Gussie Presenting The Right Tracks
17 North Parade
August 23, 2014
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 4/5||Sound quality : 4/5||Sleeve : 5|
Blessed with what is reputedly reggae's largest back catalogue VP records keeps on flooding the reggae market with remarkable and not so remarkable releases. In the "Total Reggae" series we've seen some very fine double albums, but also some we like to skip. On the other hand we've been treated to magnificent sets in the "Reggae Anthology" series which is a truly impressive effort from the company, with outstanding releases such as Barrington Levy's "Sweet Reggae Music 1979-84", The Mighty Diamonds' "Pass The Knowledged", and Yellowman's "Young, Gifted & Yellow", some even with a bonus DVD! But let's not forget the impressive series "Evolution of Dub", some 8 volumes of highly sought after dub classics. Anyway, their latest effort - put out on their subsidiary label 17 North Parade - shines on the early productions of a young producer called Augustus Clarke, better known as Gussie Clarke.
Augustus "Gussie" Clarke (born 1953, Kingston, Jamaica) started working in the music industry by cutting dub plates. He made his debut as a producer in 1972, with U-Roy's "The Higher The Mountain". He established himself as the top producer of deejays in the early 1970s with albums such as Big Youth's "Screaming Target", and I-Roy's "Presenting I Roy", both regarded as among the best deejay albums ever produced. Through the 1970s and early 1980s he worked with artists such as Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Augustus Pablo, Leroy Smart, and The Mighty Diamonds, including the latter's influential "Pass the Kouchie" in 1981. Much of his output was released on his own Gussy and Puppy labels. In the late 1980s, Clarke adapted to the new dancehall style of reggae, but stood out from other producers by attempting to produce glossier recordings with greater potential to cross over internationally. In 1987, while still recording at Music Mountain and Dynamic Sounds studio, the first record to bare hints of this newly embraced digital sound came from the release of The Mighty Diamonds "The Real Enemy". "Gang War", the first single off the album released on his Music Works label showcased this new digi-roots style, keyboard and computer programming driven riddims, compared to the known traditional roots reggae sound with players of live instruments recording in the studio. This release stood out as the first transitional record for Gussie and his production incorporating old skool roots reggae to the newly embarked digital dancehall riddims to take shape for the coming years.
As said before, this double cd shines its light on Gussie's 70s productions. In 1976 he released an album called "Gussie Presenting the Right Tracks", an 11 track set that did very well in those days. Gussie was regarded as a young rebel, offering great new music! This album is used as the basis for this compilation, but with nuff nuff extra tracks, matching instrumental and deejay versions and some contemporary tracks not included on the original album plus a few tracks from later in the decade tacked on at the end. The album starts with no less than five cuts to the 'Guiding Star' riddim. First there's Tommy McCook with The Right Track, followed by the vocal cut by Leroy Sibbles. The backing band Simplicity People provides two excellent dubs of the riddim while Augustus Pablo blows you away with the disco mix dub called Classical Illusion. From the 1976 LP comes Gregory Isaacs with the lovers tune Oh No, I Can't Believe plus the matching Augustus Pablo dub. Leroy Smart's Lying Lips was also on the original LP. Here we get treated to some excellent dub versions, most noteworthy being Logan Street Rock, a bass-heavy number punctuated by a subtle triangle and Tommy McCook's horn riffs.
The 1976 vinyl LP featured Augustus Pablo with Born To Dub You. Here the dub is preceded by the vocal cut from The Heptones, i>Born To Love You, which is a recut of the 60s hit by The Sensations. The Simplicity People put in #2 of the dub! Reggae's former Bad Boy Leroy Smart's finest recording, the heart-wrenching Pride & Ambition and its version are included here too. Gussie also versioned Dawn Penn's "You Don't Love Me" (based on an American soul hit), which he called No No No. The vocal cut by Leroy Sibbles is followed by I-Roy's awesome deejay cut called Magnificent Seven complete with a spoken intro by the deejay and Gussie. For the instrumental version of No, No, No he employed Raymond 'Paganilli' Young to play the violin part. K.G.'s Halfway Tree was named after one of Kingston's most prestigious and influential record distributors, KG's, who operated two busy branches.
Horace Andy voiced for Coxsone Dodd the immortal tune "Skylarking". The riddim was and still is popular and the flood of versions included the I-Roy deejay cut High Jacking. Here you'll find three more consecutive cuts pon the riddim! I-Roy's original 1973 single High Jacking was backed with a deejay version of the "Slaving" riddim called Black Man Time. The I-Roy cut isn't on this set, but with two haunting versions by Gussie & Mikey Dread we are truly satisfied. Killer tune from Mikey Dread! Highly enjoyable is Gregory Isaacs' faithful take on Bob Andy's versioned Studio One classic My Time.
This is a first class collection of tunes, with highly interesting sleeve notes and an historical photo of Gussie in his Church Street studio. Add it to your collection!