Harry Mudie & Friends ~ Let Me Tell You Boy
Moodisc Records International
September 25, 2015
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 5||Backing : 5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 5||Sleeve : 4|
Originally released in 1988 (in the US on Harry Mudie's own Moodisc imprint and in the UK by Trojan Records as part of their "Producers Series"), this compilation set is now also made available on digital platforms. Comparing the tracklist of this digital reissue with the original release on vinyl LP and CD, one notices that this re-release omits John Holt's cover of Ivory Joe Hunter's "It May Sound Silly". The latter came with one of the most daring innovations in reggae. It was producer Harry Mudie from Spanish Town, who added live strings (recorded in London) to some of his records. An odd combination that he made work, and John Holt's 1971 single "It May Sound Silly" was one of the best examples of the fact that strings and reggae aren't incompatible (when done in the right way). Anyway, even though that John Holt tune isn't included, there can be little complaint about the selection of vocals and instrumentals collected here.
This collection opens in great style with Dennis Walks' much versioned "The Drifter" from 1969, which just like The Ebony Sisters' "Let Me Tell You Boy" was recorded at Studio One. "The Drifter", and also the Ebony Sisters tune, shows that producer Harry Mudie loved tough riddims and had a sound unlike any other producer in those days. The Rhythm Rulers' "Mudies Mood" is an entertaining instrumental version of "The Drifter" with strings added to the riddim track. "The Drifter" was a massive hit and so was "Let Me Tell You Boy"). The latter, a soul influenced reggae tune with conventional vocals and lyrics, was recorded by Nora Dean, who at the time of the recording formed the Ebony Sisters together with fellow Soulette Cecile Campbell and a friend named Dawn.
Also included here are major hits like Dennis Walks' "Heart Don't Leap", Slim Smith's "Give Me Some Loving" and Winston Shand's "Time Is The Master" (later covered by John Holt) and the truly excellent "Lets Start Again" by Cornell Campbell & The Eternals, which just like the previous mentioned Dennis Walks and Ebony Sisters tunes are outstanding efforts due to their strong riddims and flawless performances. Furthermore this collection includes several well crafted instrumentals worth hearing, not least because Harry Mudie always worked with the best musicians around such as cornet player Jo Jo Bennett, the vibist Lennie Hibbert, pianist Gladstone Anderson (the leader of his excellent studio band, which had names like Mudies All Stars and The Rhythm Rulers), tenor saxophonist Tommy McCook, trumpeter Bobby Ellis, guitarist Mikey Chung, and percussionist Bongo Herman.
This compilation set collects some of the most refined early reggae productions from one of the most under-celebrated Jamaican producers.