According to Dan Lloyd of Issue Records, legendary dubmixologist Hopeton Brown AKA ‘Scientist’ has been hard at work in his Los Angeles laboratory on a project that will feature talented artists from Seattle, Jamaica, LA, UK, Salt Lake City, and San Diego as well as the Roots Radics, the greatest reggae band of the past 30 years. The project, titled Once Upon a Time in the West, will feature all new material recorded in LA during 2011.
I have re-upped the Kaya Tour Rehearsal Sessions, Miami 1978! The original post featured this rare interview that Roger Steffens conducted with Alvin “Seeco” Patterson at the Universal Amphitheatre, Los Angeles, 1991.
Long before The Wailers started recording, percussionist Alvin “Seeco” Patterson was one of the primary musical tutors for the vocal group, specializing in rhythm. Seeco, seeing that the trio could be molded into something great, brought the Wailers to the attention of Studio One owner Clement “Coxsone” Dodd. He even played congas for them as they auditioned for Coxsone, who eventually took them on as recording artists. He went on to become a roadie for The Wailers 1973/74 tours before becoming the longtime percussionist for The Wailers. SEECO is sometimes credited as Francisco “Willie” Pep.
Prior to this, Patterson had a career in Jamaica’s “mento” music scene. In Stephen Davis’ biography, “Bob Marley“, it is revealed that Seeco, “played with Lord Flea and various mento-calypso combos”. Davis later describes the music Lord Flea played when Seeco was in the band as “mento jazz”.
The interview, conducted backstage in 1991 at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles, is a real rarity. Roger tells me that this is the first time it is seeing the light of day. In the interview, Seeco tells the story of bringing Marley to his first audition at Coxsone. It’s a little hard to penetrate fully, but I think you will enjoy the challenge.
I owe so much to my good friend Dubwise Garage. When I decided to join Facebook a few years back, I was looking around to see if there were any serious reggae heads out there. Dubwise was the first real “head” that I found. I had him pegged as an 18 year white kid with dreads. I was stunned when I realized he is my age, with a wife, kids..the whole thing. I thought it impossible that there was someone out there who spends as much time as I do devoted to this music. Dubwise is as real as it gets and he has done so much for me in the 3 years that I’ve known him.
So, needless to say, I was totally honored when he offered to do a mix for us to mark our 1000th blog post. I just knew it would be hard & heavy…Make sure to visit his website at www.bobmarleyconcerts.com.
01. Thirld World – MLK Dub – Satta Massagana – Garance Fest. 2012 02. Max Romeo – War Inna Babylon – Garance Fest. 2012 03. Ziggy Marley – Rio 4-16-2013 – Justice 04. Lee Scratch Perry – Coachella 2013 – Dub Organizer 05. Ras Michael with Scientist – Drum Song – Los Angeles 06. Ini Kamoze – World A Reggae – Los Angeles 1985 07. Stephen Marley Summer Jam 2011 – No Cigarette Smoking In My Room 08. Bob Marley & The Wailers- 1979-11-30 Oakland, CA – Roots Rock Reggae 09. Bob Marley and The Wailers – Seattle 1979 – Heathen 10. Steel Pulse and Carlos Santana – Exodus 11. Steel Pulse – Holland 1984 – Handsworth Revolution 12. Joe Higgs – 1984-12-30 Los Angeles A So It Go 13. U-Roy – Soul Rebel – Sunsplash 1984
Included here is a recent Pressure Sounds 7″ vinyl press of Native & Little Maddness “Mother Country” / “Version.” love what Pressure Sounds has been issuing lately. Real high quality pressings of classic roots tunes, many of which were never released.
I knew nothing about Native or Little Maddness, however, respect to Steve Leggett of ROVI, who did his research. Here is what he has to say:
“This fascinating album has sort of a strange history. Wayne Jobson, who had already put out a Jamaican single (“Mother Country,” produced by Errol Thompson with his old band Little Madness), had a chance to play some of the songs he had been writing with his brother Brian for Lee “Scratch” Perry at Perry’s legendary Black Ark Studio one September day in 1977. Perry was enthusiastic about what he heard and was eager to produce the songs, particularly since, as Perry declared, Jobson was an Arawak Indian. Jobson, who was a sixth generation Jamaican with an English, African, Spanish, and Scottish heritage, was unable to convince Perry that he wasn’t Arawak, but plans went forward to track the songs. Jobson assembled his then-current band, Native, and with veteran Jamaican producer and mentor Joe Higgs along as a percussionist, started work on the tracks with Perry at Black Ark, coming up with rough mixes and version dubs of maybe half a dozen songs. Jobson took these rough tapes to London to shop then around to labels and was able to wrangle an album deal with Arista Records. He then returned to Kingston and Black Ark ready to finish up the project with Perry. But both Perry and his legendary studio were now in the process of a maddening descent into chaos (Perry had taken to claiming he was no longer Scratch but was instead to be addressed as Pipecock Jackson), and no further work was done on the master tapes. Perry sailed on into the rest of his undeniably unique life and Black Ark Studio quite literally went up in flames. Jobson, disappointed, moved on as well, working with other Jamaican producers on a handful of one-off singles before moving to Los Angeles, where he began a career as a respected and successful DJ. The tracks he had recorded with Perry, which were among the last to ever be cut at Black Ark, were never released and consequently assumed near mythic status among Perry collectors and fanatics. Well, now here they are, thanks to Jobson and Pressure Sounds, some 30 years later, along with a handful of other tracks Jobson worked on during that same time period. What emerges from this story is a surprisingly consistent collection that shows Jobson was on to something way back then and that Perry, even though he was beginning a journey into a strange, self-imposed state of insanity, was still a remarkable wizard at the controls of his four-track Teac recording console. Seven of the 12 tracks here were engineered by Perry, including the almost industrial-sounding “In the Land of Make Believe” and “Meet Mr. Nobody,” both of which display the signature watery dissonance of vintage late-era Black Ark tracks but with an added rock feel and a chaotic edge that seems to prefigure industrial grunge, albeit gone seriously askew into the world of Jamaican reggae. The Perry material is fascinating, but so too are the other tracks like the Jobson-produced gem “Great God Over in Zion,” which features street singer Boston Jack, who wrote the song, and the striking “Black Tracks,” which was produced by Jack Ruby at Channel One over a rhythm provided by the Black Disciples, Ruby’s longtime house band. With several striking dub versions of these songs added in, Rockstone: Native’s Adventures with Lee Perry at the Black Ark (the title, though cumbersome, perfectly fits the content here) emerges as somewhat of a great lost Jamaican album, and although one wishes Perry and Jobson could have officially finished the tracks they had begun working on back in 1977, what’s collected here is more than fine and makes clear that, although Scratch’s mental condition may have begun a rum and ganja-soaked dissolution, his skills at the mixing board remained undiminished even as Black Ark began sliding away under the waves.”
~ Steve Leggett, Rovi
Here is my own high-quality (24 bit) vinyl rip of the 7″ single. Sickest dub version in the world!:
The Wailers are on a run down the coastline of California – a rag-tag band of rastas putting on extraordinary shows in front of meager audiences at clubs that closed their doors long before many of you were born. Ride Natty Ride. In tow for this west coast run is self-appointed vocal coach, manager, spiritual guide, “and father-figure to the young dreads, Joe Higgs. “The Godfather of Reggae.” A struggling reggae musician from Trenchtown, Higgs was part of the duo ‘Higgs and Wilson’ together with Roy Wilson. He is perhaps most famous though for being the man who mentored young singers in his yard, and began working with Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, Junior Braithwaite, and Garth Dennis in 1959. In fact, it was at one of these informal music lessons held in Trench Town, that the Wailers were introduced to eachother. Marley would acknowledged later on that Higgs had been a most influential figure for him, while Higgs describes being the guy who taught them their craft and certain voice technique. Higgs has replaced Bunny Wailer for this tour because Bunny had recently decided to leave the group.
While in Los Angeles, they are interviewed by freelance journalist Wanda Coleman for the fledgling L.A. Free Press. She describes meeting Bob in his room at the Vagabond Hotel in Hollywood in her book ‘Native In A Strange Land.’
“Bob Marley was staying at the Vagabond Motel in Hollywood. I wondered if it would look like that flea bag he was staying in the last time I interviewed him. Things had really been uncool that day. Not only did the tape cartridge in the recorder louse up, but the Wailers had an abundance of ganja on hand and were busy tuning in. I was so uptight about being busted the doors were wide open that I could barely concentrate on the interview. I had been told Marley had to stay where there was a kitchen available since food for vegetarians on the road is a major problem. When I arrived I checked out the joint. Hmmmm. Not bad at all. It wasn’t the Beverly Wilshire, but…. Marley was in bed when I got there. He was dressed, lying across the bed napping. The Wailers were in and about, and there was still an abundance of ganja. While he got himself together, I set up the tape recorder, cursing it silently daring it to cross me this time. I looked around for a place to sit, put the tape recorder next to Marley on the bed and sat down on the floor beside it so the microphone could pick up my questions.
Marley is fair skinned: about 5’9″, not so much a thin build as a small one. His eyes appear hazel, flecks of gray. His hair is medium brown, styled in the massive dreadlocks worn by Jamaica’s Rastafarians. I wanted to touch them, but resisted temptation. Periodically, as we talk, Marley habitually ran his hands through, rather, over his locks. Between my Black slang and his Jamaican patois, we had difficulty understanding each other.
Getting this from the tape onto paper was murder.”
Today I share with you an interview that Richard Cromelin conducted with Bob Marley in 1975. The interview, published in Rolling Stone magazine on 11 September 1975, provides insight into Rastafari, the use of ganja as a sacrament, and Babylon. The article also includes a short piece by Richard Cromelin called “An Herbal Meditation with Bob Marley.” I have included an audio file of this interview.
The interview was conducted at the Tropicana Hotel in Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA hotel during Bob Marley and the Wailers‘ U.S. Natty Dread tour. They are in L.A. to play 5 consecutive shows at the world-famous Roxy on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. This tour introduces Bob Marley and the Wailers to a fickle, and mostly skeptical U.S. audience, however it is attended by the who’s who of Hollywood celebrities.
What we have here is Damian Marley and Nas performing on their Distant Relatives tour at The Roxy in Los Angeles on May 20, 2010 backed by DJ Cut Chemist of the Jurassic 5. What do we get? A rabid mix of hip-hop and reggae that any fan of music can vibe to. “Can you feel the (un)realness?”
August, 1983: Peter Tosh was the most popular reggae singer in the world (Bob Marley was dead). His credentials were myriad and impeccable. He was a founding member of the Wailers with Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer in 1964, in the Trenchtown slum of Kingston, Jamaica. He taught Bob Marley to play guitar. He left the Wailers in 1975 to pursue a successful solo career which was peaking with the Mama Africa Tour of 82-84, which played every continent of the world except Antarctica.
I met with Tosh the day after a magnificent performance at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles with his crack band Word, Sound and Power, featuring American guitarist Donald Kinsey (of the Chicago blues-funk band, The Kinsey Report), and a rock-solid rhythm section of Santa Davis (drums) and Fully Fullwood (bass).
As I approached Tosh’s Hollywood hotel room, incense billowed out from under the door. As the photographer and I entered the room, several members of Tosh’s entourage lolled about, Jamaican-style. Tosh was renowned for giving writers – especially white writers – a hard time.
Tosh stretched to his full 6′ 3″ height and shook his Medusa tangle of dreads, then composed himself into an alarmingly compact coil on the couch. I was seated across from Tosh, sensing that all of this was aimed at maximum intimidation. Tosh wore a preternaturally white t-shirt and sweats. He corralled his dreads under a Jamaican-style cap, put on his shades, lit five more sticks of incense and signaled his willingness to be addressed.
Why did you choose to record a reggae version of “Johnny B. Goode”?
“For commercial acceptance. My guitar player proposed it, we all arranged it. ‘Commercial’ is something for sale. I want my music to sell, mon. I want my music to reach the 500 millions.”
What is your place in music?
“At the highest. I live my music, seen? I am a man of profound righteousness. I am in the highest position of life, so my music is also of highest position. Yah mon!”
Are you religious?
“Religion is misturned philosophy. I am that I am. I do not tell lie. How many you know not tell lie, mon?”
Who is responsible for your music?
“Jah flows through me. We are responsible. I live music. It rises spontaneously from me. Compositions appear, mon. In the beginning there was the word. The word was Jah. The word is in I, Jah is in I. I make what is good, better, and what is better, best. I follow this in every aspect of life.”
MIDNIGHT RAVER BLOG contributor Dubwise Garage shares his unique copy of the Mama Africa Demo Tapes.
These are Demo versions of the great Mama Africa LP. They are not as polished as the official versions and contain “Rock With Me,” which was replaced on the Official Release with “Stop That Train.”
From Dubwise Garage:
“I got this tape from Wailers expert/collector Roger Steffens in the late 80’s. I digitized it a few years back, but this is the Azimuth Tape Head Adjustment and is much cleaner, crisper sounding. Not perfect, if you want perfect go buy the official release which you should already own. Another Classic From The Dubwise Garage Collection.”
Recording source: Studio Demos Transfer source: my cassette (Azimuth adjustment) to PC from Sony D3 through SB X-Fi Audio 2400 sound card