Various artists album review
Down Santic Way
Pressure Sounds
March 2, 2005

Tracking list

  1. Peace And Love Dub - Augustus Pablo
  2. Problems #2 - Leonard Santic All Stars
  3. I'm A Free Man - Freddie McKay
  4. Santic Special - Leonard Santic All Stars
  5. Hap Ki Do - Augustus Pablo
  6. Tom Shooter - Jah Lloyd
  7. Shooter Dub - King Tubby's
  8. Columbo - Augustus Pablo
  9. Special Branch - Leonard Santic All Stars
  10. Late At Night - William Shakepare (Gregory Issacs)
  11. Late Hour - I Roy
  12. Santic Rock - Leonard Santic All Stars
  13. Yankee Kankee - Jah Mojo
  14. Down Santic Way - Big Joe
  15. Santic In Dub - Leonard Santic All Stars
  16. Children - Leonard Santic All Stars
  17. Truth And Truth (DJ Version) - Jah Mojo
  18. I Don't Want To Lose You - Paul Whiteman
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 5

..." There was an openness (among the singers and players in Kingston)...It is perhaps difficult to comprehend in the harshly competitive business driven world of 2005, but everyone was working towards a common goal, all in the same thing together." (Harry Hawke on the camaraderie and oneness amongst the JA musicians and producers in the 70's)

"Instead of holding a foolish conversation, it would be better to settle down in deep meditation, 'cos here comes a sound that's bound to rock the nation -- this sound is coming back from creation." (Jah Mojo)

If you loved these rare tunes back in the late 70's when they were first issued and long ago gave up any likelihood of hearing these tunes again, this is an indispensable release, featuring long lost roots revive gems.

Opening the album is another version of "Problems", this time featuring a jazz arrangement, with Pablo playing Xylophone. Next up comes Horace Andy's dub, with a mix which sounds as if your speakers are short circuiting and cutting out, a distorted bass dropping in and out of the mix. However many cuts you may have of this tune, these versions are by no means gratuitous -- these are a worthy addition to the other later Horace Andy/Pablo/Creation Rebel/Maytones cuts.

A high point of the album is the lonely beauty of "I'm a Free Man" by Freddy McKay. There is at least one other cut to this tune, a later, looser, more confident Rockers cut -- it is this version on this CD however, which is the definitive rendering with it's jagged, tentative and raw style -- It's a song of struggle, bitterness and frustration, but emphasising stoic wisdom to bear with life's burdens. As Freddy sings so beautifully of his existential dread :

"I was born in this world with life, and I've got to do the things which are right. Everything I do just seems to be wrong, God knows I can't understand. I'm a free man. People say, "this man is mad" but they don't know the way I feel, when my heart is glad. I'm a free man." ("I'm a Free Man")

These are music and lyrics from the soul of a man in a predicament, a state of struggle. Pablo's plaintive melodica punctuates the mood.

This album is essential for these four tracks alone, but there are other strong points too -- There is a version of Culture's "I Dont Want To Be Left Out/AKA Zion's Gate" (from the "Baldhead Bridge" album), here entitled "Late At Night" with a young Gregory Isaacs on the mic. "Special Branch Dub" from Pablo has a screeching treble mix, sounding like speaker cones have come unattached.

Other tracks feature a DJ chant similar to Dennis Alcapone's work on Keith Hudson's "Studio Kinda Cloudy."

Professor Barnabas