Some Jamaican 45s
I am not a reggae guy. Don't get me wrong, I like some of it, but I got to it late and have never really taken the dive. This is most likely because my little brother is into it big time and for years tried to turn me onto the music much the same way a street preacher pushes Christianity. So I resisted as much as I could until club dejaying with my friend Larry Rodriguez made it necessary for me to taste some of the stuff. Well, that and I stumbled on a stack of cheap reggae 45s. Since I am not a pothead, I never got wrapped up in the whacked out dub aspect of the genre. For me, the vocals are the hook. I am a sucker for the R&B influenced harmonies and sweat leads. And when I find a reggae or rocksteady or early ska single with the right groove and great vocals, I am nothing less than thrilled.
A few days ago a stack of reggae 45s made its way into the store. Before I put them out, I brought them to the back and gave a few of them a listen. This is what I discovered:
Lloyd Chalmers & the Hippy Boys African Zulu b/w Safari 45 (Trybute)
African Zulu is a nice slow groover with some cool piano playing and background noises of someone slurping at a bong and burping. Safari has some nice piano playing but it also cops a Gerry Rafferty horn riff. Not bad.
Bunny & the Klemares Devil's Angel 45 (GG)
This early reggae tune starts off with a very sweet vocal part. The lead comes in and it is very nice, too. It has a great raw feeling and still sounds warm, especially with the great vocal harmonies.
The Mascots Miss Tourist b/w The Mow Song (Randy's, 1968)
What a great single! Miss Tourist is calypso-influenced folk that has some very pretty melodies and great vocals. Someone could easily turn this into a very cool rock song. The Mow Song is even better. Low fi calypso with some strange vocals.
Fabulous Flames Growing Up 45 (Clan Disc, 1970)
Can't fault this one. A very nice organ intro over a lazy rhythm. The vocals and piano interplay gives this an early 70s Saturday afternoon soul sound. This goes straight to tape to play over and over in the truck.
Peter Tosh Here Comes the Judge 45 (Gibbs)
I love answer songs and how much better is it when the aswer is an anti-colonialist twist on the "Judge" songs that were all over in the 60s (Shorty Long, Bull & the Matadors, etc.)? Peter Tosh, as God, puts Stanley & Livingston, Sir Francis Drake, Chris Columbus, and others pirate/explorer/colonialists on trial and then give them a death sentence. All of this happens to a slow skank and the backing vocals of "Silence in the court/The court's in session." Fantastic! The flip is a very cool dub take-off called Judgement by Joe Gibbs & the Professionals, which is just as good.
King Vup Sailor Man 45 (Well Charge)
A good, up-tempo calypso song with great lyrics. Raw.
Maytals Just Got To Be / Skatalites El Pussy Ska (Studio One, 1964)
Two classics. Early reggae with raw production and a hypnotic rhythm. The Maytals put together another great early R&B influenced vocal performance. The Skatalites lay down a kill inducing sax solo.
Johnnie Osbourne Warrior 45 (Techniques)
A nice early 70s reggae song that would be good background music but doesn't really jump out of the grooves.
Raphael Tomlinson Ram Scram (Munchie)
You start reclining on this one and you might fall down. The singing sounds as if the band is pretty drunk. Raw and infectious.
Roy Shirley Get Yourself Moving b/w Children on the Road (Afro, 1970)
Get Yourself... is a deceptively addicting groove with some sweet vocals. Children... is also a keeper. Shirley wails and then slips into a nice falsetto. When he goes low it is almost a moan.
JT All Stars Lock Me in Jail (Ethnic Fight)
Another good vocal that has that Saturday afternoon soul vibe. The dub on the flip is just okay.