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“Working Day"
Taggaman 7" (circa 1974)

Some rhythms need no introduction, but by highlighting Lloyd Parks' original title of "Slaving" as the source, the riffing that our good man Dillinger performs so majestically here becomes all the more meaningful. There's a point early in this song where you feel breathless on Dillinger's behalf, because he just obliterates the sense of any pause between the days of the week and the social poses they exact. The track's tireless rhythmic bounce is given the verbal riposte it deserves, in other words. Dillinger gives sharp attention to manneristic details, as he susses out the facial and fashion ticks of the working, slaving stiff, all for the prize benefit of repeating it all again, next Monday.

-The Kaiser

Prince Buster
“Black Power"
Olive Blossom pre 7" (1968)

Buster in outspoken mood is hardly news even on a slow day, so the jabbing at the head of the White establishment is a pressure drop that's somewhat telegraphed. But what elevates this boastful rocksteady tune into proper provocation is that contrasting and playfully teasing tone that the horns and keyboard provide throughout. This is a song the protagonist can whistle and walk briskly to, confident in the assumed omniscience of the message - musical and otherwise - because Lynn Taitt's arrangements make them so. Oh Buster (and others)… why didn't you pay Taitt, et al. more fairly? There's irony in this track, come to think of it…

-The Kaiser

Lord Brynner w/Norma Frazier
Studio One 7" (1965)

Trinidadian Kade Simon is who we know colloquially as Lord Brynner, and that Calypsonian delivery is instantly felt on all his ska sides. Brynner seemed keenly interested in African affairs during that continent's heady Independence decade, and here he's adopted a Swahili song popularized by Miriam Makeba, who herself had heard a version of it sung during Kenya's Independence year of 1963. I'm rather impressed with Brynner's pronunciations, never mind his interest in showcasing this beautiful song to begin with. The lyrics trace a sorrowful love that cannot be, which oddly translates into an almost breezy and sophisticated ska interpretation.

-The Kaiser

Cocoa Tea
“Babylon Fallin”
Fat Eyes 7" (1995)

And now for something completely different. Or is it? It’s rare that we talk about reggae from the 1990’s much less (gasp!) after that, but this one is full on roots and heavy like lead. The cocoa-voiced one lays down a great chilled out vibe on top of this "Sun Is Shining" riddim update. With nyahbinghi drums forward, and a well-placed melodica loop throughout, this one is a tough groove for any era. The mid-'90’s to mid-'00’s were actually a pretty great roots revival period, with lots of worthy cuts from all manner of DJ’s and singers, even if there was an over-reliance on vintage rhythms. Still, this one is a pinnacle track from the time.

-Rice & Peas

Happy Love
"Down In the Valley"
Hamma 7" (1978)

Figured I’d go a little thematic this month, hence this second version of the "Sun Is Shining" rhythm. This tune out of the NYC-based Wackie’s camp is deep and dark, just like the valley which Happy Love is referring to. It's a seriously good roots tune that I’d put to the Pepsi challenge against the toughest of the toughest from JA roots of the time (Rice N Peas ducks Kaiser’s hand coming in for the smack … Guard! Turn! Parry! Dodge!) Scoff or not, it gets even heavier with repeated plays. There is a fair amount of decidedly average Wackies stuff from this period, but when the Bronx studio run by Lloyd “Bullwackie” Barnes was hitting on all cylinders, the results could be magical. He obviously paid close attention to what Lee “Scratch” Perry was doing at his Black Ark studio, as that flavor was ladled over the final Wackie product more times than not. And we profit handsomely.

-Rice & Peas

The Mighty Wackles
“Weh Fe Do (Discomix)"
D. & D. 7" (1978)

Unheralded and little-known was the name of the pile that this one was found in. There's no doubt that the normal cadre of accomplished roots musicians and engineers enabled this track to achieve its excellence, but you can't deny the simple beauty of the homespun - and somewhat out of tune - vocals. We have next to zero information on this vocal group, save a lonesome reference to "Lorna" in the songwriting credits. Expect to find our Discomix of this garner an Anniversary CD spot, and then watch the Wacklemania come forward.

-The Kaiser

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