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Here is an interesting 7″ from my collection. U Brown toasting over Bob Marley’s “Easy Skanking.” He’s actually toasting over Johnny Clarke’s rendition of the Marley tune. Clarke recorded an entire album of tribute tunes to Marley.
Here is another great interview from the Black Echoes collection, shared by MIDNIGHT RAVER’S Peter van Arnhem. I cannot overstate how crucial these Black Echoes articles are in preserving and documenting reggae history.
Jah Shaka has been operating a South East London-based, roots reggae Jamaican sound system since the early 1970s. Shaka stayed true to his spiritual and distinct musical style during the 1980s when many other Sound Systems had started to follow the Jamaican trend towards playing less orthodox styles tending towards slack dancehall music. The Jah Shaka Sound System continues to appear regularly in London, with occasional tours of the United States, Europe and Japan. On his own record label he has released music from Jamaican artists such as Max Romeo, Johnny Clarke, Bim Sherman and Prince Alla as well as UK groups such as Aswad and Dread & Fred. He has released a number of dub albums, often under the Commandments of Dub banner. Artists featured on more recent releases include both established singers like Tony Tuff, and new emerging artists like Rockaway and Principle – who have sung over riddims produced by his son Malachi, known as Young Warrior.
Shaka has also established the Jah Shaka Foundation to carry out assistance with projects in Ghana, where the foundation has bought 7 acres of land in Agri, thirty miles outside of Accra. It has also managed to distribute medical supplies, wheelchairs, library books, carpentry tools, drawing materials and records to clinics, schools and radio stations in the Accra area establishing important links with the local communities. Shaka himself was actually a youth worker years ago, and has regularly been quoted encouraging youths to study geography and history so they know “whats happened, where it’s happening and who’s doing it”.
I have featured the work of Jah Shaka here before, most notably an album with Aswad called Jah Shaka Meets Aswad in Addis Ababa Studio.
One of my favorite riddims is Bunny Lee’s “Fittest of the Fittest,” also known as “Kingdom of Zion” riddim. Truly heavy and drenched in roots. Check the mix!
1. Barry Brown – Fittest of the Fittest 2. Bunny Lee/Brad Osbourne – Kingdom of Zion Dub 3. Aggrovators – Fittest of the Fittest Dub 4. Al Campbell – Clean Hands 4. Barry Brown – No Wicked Shall Enter the Kingdom of Zion 5. Johnny Clarke – Fittest of the Fittest 6. Alborosie – Kingdom of Zion
The following essay by Mark Lee was published on May 11, 2011 at www.abengnews.com, a weekly online publication which showcases features, news analysis, commentary and the arts from a growing global network of correspondents, with a decidedly Caribbean/Jamaican flavor. The essay, titled “Growing Dread: KC, The Wailers, and Me” tells the story of a young Mark Lee and his experiences growing up in Kingston during the “golden age of reggae,” experiences which include attending Kingston College (KC) with Tyrone Downie, frequenting the Wail ’n Soul Tuff Gong record shop at Beeston Street, and witnessing the evolution of a small tune called “Concrete Jungle.”
This is mandatory reading for any serious Wailers fan.
“Growing Dread: KC, The Wailers, and Me” by Mark Lee
Jennifer Lopez is on my Toronto TV as I write, singing I’m Into You, accompanied by the rapper Lil Wayne. It’s a traditional reggae bass line with a little bit of the more recent dancehall rhythm on top – a sound some of us in my youthful days called flyers rockers, associated with the likes of Johnny Clarke and his None Shall Escape.
The influence of Jamaican “music of the ghetto” on world music culture is as good a point as any to recall episodes of life to mark the 30 years since news broke that Bob Marley had died in a Miami hospital as he sought to get back to Jah Yard as cancer ebbed at his sinews.
The morning remains clear in my mind. As I walked west on North Street alongside the Moravian Church at the Duke Street intersection, headed towards Kingston Public Hospital to visit my grandmother who was a patient there, I met my younger brother Andre headed to school in the opposite direction, having visited grandma.
Bunny “Striker” Lee was instrumental in producing early dub music, working with his friend and dub pioneer King Tubby in the early 1970s. Lee and Tubby were experimenting with new production techniques, which they called “implements of sound.”Working with equipment that today would be considered primitive and limiting, they produced tracks that consisted of mostly the rhythm parts mixed with distorted or altered versions of a song.
With all the bass and drum ting now, dem ting just start by accident, a man sing off key, an when you a reach a dat you drop out everything an leave the drum, an lick in the bass, an cause a confusion an people like it…
What you have here is a fine selection of Bunny “Striker” Lee, starting with some early reggae hits by Delroy Wilson and Slim Smith, then passing thru the era of the “flying cymbals” courtesy of the drummer Santa Davis and closing with some crucial heavyweight tunes by one of the most prolific singers of the Bunny Lee camp, Johnny Clarke.
Delroy Wilson – Have some mercy Delroy Wilson – This old heart of mine Delroy Wilson – Better must come Alton Ellis – Breaking up Slim Smith – Let me go girl Dawn Penn – Me never hold you John Holt – Happy go lucky girl Pat Kelly – Just don’t know what to do Bob Marley – Mr chatterbox Dennis Alcapone – Horse and buggy Prince Far I – Cream of the crop Jah Stitch – Killer Cornell Campbell – The gorgon speaks Barry Brown – The godfather Horace Andy – Better collie Johnny Clarke – Rock with me Johnny Clarke – None shall escape Johnny Clarke – Joshua Johnny Clarke – Jah bless Joshua Johnny Clarke – Declaration of rights Johnny Clarke – Love your brothers and sisters