Judah Eskender Tafari


“The seventies was the so called ‘golden era’ where reggae flourished with innovation, inspiration and power. Roots music was at its very peak during most of that period, and the activities down at Sir Dodd’s 13 Brentford Road, the address for Jamaica Recording Ltd AKA Studio One, was perhaps not in the same productive scheme as it had been a decade earlier, but the creativity was nonetheless extraordinary. Albums by names like Jennifer Lara, Sugar Minott, Pablove Black, Johnny Osbourne and Freddie McGregor springs to mind, as well as several brilliant 45’s by a plethora of artists. … The songwriter, Ronald Merrills, known to one and all as Judah Eskender Tafari, was a shadowy figure in the music until the long-serving Small Axe fanzine gave us a more detailed history of the man about twelve years ago. It was a long overdue piece to say the least, but indeed very welcome. …”
Reggae Vibes
YouTube: “Ta Fa Ri” & Sound Dimension – Danger In Your Eyes + Version, Danger In Your Eyes Riddim Megamix – Revolutionary Brothers Music, Jah Light + version

Hail H.I.M. – Burning Spear (1980)


“Across five seminal albums, Burning Spear would do more than just define roots; he would leave a fiery legacy that no other artist has equalled. Kicking off with the stunning Marcus Garvey in 1975 and encompassing the equally exceptional string of Man in the Hills, Dry & Heavy, Social Living, and Hail H.I.M., the final album in this series of masterpieces, Spear had undergone a continuous evolution. Over this five year period, Spear had truncated from a trio to Winston Rodney alone, grown to include the accompanying Black Disciples aggregate of elite sessionmen, then pared down to a smaller grouping, and had seen Rodney move into self-production. Along the way, Spear had developed a denser sound and mixed a variety of other genres into the deep roots atmosphere. By 1980, when work began on Hail H.I.M., Rodney had severed his ties to Island Records and most of the Black Disciples as well. However, Aston Barrett remained by his side as co-producer, bassist, and percussionist. So did saxophonists Bobby Ellis and Herman Marquis, now joined by Egbert Evans and keyboardist Earl Lindo, with fellow pianoman Tyrone Downie now also coming on board. There was a switch in sound as well; Social Living had been an almost anthemic album, while Hail H.I.M., in contrast, was transcendental. Much of the record has an almost proggy feel, as guitarist Junior Marvin jams across the heavy rhythms, the brass slices in jazzy passages, and lurking underneath, the tribal-flavored percussion and Rodney‘s congas. … It’s a stellar record, less a culmination of all that came before then a conclusion to a journey that had begun years before.”
allmusic
W – Hail H.I.M.
YouTube: Hail H.I.M. 9 Video

Arkology – Lee “Scratch” Perry (1997)


“Purportedly the definitive Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry compilation, the three-CD set Arkology is loaded with good intentions and is carefully constructed, but with a back catalog like Perry‘s — where it’s nearly impossible to find out what’s what — definitive in this case is a dream. Still, the compilers have done a fine job of providing an overview of Perry‘s career that makes sense musically, historically, and culturally. For those who want to jump headlong into Perry‘s world, this is the way to go. (Otherwise, buying two to three individual releases would be recommended.) Arkology‘s foundation is the 1979 anthology Scratch on the Wire; the compilers took those tracks and added a significant number of remixes and a few previously unreleased dub tracks to give it some weight. And that is perhaps the set’s biggest drawback; it doesn’t cover quite enough of Perry‘s career. Remixes are nice, but a representative sampling of the early, mid-, and late periods at Black Ark would have been better, as well as a few of the early-’60s ska tracks that didn’t make it onto Heartbeat’s excellent Chicken Scratch compilation. There are also some irritating audio considerations here; sometimes reggae reissues lose that warm, extremely loud bass sound that is crucial to the riddims. That’s not always the case on this release, but there are some moments when you wish there was just a little more blood coming from the speakers. So, all that said, is Arkology worth it? Absolutely. Don’t think that this large purchase will give you all the crucial Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry recordings; it provides a good overview and is an excellent introduction, but consider it the start, rather than the completion, of your journey with Scratch and the Upsetters.”
allmusic (Audio)
Jungle psychedelia
W – Arkology
iTunes
YouTube: Arkology 33 video

(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais / The Prisoner – The Clash (1978)


“‘(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais’ is a song by the English punk rock band The Clash. It was originally released as a 7-inch single, with the b-side ‘The Prisoner’, on 16 June 1978 through CBS Records.  … The song showed considerable musical and lyrical maturity for the band at the time. Compared with their other early singles, it is stylistically more in line with their version of Junior Murvin‘s ‘Police and Thieves‘ as the powerful guitar intro of ‘(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais’ descends into a slower ska rhythm, and was disorienting to a lot of the fans who had grown used to their earlier work. ‘We were a big fat riff group’, Joe Strummer noted in The Clash’s film Westway to the World. ‘We weren’t supposed to do something like that.’ ‘(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais’ starts by recounting an all-night reggae ‘showcase’ night at the Hammersmith Palais in Shepherd’s Bush Road, London, that was attended by Joe Strummer, Don Letts and roadie Rodent, and was headlined by Dillinger, Leroy Smart and Delroy Wilson. … ‘(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais’ helped The Clash assert themselves as a more versatile band musically and politically than many of their peers, and it broke the exciting but limiting punk mould that had been established by the Sex Pistols; from now on The Clash would be ‘the thinking man’s yobs’. …”
Wikipedia
Punknews
BBC: White man’s blues
YouTube: White Man – 3/8/1980 – Capitol Theatre, White Man in Hammersmith Palais with Lyrics, The Prisoner

U-Roy – Dread in a Babylon (1975)


“Even without the music, this album would still leap off the racks; its photo of U Roy exhaling a mushroom cloud of marijuana smoke from his ever-available pipe ranks among the all-time greatest covers, regardless of genre. However, U Roy doesn’t have any trouble coming across as a distinctive presence; his scattershot repertoire of barks, chants, and screams is as critical or more important as the deft, unobtrusive backing woven behind him. U Roy imposes his own willful style, regardless of setting. Sometimes he pulls off a positively poppy veneer on tracks like ‘Runaway Girl’ or ‘Silver Bird’; other times, he extemporizes slightly ahead of the beat on ‘Natty Don’t Fear’ or ‘The Great Psalms.’ His lyrics run the gamut of Rastafarian concerns, from facing adversity (‘Dreadlocks Dread’) to female troubles (‘I Can’t Love Another’) and royalist run-ins (‘Chalice in the Palace’). The uncredited musicians stay out of the way (although they get their own album-closing instrumental, ‘Trench Town Rock’). This album ranks among the ’70s dub masterpieces, even if the odd lyrical clinker keeps it from perfection; ‘Runaway Girl’s’ glistening skank can’t paper over its sexism (which suggests the girl in question ‘may be nice/but you’re not that smart’). Even so, sometimes an artist only needs charisma to get across, and U Roy handily wins on that score.”
allmusic
W – U-Roy
iTunes
YouTube: 01 – Runaway Girl

Rod Taylor – Ethiopian Kings (1975-80)


“Rod Taylor (born 2 March 1957, in Kingston, Jamaica), also known as Rocky T, is a reggae singer and producer. After forming a short-lived group called The Aliens with Barry Brown and Johnny Lee, Taylor recorded his first single, ‘Bad Man Comes and Goes’ in 1975 for Ossie Hibbert. He gained exposure as part of Bertram Brown‘s Freedom Sounds collective (along with other reggae artists such as Prince Alla and Earl Zero), releasing the hit single ‘Ethiopian Kings’, which led to work with Mikey Dread. He subsequently worked with a variety of producers in the late 1970s and early 1980s including Prince Far I, Ossie Hibbert, Prince Hammer, and Nigger Kojak. Taylor’s debut album, If Jah Should Come Now, was issued in 1979, with Where Is Your Love Mankind following in 1980. After a few quiet years, Taylor re-emerged in the late 1980s with the One In a Million album, with further releases following into the 2000s. Rod Taylor is still performing with sound systems or bands, especially with the French Band Positive Roots Band. …”
Wikipedia
Discogs (Video)
iTunes
YouTube: Ethiopian Kings (1975-80) 14 videos

King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown – Augustus Pablo / King Tubby (1976)


“England has a way with myths. Since the dawn of the popular music era, the English have stolen their music from their colonies and then written the history books to say they invented it. They don’t exactly call it ‘The British Invasion’ over there. Truth be told, whether it was an American, an Indian, or a Jamaican—if you were English and played any instrument except the lute, anytime after 1950, somebody who used to make your sugar had been there first. In most cases, the play-by-play of who stole what is fairly apparent. The Rolling Stones nicked from Howlin’ Wolf. The Who from Chuck Berry. The Beatles ripped off Ravi Shankar, and the Police basically kept Jamaica as a musical banana republic. The end. But one story of theft—or tribute—that runs a little more below the surface is that of ‘King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown’ the dub reggae single by Augustus Pablo and King Tubby that may have accidentally reinvented punk. Without ‘King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown’ there would be no post-punk. …”
Dusting ‘Em Off: Augustus Pablo – King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown
W – King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown
Discogs
YouTube: King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown [full album] 48:25

Burning Spear – Jah no Dead (1980)


Winston Rodney OD (born 1 March 1945), better known by the stage name Burning Spear, is a Jamaican roots reggae vocalist and musician. Burning Spear is a Rastafarian and one of the most influential and long-standing roots artists to emerge from the 1970s. Winston Rodney was born in Saint Ann’s Bay, Saint Ann, Jamaica. As a young man he listened to the R&B, soul and jazz music transmitted by the US radio stations whose broadcasts reached Jamaica. Curtis Mayfield is cited by Rodney as a major US musical influence along with James Brown. Rodney was deeply influenced as a young man by the views of the political activist Marcus Garvey, especially with regard to the exploration of the themes of Pan-Africanism and self-determination. In 1969, Bob Marley, who was also from Saint Ann, advised Rodney to approach Coxsone Dodd‘s Studio One label after Rodney sought his advice during a casual conversation. Burning Spear was originally Rodney’s group, named after a military award given by Jomo Kenyatta, the first President of an independent Kenya, and included bass singer Rupert Willington. The duo auditioned for Dodd in 1969 which led to the release of their debut single ‘Door Peep’ (the session also included Cedric Brooks on saxophone). They were then joined by tenor Delroy Hinds. … His profile was raised further by an appearance in the film Rockers, performing ‘Jah no Dead’. …”
Wikipedia
YouTube: Jah No Dead (12″, BS 001), Jah No Dead (Live)

Jacob Miller – Healing Of The Nation (1978)


“Jacob Miller returns yet again to one of his favorite themes, the legalization of ganja for ‘Healing of the Nation’. This time around he addresses himself directly to the Jamaican government, with a series of respectful and well reasoned arguments. ‘You no fight against the rum-man, you no fight against the wine-man, you no fight against the cigarette smoking, yet you know, yes you know, these things give cancer.’ Instead, the Jamaican government expends vast amount of   resources chasing down and jailing the colliemen, when in fact, according to Miller, collie cures cancer. There’s little, if any research, to support that claim, but still the singer has a case to make  when he declares that an end to criminalization would bring about a healing of the nation. …”
allmusic
Genius
W – Jacob Miller
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Healing Of The Nation / Dub

Dub music


Dub is a genre of music that grew out of reggae in the 1960s, and is commonly considered a subgenre, though it has developed to extend beyond the scope of reggae. Music in this genre consists predominantly of instrumental remixes of existing recordings and is achieved by significantly manipulating and reshaping the recordings, usually by removing the vocals from an existing music piece, and emphasizing the drum and bass parts (this stripped-down track is sometimes referred to as a riddim). Other techniques include dynamically adding extensive echo, reverb, panoramic delay, and occasional dubbing of vocal or instrumental snippets from the original version or other works. It was an early form of popular electronic music. The Roland Space Echo was widely used by dub producers in the 1970s to produce echo and delay effects. Dub was pioneered by Osbourne ‘King Tubby’ Ruddock, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Errol Thompson and others in the late 1960s. Augustus Pablo is credited with bringing the melodica to dub, and is also among the pioneers and creators of the genre. Similar experiments with recordings at the mixing desk outside the dancehall environment were also done by producers Clive Chin and Herman Chin Loy. … Dub music is in conversation with the cultural aesthetic of Afrofuturism. Having emerged from Jamaica, this genre is regarded as the product of diaspora peoples, whose culture reflects the experience of dislocation, alienation and remembrance. Through the creation of space-filling soundscapes, faded echoes, and repetition within musical tracks, Dub artists are able to tap into such Afrofuturist concepts as the nonlinearity of time and the projection of past sounds into an unknown future space. …”
Wikipedia
Dubbing Is A Must: A Beginner’s Guide To Jamaica’s Most Influential Genre
In A Dub Style (All Vinyl Roots Reggae Dub Mix) (Audio)