Clocktower 7" (1975)
News of William "Bunny Rugs" Clarke's death reached us last week. The former lead singer of Third World died from leukemia at the age of 65. Our tribute selection is a solo cut he did for Lee Perry, covering Washington, D.C.'s own William DeVaughn and his huge 1974 R&B hit. As a sentiment, the song's message held almost as much resonance for Jamaicans as it did for the post-Civil Rights era African-American community. Mind you, Perry's tastes favored a Jaguar over a Cadillac… Clarke's rich tone suited more than a few soulful songs and we honor his contributions today.
Althea & Donna
Lee Perry & his Upsetters Presents Roaring Lion
Pressure Sounds (2013) (1977)
We are now onto the fifth installment of Perry-produced rarities/dubplates that Pressure Sounds has released over the last four years. Can there possibly be more? The faucet on Jamaican recordings was either always on or dripping while ostensibly off, so don't bet against it. Nor should you wish otherwise, given the gems on this compilation. A rare Augustus Pablo instrumental will be one of your rewards, while this tour-de-force Upsetter remix of Althea & Donna easily busts the dub-gone-crazy scale. The making of a legend is all over this release. Buy now.
Studio One Ska Fever!
Soul Jazz (2013) (1966)
Another phase of Studio One reissues is upon us, after the wranglings over Coxson Dodd's estate finally ended. The more recent Soul Jazz Studio One compilations have been hit or miss for the cognoscenti, given how many tracks have seen previous release elsewhere, but you'd never once argue that the material on "Ska Fever" is anything but stellar. We're showcasing the little-known Hugh Godfrey, who recorded but a small handful of tunes at Brentford Road, all in the late ska to rocksteady period. The sentiments on this little gem are predictably timeless.
"I Feel Good"
Amalgamated 7" (1968)
Time and again we have lifted Lynn Taitt's name out of the obscured credits to say to you: here is one of the key figures in the history of Jamaican music. And here we are again. Fans of the early Upsetters know all about the Mellotones, of course, which here feature Leo Graham on lead vocals. The Amalgamated label belonged to Joe Gibbs and he had the basic sense to hire Taitt and his Jets band on most of his early rocksteady productions. There are at least two dozen strictly-killer-no-filler songs done in 1968 on this label alone, which gives you a sense of how fertile this period was. It never can come again.
Jackie Bernard & Bill Gentles (aka The Uprights)
“Rabbi Son (aka "They Hold I”)
GG's 7" (1970)
I've been holding back this little gem for a suitable occasion, and the recent travails of Jackie Bernard (see Jackiebernardfoundation) suggested this unheralded tune's time has come. On these early reggae songs, spaces often opened up for a lead guitar to embellish the vocal phrasings while the rhythm guitar kept the languid pace moving. The darting notes played here compliment Bernard's distinctively heartfelt style. Of Gentles we know little, though his name pops up on the occasional single during the early seventies. Here he provides subtle harmonies, but it's Bernard's tune all the way. His life force is undeniable.
"I See A Sign"
Big Dread 7" (1975)
A longtime favorite here, which I just recently secured a copy of - Rice & Peas is well pleased and satisfied! The track is a heavy cover of a Burning Spear classic, and while it doesn’t reach the vocal summit of its model, it’s just as rootsy. Ronnie Davis apparently had something to do with this, though I’m not certain I hear his distinctive voice on harmony, so maybe he was involved in the production. Regardless, what we have here stands firmly on its own and is as deep a piece of Rasta proselytizing as you’ll find (in a good way).
-Rice & Peas
“Three Wise Men"
All Roots 7" (1981)
The late Sugar Minott needs no introduction, with many years and a long list of hits to his credit. This is one of his rarer outings, however, and deserving of mention. There's next to no real info on it, beyond production credits given to one "A. Welch." It's a heavy and recognizable Roots Radics rhythm, though, which also supported the more well-known and superb "He Can Surely Turn the Tide" by hitmaker Johnny Osbourne. Minott's cut here is right on par with that, and it's given an even more lively mix by Scientist. If I recall, this may be the first Sugar tune we’ve ever featured on our monthly selections… a wrong that we’ve hopefully gone some way toward correcting.
-Rice & Peas
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