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Soundclash 6.26

Ranking Joe
“Jah Guide & Protect I"
Disco Skate LP
Copasetic (1981)

For a fast talking DJ, Ranking Joe had surprising quality control to his output during the Roots Radics era of the early '80s. His style came from the great U Roy, of course, but he added a youthful energy that his teacher didn’t possess. When Ranking Joe drew another gear and would start slurring and bimming and ribbiting all over rhythm tracks, the results were genuinely exciting. The man had a lot to say. When putting that over gruff, mountain-dense backing by the Radics, the sound got heavy. Then, when Scientist or King Tubby were added to the mixing board, the sound would be dropped on the fire and brought to a simmering boil. The entire LP this song is lifted from is pure toughness, with this present song being a syrupy lick of the "Drum Song" riddim, on which Joe lays down a pure Rasta rant and flow. If you don’t rock to this, consult your physician.

-Rice & Peas

Bongo Herman
“Super Cool"
Sounds By Monk 7" (1973)

The A-side of this Clive Hunt-produced single featured Junior Murvin's "Super Soul (aka Give Me Your Love, a Curtis Mayfield cover)," which is one of those 45s that never fails to fetch a fetching price. Percussionist Bongo Herman got the improbable credits on the flip, and he's not an undeserving fellow in the least, but we also have the ineluctable Soul Syndicates band to thank, along with Mr. Flute (McCook possibly?) and King Tubby on the mix (whom I-Roy clues us into at the intro). Classic as all get out, boys and girls. And just never available enough. Oh Jamaica.

-The Kaiser

Ken Clark
“(It Was A) Trap Man”
blank 7" (1968)

The main concern on the collector's circuit has always been to identify who the singer here is. Rare tune alert, in other words. We've located info to suggest that a certain KenClark paid for and sang on this track, circa June 1968. It's nominally "boss" as we say in the business, because that's just a killer menace of a vibe laid down by our best friends, the musicians. And judging by the piano and drums, I'd say we're listening to a recording done on one of those infamous Sundays at Studio One, when Dodd would rent out his digs. Our hero Clark, incidentally, gives us a cautionary tale about not falling in love with certain types of women. Kingston does lay its share of traps. Much appreciated, KC.

-The Kaiser

Llans Thelwell & the Celestials
“Mughead Ska (aka Dragnet)”
BMN 7" (1964)

Perhaps you've heard the story of the ska and the fact that there was an uptown versus downtown sound. We're not going to re-tell that tale now, but it's fair to say that Thelwell fell into the groomed side of the equation. What's true enough is that all the uptowners employed musicians whose soul came from further down the economic scale. So they could fake it a bit with a little help from their ghetto friends, if you will. It was somewhat obvious serendipity in hindsight to cover this TV theme song (Dodd and Buster probably kicked themselves for not thinking of it), but hey, it's a winner. It's also been reissued recently, but we're giving you the crackle-and-pop original pressing.

-The Kaiser

Truth Fact & Correct
"Deh Pon Fire"
Upsetter 7" (1976)

Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry… never heard of him. I’m told he made a couple good tunes a while ago, but can’t say I recall. No wait, never mind, he’s the shit! Nearly forgot. Right, and this here is a stomping, upbeat Upsetter special from a no-name group. Or is it? A few years back, an interview with Wesley Tinglin on the Reggae Vibes website revealed the group as being Tinglin's own Viceroys. Why their identity was changed remains a mystery. Maybe they were under contract with someone else at the time and did this little piece of fire on the side, but then changed the name to keep it under wraps? Dunno. But this one-off collaboration didn’t suffer for it. Kingston was called the “city of fires”, and the boys here take us for a walk through the city as it’s burning. It's a wicked tune and an all-time favorite here at Soundclash HQ.

-Rice & Peas

Prince Far I
“Peace Perfect Peace"
Rockers 12" (1979)

It just had to be Far I for so many of us, didn't it? Who else but the Voice of Thunder could lead all the heathen, atheistic and non-hippy white boys into the reggae promised land, away from the dark world of sinful fodder that was mere dormroom reggae. This single features the same rhythm as the iconic "Message to the King" track, but someone in Tubby's studio got a hold of it and buttons were pushed and knobs were turned, and I bet a big cloud of intuitive smoke hovered over the proceedings. And throughout it all, Prince Far I got them out. Prince Perfect Prince. How we miss him so.

-The Kaiser

Roman Stewart
“Nattie Groove"
Foreward 12" (1978)

I hadn't realized that Stewart died as young as he did, never seeing his 47th birthday. Mind you, he had a fairly lengthy career - his first recording was at age 11, and it's a storming rocksteady number if you've ever heard it ("Walking Down the Street"). Stewart does definitely fall into the unsung category, so to speak, but as with so much of history, the proper telling is so easy to misinterpret if you weren't there. And we weren't. A few online postings make it clear that his contemporaries - Dennis Brown, Freddie McGregor and others - certainly esteemed him and had reason to thank him for his influence. Perhaps you can hear that easy yet gripping talent in this extended track, which Stewart recorded in New York. He left Jamaica in 1976, but that roots-forward vibe never left him. Be thankful.

-The Kaiser

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