Tuesday, 24 March 2015
There was a lot of barrel scraping being done in 1978 and 1979 in the search for decent new Northern sounds - by the end of 79, some real class records were being discovered but meanwhile, six months previously, this is the sort of mediocre pop soul that was being dug up. Average girl vocals, stomping backing track, very rare on a Stateside stock copy but totally forgettable. Incidentally, the US Jubilee vinyl issue/demo of this has the shortest run on of any record I've ever seen, you can barely get a stylus onto it.
Featured before but in it's demo format, here's a very scarce stock copy of a classic Big City beat ballad from Ray Pollard. Note they have the arrangers name wrong, it should be Arnold Goland. Unless he has a brother of course.
Two Prince Buster productions on this scarce Fab release from 1967, A side features The Righteous Flames, this side features The Daltons, but neither side is distinctive enough to elevate it to more than just 'average' status. Very sought after though.
Oh those Reggae credits, with the Harry J All Stars credit you would expect this to be an instrumental, but no, it's actually Lloyd Robinson of Lloyd & Devon and Lloyd & Glen fame, with a very uptempo version of the standard Lavender Blue. If you heard this blind you'd swear this was a Studio One cut and I wouldn't be surprised if it was actually recorded there using Studio One musicians too. This originally came out as the flip to the JA issue of Cuss Cuss.
A brilliant Rocksteady rendering of the Tommy Roe / Tams / Tommy Quickly number You Might As Well Forget Him. This one blows all others out of the water and there's an added bonus with the brilliant instrumental Step Softly by Bobby Ellis on the B side. There's a big following for Derrick's Island sides and justifiably too.
Superb Rude Boy Rocksteady from the great Desmond Dekker, almost one of the first examples of early Reggae to be honest, and one around 22 singles released by Pyramid on him in the space of 2 years! Not a chart hit, but a big seller in the wake of 007.
Moody late Ska, early Rocksteady from Mr. Foundation aka Zoot Sims, on the first UK Studio One release under it's own logo. Another song dealing with the Rude Boy phenomenon including lyrics about guns and 'home made bombs'! Great, hypnotizing rhythm on this one, quite a few copies about but mint ones are at a premium.
A hugely sought after record and has been for years, though Desmond made many far better records, it's still quite a hypnotizing tune with bubbling organ and a nonesensical lyric which somehow manages to use the title of a Christopher Lee horror film as it's punchline. Some nice scat singing by DD towards the end. Incredibly this is the B side of possibly the worst version of We Shall Overcome ever recorded (by The Maytals). Expect to pay three figures for this whenever it comes up for sale, or buy a Beverlys repress with an instrumental version on the B side.
Is it Eric Barnett, is it Theo Backford Group, is it both? Was there actually an Eric Barnett? Anyway who cares, here's a monster Skinhead instrumental tune, the best of the singles put out under the Eric Barnet name, a thundering instrumental to The Kingstonians cut You Don't Remember Me. Awesome.
This a pretty excruciating DJ version of How Long Will It take by Jeff Barnes who is to DJ talkover records what Les Dawson was to piano players. This came out on Gas a year earlier with an equally bad B side if I remember rightly. If I'd remembered what this was I'd never have bought it again LOL
Ah now this one is really nice, and how obscure? Well have you ever seen anything on this label before, because I haven't. Basically this is a UK release from 1974 or 1975 and Don't Go is a new song performed over the original backing track to The Uniques classic Out Of Love. The backing track has never sounded so good as on this track, and Johnny Clarke does a great job. I'd only ever seen one copy of this before I managed to get hold of this last week.
I love this rip-off of The Pyramids' Train Tour To Rainbow City. I'm presuming that Buster cut it whilst touring over here in 1967 using UK musicians, certainly the guys in the studio adding comments on the track are English; Buster asks "You know who that is" and the reply "He's a bad man" comes in a Brummie accent! Anyway, the song is built around an incessant riff and the train theme takes us on a journey across Jamaica passing the houses of such luminaries as Judge Dread, Emanuel Zachipalm and Buster himself. It's funny, it's brilliant, it's bloomin' hard to find in non-wrecked condition.
Blimey that John Lennon was a busy bloke in 1970, first he splits the Beatles up, then records with The Plastic Ono Band, starts his first solo album and also has time to jet out to Jamaica to join little known combo The Bleechers on a rude reggae number concerning "the village ram". What a guy. (Of course John Lennon was probably 3000 miles away when this was recorded, it's just another quirk of Reggae record collecting). You can find this one on the Birth Control album if I remember correctly, good, chugging late Skinhead reggae tune and very hard to find.
Thursday, 12 March 2015
Releasing pop records on the red and white Island label really mucks up my collecting, it means I have to look out for this and the likes of Chords Five and Kim Fowley releases. This is one of two Island 45's for the VIP's, a Carlisle R & B group featuring Keith Emerson and Luther Grosvenor, and while this version of Joe Tex's I Wanna Be Free is pretty good, it pales in comparison to the brilliant follow up, Straight Down To The Bottom, but that's on pink Island so I don't need to collect that and can make do with the repro...
Sneaking out on the B side of a dull Melodians 45, this is a nice DJ cut of Ain't Too Proud To Beg and there's not much more to say about it really. Love the a capella intro though.
A late, very late Caltone production, found tucked away on the B side of Twelfth Of Never by Pat Kelly (credited to Max Romeo on the label, naturally). Possibly never released in Jamaica, and a real grower.
One of hundreds of train-themed records emanating from Jamaica, this classic originally came to my notice on my stepping stone album(s) The Trojan Story back in 1972. Catchy yeah-yeah chorus and late Rocksteady rhythm, great vocal from Roy, though I do accept that his style is not loved by everyone! Apparently reissued on Unity 527 credited to The Uniques but I don't recall ever seeing a copy.
One of Buster's 'talking' records a la Shepherd Ben and Ghost Dance, where he recounts the story of when he used to be known as Johnny Cool...to an attentive Lee Perry by all accounts. Great rhythm (Lyn Taitt on guitar) but not much of a 'song' until near the end where Buster reels of a few bars of the likes of Baba Boom - but fiendishly catchy!
Over a speeded up variation of the Ride Me Donkey backing track, The Pioneers sing something about a Wonky Donkey and other such gibberish in this, the poorest of their horse-related tunes. Could really have been a Calypso.
Not sure where the song comes from, whether it's a Kelly original or a cover, but it's beautiful and the addition of the overdubbed strings are a real bonus - sometimes they work, sometimes they don't, for instance, The Workman Song on the flip also has had strings added but it's so fast that they just sound ridiculous. So forget that side and enjoy Never Give Up, another brilliant vocal from Pat Kelly. I also have an instrumental of this, it's Musical resurrection by Roland Alphonso. That is also brilliant.
Interesting label owned by one of the founders of the Jamaican music industry, Dada Tewari, who had the first Jamaican record company and pressing facility on the island. He mainly recorded Calypso for this label, but a reactivation in 1965 after a six year gap saw the release of four or five Ska records, including this one from Orville Alphanso, backed by The Skatalites by the sounds of it. Pretty much standard Ska with a Rukumbine feel to it, this song may or may not have appeared in the James Bond film The Man With The Golden Gun. A collectors item to be sure, but nothing to get too excited over. The label was pressed and distributed by R & B Records of Stamford Hill.
Some of these Jamaican cover versions of UK hits are hilarious due to the fact that they appear to have copied the lyrics down by listening to the original record and they often get it wrong - have a listen to Pied Piper or Love The One You're With for good examples of this - and this one, with it's chorus of "When it comes to being lucky, people, when it comes to loving me, people" - missing the point completely. A nice piece of Coxsone Rocksteady which was a big seller in the UK.
Got a copy of Monkey Man? Of course you have. Well forget that side and flip it over to find The Maytals in scorching form on this Skinhead Reggae belter. They, and the Beverly All Stars, really let rip on this one. It's a minute too long but don't let that put you off. N.B. The Jamaican release titles it Day And Night.
I shall let you into a secret, sometimes I buy records because they look nice, that can be the only reason I bought this one because it's one of the most undistinguished DJ records I own, boring backing track, uninspired rhyming. Some may prefer the B side Money Raper (whatever that means) which is the instrumental cut, but both are pretty dire to be honest. Great looking label though..
On my birthday, March 10th, this year, You know what, I was so bored, sat here doing nothing, I thought I'd go have a drive over to Perton to the two charity shops and cheap freezer shop, anyway there was nothing there so I decided to get my car washed, except the car wash wasn't working (keep reading, there is a point to all this) then I remembered there was one of those hand car washes on the Bridgnorth Road at the garden centre, so off I went there. left the car to be cleaned, wondered around the few little shops they have there, so I went in and this nice chap had a handful of records, incredibly amongst Abba and the Beatles there was an Ethiopians on Doctor Bird, a Skatalites on Ska Beat and a Prince Buster on Blue Beat. I said to the young lad serving, bloody hell mate, nice birthday present for me, and he says...wait for it...I've got a few more of those if you want to have a look...I ended up with about 50 reggae and ska singles, plus a red and white Island copy of Jackie Edwards I Feel So Bad so I gave him £200 for the lot which I thought was fair seeing as he only paid £20 for them...Happy Birthday me.
Anyway, this mint copy of Lee King Perry was in there with them.
Yet again, first heard by myself on The Trojan Story, what's unique about this one is that it features Lee Perry's new born baby, taken into the studio and recorded crying! One of the first uses of sampling I'd have thought. It's a stinging attack on Perry's former friend and musical collaborator Joe Gibbs,a theme he returned to with You Crummy a few months later. An early Reggae classic.
A double sider with Stranger & Gladdy's Just Like A River on the flip. The B side this first UK Amalgamated release also features as an instrumental via El Casino Royal, and a really good DJ version by Andy Capp entitled Musical Recipe. I'm a bit surprised there are four versions to be honest as while the rhythm track is good, it's not great and there's nothing to choose between the two vocal versions.
Fabulous late Ska era classic with that familiar Studio One piano plonking away in the background, great song, great backing, and also cut later by John Holt using the same backing track.
Rubbish version of the Wilbert Harrison hit which was popular due to it's inclusion on the first Tighten Up album in 1968. Very untypical of the Treasure Isle sound.
Thursday, 26 February 2015
A pretty bizarre reactivation of Tighten Up, using the original rhythm with added motorcycle effects and general nonsensical chatter including "Satta Pillion" which I like...always good to hear Tighten Up in any shape or form though and this is a pretty hard to find, obscure release circa 1975.
I feel a bit sorry for George Dekker aka Johnny Melody; he did some cracking duets with Derrick Morgan in 1968 but doesn't seem to get a credit on any of them. I'm thinking Me Nah Give Up for a start...and this one...his higher harmonies really compliment Derrick's gruffer lead vocals. Anyway, Copy Cat is a classic Skinhead Reggae tune, apparently a Leslie Kong production (doesn't sound like it) and is a nice rarity, tucked away on the B side of a very mediocre instrumental from Ansel Collins entitled Night Of Love.