Archive for January, 2017

Joe Gibbs And The Professionals – State Of Emergency (1976)

Posted in Errol Thompson, Joe Gibbs, Sly Dunbar, Tommy McCook with tags , , , on January 29, 2017 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“Classic set of horns instrumentals from 1976, featuring sax players Herman Marquis and Tommy McCook, trumpet player Bobby Ellis and trombonist Vin ‘Don D Junior’ Gordon blowing hot across resilient rhythms built by bassie Lloyd Parks and drummer Sly Dunbar in their Gibbs guise as The Professionals with legendary engineer Errol Thompson at the controls at Joe Gibbs’ studio, much in the manner of the popular at the time Revolutionaries instrumentals such as MPLA, IRA and Angola. Many were issued as 45’s or provided the foundation for hits by Culture and others. Riddims include Desperate Lover (Rawhide Kid), Get In The Groove (Donald Quarrie, which provided for Cornel Campbell’s No Man’s Land), Heavenless (High Noon), steppers delight Walls Of Jericho, Heavy Beat (State Of Emergency, that underpinned Culture’s Jah Jah See Them A Come), Equal Rights (Security Force), It’s You I Love (Black September, also used for Prince Far I’s Tribute To Michael Holding), Tell Me Now (Stone Wall Jackson) and Nanny Goat (Wild Goat).”
YouTube: State Of Emergency 29:19

Alton Ellis – Mad Mad (1967)

Posted in Alton Ellis, Coxsone Dodd, Studio One with tags , , on January 28, 2017 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“With an exuberant blast of brass, ‘Mad Mad’ surged into the sound systems in 1967 to eventually become one of Studio One’s most beloved riddims. Intricately arranged by Jackie Mittoo, the song was not one of the label’s typically lavish rocksteady fare. For starters, the melody line was slighter and far less lush than usual, while the chorus didn’t actually jog with the verses. However, Mittoo made it work regardless, building the arrangement around a compulsive rhythm, jangling cowbell and the song’s signature brass line, all offset only by Mittoo’s own sparkling piano…and Alton Ellis’s soulful vocals abetted by the warm harmonies, of course. … It was a particular favorite of Junjo Lawes, who scored big with the song’s most popular version, Michigan & Smiley’s ‘Diseases’, and continues to be versioned to this day.”
YouTube: Mad Mad / Diseases (Alton Ellis, Michigan & Smiley)

Madoo – Backway Mr. Landlord / Prince Mohammed – Backway

Posted in Dancehall, Pressure Sounds with tags , on January 25, 2017 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“The burdens of being a landlord… Everybody thinks you’re getting filthy rich by doing …well… nothing, really. You just collect the rent and then go about spending your excessive amount of money. That’s all there is to it. In reality, as these two superb tunes point out, being a rentman or landlord means you’re actually very, very busy. Recovering in the hospital, for instance. It’s a favourite topic in reggae, fighting off the landlord, and I can understand why. Jamaica went through rough times ten years after it became independent; and the Michael Manley government made choices that weren’t particularly benefiting the gross national income of the island. Although well intented, the fight over bauxite levies with US based aluminium companies and the strong links with Fidel Castro’s communist isle of Cuba, drastically affected Jamaica’s economy. So much so, that after years of declining tourist- and industry income rates (after a short stint upwards in the beginning), the IMF had to be called in for economic support.  And with that, heavy interests had to paid and the path went further downhill, economically.

As with everything in politics and economics, it’s the civilian who feels it. Thus, money was low, rent was due, jobs were scarce and fun was needed. The dancehall provided the latter and the deejays talked to people. About getting rid of the landlord, for instance. Ranging from ‘pretty please‘ appeals like the great Termites’ Mr Percy from the rocksteady era and Half Pint’s superb plea from the early 80’s, to  ‘I’m staying, don’t mess with me‘ messages from the likes of Basil Gabbidon – recorded in the ska days- to ‘bring a big dog if you want to get rid of me‘ threats like both Madoo and George Nooks put on display here. Gibbs recorded his fair share of anti-rentman tunes – Luie Lepke and Black Uhuru the most prominent – but I don’t think any were as harsh as the message Madoo conveys on this 7″. The roof is leaking, there’s no water in the pipes, the lights won’t light and rats are walking on the bed. Not a pretty situation, I agree. But Madoo’s landlord’s days are numbered, he states. Madoo’s staying and the landlord will end up in the hospital, well critical, taking saline while they fix up his spine. He might lose his sight.. Ah, sweet revenge!(?)

Madoo always was a great storyteller. Whether he’s talking about being the other man or hunting ladies, Madoo always finds an original angle to make his story come across. Backway Mr. Landlord is another example, in which he puts the landlord’s view – six months rent due, seeing his tenant buying new stuff but not paying his contract – right against the bitter struggle of the tenant  – living in a house that is not functional, with money problems and mouths to feed. The result is a harsh story, realistic and confronting. Yet it also makes for a great, great reggae song, owing much to the pleasant style, tone and character of Madoo’s voice, which is kindred to Horace Andy’s, but also quite unique in its own right. Prince Mohammed, in the meantime, keeps the horror level down a notch or three, but in the process he delivers one my favourite tunes by him under this monicker. Stating the landlord better bring a big dog to scare him, not a maga dog, Nooks sticks to the ‘i’m staying’  framework. He delivers his message in such a relaxed manner, opposite to the frantic style he’s known for, that it’s a shame this tune isn’t that well known. Venturing in between roles as singer and deejay, Nooks may have found his perfect pitch on this 7″, for it’s a true delight. In fact, I like this side even better than Madoo’s. And that’s saying something. The 12″ of this doublesider features Errol Thompson mixing both versions in a ‘call and reply’ mode. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to track it down, nor can I find it on the net. When I do, I will upload that particular mix to Pressure Beat as well.”
Pressure Beat (Video)

YouTube: Madoo – Mr. Landlord

The True Story of Rastafari

Posted in Rastafarians, The Melodians with tags , on January 18, 2017 by 1960s: Days of Rage

A mural of Leonard Howell in Tredegar Park, near where the first Rastafari community was formed in the 1930s, Spanish Town, Jamaica, January 4, 2014
“In the postcard view of Jamaica, Bob Marley casts a long shadow. Though he’s been dead for thirty-five years, the legendary reggae musician is easily the most recognizable Jamaican in the world—the primary figure in a global brand often associated with protest music, laid-back, ‘One Love’ positivity, and a pot-smoking counterculture. And since Marley was an adherent of Rastafari, the social and spiritual movement that began in this Caribbean island nation in the 1930s, his music—and reggae more generally—have in many ways come to be synonymous with Rastafari in the popular imagination. For Jamaica’s leaders, Rastafari has been an important aspect of the country’s global brand. Struggling with sky-high unemployment, vast inequality, and extreme poverty (crippling debt burdens from IMF agreements haven’t helped the situation), they have relied on Brand Jamaica—the government’s explicit marketing push, beginning in the 1960s—to attract tourist dollars and foreign investment to the island. The government-backed tourist industry has long encouraged visitors to Come to Jamaica and feel all right; and in 2015, the country decriminalized marijuana—creating a further draw for foreigners seeking an authentic Jamaican experience. …”

“Rastafari is a religion which developed in Jamaica in the 1930s, following the coronation of Haile Selassie I as Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930. Its adherents worship him in much the same way as Jesus in his Second Advent, or as God the Son. Members of the Rastafari way of life are known as Rastafari, Rastas, or simply Ras. Rastafari are also known by their official church titles, such as Elder or High Priest. The way of life is sometimes referred to as ‘Rastafarianism’, but this term is considered offensive by most Rastafari, who, being critical of ‘isms’ or ‘ians’ (which they see as a typical part of ‘Babylon’ culture), dislike being labelled as an ‘ism’ or ‘ian’ themselves. Rastafari has always been conceived as a way of life for and by people of African descent. The name Rastafari is taken from Ras Tafari, the title (Ras) and first name (Tafari Makonnen) of Haile Selassie I before his coronation. In Amharic, Ras, literally ‘head’, is an Ethiopian title equivalent to prince or chief, while the personal given name Täfäri (teferi) means one who is revered. Yah (יה in Hebrew) is a Biblical name of God, from a shortened form of Jahweh or Yahuah found in Psalms 68:4 in the King James Version of the Bible and many other places in the Bible. … Many elements of Rastafari reflect its origins in Jamaica along with Ethiopian culture. …”


“Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr., ONH (17 August 1887 – 10 June 1940), was a Jamaican political leader, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator who was a proponent of the Pan-Africanism movement, to which end he founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL). He also founded the Black Star Line, a shipping and passenger line which promoted the return of the African diaspora to their ancestral lands. Prior to the 20th century, leaders such as Prince Hall, Martin Delany, Edward Wilmot Blyden, and Henry Highland Garnet advocated the involvement of the African diaspora in African affairs. Garvey was unique in advancing a Pan-African philosophy to inspire a global mass movement and economic empowerment focusing on Africa known as Garveyism. Promoted by the UNIA as a movement of African Redemption, Garveyism would eventually inspire others, ranging from the Nation of Islam to the Rastafari movement (some sects of which proclaim Garvey as a prophet.) Garveyism intended persons of African ancestry in the diaspora to ‘redeem’ the nations of Africa and for the European colonial powers to leave the continent. …”
W – Marcus Garvey


“The Rastafari Movement in the United States is the Rastafari Movement, founded in Jamaica, manifestation in the United States. … Marcus Garvey, a native Jamaican, speaking on the topic of the creation of an African state for displaced Africans, told his followers to ‘look to the East Africa, for the crowning of the Black King.’ This was also to influence the minds of the masses of black people from continuing to worship King George of England. Marcus Mosiah Garvey was referring to Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, the only remaining African Monarch of Biblical ancestry. However, some found a more literal interpretation. … The movement has had strong cultural, social, and political effects on both Ethiopia and Jamaica, but to date, little scholarly research has been done on the effects of the movement on the United States of America. But this is not to say that such influences and affections do not exist in America, which many Rastafari see as the epitome of Babylon, and the hearth of all evil in the world. … Reggae was known in Jamaica as a popular dance move until 1968, when the Toots & the Maytals released their single ‘Do the Reggay‘. From this point on, Reggae referred to a genre of music centered on a steady and regular beat played on a rhythm guitar, called the ‘bang’, and biblical lyrics pertaining to Rastafari ideology. In Jamaica and around the world, reggae, and especially the music of Bob Marley, was used as a medium to bring about social and political change. …”
W – The Rastafari Movement in the United States

YouTube: The Maytals – Do The Reggay

Culture – Too Long in Slavery (1989)

Posted in Culture, Robbie Shakespeare, Sly Dunbar, Sonia Pottinger with tags , , , on January 16, 2017 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“This 13-track compilation is culled from Culture’s three Front Line releases — Harder Than the Rest, Cumbolo, and International Herb. All three date from 1978-79, and were overseen by producer Sonia Pottinger. Pottinger had risen in the rocksteady age and was famed for her straightforward, almost gentle, productions, which placed the focus on the singers, not the rhythms or studio effects. She remained a force into the roots age, even while she eschewed the dread sound so popular in the day. Thus, although thematically Culture was a deeply dread band, and were accompanied in the studio by some of the island’s heaviest hitting roots musicians, all bolstered by the rhythms of Sly & Robbie, these albums had a much lighter musical feel than most cultural offerings from this time. But the lightness nicely counterpoints Joseph Hill’s deeply dread lyrics and Albert Walker and Kenneth Paley’s sublime harmonies, as the trio offered up cultural and sufferer’s songs, fueled by their deeply held Rastafarian beliefs. … The rest of this is set is equally strong, and includes the highlights from this trio of high-quality albums.”

“… Despite backing from the rhythmic powerhouse that is Sly & Robbie the bulk of these trackseschew the heavy productions so prevalent of the era. Dub influence is conspicuous by its absence, save for the closing ‘Citizen As A Peaceful Dub.’ Indeed, Culture were very much about the dread lyrics of Joseph Hill and here, above all else, the message is king. Equal rights and cultural emancipation for Rastafarians is the order of the day in Hill’s strictly narrative flow. Such narrow themes could make for a fairly dense listen but repeated plays reveal hidden subtleties – not least the broad scope of the production where all varieties of instrumentation weave into the mix. …”

YouTube: Too Long in Slavery FULL LONGPLAY (1977-1979)

Jah Observer: Backstage at the Notting Hill Carnival

Posted in Jah Observer with tags on January 16, 2017 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“For more than 30 years, the family sound system Jah Observer has remained a bastion of roots and culture at the Notting Hill carnival even as the event changed with the gentrification of the city of London. In 2010, the owner, Spiderman, decided to return to Jamaica. The year before I got a chance to follow him and his family throughout the duration of their Notting Hill carnival marathon. It’s night time and the streets of Ladbroke Grove are empty. The calm before the storm on a friday night, as more than 800,000 people are expected to hit the streets over two days as they have done for decades on the August bank holiday, the last sunday and monday of the month. It’s drizzling. This is where the deal is going down. …”
YouTube: notting hill carnival, the mighty jah observer

Rasheda – Shashamane + Augustus Pablo Version (1979)

Posted in Augustus Pablo, Dub with tags , on January 11, 2017 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“Long-time hard-to-find soundsystem anthem, limited repress – Shashamane I has been a crucial cut in the soundsystem world for some years now, heavily rotated on dubplate and in it’s first pressing. Rasheda has done the right thing, and this tune is now available again (in small numbers though!) including a heavy remix by Dubbing Sun & Digid, with their well-executed ’21st Century mix’, tuned for the power amps and steppers massive.”
Rewind Forward (Video)

“Wicked previously unreleased digikal cut to Rasheda’s roots anthem, cut for Augustus Pablo in the late eighties, on the same riddim as Johnny Osbourne’s – Cool Down Rude Boy.”
Dub Vendor

YouTube: Rasheda – Shashamane + Augustus Pablo Version

Elpedio & the Sonics – Right Time (1979)

Posted in Joe Gibbs with tags on January 6, 2017 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“‘You’re going around, and boasting yourself. You talk about this, you talk about that, every day…’ This line from the mighty ‘Right Time’ track is all the evidence you need to establish that Elpedio Burke wasn’t big on boasting or bombast. It is certainly not an attidtude the singer displayed in his time as a recording artist. He has only got a few tunes to his name to begin with and, to make matters worse, his name seems to vary on each and every release. Christened Patrick Burke at birth, it’s a shame Elpedio/Elpidio/Elpedo/Elpido hasn’t got more songs out there, because his output sounds promising. Both ‘Right Time’ as well as the stunning ‘Madgie’ (Abeng/ Black Wax 1975) showcase a very laidback and somewhat restrained singing style. As if to tie himself to his self imposed ‘no bragging rule,’ Elpedio seems to hold back his anger, heartbreak or anguish when delivering his message. But by doing so, he also sounds dead serious and even a bit dangerous. As if he’s on the verge of taking it out on you. The combination of his sweet sounding voice with this self-controlled approach is what brings friction and tension in his songs. Or should I write apprehension? Because it is this mixed bag that lures me into the song and makes sure I take heed of the message. On ‘Right Time’ his prediction of a life without friends is set to a pumping Professionals riddim (of which I’m sure I heard it before, but I just can’t place it. Anyone keen to help me out?) It lays the foundation for a seriously heavy ET dub workout on the b-side, but also raises a few questions. Dancehall was beginning to take over in 1979 but this kind of stepping roots was still widely appreciated in both Jamaica and in the foreign. So why wasn’t this a hit? Was there too much roots out there, too many tunes with the same message, too many songs with the same stepping riddim, too many other big Joe Gibbs hits in the charts and, oh yeah, isn’t it time for something fresh and new, here at the break of a decade? I guess the answer is ‘yes’ to all of the above and I think they’re all justifiable as an apt answer to my question. Perhaps his move to the United States didn’t help his career much either. Elpedio joined a band called Cool Runnings (alongside guitarist Andy Bassford) and recorded a few songs with them. Looking upon ‘Right Time’ 30-something years later releases it from its thwarting timeframe. And a fresh look reveals a big tune in its own right, that is worth digging for. This is truly an underappreciated gem.”
Pressure Beat (Video)

YouTube: Elpedio & The Sonics Right Time 1979 7” Crazy Joe