“Long Time Dub"
Mighty Diamonds 7" (1976)
A buoyant beginning is a hallmark of these mixes, and this track gets that job done. It's possible that we've never ever featured a Mighty Diamonds cut, no doubt due to their catalogue being mostly accounted for on normal releases. The vocal track on this self-production is nice enough, but it's an all-too classic case of a ramped-up energy once the B-side drops. Ebullient horns act as a riposte throughout, while the steppers rhythm never relents, building up to the desired dub crescendos. Where would we be without them? Always waiting, is the answer.
Winston Francis and/or Lloyd Randolph
“Your Cheating Heart (aka It Aint)"
Coxsone pre 7" (1969)
This song is a long running mystery, with the records themselves providing precious little conclusive info. The fact that it wasn't a hit means it's also not widely known outside the collector circuit. What little info we have comes from Studio One singer Winston Francis, who in an interview some time back said he was on vocals, but the other singer present remains a mystery. Regardless, it's one of the baddest and truest tunes of the era. Really emotional, and so well crafted that it smells like it might be an American soul tune with lines like “I wouldn't even love you if I could.” It definitely has a little something more to it lyrically, pulling back layers that few Jamaican singers seemed to regularly articulate. On the surface it may seem like just another broken hearted tune, but, it ain't.
-Rice & Peas
Amalgamated pre 7" (1969)
With few exceptions, Tyrone Taylor is one of those singers who managed a fairly pedestrian output over the years. But here's one of those those exceptions. A pounding late rocksteady tune from the Joe Gibbs camp, this one is right up there with the classics of that era, complete with the requisite “shooby shooby shoop shooee” harmonies. Because ya know, when you're calling a woman a Delilah, sometimes words won't do convey the agony. Serious thing.
-Rice & Peas
“Bag A Boo”
Rio UK 7" (1964)
The great Laurel Aitken is a man who goes back to the beginning, to the pre-ska shuffle & boogie days, and the man had hits galore. This tune is as pure a ska as they come, with the same progression as they all had in those days. Like the Blues, you could bank on it sounding a certain way, as dependable as the sun rising. There's a comfort in that, as it's a vibe, not something that's fresh and different. It steeps in that same-ness that allows you to absorb it without having to think about it. Aitken goes for the typical tack of the girl who does him wrong. Universal stuff, but with an edge. After all, when she gets your money and calls you a bag a boo, or worse a billy goat, well that's just cruddy.
-Rice & Peas
Bongo Herman, Les & Bunny
"Know For I"
Riding the Roots Chariot
Pressure Sounds (1998) (1971)
I heard this song last month while in Negril. It was Sunday afternoon, and we were taking a ride to the cliffs to catch the sunset, when ‘Know For I’ came on the radio. Produced by Derrick Harriott in 1971, it’s a pretty uncomplicated tune on the surface, with just a standard melody, a simple rhythm, and straightforward lyrics; it's like a folkish sound that seems like it’s from 10 years before. But those components all work, and when you add in the vocals, which are sung with a hint of sadness and exhaustion, it’s easy to zone out and get lost in the song. And I did. Listening during that drive is one of my favorite memories from my trip..
Now Generation 12" (mid-1980s)
I'm not known for my Digi-'80s selections, so don't get used to it… but in fumbling around for a slightly different vibe, I caught wind of this track, which is also featured on a compilation of Delgado releases from the '70s and '80s called "No Baby Lion". We know Juks - Delgado's nickname - isn't pulling too many hinted at punches with the truncated title; we've seen this theme of the hypocrite in JA songs many times before. Those slightly processed-sounding horns are your clue that we have a UK production in front of us. The sheen of a polished sound is there, but Delgado's gruff and powerful vocals anchor it ably.
“Threat To Creation"
Threat To Creation
ON-U Sound (1980)
We like to showcase the arms race of reissues that is ongoing, and here's a stone-cold classic from Adrian Sherwood's ON-U Sound camp, which is newly available via the Anthology Recordings label. It did surprise that Sherwood farmed this reissue out, but no doubt he got a good offer. The interest in this still-mesmerizingly unique dub exploration by listeners outside of the normal reggae circle jerk is understandable. Bim Sherman's vocals arrive as if misting through a post-punk space portal, leaving us to witness a birthing of pan-African rhythms into a decaying, post-modernist London street scene. Much is made of dance music's debt to Jamaican drum and bass foundations, but their role as reinterpreter of deconstruction and dissonance is also open for further exploration. Start here.
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