Various artists album review
Microphone Attack ~ Niney The Observer 1974-1978
Blood & Fire
26 - 09 - 2001

Tracking list

  1. Mr. U Roy - Train From The West
  2. Big Youth - Ride One / Wild Goose 12" Mix
  3. Big Youth - Whole Lot A Fire 12" Mix
  4. Big Youth - Four Sevens
  5. Big Youth - 6 Dead 19 Gone A Jail
  6. Dillinger - Flat Foot Hustling
  7. I Roy - Jah Come Here
  8. I Roy - Fresh And Clean
  9. I Roy - Step On The Dragon
  10. I Roy - Sister Maggie's Breast
  11. I Roy - Native Land
  12. I Roy - Water Rate
  13. I Roy - Point Blank Observer Style
  14. I Roy - Camp Road Skanking
  15. I Roy - Roots Man Observer Mix Version
  16. Leroy Smart & I Roy - Jah Is My Light / Wicked Eat Dirt 12" Mix
  17. Ranking Trevor - Whip Them Jah 12" Mix
  18. Dillinger & Trinity - So Long Rastafari
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)

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

Since the release of their first album "If Deejay Was Your Trade" in 1994, the UK-based Blood & Fire Records have established themselves a name as one of the best re-issue labels around. This record company - led by Steve Barrow and Bob Harding - fully deserves its fame as it pleases reggae fans all over the world with releases of mainly hard-to-get gems from the past presented with the best sound quality possible, excellent artwork and great sleeve notes. Blood & Fire's latest release - already their 37th - is no exception to it as it turns the spotlight on one of Jamaica's best-known producers, Niney The Observer (called Niney when he lost a thumb in a workshop accident). He has been a singer, producer, engineer, dj, fixer, arranger, manager and virtually everything else in reggae. He was born Winston Holness in Montego Bay, Jamaica in 1951. He has worked with producers Coxsone Dodd, Bunny Lee and Joe Gibbs, before launching his own "Observer" label in 1970. Niney's productions of that time are charcterised by their sparse simplicity and heaviness, often cultural/political in sentiment, and frequently espousing Rasta themes.
This compilation set highlights the productions with the deejays Big Youth and I Roy. Further contributions are credited to U Roy, Dillinger, Ranking Trevor and Trinity. The album kicks off with U Roy's lick to Dennis Brown's classic 'Westbound Train'. Next comes Big Youth who rides the same riddim. The remix featured here combines both sides of the original Big Youth 7" and was released in 1977. Niney's self-penned tune 'Blood and Fire' provides the riddim for Big Youth's tune Whole Lot A Fire inna 12" mix stylee. Big Youth also licks the Mighty Diamonds Channel One hit 'Right Time', with him singing part of the lyrics of 'I Need A Roof'. On 6 Dead 19 Gone A Jail Big Youth licks Dennis Brown's recut of the Bob Andy classic 'My Time', with Big Youth commenting on the Green Bay massacre. Dillinger's Flat Foot Hustling is a version of Dennis Brown's 'Have No Fear'.
The following 9 tracks are delivered by the mighty I Roy. These nine tracks are among his best tunes and starts with Jah Come Here on which I Roy chats across Dennis Brown's immortal tune 'Here I Come'. Dennis also did a remake of The Drifter's 'On Boardwalk' and called it 'Take A Trip'. I Roy licks this tune in his own incomparable manner and called it Fresh And Clean. The tracks Step On The Dragon and Sister Maggie Breast are two of his best outings on the album, versioning Dennis Brown's 'Here I Come'. The next two tunes - Native Land and Water Rate - feature the riddim of the Junior Byles' tune 'Weeping'. Gregory Isaacs recut of the Heptones 'Get In The Groove', the exalted 'Slave Master', is probably the best known version of the riddim. Here you'll find two excellent reworkings of the riddim : Point Blank Observer Style and Camp Road Skanking. Coming towards the end of this magnificent album you'll get treated to the combination Leroy Smart and I Roy, delivering the 12" Jah Is My Light / Wicked Eat My Dirt. Dillinger and Trinity close the album with a version of the Dennis Brown cut So Long Rastafari Call You.
We guess there's no need to say that this gem from Blood & Fire is more than essential stuff!

Teacher & Mr. T.