LEM Reggae Special #1
Without fail, every week we receive requests to hear more reggae on the show and we try to oblige by including a new cut when available. Dub-master, Adrian Sherwood’s talented daughter, Denise has been a recent standout with her album, This Road. Then, this past week an email came in from Ken Graham who writes, “Hello Mr. B, I listen to LEM every week on NWCZ Radio. It’s a great station and you have a really cool show. I remember you saying one time that you had a vast reggae collection and you’d love to curate a whole show from your reggae archives. Not enough reggae is played on the air in my opinion! How about it Mr. B. one hour of reggae, please. Thank you! Ken Graham in Renton, Washington.” Mr. Graham’s message prompted a venture into our reggae archives to search through the hundreds of crates packed full of treasured vinyl. After a day of listening and selecting a 60 minute non-stop mix was created. Some cuts may be familiar to serious reggae enthusiasts, others will be rare grooves, if not obscure versions. The mix begins with the full extended version of Rocking Universally from Willie Williams and Cousin Marshall. Released circa 1979, produced by Jackie Mittoo. The Real Rock rhythm used here is the same on Williams’ Armageddon Time, only faster. It is known to be a Studio One release, but my copy is a white label with scribbled info, “W.Williams – M. Cousins – Rocking Universally – Version – Keep Moving”. Cousin Marshall also listed elsewhere as Marshall Cousin was the son of Alton Ellis. Bongo Gene is also credited on this recording in some catalogs. An extraordinary recording. Listen carefully for the effects. Next up, The Cool Ruler, Gregory Isaacs with the sublime, Soon Forward. This version is the 1979 12” on Isaac’s own African Museum label. The song can also be found on the album of the same name under various imprints. Featuring an all-star line-up, including Sly and Robbie. Gregory is credited as producer. The originator of Lover’s Rock died in 2010, leaving a catalog of over 500 recordings. Ronnie Davis (AKA Max Brown, Winston Scotland) gives us a 1977 recording, You Are The Fool. Recorded at Black Ark with Lee Perry providing the brilliant dub. I saw this one being offered recently for $77. “The lyrics came about because I was in love like everyone else and had a broken heart in the process.” a quote from Dawn Penn in The Sunday Gleaner just after No, No, No had been released in 1967. The Studio One recording was a hit in Jamaica, but it was not until the early 90s when a new version became a commercial success. Be Thankful has, over the years been recorded by a host of artists, this 1975 version from Bunny Clarke, produced by Lee Perry for Clocktower Records has to be one of the best. Dubbing In The Back Seat is on the other side. On the subject of cover versions, can there be a better version than Dennis Brown’s exquisite reading of my high school friend, the late Peter Green’s Black Magic Woman. Perhaps not as well known as certain other versions, Brown’s delicate, soulful voice and Phil Pratt’s production delivers a poignant song. Dubbed The Crown Prince of Reggae, Brown sadly passed in 1999. Any reggae mix has to include a cut from one of the sweetest voices ever, the extraordinary, Cornell Campbell. This circa 1973 Bunny Lee production of You’re No Good showcases Cornell’s masterful falsetto. Possibly one of the most demur, artists, I have ever interviewed. When I asked Cornell if he enjoyed being on stage in front of fans, he replied, “Nah, mon, I prefer the studio, no one can see me face.”. Now 76 years old, the artist also known as Don Cornell and Don Gorgon can still be found performing, occasionally. Between 1976 and 1978 Hugh Mundell and Augustus Pablo lay the tracks for what would ultimately become Mundell’s debut LP, Africa Must Be Free By 1983. Produced by Augustus Pablo, Mundell wrote every song on the record. He recorded several 12″ singles under the alias Jah Levi. Mundell was shot to death on 14 October 1983, during his short life he recorded 5 LPs and numerous singles. The Rockers International 1979 release of Feeling Alright has to be essential in every reggae lover’s collection. The inclusion of the legendary I Roy, one of JA’s most celebrated DJs/Toasters/MCs is deliberate to illustrate the influence he had on rap and hip-hop. Born, Roy Samuel Reid he had a prolific career during the 1970s. For a while, he worked as house producer at Channel One Studios, although his work was generally credited to the studio owners. Bring It To Me was released in 1974, produced by Bunny Lee. Lacksley Castell, sometimes misspelled Laxley, Lacksly, Lasky, or Locksley Castel died in 1983, during his brief career as a reggae singer he released 3 albums and about a dozen singles. Jah Love Is Sweeter from 1980 was produced by Prince Jammy. For this mix, you’ll hear the wicked King Tubby Dub Mix. Get moved by the Nyabinghi drum sound. To close, certainly a rarity to hear the full version of Lee Perry’s, Norman The Gambler, featuring one, Maxwell Livingstone Smith, AKA, Max Romeo on vocals. On this 1997 recording Mr. Perry indulges in fader-mixing and knob-twiddling with such skill, you are consistently surprised as this long extended version moves forward. Brilliant!
Thank you for listening.
- Willie Williams & Cousin Marshall – Rocking Universally
- Gregory Isaacs – Soon Forward
- Ronnie Davis – You Are The Fool
- Dawn Penn – No No No
- Bunny Clarke – Be Thankful
- Dennis Brown – Black Magic Woman
- Cornell Campbell – You’re No Good
- Hugh Mundell – Feeling Alright
- I Roy – Bring It To Me
- Lacksley Castell – Jah Love Is Sweeter (King Tubby Dub Mix)
- Max Romeo – Norman The Gambler
LEM Vol 236
Artwork by unknown circa 1984 “Reggae Inna Dance Hall Style” 12″ x 8″ photoprint