Willie Williams – Messenger Man (2005)

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“As far back as the rocksteady age, Willie Williams had attempted to deliver songs with a message, but it was only in the roots era that he finally succeeded. Returning to Jamaica after several years in Canada, the singer, with his session band in tow, entered the Channel One studio and laid down this fabulous riddim adapted from the Bee Gees’ chart-topper ‘I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You.’ Driven by Carlton ‘Santa’ Davis and Lloyd Parks’ roots rockers rhythm, the backing beautifully blends a militant aura with a funk-tinged, bluesy atmosphere that’s shredded by organist Bobby Kalphat’s extraordinary solos, which imitate searing rock guitar leads to perfection. Williams took the finished riddim down to King Tubby’s studio for mixing, where he also recorded his vocals. The singer retained the lyrics from the Bee Gees’ original chorus, but put them in a cultural context with powerful new religiously themed verses. Although the self-produced ‘Messenger Man’ was released only in Canada, it received considerable play in the States as well, which is where Coxsone Dodd heard it. So impressed was the Studio One head that he invited Williams to record an album for his label, eventually resulting in the Armagideon Time set. In the interim, the singer continued recording independently, and ‘Messenger’ would entitle his own self-produced 1980 album.”
allmusic

“… The problem with a lot of current European and JA based reggae in 2005 is that much of it is so very derivative and unoriginal — The once unique and innovative rhythm concepts of ‘one drop’ and ‘steppers’ have been turned into dull, heavy handed clichés. So in contrast then — with this subtle Willie Williams album, it is a pleasure to hear reggae music from a time when it was still a deeply inspired and startlingly original form. Blood and Fire have released an insightful work here, with beautiful song structures. The drum and bass lines are hard — but without that intrusive, banal digital computer created hammering that characterises a lot of current reggae — the lyrics are personal and insightful too, penned long before the themes had become ubiquitous and token stereotypes. Willie Williams confirms (regarding lyrical composition) to Carter Van Pelt ‘most of these tracks, I had personal experience with.'”
Reggae Vibes

YouTube: Messenger Man (Live), Messenger Man, Dungeon / Version, No Hiding Place, Give Jah Praise

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