Linval Thompson Ride on Dreadlocks: 1975-77

“As a vocalist, Linval Thompson may not have been the equal of Johnny Clarke and Cornel Campbell, who, along with Thompson, were favorite singers of the great producer Bunny Lee. But the songs he cut for Lee in the mid-’70s remain some of the most influential of the period — ‘Ride on Dreadlocks’ and ‘Cool Down Your Temper’ still show up frequently on dub compilations and various-artists collections. This album compiles 11 classic Thompson singles with their dub versions in showcase style; most are Bunny Lee productions and feature his signature ‘flying cymbals’ drum sound, but ’12 Tribes of Israel,’ ‘Jah Jah Is I Guiding Star,’ and ‘Can’t Stop Natty Dread Again’ were produced by Thompson himself (and, interestingly, tend toward a less militant one-drop feel); Thompson would later go on to more fame as a producer than he had achieved as a singer. As always with Blood and Fire releases, the sound quality is superb and the packaging an obvious labor of love.”

“Ride on Dreadlocks”
“Producer Bunny Lee radically transformed the Jamaican music industry not just with his militant ‘flying cymbals’ sound, but by his use of classic rocksteady melodies, to which his singers wrote new lyrics. ‘Ride on Dreadlocks’ utilized The Tennors’ rural masterpiece ‘Ride Yu Donkey’, and turned it into a militant cultural smash. The high hat heavy beats fuel the song, abetted by the thick bass pulsing along, but the pretty melody still feeds through the piano, and is picked up by the guitar solo. It’s a fabulous arrangement, superbly performed by Lee’s studio band The Aggrovators, and emphasized Linval Thompson’s tough lyrics as he sings down Babylon and its wicked inhabitants. The chorus of ‘Babylon a bawlin’, Babylon a sinner, Babylon a wicked man, Babylon,’ is just as anthemic as ‘ride yu donkey,’ and the singer rode this smash single across the island’s sound systems.”
YouTube: “Ride on Dreadlocks”

“Cool Down Your Temper”
“Although Linval Thompson was not yet capable of the deeper and more mature lyrics of Johnny Clarke, one of Bunny Lee’s greatest finds, his mesmerizing vocal delivery more than offset this flaw. Lee himself seemed to instinctually realize this, and handed the singer some of his most steaming rhythms. They were all laid down by The Aggrovators, Lee’s studio band, whose militant rockers sound was fueled by Carlton ‘Santa’ Davis’s distinctive high hat and cymbal heavy rhythms. The group’s backings were crucial to Lee’s productions, with the flipside’s dub often as much sought after, if not more so, than the vocal version. ‘Cool Down Your Temper’ boasts one of the band’s most atmospheric accompaniments, the seething beats and sturdy piano riffs counterpointed by Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith’s evocative guitar flourishes. It’s a brooding, haunting rhythm, that intertwines with the singer’s almost chanted delivery, with it’s mantra of ‘cool down your temper youthman,’ and which Lee began dubbing before the vocal version even ended, enhancing the mesmerizing quality of the piece. Thompson cut a slew of crucial cultural singles for Lee across 1975, this was one of his most best, and one of his biggest hits.”
YouTube: “Cool Down Your Temper”


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