Earlier this year legendary Jamaican recording artist Frank Dowding, better known as Kiddus I, dropped a recently recorded album. Even though Kiddus I has been in the recording industry for almost 40 years Topsy Turvy World is only his third album, not including compilations.
Kiddus I is not a well-known singer outside hardcore reggae circles and is probably best known for his cameo in the cult motion picture Rockers from the 70s. His smooth Graduation in Zion was also included in the soundtrack. That particular tune is his trademark.
I had the opportunity to have a chat with Kiddus I. I reached him on the phone when he was in one of his homes in Jamaica. He was surprised when I called, even though his PR-agent had made the necessary arrangements. Happily enough he had a moment or two to give an interview.
It was a long interview and we covered a lot of issues and topics. What striked me was his spirituality and never-looking-back attitude. Read the full story over at United Reggae.
Jamaican veteran singer and percussionist Kiddus I is cult figure on the scene with the performance of his Graduation in Zion in the classic movie Rockers from the mid 70’s. But music wise he hasn’t released much, at least not until recently, partly because the master tapes to his debut album was lost in the late 70’s. They did however surface only a couple of years ago and released as Rocking Rebels.
Kiddus I himself also want awal sometime around 1980. He returned to the studio in 2005 to record the acoustic Inna De Yard, a set that became his debut album. Since then he has managed to put out Green Fa’ Life and now Topsy Turvy World, his third studio album in almost 40 years.
On Topsy Turvy World the producers have taken seeds from 70’s Kingston and planted them in Germany in present time. The album is a time capsule to an era when Bob Marley, Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs reigned the charts.
To recreate the sound the producers have used a number of veteran session heavyweighters, including bass man Aston “Familyman” Barrett, keyboard player Tyrone Downie, guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith and percussionist Uziah “Sticky” Thompson.
The organ is given a prominent place throughout the mix and Kiddus I sings his personal and cultural lyrics with a jazzy and breezy tone. He’s an excellent singer and his tenor voice sounds almost better today than more than 30 years ago.
Twelve of the 13 tracks are original compositions and even though they’re marked with a huge roots reggae mark, you can trace influences of blues, soul and R&B.
One can’t but wonder what could have happened to Kiddus I if he had dropped that debut album back in the 70’s.