Archive for Errol Thompson

Ronald And Karl – Things Not So Nice (1978/79)

Posted in Errol Thompson, Joe Gibbs with tags , on June 26, 2017 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“Who are Ronald & Karl? The credits on the 7″ don’t reveal a thing and books nor internet does much to help me either. To my knowledge this is the only song the obscure duo ever released and although it’s a bit thin on the lyrics front, this 7″ is one of my favorite discs coming from the studio’s of Gibbs. The reason for that is the riddim, which is a real heavy stepper, 1978/1979 style. The playful piano enlightens it a bit and perfectly matches the nursery rhyme style of singing. Errol Thompson’s dub is the real winner here. The way he plays with the riddim is just sublime: fades, echoes, drops and reverbs: they all add to the already powerful riddim. I can’t help myself, I just keep playing it over and over and over again. Ronald & Karl… Karl Bryan? Like I said, haven’t a clue…”


Mickey Simpson & Errol Thompson – See Dem A Come (1974)

Posted in Errol Thompson, Joe Gibbs, Micky Simpson with tags , , on March 12, 2017 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“If anyone is exemplary of a hard knock life, careerwise I mean, it must be Micky Simpson. Although not much information about this artist can be found, his vocation in music seems to have been a very rocky road. Born and raised in Ocho Rios (I believe) Mickey Simpson was off to a fine start when he recorded a string of singles in the mid seventies, such as the impeccable “Peace of Mind” on Shacks, “I and I can’t turn back now” on Total Sounds and the one featured here: “See dem a come” on Errol Thompson’s Naa-Na label. The latter appears to be the least known song among reggae fans and Mickey aficionados alike. For what it’s worth, I wasn’t aware of this single either untill someone tipped me. But I’m glad I found it, because it’s simply superb. The riddim is elemental, to say the least, but serves perfectly well the purpose of the song. With its eerie keyboard line and heavy flying cymbal base, it sounds like an army marching into town. An army with no other intention then to spread mayhem and despair upon the land. The matrix number suggests the riddim was recorded before the vocal take, so perhaps it served as an inspiration to Mickey, who follows suit with dark, but uplifting and hopeful lyrics. Indeed, a classic roots reggae approach, but a fine one at that. The producer’s credit on “See dem a come” goes to both Joe Gibbs and Errol Thomspon. That’s quite interesting as Errol T was still involved with Randy’s in 1974, if I’m not mistaking. Perhaps Joe Gibbs used the credit to lure Errol away from the Chin premises? Whatever the case, this is certainly an early example of the duo credit the partners-to-be would incorporate on their future releases.

I’m not sure what happened for Mickey Simpson in between 1974 and 1980, but by the turn of the decade he had moved on to record for Jack Ruby and made an appearance in the legendary 1981 documentary “Deep Roots” in which he can be seen singing “Don’t Cry” (his biggest hit) and “Move the barrier.” In another great movie from around this time, Mickey is performing “Good Loving” live in Ocho Rios on Jack Ruby’s HiFi. Although scoring (minor) hits again, I have no idea what the singer was up to after the mid 80’s until he resurfaced and teamed up with Barry O’ Hare and the Flynn brothers’ Chain Gang Music label in the early nineties. It had been 19 years in the making, but in 1993 Mickey Simpson finally released his debut album and things seemed to go forward for the singer. He recorded for a fair deal of producers and had tunes out on Roof Int, Star Track and Penthouse, for whom he recorded his biggest hit of the era. Unfortunately it was also to be his last. Penthouse recorded a great cut of the Far East riddim, which Buju Banton sang into the charts with his ‘Murderer’, the track he wrote to commemorate his friend Pan Head who was killed earlier that year. Mickey Simpson also scored big on the riddim, but when his “Save a little bit” came out, the label read; “Mickey was murdered on december 6, 1993. May his soul rest in peace.” I have nothing to add to that.”
Pressure Beat (Video)

YouTube: Mickey Simpson & Errol Thompson – See Dem A Come

Joseph Hill (as Prince Mohammed) – Informer + Version (1977)

Posted in Culture, Errol Thompson, Joe Gibbs, Studio One with tags , , , on February 6, 2017 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“In just a few years after its birth, the reggae sound has changed face more times than Cher did in two decades. Reggay from 1968 and reggae from, say, 1976 are worlds apart, yet it is always identified as reggae. Of course that’s because the basis is always the same and it’s toying with what’s on top of that footing that makes it sound different. Taking the Jamaican music scene in mind – almost fully based in Kingston, evolving around a few key players and in constant search of inspiration, innovation and progress – it makes perfect sense that reggae was always in motion. Just look at dub, for instance; a truly unique sound that was borne from sheer creativity. It has many founding fathers, all of whom took the idea and transformed it into something else completely – shaking up the entire music world in the process. Or take the art of toasting – also the fruit of creativity, cross pollination and ‘out of the box’ thinking – which was strictly a yard thing before some smart producers, like Keith Hudson, took the deejays in and recorded them on wax. Unleashing a whole a new spectrum of opportunities, styles and ideas.

In a music scene where being unparalleled makes you stand out from the crowd, you’ve got to trod barren land. If that means dragging a bike in the studio, like Hudson did, creating new drum patterns or relicking old riddims: it’s all part in the evolution of reggae.  Thus, it also makes perfect sense for artists to try their hand at something new. Something fresh. Like deejays trying to sing, drummers acting as a bassie or singers who take a shot at riding a riddim. It’s a favourite topic and a popular game among reggae fans: to name the songs by singers or deejays in which they switch trades.  The obvious ones always come up first, like George Nooks who is also known as Prince Mohammed; Scotty, who sang with The Federals and The Chosen Few before drawing his breaks and start over, riddling his way into a blossoming career as a deejay; Doctor Alimentado, who sang a heartfelt tribute to being alive after severely crashing his bike and spending a long time in the hospital; and Big Youth, who started singing after his deejay career had made him a superstar. The less obvious ones can win you the game, like Dennis Brown, John Holt, Horsemouth Wallace, Alton Ellis and Joseph Hill.

Starting out as a percussionist with Studio One band Soul Defenders, Joseph Hill eventually took up the mic and recorded a solo effort  in 1972. By 1976 Joseph Hill was no longer performing at Studio One, but had teamed up with Albert Walker and Kenneth Dayes (and possibly a fourth member) and had formed a group called The African Disciples – a militant group of devout rastafarians who conveyed the lessons and beliefs of Marcus Garvey in almost every song they wrote. Strongly based on Burning Spear’s style, they found themselves hanging around the Joe Gibbs camp – by then a leading producer. Legend has it they were quite reluctant to record, but Blacka Morwell convinced them to do it anyway and also persuaded them to change their name. Despite singing about heavy topics such as religion, protest and sufferation, Culture broke through big time when they recorded songs like Two Sevens Clash and See Them a come. The songwriting skills of Hill, the magic of Errol Thompson on the board and the craftmanship of the Professionals struck a chord with reggae fans all over the world and was instrumental in marrying punk with roots reggae.

Despite bearing a credit to Prince Mohammed (again) the deejay version of See them a come is obviously not recorded by Prince Mohammed. One thing that truly set Culture apart from the rest was Jospeh Hill’s unique timbre – a tad nasal, crystal clear and second to none. It’s the same timbre that is on display on ‘Informer’ and if it’s not that, than surely the lyrics must give away that it is indeed mister Hill testing his skills as a deejay here. Although slightly loosing track every now and then, he’s doing a good job. A strong believer in the power of music and passionate by nature, Joseph Hill sounds comfortable and delivers with ‘Informer’ a heavy, militant, fun and upbeat rockers tune. Indeed, the exact same ingredients that made Culture so great a reggae group.  Well, that and a top class Sound Dimension riddim of course. Joseph Hill would take up the deejay mic again when Culture left Gibbs for Sonia Pottinger and recorded Production Something, which, needless to say, again sounds different from what’s on display here. After all, it’s reggae, you know?”
Pressure Beat (Video)


YouTube: Joseph Hill (as Prince Mohammed) – Informer + Version

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

Gregory Isaacs – Mr. Isaacs (1976)

Posted in Channel One, Errol Thompson, Gregory Isaacs with tags , , on July 10, 2016 by 1960s: Days of Rage

Gregory Isaacs - 1978 - Mr Isaacs [Cash & Carry F
“The Cool Ruler is not known primarily as a cultural roots singer. Instead, his bread and butter has always been a particular brand of seductive lover’s rock, always delivered at languid tempos in a reedy, not-particularly-attractive voice. So the largely political content of Mr. Isaacs, while not unprecedented, was still something of a departure from the norm when it was originally released in the ’70s on the Jamaican Cash & Carry label. It succeeds for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is the rock-solid playing of the Revolutionaries. But Gregory deserves credit for understanding that trenchant political statements are sometimes most effective when delivered with the least amount of drama. The lines ‘I was given as a sacrifice/To build a black man’s hell and a white man’s paradise’ are all the more biting when sung in Gregory’s cool, lilting tenor-lesser interpreters would have clenched up and emoted; he lets the words speak for themselves and offers a vocal counterpoint instead of hammering the message home. ‘Story Book Children’ is sweet and wistful; ‘Handcuff,’ like ‘Sacrifice,’ simmers with quiet outrage. And there are a couple of love songs, too, just so you don’t forget you’re listening to the Lonely Lover. Excellent.”
YouTube: Mr. Isaacs 32:41

Junior Reid – Babylon Release The Chain (1984)

Posted in Errol Thompson, Junior Reid with tags , on July 26, 2014 by 1960s: Days of Rage

YouTube: Babylon Release The Chain

Horace Andy – Slave Drive (1975)

Posted in Dub, Errol Thompson, Horace Andy, Joe Gibbs with tags , , , on January 12, 2014 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“Now here’s something you don’t see every day. Although Horace Andy did record in the Gibbs’ studio every now and then, not much of the result ended up on any of the studio’s imprints. The great foundation singer’s releases on Gibbs are few and far between, but definitely worth checking out. If anything, Slave Drive(r) is ample proof of that. After the fierce countdown, Slave Drive immediately bursts into a mean, driving and well heavy roots version of Alton Ellis’ Rocksteady. Obviously, Horace Andy’s singing is sublime and perfectly balances out the backingtrack’s harshness. A track, by the way, that stands out through its use of the ‘flying cymbals’ style. This way of drumming, with the emphasis on the open hi-hat, was invented by fellow producer Bunny Lee in 1974. Although ‘invented’ may be an exaggeration, as Striker was clearly influenced by the US Philly disco sound and thought it would fit well in his Aggrovators sound too. And indeed it did, as the new style would rapidly become the new craze and everybody started copying it. Horace Andy sang quite a few flying cymbal driven (hit)songs for Bunny Lee, so perhaps that’s why Gibbs decided to go for this approach on Slave Drive as well. It sounds familiar and clearly it works, but he didn’t revisit it much thereafter. …”
Pressure Beat

YouTube: Slave Drive, Slave Drive + Dub