One of my all-time favorite compilations on Trojan Records was reissued late last year. Hot Shots of Reggae originally came with 12 slices of early stomping reggae produced by the late and great Leslie Kong.
This new release from Cherry Red’s subsidiary Doctor Bird includes a hefty 13 bonus cuts, including the great Gimme Gimme Gal (Banana Water) from The Mellotones.
Hot Shots of Reggae has never been reissued before and showcases some of Leslie Kongs most popular recordings, including hits like Ken Boothe’s Freedom Street, The Melodians’ Sweet Sensation and The Maytals’ Monkey Man. But the real treat on this album is The Gaylads’ glorious There’s a Fire, probably one of their best cuts ever.
The music on this compilation is just as striking as its sleeve.
Cherry Red’s newly established imprint Doctor Bird has recently put two scorching boss reggae compilations on one CD. No More Heartaches and What Am I To Do were originally released by Trojan in 1969 and 1970 respectively.
Both included singles produced by Jamaican producer Harry J, who is probably best known for Bob & Marcia’s version of Young, Gifted & Black and the killer organ instrumental Liquidator, which contains a bass line borrowed by The Staple Singers for their 1972 hit song I’ll Take You There.
The album comes with a hefty 24 tracks – twelve from each compilation – and No More Heartaches is the stronger compilation showcased by the first half of the album. It represents classics like The Beltones’ aching title track, Glen Brown & Dave Barker’s stomping Lucky Boy, Lloyd Robinson’s lethal Cuss Cuss and Richard Ace’s brutal organ instrumental Hang ‘Em High.
What Am I To Do is much weaker and is probably best known for its title track sung by Tony Scott. The standout cut on that one is however Harry J Allstars’ horn instrumental Wha’pen.
Harry J continued to record throughout the 70s and 80s, but was less prolific. He died in 2013 after a long battle against diabetes.
Jamaican vocal trio The Kingstonians’ debut album Sufferer was one of the first original reggae albums I bought. This was around 1997 and I was heavily into so-called boss – or skinhead – reggae. The set is The Kingstonians only long-player and was at the time of its original release, back in 1970, a best-seller for Trojan Records.
The shuffling title track – along with Winey Winey and Singer Man – are classics, but the album collects many more gems. Especially this new reissue from Cherry Red. It comes with a hefty 24 cuts, compared to the original 12.
This killer reissue showcases a dozen more of producer Derrick Harriott’s work. Several of the added tracks are bouncy instrumentals from backing band The Crystalites, tracks also featured on The Crystalites’ album The Undertaker.
Along with the classics standout cuts include the beautiful Hold Down and the melancholic Kiss a Finger, which was the B-side of Sufferer when it was put out in 1968.
This album, and its bonus material, is well sought after and is now finally available.