  2. TSOSA - 9 to 5 Dub
  3. Skulls - Tird World
  4. Mercenarys - Third World Shuffle
  5. Arrows - Seek Fire
  6. Clappers All Stars - How Can A Man Dubwise
  7. Original Survivors- Come Away Jah Children
  8. TSOSA - Theme For Ras G
  9. Arrows - Old Broom
  10. Original Survivors - Beautiful Land
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 4/5 Sleeve : 4
Honest Jon's Records is a label run by the London record shop of the same name - located at Portobello Rd, Ladbroke Grove - in conjunction with Blur frontman Damon Albarn. With albums such as Keith Hudson's "Flesh Of My Skin", Cedric Im Brooks & The Light Of Saba's "The Magical Light Of Saba" and the compilation set "Watch How The People Dancing" this young label quickly established its name among fans of classic reggae music. Now here's their timely re-issue of the legendary much in demand Clappers album featuring relatively unknown names like Skulls, Mercenarys, Arrows, Original Survivors and T.S.O.S.A..

The acronym T.S.O.S.A. stands for The Sound Of St. Anns and all the artists included here are from that blessed parish on Jamaicaís beautiful North Coast, birthplace of Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley and Burning Spear. Little seems to be known about the music contained herein except the scrap of info related on the "ant corporate" sleeve notes of this album. Produced by "Soulsville" and arranged by C. Downie ("Clayton" Downie according to the sleeve, any relation to Wailers keyboardist Tyrone Downie who cut a piano version to Burning Spearís "Marcus Garvey" back in the day?) and recorded at the T.S.O.S.A. Studio in St. Anns in 1975.

The album opens with Skulls' highly sought after deep roots classic "Black Slavery Days", originally issued in 1976 on the Jamaican Hot Stuff label as "Bondage". This excellent song was a big hit on the Ocho Rios Sound System scene. Leadsinger and songwriter of Skulls was Tony Thomas, who also sung with the original Justin Hinds & The Dominoes. The vocal cut is followed by its awesome dub version. "Tird World" is another great cultural effort from Skulls, performed over a wicked backdrop and again followed by an awesome dub.

Many groups have originated out of Ocho Rios, but lots of them are totally unknown to a wide audience. The group Arrows, which featured Burning Spear's brother Elias Rodney, is a perfect example. The beautiful tune "Seek Fire" fully shows the group's vocal abilities and leaves one wondering why we haven't heard more of them. Clappa All Stars deliver a great instrumental piece called "How Can A Man Dubwise", before Original Survivors drop the standout track "Come Away Jah Children", followed by a great dub version. Then Arrows and Original Survivors maintain the high quality standard and round off this beautiful compilation set in fine style.

Itís often assumed that Burning Spearís producer Jack Ruby had a hand in these tracks and certainly a different take of the killer Original Survivors' track "Come Away Jah Children" and its dub appeared on Heartbeatís excellent pair of Jack Ruby collections a couple of years ago. This highly recommended collection of tunes boasts a classic musicians line-up including Horsemouth, Robbie Shakespeare, Augustus Pablo, Chinna Smith, Bobbie Kalphat, Tony Chin, Bernard Touter Harvey, plus Vin Gordon, Herman Marquis and Bobby Ellis on the horn section, with legendary engineer Karl Pitterson at the controls.