Everything Old Is New Again
August 29, 2011
|Vocals : 4||Backing : 4||Production : 4||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4|
Over the years countless compilations (including 'one-riddim' sets) with Prince later King Jammy produced musical works have been released on vinyl and cd. Now there's the digitally released "Everything Old is New Again", subtitled "There's A Party Going On @ Jammys", collecting 14 tracks from the days King Jammy ruled the dance halls with his digital riddims.
Lloyd James, born in Kingston, Jamaica, was interested in little else but the sound system business from a very early age. He began by building amplifiers and repairing electrical equipment from his mother's house in the Waterhouse area of downtown Kingston, and was soon playing live with his own sound system. His prowess earned him a deserved local reputation and as Prince Jammy, he built equipment for many Waterhouse sounds. He was even acknowledged by the legendary King Tubby, another Waterhouse resident, with whom Jammy often worked.
In the early 70s Jammy left Jamaica to work in Canada, where his reputation had preceded him, and he was soon working in live stage shows, and employed in various studio activities and sound system work. He stayed for a few years but returned to Kingston and set up his first studio (with extremely limited facilities) at his in-laws' home in Waterhouse. At the same time Tubby's top engineer, Phillip Smart, left for New York and Jammy joined Tubby's team. It was during his time with Tubby that Jammy met the most influential people in reggae. Jammy was continually expanding his own studio and sound system and in the late 70s he began to release his own productions, including Black Uhuru's debut album, coming into contact with many rising dancehall artists such as Half Pint, Junior Reid and Echo Minott.
Early 1985 he recorded a youth singer called Wayne Smith with a tune called "Under Me Sleng Teng", which not only revolutionized the sound of reggae music, but also opened the music to young independent producers and artists, since expensive studio time and "real" musicians were no longer a prerequisite for recording: digital reggae ruled, and Jammy, the originator, rode the crest of the wave. His records and sound system dominated and controlled reggae music for the remainder of the decade and on into the 90s.
Bobby Digital was brought into Jammy's camp and he soon became right-hand man in the set-up, with Steely & Clevie providing the riddims. Both were established musicians with a real feeling for the new sound, and a bewildering array of 7" and 12" singles and albums were released every month. Most were massive Jamaican hits and with the help of long-time associate Count Shelly, the records were released simultaneously in New York and London. Countless artists made their debut on the Jammys label, but veteran singers and vocal groups were all keen to play their part in the new sound. There was no one to rival him and in 1987, Jammy won the coveted Rockers Award for Best Producer.
As said, lots of up-and-coming artists as well as established artists in the reggae business were produced by King Jammy and this "Everything Old Is New Again" set gives a fine impression of whom came to his Waterhouse-based studio to voice the new riddims. The sweet golden voices of Brian & Tony Gold turn their lovers tune from the early 90s, "Give Into This Feeling", into a song worth of hearing. A tune with a rougher edge and a wicked bassline is Courtney Melody's sufferer's anthem "Poor People" (aka "Feel The Pressure") from 1988, which comes across the 'Who She Love" riddim. Of course, this compilation features the ground-breaking "Sleng Teng" riddim with its original cut, Wayne Smith's "Under Me Sleng Teng".
Gregory Isaacs is the first of the real big names featured here, who recorded for King Jammy during the latter's heydays. The Cool Ruler shines on the 1989 released "Lost My Happiness", voiced over a revitalized digital version of Studio One's classic "Rockfort Rock" riddim. Glen Ricks, who charted in Jamaica in 1969 with the Neil Diamond cover "Holly Holy", is present here with another cover song, John Holt's "Sweetie Come Brush Me". Also the Crownprince of Reggae, Dennis Brown, worked with King Jammy, and his "You Satisfy My Soul" is one of the highlights of this compilation. After King Jammy's "24 Tracks Of Dub", a inexplicable choice for inclusion on this sampler, it's time for one of Nitty Gritty's huge tunes, the 1985 released "Good Morning Teacher" on the "Stalag" riddim.
Capleton's 1992 single "Murderation" on the "Cherry Oh Baby" riddim is a solid effort, while Spanner Banner's "Struggler" also leaves a decent impression. Pinchers recorded a few of his biggest hits for King Jammy, including "Bandelero" and the 1987 released single "Agony". Then pure dancehall excitement is caused by Admiral Bailey's "Della Move" from 1988. The compilation is rounded off with two veterans, Ken Boothe and Horace Andy, whose "Another David" and "Money Money" showcase their ability to deliver a great tune on a digital riddim.
It's striking to hear how fresh this material still sounds today. So if you don't own these tunes already on vinyl or cd, it might be worthwhile to get them in digital format.