Tag Archives: Blood and Fire

Horace Andy shines on In the Light

unnamedAbout two years ago reggae powerhouse VP Records announced a collaboration with renowned reggae historian and label head Steve Barrow, one of the founders of the legendary Blood & Fire label. Not much materialized from the collaboration and Steve Barrow left.

But one can guess that the most recent release from VP’s subsidiary 17 North Parade might be a result from the Steve Barrow and VP collaboration. Horace Andy’s In the Light and its dub companion In the Light Dub were namely reissued by Blood & Fire in 1995 and both are now reissued by 17 North Parade.

The sets were however originally put out in 1977 and the vocal version was recorded as a full album with two dedicated producers rather than a collection of singles for a variety of producers. Not always standard in the world of reggae.

Horace Andy is one of the most distinctive voices in reggae and several singers have followed in his footsteps over the years. In the Light is one of his best albums and was produced by Horace Andy himself along with the late producer Everton DaSilva.

It includes a number of new recordings along with updated versions of classics like Fever and Problems. The dub version is superb and shines light on the excellent musicianship provided by some of Jamaica’s top session players. The dubs are explosive with the usual emphasis on the rhythm section.

When these sets were reissued some 20 years ago they reached a new and wider audience and now they are finally made widely available once again.


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Dennis Brown’s best according to Blood and Fire board

The late Jamaican singer Dennis Brown has been one of my favorite singers ever since I started listening to reggae. He’s one of Jamaica’s most beloved and prolific artists, and has often been referred to as The Crown Prince of Reggae, following the lineage of Bob Marley, who is by far the most successful reggae artist to date.

During Dennis Brown’s far too short lifetime – he died only 42 years old following hard use of cocaine – he cut a myriad of romantic hits and rootsy masterpieces.

Like many other Jamaican singers and musicians he started his career at Studio One with producer Coxsone Dodd, with whom he cut his first hit song No Man is an Island in the late 60s, only eleven years old.

He later moved on and started a fruitful musical relationship with Winston “Niney” Holness, but during his 30 years in the business he also worked with a plethora of different producers, including Phil Pratt, Bunny Lee, Joe Gibbs, Sly & Robbie and Augustus “Gussie” Clarke. He also ventured into self-production and started his own label in the late 70s.

In his early 20s Dennis Brown was a legend with major tunes like Africa, Here I Come, Westbound Train and Money in My Pocket. He had a strong reputation in Jamaica and abroad and only lacked an international smash hit, and the deal with major label A&M in the early 80s might have been his ticket to Bob Marley-like stardom. Unfortunately his albums for the label didn’t match his earlier output. They were too slick and polished.

Dennis Brown was an extremely consistent singer equally at ease with both romantic and conscious material, and the list of powerful roots classics and silky ballads could go on and on and on.

He left behind a rich musical legacy, and at the Blood and Fire board there’s a discussion about the difficulties selecting only ten Dennis Brown favorites. Some have presented their ten, 12 or 20 favorites.

Reggaemani has taken the liberty to compile the selection into a Spotify playlist, including my own top ten, presented below. Not all of the tracks selected on the forum are available on Spotify, but the great majority is actually included, with respect to the fact that it could be the wrong version, since Dennis Brown – just as many other reggae artists – recorded a string of versions of one particular tune.

You can check the lists on the Blood and Fire board here and Reggaemani’s Spotify playlist can be downloaded and listened to here.

Reggaemani’s top ten Dennis Brown (in no particular order)

The Creator
Drifter (Live at Montreux Jazz Festival)
No More Will I Roam
Created by the Father
Milk and Honey
Ghetto Girl
Musical Heatwave
Deliverance Will Come
Words of Wisdom
Rasta Children

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Blood and Fire rises with VP Records

41TPJnDoX4L._SS500_20 years after the first release – The Dreads at King Tubby’s – If Deejay Was your Trade – the mighty reissue label Blood and Fire Records rises from its ashes thanks to Steve Barrow, one of the founders, and reggae powerhouse VP.

On Monday February 17 Steve Barrow wrote on social networking site LinkedIn – quoted on several forums – that the label will be relaunched the first quarter of 2014 and that the initial release will be a limited edition 12″ of Gregory Isaacs Mr Know It All. It’s scheduled for Record Store Day in April and will be followed by reissues in various formats from the acclaimed Blood and Fire catalogue.

An official press release will be sent out shortly according to VP Records.

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Real gems on King Spinna’s first release

In the press material for the first release on the newly established King Spinna label – founded by Bob Harding and Dom Sotgiu from the legendary Blood and Fire Records – it is stated that the market is saturated with albums of Bunny Lee produced dubs from King Tubby’s studio. That’s no exaggeration to say the least.

And that is why it is a sheer joy to listen to King Spinna’s Dub will Change Your Mind. Here is an album with genuine rarities never compiled on album before.

The cornerstone is dub versions of four little-known Derrick Morgan tracks. Included are also vocals from Bunny Lee’s favorites Johnny Clarke and Cornell Campbell, but also Ronnie Davis, Jackie Edwards, John Holt and Joy White.

It is concentrated around the period 1974 to 1978 and highlights the funky flying cymbals style pioneered by drummer Carlton “Santa” Davis. Throughout, the tough riddims supplied by The Agrovators are superbly rearranged with echo, reverb and delay by the talented engineer(s) at King Tubby’s studio.

King Spinna certainly follows in the great Blood and Fire tradition and offers sublime music that many people didn’t even know existed until now. Almost not Bunny Lee himself as stated in the press material.

Dub will Change Your Mind is initially released on vinyl in a pressing limited to 1,000 copies. Subject to demand a CD issue will follow featuring three bonus tracks. All tracks are currently also available for download from via the King Spinna website.


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Two mixes for free download

Rise Up Crew presents a new mix called Rise Up Selections – Lift Up Mine Eyes 94-97. As the title indicates, this mix is all about conscious reggae from mid 90’s. The selection is excellent and the mix well executed.

Included are well known artists such as Freddie McGregor, Junior Reid and Capleton, but also lesser familiar names – Philip Myaz, Natty Roy and Daniel Ray to name a few. There are several wicked cuts. Stand outs are Ras Shiloh’s Brass Gates on the riddim with the same name, Israel by Silver Cat and Garnett Silk’s doomsday sounding Every Knee Shall Bow. I also noticed Richie Stephen’s Give Me the Night on a revitalized version of the Baltimore riddim. It’s loosely based on George Benson’s funky disco hit from 1980 and is a well worth a listen.

Natural Selection – New Riddims & Co is the name of another great new mix. This one highlights 32 one drops from 2010 and a few parts from before. The mix starts of in fine style with Yami Bolo pleading War in the Garrison. However, the three following cuts are the real highlight. Jaguar Riddim from Swiss-based Weedy-G Soundforce is one of the better riddims I’ve heard in a while and The Majesty from Skarra Mucci is lethal.

Other worthwhile riddims are Collie Weed from Dutch-based JahSolidRock/Not Easy At All and Design from the French crew behind Greenyard Records.

These mixes offer more the two hours of pure enjoyment. Download Rise Up Selections – Lift Up Mine Eyes 94-97 here and Natural Selection – New Riddims & Co here.

Thanks to Rise Up Crew and jimbeyer84 for sharing their mixes on the Blood and Fire forum.

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