Archive for the Bunny Lee Category

Barry Brown – From Creation / Man There (1979)

Posted in Barry Brown, Bunny Lee with tags , on August 24, 2017 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“Barry Brown (c. 1962, Jamaica — 29 May 2004) was a Jamaican reggae singer, initially coming to prominence in the 1970s with his work with Bunny Lee, but remaining popular throughout his career. Barry Brown was one of a number of singers to find success in the 1970s under record producer Bunny Lee. After forming a short-lived group called The Aliens with Rod Taylor and Johnny Lee, Brown went solo. … One of the most successful artists of the early dancehall era, Brown worked with some of Jamaica’s top producers of the time, including Linval Thompson, Winston ‘Niney The Observer’ Holness, Sugar Minott and Coxsone Dodd, as well as releasing self-produced material. …  After releasing eleven albums between 1979 and 1984, Brown’s releases became more sporadic, although his work continued to feature prominently on sound systems such as those of Jah Shaka. …”
YouTube: From Creation / Man There

I Roy – Trust No Shadow After Dark (1979)

Posted in Bunny Lee, Channel One, I-Roy, Joe Gibbs, Riddims with tags , , , , on August 17, 2017 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“The late, great I Roy will forever be remembered for his phenomenal work for producers like Gussie Clarke, Lee Perry and Bunny Lee. Or his association with the Channel One studio. Or his famous feuds with Prince Jazzbo, which were recorded and released in a series of very entertaining records. Or maybe even for the tragic end of his life: when I Roy left this world he was suffering from ill health, was homeless and had just found out his son was killed in prison. Being the legend he was, all material recorded by the man is definitely worth checking out, but in all fairness: his greatest work was captured by other producers and he won’t be remembered for his output for Joe Gibbs. I Roy didn’t record much for Joe to begin with, a few good tunes here and there and an album produced by Bunny Lee in 1979 (which is pretty good, Johnny Clarke sings the melody parts) and that’s it. That said, this recording from 1975 is quite a gem. I Roy sounds upbeat and seems well at home riding the awkward stepping riddim, which updates the Meditations’ ‘Woman is like a shadow.’ Laughing, growling and toasting his way through the track, this makes for one of the finer obscure I Roy records out there. It’s one of those overlooked recordings that turn out a catch when you find it and makes you wonder why it isn’t featured on more compilations out there. In the case of I Roy the answer to that question might be because his back-catalogue of hits is just too large and this isn’t one of them. Don’t let that bother you, though. It makes it all the more worthwhile to track this 7 inch down. …”
Pressure Beat (Audio)
YouTube: Trust No Shadow After Dark

Cornell Campbell – I Shall Not Remove: 1975-1980

Posted in Augustus Pablo, Bunny Lee, Cornel Campbell, Dr. Alimantado with tags , , , on February 27, 2017 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“Most Blood & Fire releases should be considered essential purchases for any fan of golden-era reggae, but this one is even better than most. Cornel Campbell is one of the best reggae singers ever recorded — a sweet-toned falsettist with effortless intonation and a cool, assured delivery that is incredibly easy on the ear. The centerpiece of this collection is the three-part ‘Gorgon’ series of singles produced by the legendary Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee, all featuring the ‘flying cymbals’ style of drumming popular at the time. ‘The Gorgon’ having been a huge hit, it was followed quickly by ‘The Gorgon Speaks’ and ‘The Conquering Gorgon,’ all three of which are presented here (the first two in extended versions, the second in its original version and then again in a Rastafarian variation titled ‘Lion of Judah’). Almost equally important, though, are ‘Natty Dread in a Greenwich Town’ (an answer record to Bob Marley’s ‘Natty Dread’) and ‘Dance in a Greenwich Town,’ the latter in a megamix format that incorporates a deejay version by Dr. Alimantado and a dub version mixed by King Tubby. But really, just about every track reaches the same standard — there is not a single weak cut or boring moment on this spectacular album.”

“In a scene blessed with great voices, Cornell Campbell’s distinctive tenor / falsetto is one of the best-loved. Having made classics like ‘Stars’ and ‘Queen Of The Minstrels’ for Coxsone, Cornell went on to become even more successful with hitmaker Bunny Lee in the 1970s. Included in this compilation are hits like ‘Natty Dread In A Greenwich Town’, ‘Bandulu’ and the complete ‘Gorgon’ song series. Deejays Dr Alimantado and the late Ranking Dread also make guest appearances. This collection covers the period when Cornell Campbell was recording under the great Bunny Lee, pioneer of the percussion-driven flying-cymbal sound. Lee Scratch Perry and Augustus Pablo may have been making names for themselves overseas, but this is the sound that was lighting up Kingston dancehalls in the mid-Seventies. Balmy old rhythms reappropriated, revamped and revitalised in true Jamaican style; hi-hats hissing like snakes in Eden; and Campbell’s achingly tender, almost hymnal, voice.”
Blood and Fire

YouTube: I Shall Not Remove, Two Face Rasta, The Gorgon Speaks, Dance In A Greenwich Farm

Johnny Clarke – Rockers Time Now (1976)

Posted in Bunny Lee, Johnny Clarke, The Aggrovators with tags , , on October 31, 2016 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“One of the crucial albums of the 1970s, Johnny Clarke delivers up a masterpiece in a mere 12 tracks. Produced by Bunny Lee, at the height of his ‘flying cymbals’ work, Rockers Time Now, contrary to its title, doesn’t so much rock as find the perfect lackadaisical groove, and slides along it into nirvana. If the Jamaican term ‘irae’ had a musical personification, Rockers would be it. Clarke’s own laid-back, unruffled delivery dovetails perfectly, and Lee’s equally easygoing house band the Aggrovators were the perfect music complement. Several of the songs are covers that on paper seem to be recipes for disaster, like the Abyssinians’ militant ‘Declaration of Rights.’ But miraculously it works brilliantly, as if the revolution had come without bloodshed, with Babylon brought to ruins by a haze of ganja smoke. That haze swirls around ‘Satta Massa Gana’ as well, conjuring up a dream world Africa, an exquisite paradise far removed from the real world. However, Rockers isn’t all wrapped in mists, ‘Ites Green and Gold’ is actually pretty punchy, while ‘African Roots’ bounces across the grooves, buoyed by the bubbly guitar riffs. Airiest of all is the title track, which almost floats off the record entirely. The rest of the record is rootsier, with just enough simmering guitar slithering through to justify the rockers title. The standout is arguably a cover of the Mighty Diamonds ‘Them Never Love Poor Marcus,’ the most passionate track on the record, although ‘Let’s Give Jah Jah Praise’ runs a very close second. The album remains a contradiction in terms, rockers without the rock, roots without the fire, but Clarke’s silky delivery, and the Aggrovators’ subtle performance had classic written all over it. The Front Line label dropped the singer after the release of this album and Authorized Version, philistines blind to the rare gems in their hands, and time has only increased the value of Rockers Time Now. — Jo-Ann Greene”
YouTube: Rockers Time Now

Johnny Clarke – Play Fool Fe Get Wise / Every Knew Shall Bow (1978)

Posted in Bunny Lee, Dub, Johnny Clarke with tags , , on June 22, 2016 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“… Play Fool Fe Get Wise is about people who use their brains to outsmart others. Both Enter Into His Gates and Move Out Of Babylon were extremely popular roots tunes and were amongst the first string of hits to appear from Johnny Clarke. The latter appears here in a recut of the song which has been recorded in the ’80s utilizing the slower rub-a-dub or dancehall style riddim track in stead of the militant steppers riddim which featured on the original version. …”
Reggae Vibes
YouTube: Play Fool Fe Get Wise, Every Knew Shall Bow (& dub)

The Dreads / King Tubby – If Deejay Was Your Trade: The Dreads at King Tubby’s 1974-1977 (1994)

Posted in Bunny Lee, DJ with tags , on July 7, 2014 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“Although Bunny Lee first entered the music industry back in 1962, he didn’t move into production until 1967. Even as he oversaw a string of hits in the rocksteady age, notably with the Uniques and Roy Shirley, it was the roots age on which Lee really stamped his imprimatur. Carlton ‘Santa’ Davis, drummer with Lee’s studio band, the Aggrovators, created the band’s distinctive ‘flying cymbals’ sound, and with it the producer’s 45s stormed the dancehalls. However, without his own studio, Lee had to be particularly innovative to turn a profit, and the producer’s two-pronged solution would change the course of Jamaican music. To save money, Lee utilized the same backing track for a variety of different releases, popularizing “versions,” a trend that continues today and has yet to peak. Second, rather than having his band waste time learning new songs, Lee set the Aggrovators loose on Studio One and Treasure Isle classics, reinventing these golden oldies in steppers and rockers style. Recycling, too, remains integral to the modern dancehall. Lee’s vocalists happily composed new lyrics for these newly resurrected riddims, but in the end, these innovations favored the DJs, and by the ’80s, the toasters had virtually displaced vocalists in the dancehalls. If Deejay Was Your Trade showcases some of Lee’s best chatterers, all voiced and mixed down at King Tubby’s studio. As listeners have come to expect from Blood & Fire, an excellent booklet is included, providing pocket bios of the DJs as well as any other salient information, and identifying each of the riddims. …”

“… So says deejay Big Joe on the opening track on this indispensable compilation of classic mid-seventies deejay sides from the Bunny Lee stable courtesy of a new reggae label inaugurated by Dub Catcher’s very own Steve Barrow. Without pretension to the intrepid weirdness of a Lee Perry, nor the deep spiritual vibe of an Augustus Pablo or Yabby U, Edward ‘Bunny’ Lee’s name may not enjoy the mythical status afforded these contemporaries, but they didn’t call him Striker Lee the Hit Man for nothing. Bunny simply gave the people what they wanted, and those records appearing on his Jackpot, Justice, Attack and Hot Stuff labels, almost always carrying a thunderous King Tubby dub on the reverse, were among the most popular of their day. Listening to this album you feel as if you are right there in Tubby’s studio; Tubbs is at the board and the deejays are lined up and ready. Bunny’s irrepressible spirit fills the room, he knows what he wants and if the deejay runs out of lyrics, well, Bunny will always proffer a couplet or two. Tubbs lines up the tape, Bunny shouts “Go deh now”, and the Aggravators new cut of John Holts ‘Ali Baba’ rhythm cranks out over the headphones. …”
Blood and Fire

YouTube: Tradition Skank, If Deejay Was Your Trade – Listening Samples

Max Romeo – Every Man Ought To Know (1973)

Posted in Bunny Lee, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Max Romeo with tags , , on June 3, 2014 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“The origins of this song, originally featured on Max Romeo’s incendiary Revelation Time album of 1975, are interesting. The instrumental part had initially been recorded by the Upsetters under the direction of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry as a backing track for Leo Graham, who recorded the nursery rhyme in a relatively straight manner. The rhythm proved popular enough that it was subsequently used, as was customary at the time, by several other artists as well, notably the deejays I Roy and Dillinger. Perry himself joined forces with the Ethiopians to record ‘I Am a Dreadlocks’ over the same rhythm, as a volley in what was then an ongoing dispute between Rastafarians who wore dreadlocks and those who did not. But the most powerful interpretation of the ‘Three Blind Mice’ rhythm was this one, on which Romeo uses the nursery-rhyme theme as a departure point for a bitter denunciation of police harrassment in the Rastafarian community. Perry’s splashy and dense production style is a perfect fit for the nervous and outraged lyrics, and the simplictic melody adds an element of bitter sarcasm to the song.”

YouTube: Every Man Ought To Know, Three Blind Mice