Deep Roots Observer Style
17 North Parade
4 CD Box Set
February 22, 2012
Disc 1: Dennis Brown - Deep Down
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 5||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 5|
Winston Holness, a man known throughout the reggae world as Niney The Observer, made his mark as a performer of some note but is perhaps more widely acknowledged for his skills as an engineer and producer. He was born Winston Holness in Montego Bay, Jamaica in 1951 and nicknamed Niney when he lost a thumb in a workshop accident and has been a singer, producer, engineer, dj, fixer, arranger, manager and virtually everything else in reggae. He started his career in the '60s when he studied the art of engineering from under the expert tuition of Lee Perry and Lynford Anderson (aka Andy Capp). He later supervised numerous sessions for illustrious producers such as Bunny Lee and Joe Gibbs prior to launching his career as an independent producer at the end of the decade. The single 'Blood And Fire' was his first major breakthrough issued on his Observer label. The single sold over 30,000 copies on the island alone and was later named 'Jamaican record of the Year' for 1971.
Over the next years Niney regularly supervised recording sessions at Dynamic, Randy's, Channel One and Joe Gibbs studios, releasing excellent sides by artists such as Max Romeo, Delroy Wilson and Ken Boothe. Niney also had a hand in gaining international attention for another future reggae superstar, Michael Rose, soon to join up with Duckie Simpson and Errol Nelson (later replaced by American vocalist, Puma Jones) in the vocal trio Black Uhuru. However, his most enduring productions during that period were those he did with Dennis Brown. Niney also gained some notoriety as a producer of the uniquely Jamaican style music known as dub.
VP Records' subsidiary 17 North parade unleashes a fine 4 cd box set that holds 3 original albums produced by Niney the Observer during the mid-to-late '70s and one disc brings together the awesome run of hit singles that the late great deejay I Roy voiced for Niney The Observer during 1976 and 1977.
Disc 1 is Dennis Brown's album 'Deep Down'. He recorded that one in 1974 at the tender age of 17. At that time he already was a very popular singer on the island, being voted Jamaica's Top male Vocalist for 1973 in Swing magazine's Annual Awards. The album sees Dennis Brown in fine style and contains some truly strong rootical outings such as So Long Rastafari, Voice Of My Father and Tribulation. The album was engineered by Errol Thompson & Phillip Smart at King Tubby's.
Disc 2 brings us really tasty sides by one of Jamaica's best deejays ever, the great I Roy. He was born Roy Samuel Reid on 28th June 1944 out in the countryside in the parish of St. Thomas. I Roy recorded a string of records for a variety of producers in Jamaica and in 1973 Gussie Clarke released his debut set "Presenting I Roy". Many albums and hitsingles followed, but at the beginning of the '80s the change in musical style led to a less prominent role in the scene for I Roy and allowed younger deejays to take over. He passed away in Kingston on Saturday 27th November in 1999. Jah Come Here is his take on Dennis' classic 'Here I Come'. 'Wolves And Leopards' from the same singer is here called Step On The Dragon with I-Roy toasting in deep rootical style. The same riddim returns in the better known Sister Maggie Breast. Camp Road Skanking is the man's lick across Gregory's 'Slavemaster' anthem, while Point Blank Observer Style gives us another I Roy treat of the 'Slavemaster' anthem, but this time voiced by John Holt as 'Up Park Camp'. Jamaican Girl comes on the Heptones' 'We Want It/Natty Dread Christmas' riddim, extended into dub. A Serious heavy collection (also issued as a stand alone vinyl set)!
Disc 3 is the 1978 album 'Better Days' by The Heptones. It sees Naggo Morris joining the band, Leroy Sibbles replacement in the group at the time. The Heptones and the 'Su Su Pon Rasta Man' brought with him a heavier roots feel that was perfectly matched to the real roots vision of Niney the Observer. Not being their strongest effort, this set has been considerably strengthened by the addition of five in-demand roots anthems, such as the impeccable steppers anthem Through The Fire I Come and Jah Guide.
Niney had been very successful with the release of his first dub album 'Dubbing With Niney The Observer' including cuts to 'Tribulation' and 'So Long Rastafari'. One of its follow-up albums was 'Observation Of Life Dub', which is the last disc of this box. Actually the album is the dub companion to the Heptones' 'Better Days' album, although the dubs to the extra tracks are not included.
This 'not-to-be-missed' set comes complete with informative liner notes from reggae historian Noel Hawkes.