Warehouse Records 7" (1982)
'Slave ship whip men'… We start off with a little one-off tune by a band that held a residency of sorts at The Warehouse Club in Liverpool, which then sponsored the band's (and venue's) one and only ever release to return the favor. That port city was itself a major venue for the slave trade during the eighteenth century, resulting in the build-up of regional wealth for decades to come. By the time we get to the 1980s, Liverpool was hardly on the map for reggae, yet the band managed to grab John Peel's attention enough to garner a treasured "Peel Session." This atmospheric song wasn't recorded that day at the BBC, so check the single out - the vinyl 45 is not too hard to find.
“Done With A Friend"
Studio One pre 7" (1965)
One of the great joys of record collector is buying a 45 and discovering the previously unknown b-side is actually the tune you play into the ground. The Skatalites are charging hard with the top down, and I think that’s Roland Alphonso on the solo, and throughout the whole tune through for that matter. Meanwhile, Jackie is confidently declaring that a friendship needs to be brought to an end, apparently his boy’s doing him wrong. It’s a hell of a thing how this JA music can make sad topics sound hopeful or even joyful. Jackie Opel has so many monster ska tunes it feels like I’ll still be discovering new tunes by him for years to come. Here’s to hoping.
-Rice & Peas
“Red Eye Girl”
Olive Blossom pre 7" (1967)
It was a quite young Freddy McKay you'd meet in 1967, but in many ways his voice never really changed in the ensuing years. We are listening to the prototype right here, in other words, which is filled with that baby-facedness that even a full-on beard couldn't hide in the ensuing years. Fans of McKay feel as though they are in a special, secret club at times, so relatively unheralded has he been in the grand scheme of things. What you hear in this Prince Buster-produced gem is McKay's bellowed soulfulness, and though rhythmically it's vintage rocksteady slackness and swagger, McKay's male bluster never tries to convince as an actual threat; you always just want to coddle the little fella.
Clan-Disc pre 7" (1970)
Purely by accident have we happened upon a theme that can neatly dovetail itself into contemporary considerations. Eccles was, after all, an artist (and producer) who did not shy away from being politically engaged. This track is yet another example of how Jamaicans channeled hardship into an art form that both belied and emphasized the social circumstances around them. Eccles sings clearly and purposefully, but the beauty and almost passing breeziness of the arrangements by the Dynamites studio band carries the casual listener along with nary a bump in the road. Making sense of how noble and proud such art could be brings you halfway closer to understanding Jamaica.
"Let's Get Together"
Rockers International 7" (late '70s)
There is a place down in the dark, dusty corner of the “deep roots” phase of late 1970’s Jamaican music that is so spliffed out, so uncaring of commercial acceptance, that when taken in, the listener is physically unable to smile. There’s music there that seems to stumble forward without building any real momentum, and it’s not joyous. Instead, the mountainous weight of the sound, the dubbed out mix, gives it a beard stroking, ponderous vibe that is paralyzing, only allowing heads to bob silently in unison. Full dread. Two of the music makers that frequent this place more than most, Augustus Pablo and Lee Perry, join forces here and give Pablo’s likkle vocal team a canvas that can only be described as mystical. Don’t get me wrong, front man Carlton Hines and the bredren give the perfect feel to the piece, but this moment is all about that sound, carrying you into the deep via King Tubby’s mixing board. We at DC Soundclash HQ don’t often get to present this style of tune at Marx Café, so the monthly mix always serves as the great equalizer.
-Rice & Peas
Rhythm & Sound
PK 10" (2001)
For just over a five-year period in the mid-'90s, some fairly wicked and moody Central European "roots" emerged out of the Basic Channel stable. This was an umbrella label run by Mark Ernestus & Moritz von Oswald, two German fans of Wackies productions. The two were well-known in their own right, having made a splash with their own minimalist, Berlin-styled techno, which, in looking back at it all, had a vaguely dubbed-out feel and vibe. We've learned to look back and see the connections various Western dance and club musics had with with Jamaica, but as far as direct homages go, they do not come much better than this.
Back to top