Archive for April, 2014

Culture – International Herb (1979)

Posted in Culture with tags on April 29, 2014 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“African-American R&B has affected different reggae artists in different ways. While Toots and the Maytals’ gritty ska/reggae is comparable to the raw, tough southern soul that Wilson Picket, Sam & Dave and Otis Redding were known for, Culture’s sweet, mellifluous style of reggae is closer to the northern soul and sweet soul that came out of Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit in the ’60s and ’70s. On International Herb, ones hears a lot of northern soul influence, as well as Afro-Caribbean and African pop influences. Although not in a class with Two Sevens Clash or Baldhead Bridge, International Herb is a respectable, pleasing effort that Culture fans were glad to acquire. Virgin’s original LP version of International Herb generated some controversy thanks to its front cover, which showed Culture’s members smoking large spliffs while standing in front of a tall, bushy marijuana plant. Marijuana advocates loved the cover, marijuana opponents hated it and Libertarians defended Culture’s right to free speech — even if they were Libertarian teetotalers who wouldn’t dream of touching a spliff themselves. The title song is unapologetically pro-marijuana, while other noteworthy tracks (including ‘Ethiopians Waan Guh Home,’ ‘Rally Around Jahovah’s Throne’ and ‘Jah Rastafari’) put forth a very Rastafarian message. International Herb falls short of essential, but it’s an enjoyable illustration of the group’s talents.”

YouTube: International Herb [FULL ALBUM HQ]

Jacob Miller – False Rasta (1975)

Posted in Augustus Pablo, Coxsone Dodd, Jacob Miller, Rastafarians, Studio One with tags , , , on April 26, 2014 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“A deeply dread song deserves the heaviest and most atmospheric of rhythms, and ‘False Rasta’ boasts one of the most militant around. The bass line can barely heave itself off the ground so weighty is its throb, the organ swoops ominously through the air, the melodica haunts the grooves, while the riffs sear the wax. Only producer Augustus Pablo’s pretty piano lines stops the rhythm from sinking into the earth. Pablo’s arrangement plays straight to the heart of Jacob Miller’s impassioned affirmation of dreadness. Its title is deceptive however, and doesn’t actually address false rastas at all, but instead is an inspired indictment of those that judge solely on appearance, turning their backs on their Rasta brethren.”

YouTube: False Rasta

U-Roy – Dread in a Babylon (1975)

Posted in DJ, U-Roy with tags , on April 24, 2014 by 1960s: Days of Rage

‘Even without the music, this album would still leap off the racks; its photo of U Roy exhaling a mushroom cloud of marijuana smoke from his ever-available pipe ranks among the all-time greatest covers, regardless of genre. However, U Roy doesn’t have any trouble coming across as a distinctive presence; his scattershot repertoire of barks, chants, and screams is as critical or more important as the deft, unobtrusive backing woven behind him. U Roy imposes his own willful style, regardless of setting. Sometimes he pulls off a positively poppy veneer on tracks like “Runaway Girl” or “Silver Bird”; other times, he extemporizes slightly ahead of the beat on “Natty Don’t Fear” or “The Great Psalms.” His lyrics run the gamut of Rastafarian concerns, from facing adversity (“Dreadlocks Dread”) to female troubles (“I Can’t Love Another”) and royalist run-ins (“Chalice in the Palace”). The uncredited musicians stay out of the way (although they get their own album-closing instrumental, “Trench Town Rock”). This album ranks among the ’70s dub masterpieces, even if the odd lyrical clinker keeps it from perfection; “Runaway Girl”‘s glistening skank can’t paper over its sexism (which suggests the girl in question “may be nice/but you’re not that smart”). Even so, sometimes an artist only needs charisma to get across, and U Roy handily wins on that score.’

‘… Mixing together fantastic dub beats, and also being largely responsible for the practice of “toasting,” it is due to the efforts and vision of U-Roy that there is a hip-hop genre today. While he continues to make music today, there is perhaps no better a representation of his sound, and no more important a record for so many genres then U-Roy’s brilliant 1975 release, Dread In A Babylon. As the 1960’s turned into the 1970’s, portable sound systems became more readily available, and large dance parties began to move out of the dance halls and into open, public spaces. This trend, which occurred across the globe, made the necessity of a DJ far more important. Yet, it was far more then just playing songs; the DJ had to be able to keep the crowd’s mood good with his skills on the microphone. Presenting clever rhyming and commentary, which took on the name “toasting,” this is where the entire hip-hop genre began. In fact, early hip-hop DJ’s, like DJ Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa were far more akin to “toasters” then they were to modern day emcees. Among all these early toasters, U-Roy was unquestionably the finest of the group, and the rhymes that he presented over early dub plates are like nothing else found at the time. U-Roy’s debut record completely changed the face of Jamaican music, proving that there was far more to the island then just the reggae sound. The cover of Dread In A Babylon has also become massively memorable, as there are actually four different versions, all featuring the same theme: U-Roy disappearing behind a giant cloud of smoke. Without question, one of the most iconic album covers in history, many make the case that, even without the fantastic music, the album would have done well simply by this cover.’
The Daily Guru

YouTube: Dread In A Babylon – runaway girl, chalice in the palace, i can’t love another, dread locks dread, the great psalms, natty don’t fear, african message, silver bird, listen to the teacher, trench town rock

Earth & Stone – Kool Roots (1978)

Posted in Channel One, Earth & Stone, Joseph Hoo Kim with tags , , , on April 20, 2014 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“Albert Bailey and Clifton Howell were an obscure vocal duo who cut several Jamaican hit singles for Channel One producer JoJo Hookim under the name Earth & Stone in the mid-1970s. Kool Roots, which compiles most of the group’s Channel One output, was originally released in 1978 as a double album (standard vocal mixes on one LP, dub versions on the other) in a gatefold sleeve — an almost unheard-of packaging extravagance for a reggae act at the time. Little more is known about the duo, and they dropped from sight after Kool Roots was released. But the haunting single ‘In Time to Come’ has endured, and this reissue, which combines both LPs on a single CD, shows that Earth & Stone was capable of producing consistently high-quality material. Bailey and Howell’s sweet harmonies are the main attraction, but a good portion of the credit for this album’s success must also go to the Revolutionaries, Channel One’s crack house band.”

“… In 1972 Earth & Stone made their way, like so many other Jamaican artists, down to Brentford Road to work up their skills at Studio One. In 1973 they progressed to Channel One where they began to record for Jo Jo and Ernest Hookim. As was common for the time their material was a mix of lovers and roots but with the balance tipped to the cultural side. Between 1973 and 1978 tunes such as ‘Jah Will Cut You Down’ and ‘Three Wise Men’ became popular on Channel One’s Hitbound imprint. The duo of Albert Bailey and Clifton Howell created their own unique vocal interchange sound, each taking turn at lead and harmony. The ‘Kool Roots’ set was out initally in1978 and collates most of the group’s songs for the label. It’s unusual for the time in that the vocal and dub sets were released together in the UK by Cha Cha containing both albums within a gatefold sleeve, an expense not usually afforded for a reggae release. Even the artwork was well above the usual standard.”

YouTube: Holy Land Of Home, In Time To Come, Jail House Set Me Free + House of Dub Version, Three Wise Men + Knowledge Dub, Devil Must of Made You

King Stitt – Fire Corner / Herbsman Shuffle (1969)

Posted in Clancy Eccles, Coxsone Dodd, King Stitt with tags , , on April 18, 2014 by 1960s: Days of Rage

YouTube: Fire Corner, Herbsman Shuffle

Joe Higgs – Unity Is Power (1979)

Posted in Joe Higgs, Rocksteady, Ska with tags , , on April 16, 2014 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“Deeply respected but largely unknown reggae mastermind Joe Higgs was a silent force helping to guide the shape of Jamaican music throughout some of its most fruitful periods in the ’60s and ’70s, working as a songwriter for superstar acts like Toots & the Maytals and as a vocal coach and guitar instructor for Bob Marley, and even filling in with the Wailers on their first American tour. His influential presence never equated to commercial success with his own musical career, but the efforts of said career left behind a handful of incredibly strong solo records, the second of which was 1979’s Unity Is Power. Coming from a background that saw both the roots of ska as well as the evolution of rocksteady and what became roots reggae, Higgs incorporates all the various facets of his musical personality into this remarkably colorful album, injecting his rich reggae tapestry with elements of soca, American soul, and rock & roll. The set kicks off with the jubilant ‘Devotion.’ This is a chart-topper in some alternate universe, with its joyfully melodic reggae backbone driven by skanking guitar and curiously busy boogie-woogie piano. Ska-tinged horn sections back up Higgs’ rich baritone, and the hopefully downtrodden character of the song casts Higgs as a Jamaican take on the ghetto consciousness of Curtis Mayfield. The midtempo rock & roll simmer of the title track enforces this comparison as well, with dazzling backing vocals and mournful guitar soloing adding flair to the song’s message of struggle and hope for better days. Tracks like this and ‘Love Can’t Be Wrong’ are in line with the late-’70s love affair between reggae artists and rock bands, mirroring Peter Tosh’s associations with the Rolling Stones that were happening around the same time Unity Is Power was put to tape. Standout tracks are bountiful here, with melancholy rocksteady tunes like ‘Think of the Moment’ butting up against politically empowering slow-burners like ‘Sons of Garvey.’ Higgs tutored a young Jimmy Cliff, and some of the vocal inflections and phrasing on these songs give rise to the question of who influenced whom, especially in their more emphatic moments. Stylistically varied without losing too much focus, Unity Is Power is a rich and celebratory album that showcases Higgs’ numerous talents as a songwriter, arranger, vocalist, and reggae innovator. His is a name and story known mostly by die-hard reggae heads, but albums like this are strong enough to be picked up on by even casual reggae listeners.”

YouTube: Unity is Power, Vineyard, Devotion, One Man Kutchie, Neither Gold Nor Silver, Sons Of Garvey, (Sadness Is a) Part of My Heart

The Jamaicans – Baba boom (1967)

Posted in Dub, Duke Reid, Ska, The Jamaicans, Tommy McCook, Treasure Isle with tags , , , , , on April 10, 2014 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“The Jamaicans were a ska/rocksteady trio formed in Jamaica in 1967, consisting of members Tommy Cowan, Norris Weir and Martin Williams. The Jamaicans originally started out as a band known as the Cool Shakes, consisting of Jerry Brown and childhood friend Norris Weir, joined later by Martin Williams. Then Tommy Cowan joined the group to make them a quintet. … They would also take first place in the Island’s Festival Song Contest in 1967 with the rocksteady classic ‘Ba Ba Boom’ (by this time without Jerry in the group), written by Cowan and Weir about the Jamaica Independence Festival. ‘Ba Ba Boom’ was entered in the 1967 Independence Festival Song Competition (now known as the Popular Song Competition), which had been inaugurated by Festival organizers the previous year, and the Jamaicans took home the win that year with their entry, which became their best-known song.”

YouTube: Baba boom, Baba boom version