Eric "Fish" Clarke
Thunderbird 7" (1979)
Fishy here is continuing the long tradition of drummers on the mic who have less to say than simply the charismatic will to say it. Bless his time-keeping heart. It's an energetic guide through Mandeville's main attractions (as far as he's concerned), though we should add that Mandeville sits elevated quite high on an inland plateau, with a town square of grassy and English appearance; it's the parish of Manchester, after all. Clarke's fame had less to do with his brother Johnny Clarke than with his abilities on the kit, where he was a prominent member of Prince Far I's Arabs that toured the UK. Stints with the Morwells and Roots Radics are also in his resume, along with the odd killer steppers tune, like this one.
Justin Hinds & the Dominoes
Duke 7” repress (2013) (1969)
At the time this tune was recorded for Duke Reid, Justin Hinds & the Dominoes were in something of a lull period. They were coming off years of serious hit-making for the Trojan, but as ska and rocksteady winded down and reggae took hold, they recorded only a handful of records, though all excellent as ever. It was to be another six or seven years before Hinds once again came to the fore, with two wonderful albums for Jack Ruby, who got them distributed via Island Records. Despite this featured tune’s unquestionable goodness, it inexplicably remained unreleased at the time. A few years ago, Trojan Records (then under control by Universal Music) released it on a revive 7" and gave it the bright of day it deserved so long ago. It is chugging, fast reggae of the first order, with an inspired horn line to match, and it's one of those lost gems that continues to make record collecting so rewarding. A real gem.
-Rice & Peas
“Over The River”
Various: Ska Bonanza
Heartbeat Records (1991) (1961)
This was a big seller for Coxsone Dodd in the early '60s and it's as simple an arrangement as you can imagine by Hersang and his City Slickers. The Jiving Juniors featured Derrick Harriott, whose default setting was for doo-woppish harmonizing and sharp-suited adaptations of American sounds. More memorable to these ears were tracks delving into the Jamaican experience proper. Supposedly this is the first track Rico Rodriguez played on, which can only ever add to the rawness quotient. A bona fide classic for you.
"Somebody Please Help Me"
Beverley's pre-7" (1966)
Increasingly elusive is the rocksteady rarity that has yet to see a limited edition vinyl repressing of some sort. Behold the unpolished gem that was lead Twinkle Brothers Norman Grant's first recording. It might be a relatively full Twinkle Brothers lineup on the vocals, actually, and I know it's still a song that the group wheels out in shows nowadays. Given the house of Beverley's touch here, we suspect Roland Alphonso on the sax solo. The relative prominence of the congo drums in the background is interesting to note, especially on a song that is simply a lover's lament. Roots music was but a pause and a skip away.
“Youths Of Today"
Get Wise LP
Pressure Sounds (2014) (1974)
Here is one of two new Pressure Sounds albums we are featuring on this month's mix, with this one filling a gap for all the fans of Sleepy, aka Horace Andy. He re-cut this gem for Bunny Lee, but I prefer the original's sparse arrangement, which gives full billing to Andy's ability to quiver life into his reflections. From the deft guitar embellishments on down, there is a quiet storm brewing in this track's simplicity that is Jamaican music writ large.
“Time Of Weeping"
The Humble One LP
Pat Francis aka Jah Lion aka Jah Lloyd was a mediocre chanter of some renown from the roots era. Not only did he discover superb vocal group the Mighty Diamonds, but he’s also the man who Lee “Scratch” Perry promoted via his connection with Island Records for their legendary Columbia Colly LP collaboration. He was also something of a “heavy dreadlocks,” or a well-respected Rasta elder, who took the faith and lifestyle quite seriously. Musically, his talent was always pretty middle of the road, with an only slightly above average store of lyrics, and a handful of melodic ideas. But like all the classic chanters from days gone by, his subtle touch is more appreciated over time, and seems to grow on you with repeated listens. The album from which this track was taken is underappreciated, despite gaining UK release on Virgin in 1978. It probably didn’t move many units, but through no fault of the music. Lively mixing is featured throughout and the selection of rhythms is for the most part top notch. Well worth sourcing a copy.
-Rice & Peas
Vivian Jackson & the Sons Of Jah
“Jah Vengeance (Dub Plate Mix)"
Yabby You & The Prophets Deeper Roots Part 2
Pressure Sounds (2014) (1977)
This is a familiar and famous Yabby track, so it is astonishing to hear what amounts to a significantly altered version of it, and one that I actually prefer over the original. The keyboard line completely shifts the song's thematic drift and it's positively dizzying in how effortlessly effective it rumbles right over you. Pressure Sounds has more Yabby productions coming up for long-awaited air, but you should not look past this release. These songs will stand the test of time as the unique and compelling statements they were from the outset.
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