Archive for Bunny Lee

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

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“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.”
allmusic

“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

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“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”
allmusic
Spotify
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

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“… 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

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“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. …”
allmusic

“… 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

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“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.”
allmusic

YouTube: Every Man Ought To Know, Three Blind Mice

Barry Brown – No Wicked Shall Enter The Kingdom Of Zion, Politician (1979)

Posted in Barry Brown, Bunny Lee, Dub with tags , , on March 28, 2014 by 1960s: Days of Rage

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“… Following on the heels of Johnny Clarke and Linval Thompson, youth singer Barry Brown penetrated the early dancehall scene of the late ’70s with a slue of durable roots records that today stand as evergreen gems. Like Clarke, Thompson, Sammy Dread, Rod Taylor, Sugar Minott and other popular vocalists of the day, Brown brought an immediate, street-level atmosphere to his records. His passionately raw delivery wasn’t candy-coated sweet or silky smooth. It was simple, direct, amicable and real. Listening to records like ‘No Wicked Shall Enter The Kingdom Of Zion’ and ‘Politician’ you knew this young brother wasn’t from uptown. Barry Brown was no stranger to Bunny Lee when the record producer finally agreed to record the young singer in the late ’70s. Like so many other ghetto youths yearning for an opportunity to grab a hold of the brass ring, Brown was a constant fixture along Idler’s Rest and outside King Tubby’s and Randy’s, persistently approaching Bunny Lee and other producers for a break.”
Reggae Vibes

YouTube: , Politician + King Tubby Killa Dub

Johnny Clarke – Originally Mr. Clarke (1980)

Posted in Bunny Lee, Channel One, Clocktower Records, Dub, Johnny Clarke with tags , , , , on March 15, 2014 by 1960s: Days of Rage

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“Originally Mr. Clarke was first released in 1980 on Brad Osborne’s Bronx-based Clocktower label, and it is Osborn’s involvement that gives this unsung little gem its unique sound. The basic instrumental and vocal tracks were recorded in Jamaica, most likely under the guidance of producer Bunny Lee (although singer Johnny Clarke himself may have supervised the sessions) and featured veteran studio pros like Glen Adams, Sly & Robbie, Tommy McCook, Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith and Winston Wright (more or less the Aggrovators). The raw tracks were then taken to New York, where Osborn overdubbed flute, additional vocals and percussion and oversaw the final mixes. The end result was a wonderfully cohesive sequence that featured light, airy and yet active arrangements, full of well-placed and effective horn charts, all of which perfectly framed Clarke’s sweet, soulful and elegantly unhurried vocals, making Originally Mr. Clarke that rarest of reggae artifacts — an album that sounds like it was meant to be an album and not just a collection of singles. Two of Clarke’s better-known songs are included, ‘Blood Dunza’ and ‘Every Knee Shall Bow,’ as well as the heartfelt and wistful ‘Moving on to Zion,’ which examines the urge to leave Jamaica and contains some of the best lyrics Clarke ever wrote.”
allmusic

YouTube: It a go rough, Moving On To Zion, Johnny Clarke & King Tubby – Jah Jah We Are Waiting / Jah Dub, Every Knee Shall Bow, Fittest of the fittest, Blood Dunza (Albambou Raw Dub Remix)