Bunny Lee & Friends ~ Tape Rolling!
Pressure Sounds
CD / 2LP / Digital Release
October 24, 2014

Track list
  1. Slim Smith - The Time Has Come (Unreleased Cut)
  2. I Roy & Augustus Pablo - Devil's Brother In Law (Unreleased Cut)
  3. Ernest Wilson - Sentimental Man (Extended Mix)
  4. Big Joe & King Tubby - Rasta Train
  5. Cornell Campbell - I Wonder Why (Unreleased Cut)
  6. U Roy Junior - Two Ton Gulletto
  7. John Holt - Stick By Me (Unreleased Cut)
  8. King Tubby - A Wonderful Version
  9. Cornell Campbell - Give Me Love (Unreleased Cut)
  10. King Tubby - Straight To The Copycat Head
  11. Busty Brown & The Clowns - Soon I'm Gonna Make It
  12. Horace Andy - Man Next Door (Unreleased Cut)
  13. I Roy - Noisy Place (Unreleased Cut)
  14. Leroy Samuels - Trying To Wreck My Life
  15. Delroy Wilson - Any Heart Can Be Broken (Unreleased Cut)
  16. Eric Donaldson - Cherry Oh Baby (Unreleased Cut)
  17. I Roy - Festival Mash Up
  18. Vin Gordon - Riding For A Fall
  19. Cornell Campbell - My Confession (Unreleased Cut)
  20. Slim Smith - Turning Point (Unreleased Cut)
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Vocals : 4/5 Backing : 4/5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 4/5 Sleeve : 5
In 1994 well respected reissue record label Pressure Sounds started off as a subsidiary of Adrian Sherwood's On-U Sound, but quickly became a self-supporting label in its own right. Over the next two decades, Pressure Sounds' first release - "Santic And Friends - An Even Harder Shade Of Black" - was followed by many noteworthy reissues of classic material for which they sometimes dug deep into the vaults of Jamaican producers such as Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Keith Hudson, Phil Pratt, Winston Riley, Derrick Harriot, Prince Jammy, the Hookim brothers, Yabby You, Leonard Chin, Roy Cousins, Augustus Pablo and Bunny Lee. And thus it's not a real surprise that the catalogue of Pressure Sounds includes a staggering amount of album releases by now. With the compilation set "Bunny Lee & Friends ~ Tape Rolling!", Pressure Sounds comes up with a sixth Bunny Lee produced album, following up last year's release of "Bunny 'Striker' Lee & Friends ~ Next Cut".

Bunny Lee, who entered the Jamaican music business in the 1960s as a record plugger for producers Duke Reid and Leslie Kong, started doing production work himself in the rocksteady era and was quite successful with artists like Slim smith & The Uniques, Pat Kelly, Roy Shirley and musicans such as saxman Val Bennett and Glen Adams, who was a convincing singer in the Curtis Mayfield mould before he became known as the organist in the Hippy Boys/The Upsetters. In the reggae phase of the early 1970s, the unstoppable Bunny 'Striker' Lee had major local hits with Pat Kelly, John Holt, Delroy Wilson, Eric Donaldson, Lester Sterling & Stranger Cole, Cornell Campbell, Derrick Morgan and, of course, Slim Smith, whom he produced until the troubled singer's untimely demise in 1973. And so the album rightfully opens and rounds off with a Slim Smith tune, both being unreleased cuts of his last two hits. "Time Has Come" was the last tune released while the singer was still alive and it most likely features harmonies by Strange Cole and Brent Dowe with Vin Gordon following them up on trombone. And then there's Slim Smith's truly beautiful rendition of "Turning Point", a soulful tune originally done by Mississippi native Jimmy Holiday in 1966. Earl "Chinna" Smith plays a nice lead guitar on it, while Slim Smith fully shows what a brilliant singer he was.

In between these two Slim Smith tunes, there quite a few gems included. Take for example the unreleased cut of John Holt's 1972 cover of Shep & The Limelights' "Stick By Me" across the "John Crow" riddim, which proved perfect for the skank moves then in favour in the dancehalls. Or King Tubby's "Straight To The Copycat Head", an early dub version that four years later blazed new life in Lester Sterling & Stranger Cole's unforgettable "Bangarang", an adaptation of a UK jazz tune named "Bongo Chant" by Kenny Graham's Afro-Cubists. And then there's Cornell Campbell, who was extremely popular and enjoyed major success when he worked with Bunny Lee in the 1970s. Featured here are three wonderful unreleased cuts of this singer, best known for his trademark falsetto voice. In particular "Wonder Why" is song of sheer beauty, but also "My Confession" is an outstanding effort with a distinctive bass line and surfy guitar solo. Here Cornell Campbell's beautifully confesses to his girl how much he loves her, and emotively describes just how desperate he is to stay by her side. Delroy Wilson delivers a stunning deep soul performance on "Any Heart Can Be Broken", which can be ranked among the highlights of this compilation.

Because Bunny 'Striker' Lee was among the first producers to realize the potential of using the same riddims time and time again, it was no surprise that he also produced numerous deejay cuts. Not all of the deejays he recorded made a good impression on record, but deejays like Jah Stitch, Prince Jazzbo, U Roy, Big Joe and I Roy recorded some real interesting tunes for 'Striker'. Three tunes of then reggae's premier lyricist I Roy are invluded here. First there's "Devil's Brother In Law", an entertaining deejay cut of The Paragons' "Left With A Broken Heart", with the melodica nicely played by Augustus Pablo. Then there's "Noisy Place", not really a deejay version of Horace Andy's "Man Next Door", but a more technical run as King Tubby sets levels on the board. And finally there's the solid "Festival Mash Up" on the "Cherry Oh Baby" riddim. Also included here is Big Joe & King Tubby's rare 45 "Rasta Train", a sterling deejay version of Count Prince Miller's "Mule Train", which features Augustus Pablo on melodica. Last but not least there's U Roy Junior aka Froggy, a great deejay who only recorded briefly for Bunny Lee due to a gun related incident. His "Two Ton Gulletto" is a tribute to the American heavyweight boxer Tony Galento, who was mainly known for his publicity stunts.

The 20 tracks gathered here bear all the hallmarks of an expert compilation. "Bunny Lee & Friends ~ Tape Rolling!" is neither a parade of obvious hits, nor a set of dusty obscurities for obsessed fans with a taste for comparing matrix numbers. It's with album releases like this that Pressure Sounds has been on the top of the reissue league for many years.