Various artists album review
Revolutionary Sounds ~ The Essential Collection Of Classic Roots Reggae 1973-1981
4 CD Box set
27 - 12 - 1998
Disc 1 - Revolutionary Sounds ~ Essential Rockers Reggae
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4||Backing : 4||Production : 4||Sound quality : 3/4||Sleeve : 5|
This 4 CD box set brings together 4 Shanachie albums that focus on the Golden Age of reggae music, the 70s and the early 80s. Featured here is music with incendiary social commentary and spiritual performances, moving sacred hymns of Rastafari music, classic gems of the rockers era -the late 70s and ealy 80s-, and some of the greatest dub recordings ever created by the most important dub wizzards.|
The first CD -Revolutionary Sounds- features a killer collection of reggae classics, including hits and rare gems by many of the most significant names in reggae music.
The late Jacob "Killer" Miller is probably best remembered as the big-framed, huge voiced, massive personality who fronted the Inner Circle band in the second half of the seventies, prepared to achieve international success that was so often predicted for him. Before that he had fought his way to the very top of the Jamaican music business, for a while second in Jamaican popularity only to Bob Marley. In 1980 he died in a car crash. He's featured here with one of his strongest tracks ever -False Rasta-, which he recorded during sessions for Augustus Pablo in the first half of the 70s.
Pablo Henry, better known as Pablo Moses, surfaced on the reggae charts in 1975 with the sublime 'I Man A Grasshopper'. In 1977 the impressive debut set 'Revolutionary Dream' was released on the Klik label. The titlle song of this album is featured here. Under the supervison of Geoffrey Chung two excellent albums followed : 'A Song' and 'Pave The Way'. He started to produce himself and released a string of albums in the 80s. He has gained a strong reputation as a performer and tours extensively.
Manley Augustus Buchanan, better known as Big Youth, started his career in the early seventies finding real great success in 1972 when first recording for the late Keith Hudson. For the next few years his popularity on the Jamaican market was immense, only to approach by one Bob Marley. Big Youth's original chant-like style strongly influenced and changed the deejay style for the next decade. In his later work he more and more focusses on singing. His Green Bay Killing is his commentary on an actual incident in which a number of people were killed by police forces.
Errol Dunkley is one of those Jamaican artists who started their career at a very tender age. He began recording whilst still in his early teens and scored almost immediately a string of hits in 1968 for producer Joe Gibbs. Errol Dunkley developed his style, became one the most expressive voices in Jamaican music and recorded such memorable tunes like "Oke Fred", "Created By The Father" and the track featured on this cd A Little Way Different. This is the remixed 1979 version produced by Dennis Bovell, whose work with Linton kwesi Johnson was of major importance.
The following cd -The Power Of The Trinity- collects 14 'great moments of reggae harmony' by well known groups such as The Might Diamonds, The Meditations, The Heptones, The Wailing Souls and The Royals.
In 1976 Ronnie Davis, Lloyd Ricketts and Keith Porter formed the vocal harmony trio The Itals. The group fitted perfectly well in the roots era as it was the time of the minor chords and dreader harmonies. The Itals cut their most memorable tunes for Lloyd Campbells's "Spiderman" label. One of their best outings for Lloyd is featured here, the memorable Ina Dis Ya Time. When styles in reggae changed and roots harmony groups were no longer fashionable in Jamaica the Itals recorded regularly for Nighthawk records, thus gaining a strong following in the U.S.
The vocal group the Mighty Diamonds was formed around 1968 but their major breakthrough came almost a decade later when they teamed up with Channel One's Joseph Hookim who produced the group on a series of hits, leading to a contract with Virgin Records in 1976. Their first Channel One hit Right Time perfectly encapsulates their wonderful singing and anthemic, conscious lyrics. Throughout their enduring career the Mighty Diamonds remained true to their roots and maintained the style which first brought them international notability.
Vivian "Yabby You" Jackson is a singer, arranger and producer whose approach to music production is as unique work as his take on religion. From the very first beginning Yabby You's material and themes have always been built upon a solid foundation of forceful spirituality and the supreme melodic skills of his moving roots music. His works have provided inspiration for some of the rootsiest performers who followed in his footsteps. Deliver Me From My Enemies, propelled by a booming bass line, is a triumphant prayer of survival that was a major hit in 1977.
Roy Cousins founded the Royals in the early 70s. Their signature hit 'Pick Up The Pieces' was originally recorded for Coxsone Dodd. One of their most moving songs is The Promised Land. It comes from their first album 'Pick Up The Pieces', which wasn't released until the late 70s, though much of it was recorded earlier.
From it's start up till now Black Uhuru has been performing and recording in quite some different line-ups. It was the third line-up of Black Uhuru, consisting of Michael Rose, Ducky Simpson and Puma Jones accompanied by Sly Dunbar & Robbie Shakespeare as musicians and producers, that finally achieved the breakthrough to a wider audience. Don Carlos, Errol Nelson, Garth Dennis and Junior Reid were or still are part of Black Uhuru. From their 1978 Prince Jammy debut set 'Love Crises' comes I Love King Selassie.
The third album -By The Rivers Of Babylon- is a ground breaking collection of deep spiritual Rastafarian music. The Rastafarian movement has it's roots in the slave rebellions of the 19th century but took shape in the wake of Marcus Garvey's words that Jamaicans should "look to Africa for the crowning of a Black King; he shall be the Redeemer." The musicans adapted 'burru' drumming styles which were used in ceremonies, communal celebration and for meditation and chanting. 'Grounations' , communal Rastafari spiritual events, lasted for days or weeks and were anchored by singing and drumming, as well as chanting, prayer and philosophical meditations. This music had a profound influence on the Jamaican popular music scene.
The Abyssinians, probably the best vocal roots trio of the 70's, were formed in 1968 and comprised lead singer Bernard Collins and the brothers Linford and Donald Manning. The group's name will always be associated with their timeless first single, the Rastafarian hymn Satta Massagana. The song's title means 'give thanks' in the Ethiopian Amheric language. After a time of relatively inactivity The Abyssinians made their comeback in the 90's, although with two versions of the group - one led by Bernard Collins, the other by the Manning brothers.
The vocal trio Culture was formed by Joseph Hill, Albert Walker and Kenneth Paley. Joseph Hill had already recorded the sublime 'Behold The Land' for Studio One in 1972. The 'Two Sevens Clash' (1977) set is their most celebrated album to date. After this release the trio entered an extremely prolific period in their career, recording excellent albums an 12" singles. They split up in 1982, and since then Joseph Hill (as Culture) has enjoyed considerable success with a string of quality roots albums. Marriage In Kaina is a traditional song also recorded by Ras Michael and others. Here Joseph Hill gives it a distinctive arrangement on this 1991 recording.
The story of the vocal group The Ethiopians - wich includes frontman Leonard Dillon - actually starts in the ska era. They scored some notable hits and continued to do so in the rocksteady and early reggae phase. Most of the output of The Ethiopians in the rocksteady days can be considered as an example of the move towards "roots and culture" music. Their work with producer J.J. Johnson in the early seventies probably represents their best and most consistent outings. For producer Niney they recorded in 1977 the album Slave Call. From this set comes their rendition a traditional Rasta hymn entitled The Ethiopian National Anthem. The backing is provided by Chinna Smith's Soul Syndicate band.
The last album features a music style -dub- formed by such significant names as King Tuby, Lee Perry and Scientist and is called In The Red Zone. King Tubby, real name Osbourne Ruddock, also known as the dub originator, started his Tubby's Home Town Hi Fi sound system in the late 60s. He 'invented' dub, by reworking Duke Reid's rocksteady classics. Throughout the 70s he was the foremost dub mixer in Jamaica, cutting crucial dubs for almost every Jamaican producer. He also took up pruducing and laid down some heavy digital slices. On 6 February 1989 he was murdered and reggae music lost one of his most creative figures.
Lee Perry, alias Scratch, is one of reggae's most excentric figures. His productions throughout the 70s established him as a major force in the development of reggae music. Under his guidance The Wailers, The Congos, Junior Murvin, Max Romeo, and many others cut their finest sides. He also recorded some classic dub albums, and his productions are being re-released time after time on a variety of labels. Island Records released the essential retrospective 'Arkology' set in 1997.
Horace Swaby aka Augustus Pablo is probably best known for his melodica playing, although he actually started his career as a session pianist for Coxsone Dodd. His experimenting with the melodica led to a new sound in reggae music, which almost immediatedly became very popular. Beyond doubt Augustus Pablo was of great influence on the development of reggae music, not only as melodica/keyboards player but also as a producer.
After learning his technical skills from working at his father's TV and radio repair shop, the very talented Scientist (real name Overton Brown) began his career as an engineer at Studio One. When the dub originator Osbourne "King Tubby" Ruddock gave Scientist a chance behind the mixing board the youth became one of the hottest engineers at King Tubby's studio. From that time on Scientist can be reckoned to the select group of engineers who ruled the dub scene, especially in the eighties.
Yabby You kicks it off with a track from his 1978 'Beware' album which was recorded at Channel One and mixed at King Tubby's. Complete with braying cows and other spritzing effects -courtesy of Lee 'Scratch' Perry- Augustus Pablo's vibrant Vibrate On has stood the test of time very well.
The spin-off of the melody line from The Beatles' 'Norwegian Wood' was transformed into a Studio One song entitled 'Darker Shade Of Black'. Here Scientist brings you an electrifying dub workout.
Flying high-hat cymbals were the trademark of Bunny Lee in the mid 70s. Alongside King Tubby he released numerous popular dub sides such as The Roots Of Dub which features the backing of The Aggrovators.
In the UK the Mad Professor kept the dub vive alive with the release of several dub albums. With Fresh Air, taken from the 'Mother Nature/A Breath Of fresh Air' album he deftly showcases his trademark style.
Scientist and Barrington Levy are responsable for the 1980 dub tune Seconds Away. It was produced by Junjo Laws snd taken from the 'Heavyweight Dub' album on the Greensleeves imprint.
Revolutionary Sounds is a splendid collection of songs that will appeal to most reggae lovers. It's a great introduction to the music we all love, but on the other hand most tracks found here long time reggae fans will already know, love and own.