Archive for Gregory Isaacs

Gregory Isaacs & the Roots Radics (BBC 1981)

Posted in Gregory Isaacs with tags on July 28, 2017 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“My favorite track by Gregory is ‘Confirm Reservation.’ The tune was written and produced by Gregory Isaacs and, perhaps more than any other tune, it showcases the brilliance of his songwriting. Upon first listen it might sound like several other Gregory tunes that have an overt lovers rock vibe, however, “Confirm Reservation” is one of Gregory’s most honest, personal and deeply spiritual tunes:
I’d really like to make you confirm reservation
So here I am with my application
I wanna be with my friends and family
Where the living is much easier for me
‘Cause in this town I can’t take the vibes no more, ah
No, Gregory is not leaving town.  He is very clearly singing about an eternity in Zion.  By the early 1980s Gregory was losing a battle against a severe cocaine addiction.  It is a demon that would eventually destroy his voice, ruin his career, and leave him dead at 59 years old.  He longs for an eternity in Zion, free from the chains of his illness…Cause in this town I can’t take the vibes no more, ah…’  … It is really such a brilliantly-written tune.  There aren’t many artists who could muster the courage to look in the mirror and tell the world what they see.  That is exactly what Gregory does here.  A very well-known reggae producer once told me that in his 30+ years in the business he met only two true geniuses.  The first is Sly Dunbar.  The other is Gregory Isaacs.  He said Gregory has a perpetual song in his head.  All he has to do is decide to write it down. This version of “Confirm Reservation” comes from the BBC Radio sessions that Gregory did in 1981 backed by the Roots Radics.  I think it sounds even better than the original 7″ mix.  In 1981 Gregory’s voice was still in top form and his vocal performance on this track is phenomenal. …”
Midnight Raver
YouTube: Confirmed Reservation / Sad to Know / Front Door / Substitute

Gregory Isaac – Going Down Town (1979)

Posted in Gregory Isaacs, Robbie Shakespeare, Sly Dunbar with tags , , on April 15, 2017 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“Gregory Isaacs turns a walk downtown into a declaration of revolution on this powerful single from 1979. ‘Going Downtown’ begins as a sufferer’s tale, with the singer awaking to a meal-less morning and setting off to plow his employer’s field. Now feeling decidedly rebellious, Isaacs pours forth his anger into a determination to go ‘downtown to rock the reggae beat.’ But then his resentment swells into utter defiance. ‘Things that you did to my ancestors, ain’t gonna let you do them to me,’ he angrily declares, ‘I ain’t going to carry your water in a basket.’ Bristling with barely suppressed rage, the Cool Ruler almost loses his composure, at times almost spitting out the vehement lyrics. It’s an appropriate response to a Sly & Robbie riddim whose atmosphere is as inspired by the blues, with a funky edge, as it is the militant sound of roots rockers. The latter fires up the rhythm; the former roils up from the lead guitar. An incredibly powerful number, once the single stormed the Jamaican sound systems, the Riddim Twins bundled it onto the following year’s Sly & Robbie Present Gregory Isaacs (aka Showcase) album.”
YouTube: Going Down Town 12″

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

Gregory Isaacs – Extra Classic (1977)

Posted in Gregory Isaacs, Lee "Scratch" Perry with tags , on March 6, 2014 by 1960s: Days of Rage

Gregory Isaacs - 1977 - Extra Classic      [Echo F
“Overseen by Sidney Crooks and arriving in 1973, Gregory Isaacs’ debut album, All I Have Is Love, cashed in on the singer’s breakout hit single of the same title. The following year, Isaacs scored his first number one with ‘Love Is Overdue,’ just one of a slew of hits he recorded for Alvin Ranglin, who produced the singer’s sophomore set, In Person, as well as its follow-up, 1977’s Willow Tree. (These albums arrived later, and in a different order, abroad.) During this four-year period, Isaacs flitted through the Jamaican studios like a butterfly, working with myriad producers and unleashing a deluge of singles, many of them hits. Released in 1977, Extra Classic bundled up a dozen 45s from a host of producers, including Isaacs himself, as well as Crooks, Lee Perry, Pete Weston, Lloyd Campbell, and Augustus ‘Gussie’ Clarke. The latter oversaw Isaacs’ gorgeous cover of Dobby Dobson’s ‘Loving Pauper,’ just one of the exquisite romantic numbers found here. The self-produced title track is arguably even more glorious, while ‘Once Ago’ is an equal classic. The Crooks-overseen ‘Dread Locks Love Affair’ took romance into the Rastafarian realm, with Isaacs urging his love to ignore her weeping parents and fall for him, while the lovely ‘My Religion’ urged the baldheads to convert. As strong as these numbers were, the cultural ones were even more potent. Whether he was warning the wicked to keep out of ‘Rasta Business,’ telling ‘Mr. Cop’ to cool down, or pleading with his ‘Jailer Jailer,’ Isaacs’ sharp lyrics and emotive performances made these all instant classics. On the Campbell-produced ‘Black Against Black,’ the singer decried the violence sweeping his nation, noting what an improvement it would be if his black brethren became ‘Warriors’ and joined the real battle. That latter number, incidentally, was a rousing self-produced cover of a Junior Delgado song. True to its title, this set was stuffed with classic numbers, with backings provided by the likes of the Aggrovators, the Revolutionaries, the Soul Syndicate Band, and the Upsetters. A sensational set.”

YouTube: Extra Classic, Mr. Cop, Rasta Business, Black Against Black, My Religion, Promise, Dreadlocks Love Affair, Loving Pauper, Something Nice, Warriors, Jailor, Jailor, Once Ago

Dennis Brown / Gregory Isaacs – No Contest (1989)

Posted in Dancehall, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Gussie Clarke with tags , , , on January 6, 2014 by 1960s: Days of Rage

No Contest? Of course it wasn’t. Everybody’s a winner here on Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs’ follow-up to Judge Not. Five years had passed in the interim; digitized rhythms now ruled the dancehalls, and few offered up such sizzling ones as Gussie Clarke, who oversaw both sets. And what made this new album particularly enticing is that appended the superb dub to each vocal track. The duo’s “Big All Around” proved to be just that, as the pair pay tribute to the reign of the raggamuffins, and were rewarded with a dancehall smash, while the fiery dub incinerated all before it. Incidentally, Isaacs recorded a fine solo version of this number for Clarke this same year for his I.O.U. album, and then revived it in later years under the title ‘Raggamuffin.’ The driving ‘Easy Life’ is nearly as good, as the men test their girls’ fidelity and the backing band steamroll across the rhythm. ‘Jealousy,’ another song that Isaacs would take solo, is equally intense, with an almost malevolent atmosphere licking around the grooves, while the duo strut their most impassioned vocals. ‘Why Cry’ is more sophisticated but less infectious, yet still showcases the pair’s emotive styles. Isaacs drew the short straw, and thus only receives two solo tracks, but the buoyant ‘Open Up’ more than makes up for that, with a strong performance from the singer, backed by gorgeous rocksteady-esque harmonies. Brown, meanwhile, is at his most soulful on ‘I’ll Make It Up to You,’ gives a timely warning of the dangers of club life on the disco-fied ‘Neon Lights Flashing,’ but is at his most powerful on the passionate ‘No Camouflage,’ where Clarke makes an old roots rhythm new, and vividly proves that ragga can be very dread indeed. It’s a superb set, and between Clarke’s inspired rhythms — laid down by the likes of the Browne brothers, Robbie Lyn and Dwight Pinkney, and the duo’s superb performances, No Contest is a knock-out.”

YouTube: No Camouflage, Love Me or Leave Me, Jealousy, Easy Life, Neon Lights Flashing, Big All Around, Why Cry

Gregory Isaacs – Slum In Dub (1989)

Posted in Dub, Gregory Isaacs, Mad Professor, Scientist, The Revolutionaries with tags , , , , on October 21, 2013 by 1960s: Days of Rage

Gregory Isaacs - Slum In Dub
“Presumably these are rhythm tracks that Gregory Isaacs and his backing band the Revolutionaires used on past recordings. Other than the fact that his name is on the CD, though, Isaacs is almost nowhere to be found on the songs within, save for the snatches of vocals treated with echoes on ‘Tam Tam.’ For those looking for more of Isaacs’ smooth vocals in a dub setting, there are dub versions of his songs ‘Night Nurse’ and ‘Material Man’ on various compilations. That said, this is still a fine dub release. The slightly slicked-up roots sound that Isaacs favored on albums like Night Nurse and More Gregory comes through fully here with Prince Jammy’s fine production and parsimonious use of studio trickery. If you like your dub to have just a lot of reverb sprinkled with a bit of echo, then this is a CD to get. For more elaborate and hazy production values, though, check out dub releases by Scientist and Mad Professor.”

YouTube: Public Eyes; Slum, Reform Institution, Crofs, Tam Tam, Also, Nigger, Leaving, Leggo Beast, Embarrassment.

Gregory Isaacs & U-Brown – The Border (1977)

Posted in Dub, G.G. All Stars, Gregory Isaacs, U-Roy with tags , , , on August 29, 2013 by 1960s: Days of Rage

YouTube: Gregory Isaacs & U-Brown – The Border + GG AllStars-Dub Part Two

Gregory Isaacs – Soon Forward (1979)

Posted in Dancehall, Dub, Gregory Isaacs, Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace, Robbie Shakespeare with tags , , , , on July 6, 2013 by 1960s: Days of Rage

Gregory Isaacs - Soon Forward  (Lp virgin)...1.
“One of the most crucial albums by reggae singing legend Gregory Isaacs, Soon Forward features an all-star lineup that includes the quintessential Sly and Robbie rhythm section as well as Dennis Brown on backing vocals. With all but one track produced by Isaacs himself, the sticky subtleties of instrumental dub resonate with a trance-inducing effect. Known for the pained purity of his vocal tone, Isaacs graces the microphone with every passing phrase. As he covers romantic territory on classic songs such as ‘Lonely Girl’ and ‘Soon Forward,’ the Cool Ruler also sets fire to cultural themes on songs such as ‘Universal Tribulation’ and ‘Black Liberation Struggle.’ Originally released in 1979, Soon Forward stands casually at the crossroads of roots reggae, dub, and dancehall. While it might not have been widely recognized outside of Jamaica back then, it is the type of album to stand up to the test of time.”

YouTube: Soon Forward, Mr. Brown, Black liberation struggle, universal tribulation, down the line, lonely girl, bumping and boring, my relationship, slave market, jah music

YouTube: Soon Forward Dub, Soon Forward (Live at Reggae Sunsplash 1981)

Errol Dunkley – Movie Star (1974)

Posted in Big Youth, Dub, Errol Dunkley, Gregory Isaacs with tags , , , on May 27, 2013 by 1960s: Days of Rage

“In one of those sad twists of fate, today most reggae fans are more familiar with the DJ version of this song, than Errol Dunkley’s impassioned original, thanks to the success of Big Youth’s ‘Every Nigger Is a Star’, which hit big in both Jamaica and the UK. A pity, because Dunkley’s vocal version is absolutely sublime. Not released until 1975, the song was actually cut a few years earlier, back when the singer and Gregory Isaacs were sharing studio time to further the fortune of their newly launched label African Museum. In fact, ‘Movie Star’ was cut at the pair’s first joint session. The smokiest of brass, elegant piano, jangles of lead guitar, bubbly organ, and compulsive rhythm guitar riff, all propelled by the propulsive drums and bass line made this riddim a star, and one which continues to be versioned to this day. But as fabulous as the backing is, it’s the singer that made this song unforgettable, as Dunkley vows his love to his nobody of a girl. Lack of fame or fortune is meaningless to him, and even if her dress sense is equally bereft, he adores her regardless, a sentiment he makes clear with every word he passionately sings. That empowering emotion, the heart-felt, semi-cultural lyrics theme, and the sensational backing all combined into this phenomenal masterpiece. Dunkley released a deluge of stellar singles, this was one of the most crucial.”

YouTube: Errol Dunkley – Movie Star

Gregory Isaacs – Tune In (1978)

Posted in Gregory Isaacs with tags on May 5, 2013 by 1960s: Days of Rage

YouTube: Tune In