Clinton Fearon is a fascinating man. He has managed to make solid reggae for over five decades. That’s mighty impressive.
He started his long career in roots reggae outfit The Gladiators and remained in the group until 1987, when he relocated to Seattle. He was bass player, percussionist and singer, and I’ve always loved the Gladiators tunes where he takes lead on the microphone. Chatty Chatty Mouth, Rich Man Poor Man and Babylon Street are only a few examples of big tunes where he takes the lead vocal duties.
He has recorded albums under his own name since the 90’s and several of them are great efforts, especially Give & Take and the acoustic Mi An’ Mi Guitar, which include the weeping Who Cares.
His new album Mi Deh Yah – a Jamaican expression meaning I’m here – is in the same vein as his previous solo records. This is roots reggae at its core best. There’s not a single weak track on this album.
Clinton Fearon’s yearning voice is as good as it was back in the 70’s. He’s in the same school as Burning Spear, Stranger Cole and the massively under recorded Sang Hugh. It’s rural. It’s bluesy. It’s an up in the hills type of sound.
And even though Clinton Fearon has been in the music business for ages, he still has fresh ideas. There’s mariachi feel in the ska instrumental Focus and there’s some Burt Bacharach sounding flute in Tell the World.
Several tracks also include string arrangements. Not the orchestral arrangements that were overdubbed onto some tunes released on the legendary Trojan label in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The use of strings here has more in common with the dark Augustus “Gussie” Clarke’s production Black Man Time by I Roy.
Clinton Fearon has not turned 60 yet and hopefully he has much, much more to give. Because I want more. Plenty more.