Tag Archives: Bunny Lee

Delroy Wilson shines on Go Away Dream

R-10335808-1495542875-6653.jpegDelroy Wilson and producer Bunny Lee. That’s always a welcome combination. On the by Pressure Sounds recently reissued album Go Away Dream these two musical giants team up with The Agrovators for a romantic reggae affair with rough and tough bass lines, much in the Roots Radics vein.

As usual when it comes to former child star Delroy Wilson it’s a mix of originals and covers. And he does a great job versioning No More Heartaches – originally voiced by The Beltones in the late 60s – and the extended version on the CD and digital version of the album also features an uncredited deejay.

Delroy Wilson has a golden voice and he shines throughout the album. He doesn’t rely much on backing vocals and his soulful and expressive voice is what you get on this excellent set from 1982.

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The King, the Prince and the Gorgon in full effect on Dubbing in the Backyard

unnamedDubbing in the Backyard is the latest release from UK’s reggae reissue giant Pressure Sounds. It’s a slice of early 80s dub with riddims mostly laid by members of the High Times Band and mixed expertly by Prince Jammy at King Tubby’s studio in Kingston.

The dubs are crisp, tight and sometimes viciously heavy and are versions of vocal cuts originally voiced by some of Jamaica’s finest singers – Delroy Wilson, Cornell Campbell, Jackie Edwards and Johnny Clarke. However, traces of the vocals cannot be found.

The sleevenotes is partly a journey of the making of the reggae documentary Deep Roots and Bunny Lee reveals anecdotes from recording sessions as well as the making of this album. It’s a detailed and fascinating story.

The King, the Prince and the Gorgon have always been a great combination. And this set is no exception.

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Classic dub albums from Blood & Fire made available again

the-aggrovators-dubbing-at-king-tubby-s-vp-2xcd-34906-pWell-renowned reggae reissue label Blood & Fire closed its business in 2007 and a number of its best and most important sets are no longer available. Now, however, VP’s subsidiary 17 North Parade has started reissuing a number of classic items from the Blood & Fire catalogue. It started earlier this year with Horace Andy’s In the Light and its dub counterpart In the Light Dub.

Now it’s time for another three other crucial releases to see the light of day again and 17 North Parade has collected Dub Gone Crazy, Dub Gone 2 Crazy and Dub Like Dirt on a double disc CD or two double LPs titled Dubbing at King Tubby’s. These three albums were originally released in 1994, 1996 and 1999 respectively and all tracks were derived from rare 7” singles released in the 70s.

This is classic Bunny “Striker” Lee and King Tubby business with dubwise workouts of songs sung by the likes of Johnny Clarke, Horace Andy, Cornell Campbell and Leroy Smart. All cuts were dubbed at King Tubby’s small home studio by the King himself along with apprentices like Prince Jammy, Scientist and Phillip Smart.

This is as good as dub gets and the 44 tracks are the blueprint of dub with odd sound effects, echo, delay, reverb and vocal fragments dropping in and out of the mix. These skilled mixing wizards showcase Jamaican studio techniques and they were among the first to use the mixing board as their musical instrument. They strip the songs to their bare essentials – drum and bass – and then adding instrumentation and vocals along the way. The results were game changing. As shown on this excellent set.

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Roll the tape – Bunny Lee & Friends rocking and swinging

unnamedAbout a year ago reissue giants Pressure Sounds issued a killer Bunny Lee compilation titled Next Cut!. Now comes another one collecting more of the same, i.e. unreleased versions, alternate takes and hard to find gems from the Bunny Lee vaults.

Tape Rolling! is however focused on an earlier part of Bunny Lee’s insanely long career. The collection spans 1971-1974, a period when Bunny Lee worked with the hottest musicians on the island and managed to put out loads of hits, including Eric Donaldson’s festival winner Cherry Oh Baby and John Holt’s Stick By Me, both tracks included, but not the original versions.

This is a fascinating album with lots of excitement – check Big Joe’s excellent take on Count Prince Miller’s Mule Train – and creativity – listen to I Roy’s mystic chant on Noisy Place, a version of The Paragons’ Man Next Door.

The tracks collected were recorded at a time when smaller and up and coming producers were taking over from the more established ones, like Clement “Coxsone” Dodd and Duke Reid. These producers were not afraid of experimenting and had lots of imagination. No musical boundaries, just great music.

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Mr Perry I Presume shows a creative mastermind in full flow

Layout 1 (Page 25)After a large number of Lee Perry and Bunny Lee compilations on UK reissue giant Pressure Sounds one might think that the vaults would be more or less empty by now. But no. That wasn’t the case on Pressure Sounds’ mighty Bunny Lee compilation Next Cut! released a few months ago, and that’s not the issue with yet another set shining light on Lee Perry – one of the most innovative producers in popular music.

Mr Perry I Presume collects rare tracks and exclusive mixes, mixes that were only ever heard by those that went to particular sound system dances. The tracks range from remixes and existing classics to obscure cuts that never reached the shelves. Included are recordings from the period before and during Lee Perry’s Black Ark studio.

Out of the 16 songs 14 are previously unreleased. Particularly interesting is Joy White’s Lay Besides You, the original vocal to Susan Cadogan’s famous Hurst so Good, but also Susan Cadogan’s duet with Bunny Rugs on the same riddim.

An exciting version of The Gatherers’ haunting Words of My Mouth is also included. It’s described as an acapella version, but it’s not. It’s a very different version though. It’s captivating and even more dread than the original.

Pressure Sounds continue to plug the gaps in reggae history and Lee Perry’s unreleased catalogue is obviously not exhausted and this collection of dubplates, alternate mixes and unreleased cuts is essential and consistent.

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Killer new Bunny Lee compilation on Pressure Sounds

untitledThere’s a ton of Bunny Lee compilations out on the market and there are several new released each year, which makes it hard to know which ones to get and which ones to leave in the bin.

You can however always rely on UK reissue giant Pressure Sounds. Their latest album collects 18 tracks – 16 on the vinyl version – produced by Bunny Lee and comprises rare sides, one-off dubplate specials and alternate takes of classics. Several being previously unreleased and transferred from their original 10” acetates.

Most of the tracks on Next Cut are raw, especially the dubplates, and most of these unique mixes are heavy, sparse and militant. You can hear the mixing engineer try and test delay and echo effects on a classic like Blood Dunza from Johnny Clarke. This version also comes complete with vocal interjections from an unknown deejay, possibly U Brown according to the excellent and thorough liner notes.

Two of the brightest highlights are however carefully arranged horn instrumentals. Vin Gordon’s bright Enforcement is a true masterpiece and so is Tommy McCook’s Middle Eastern Death Trap. But let’s not forget Barry Biggs & Tommy McCook’s Taptone Special or Wayne Jarrett’s minimalistic masterpiece Satta Dread, both followed by a lethal dub version. Murder style!

But this compilation is more than music. It’s also kind of a historical document since it gives snapshots of the recording process. You can hear false starts, shouting and studio chatter. And all this paints a vivid picture of what was happening in the studio.

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Next cut on Pressure Sounds

Layout 1 (Page 1)In late June premier UK reissue label Pressure Sounds unleashes yet another compilation with Bunny Lee produced material.

This 19 track set (17 on the vinyl version) collects a mix of alternate takes on a number of well-known tracks along with dub plates and few “overlooked” gems. Artists represented on Next Cut are, among others, Johnny Clarke, Tommy McCook and Cornell Campbell.

A 10” with four previously unreleased dub versions, produced by Bunny Lee, will accompany the release.

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Bunny Lee’s early reggae period showcased on new compilation

Layout 1 (Page 8)What if I’d tell you there’s a new Bunny Lee compilation out. You would probably say something like “Whaaat, hasn’t his stuff been recycled enough already!?”. That’s a fair point.

But, what if I’d tell you that this new compilation titled Full Up is actually different than most recently released albums bearing Bunny Lee’s name and credentials.

Bunny Lee has been in the music business since the 60s and his productions has been compiled many, many times before. Sometimes the same tunes as always but with a new packaging. And that’s no surprise since he has for many years now been one of the cornerstones of Jamaican reggae business.

On the Pressure Sounds’ 85th release they have collected a set of tunes that reflect Bunny Lee’s post rocksteady productions and pre roots era. The four years from 1968 to 1972 were productive and fruitful and consolidated his reputation as one of Jamaica’s premier producers.

Full Up offers a fine selection of  swinging instrumentals mixed with some early vocal productions and a few overlooked vocal gems from singers, deejays soloists and bands like Bunny Lee All Stars, Dave Barker, Delroy Wilson, Tommy McCook, Joe White, Stranger Cole, U Roy, Pat Kelly and The Hippy Boys. And several of the cuts come in different shapes and colours, something that give the album a nice bit of variety.

Bunny Lee is a musical hitmaker from Jamaica and on this album he showcases 21 tracks, of which many are taken from the original master tapes, so the audio quality is solid throughout. Included is also excellent liner notes from Diggory Kendrick describing Bunny Lee and his modus operandi.

Today when the reissue market is flooded with mysterious reissues, often of material from Lee Perry and Bunny Lee, it’s easy to dismiss them. But don’t make that mistake with Full Up. This album is excellent all the way. As always with Pressure Sounds one might add.

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Good news – another Bunny Lee compilation

KSPCD 003 Good News Front CoverBunny Lee compilations are a dime a dozen these days and you have to be kind of careful since a lot of them just recycle a lot of already reissued material.

Good News is the third and latest release from UK label King Spinna and is compared to several other recently released Bunny Lee compilations full of nuggets and is solid as a rock with its 17 tracks from nine beloved Jamaican singers – Cornell Campbell, Derrick Morgan, Joy White, Ronnie Davis, John Holt, Jackie Edwards, Johnny Clarke, Owen Gray and Leroy Smart.

This all-singing affair is the vocal counterpart to King Spinna’s debut release Dub Will Change Your Mind, which collected all the B-side versions from this set, and the tracks included were originally released between 1975 and 1978. Lyrically and thematically they range from love songs to socially aware roots with all the singers proving themselves equally at ease with different styles.

Many of the tracks included are hard to come by and haven’t been included on any compilations or albums. For example Cornell Campbell’s excellent Gorgon A the Ginegog, Derrick Morgan’s Rasta No Fear, the next cut to his popular Tougher Than Tough, or Owen Gray’s I Man Naah Run. Included is also John Holt’s popular Up Park Camp, a tuned reissued and versioned to death.

Bunny Lee has during his many years in the production business worked with virtually every Jamaican artist of note and this compilation showcases some of the best talents Jamaica has to offer, but it also gives a nice taste of the flying cymbals and rockers sound.

Good News is now available on CD and digital platforms.

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Another set of vintage rarities on Pressure Sounds

UK reissue label Pressure Sounds has started the year in an old school vintage reggae style. First it was a compilation with early reggae scorchers produced by Lee Perry. Now the label has reissued a second collection of tunes from Blondel Keith Calneck, aka Ken Lack, and his group of labels, including Shock, Jontom and Caltone.

Listen to the Music: Caltone’s Jamaican 45’s 1966-69 collects 21 tunes covering frantic ska, up-tempo early reggae and elegant, classy rocksteady. A few straight forward R&B and Sam Cooke influenced tunes from The Uniques are also included.

Ken Lack was a business man with a keen interest in music and is not one of the more well-known producers in the history of reggae music, but thanks to the Pressure Sounds compilation Safe Travel – released in 2005 – he has received some very well-deserved attention.

Bunny Lee and Phil Pratt handled most of the hands-on production on his recordings with input from Trinibagoan guitarist Lynn Taitt, saxophonist Tommy McCook and trumpeter Johnny Moore.

One of the better known singles from the Ken Lack camp is The Heptones’ Gunmen Coming to Town, a tune that borrows its melody from the William Tell Overture.

Ken Lack worked extensively with Tommy McCook, and his saxophone is present on many of the tunes. And the horn arrangements are classy and tasteful throughout the compilation.

Standouts among the vocals cuts are The Claredonians’ – with the extraordinary talent of Peter Austin taking lead – I’m Sorry, Devon & The Tartans’ Making Love and Alva Lewis & Lynn Taitt’s Return Home. The harmonies are excellent and so are the musicianship with outstanding lead guitar and shuffling organ work.

Listen to the Music is currently available on CD, double LP and digital download and includes excellent liner notes courtesy of Pressure Sounds’ founder and director Pete Holdsworth.

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