Tag Archives: Henry Lawes

Five in-demand Scientist albums reissued

unnamed (1)Iconic reggae label Greensleeves – nowdays owned by VP Records – was key in putting dub on the musical map through releasing a number of classic albums. The ones mixed by mixing engineer extraordinaire Scientist have never been officially reissued before. I guess it has had something to do with copyright laws, or the lack of it in Jamaica in the early days of reggae and dancehall.

The label has now however managed to come around these issues by not crediting Scientist as the artist. Instead the albums are centred on the producers – Henry “Junjo” Lawes and Linval Thompson. Very clever.

The albums finally reissued are based on recordings that heralded the hit making start for Henry Lawes and the Roots Radics, a band often described as the main architects behind dancehall, a genre that represented a shift and big leap forward for reggae. Many of these dangerous recordings also marked the start for several long and successful careers. Barrington Levy is one the artists that started his career together with Henry Lawes and the Roots Radics.

And two of the dub albums are almost solely based on two of his sets – Englishman and Robin Hood. These two albums form the foundation for Big Showdown – where Scientist goes head to head with Prince Jammy – and Heavyweight Dub Champion. The other three sets – The Evil Course of the Vampires, Wins the World Cup and Space Invaders – have riddims taken from a large number of different artists.unnamed

But these five reissues offer more than just dub. Each album include the vocal counteractions on a different disc. It’s the first time the sets are presented in this fashion. Again, very clever.

These eye-catching comic book style albums are some of the best dub sets ever put out and they marked a change history of dub. The riddims provided by the Roots Radics are some of the rawest and heaviest ever to be put on wax. Scientist demolishes the riddims and then he builds them up piece by piece creating a completely new sonic landscape with emphasis on bass and drums.

These selections are crucial to say the least. Roots Radics riddims produced by Henry Lawes and Linval Thompson recorded at Channel One and then mixed by Scientist at King Tubby’s. It doesn’t get any better than that.

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A rock solid Barrington Levy anthology

1355252762_barrington-levy-reggae-anthology-sweet-reggae-music-1979-84Barrington Levy is one of those people whose importance in reggae can’t be over exaggerated. Together with producer Henry “Junjo” Lawes, mixing engineer Scientist and the brutally hard skanking Roots Radics he was part of creating dancehall in the late 70’s. And he was only in his late teens. Scientist was a little older and Henry Lawes was in his early twenties. Impressive to say the least.

It was during the early dancehall era that the young Barrington Levy had his heydays. His juvenile, energetic and enthusiastic singing style was extremely popular and suited the dancehall format very well, and he managed to release hit song after hit song after hit song, including Collie Weed, Looking My Love, Shine Eye Gal, Hammer, 21 Girls Salute and Prison Oval Rock. His biggest hits to date are however the ganja anthem Under Mi Sensi and Here I Come – with its infectious skiddly-waddily-iddily-diddly- diddly-whoa-oa-oh.

All these and 32 more tracks of the same high caliber produced by the likes of Joe Gibbs, Donovan Germain, George Phang, Linval Thompson, Jah Screw and the aforementioned Henry Lawes are collected on the two disc Barrington Levy anthology Sweet Reggae Music 1979-84. Even though this is a single artist anthology, it’s also a great way to discover the early days of dancehall and the Roots Radics militant and disciplined way of revitalizing vintage riddims giving them a rock solid edge.

Barrington Levy has had a long career and still records sporadically, even though he has announced his final album. His best period is by no competition his early years, a time when his output was massive. But this magnificent compilation manages to collect almost only certified scorchers, even though the audio quality could have been better on some tracks.

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Frankie Paul’s most wanted

Frankie Paul made his record debut only in his teens. He was influenced by singers such as Dennis Brown and Stevie Wonder, but soon developed his own charismatic and more dancehall oriented style.

In the mid 80’s he scored some huge hit songs for producer Henry “Junjo” Lawes, including Jump No Fence and the ganja anthem Pass the Tu Sheng Peng. Both are included on Greensleeves’ recent Frankie Paul Most Wanted set.

After working with dancehall don Lawes he moved on and started working for a majority of Jamaica’s top producers, and he was extremely productive during these years.

Album after album and hit after hit followed. Among them the energetic Tidal Wave for George Phang, the Dennis Brown relick Cassandra for Steely & Clevie and the radio friendly Sara for King Jammy.

Frankie Paul Most Wanted contains some timeless classics and is a great introduction to this great singer.

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Johnny Osbourne is a Reggae Legend

About ten years ago I was completely hooked on skinhead reggae and roots reggae. I was under the impression that ragga and dancehall were not worth investigating further; I just dismissed it as noisy and annoying.

In May 2001 I visited Dread records in Stockholm. Magnus, the owner, had just got in Fally Lover by Johnny Osbourne on vinyl and suggested that I should take a listen right there in the store. I did, and was blown away. This album was not at all as I’d pictured it in my mind. I asked Magnus to keep it for a few days so that I could make a well balanced decision.

I already had Johnny Osbourne’s album Come Back Darling and knew that he was a great singer. But was dancehall really for me?

I went back after a few days and listened to it again. I still wasn’t sure, but Magnus – the great salesman as he was – persuaded me to buy it. So I did, and haven’t regretted it since. Fally Lover is one of my all-time favourite albums, a record that can’t be spun often enough.

Since that day, I’m hooked on dancehall, particularly the tough riddims provided by Roots Radics with Henry “Junjo” Lawes in the producer’s chair. I also went on and bought every dancehall album from Johnny Osbourne.

And now four of his great early 80’s albums are collected in a Greensleeves Reggae Legends box set. This set contains two Henry Lawes productions – Fally Lover (1980) and Never Stop Fighting (1982). But also Nightfall (1981), produced by Linval Thompson, and Water Pumping (1983), produced by Prince Jammy.

All of these albums have a rightful place in any record collection, especially the first three, which include wicked tunes such as Kiss Somebody, Man of Jahovia and Words of the Ghetto.

The only thing that this box set lacks is information. There are no sleeve notes at all, just the basic information on studio, producer and backing band. Greensleeves could have included the sleeve notes from the Johnny Osbourne Most Wanted set that hit the streets two years ago. That would have made this box set an even more essential purchase.

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Bra introduktion till Henry Lawes

Henry ”Junjo” Lawes är en av de viktigaste och främsta producenterna i reggaehistorien. Han skapade nästan på egen hand dancehall-genren och ligger bakom stjärnor som Barrington Levy, Yellowman och Eek-A-Mouse. Mellan 1979 och 1985 blev nästan allt han rörde vid guld. Sedan tog det stopp. Henry Lawes flyttade till New York och försvann från scenen under ett par år. Han gjorde comeback i början på 90-talet, men lyckades inte nå upp till den höga kvalitet som publiken vant sig vid.

I förra veckan släpptes boxen Volcano Eruption – på pappret den mest definitiva samling Henry Lawes-producerat material någonsin.

Volcano Eruption är en utmärkt introduktion till Henry Lawes råa och kompromisslösa sound. Lyssnaren bjuds på hela 40 låtar. Från klassiker som Prison Oval Rock med Barrington Levy och Wa-Do-Dem med Eek-A-Mouse till mer okända Give Another Israel A Try från Barry Brown och Hoola Hoope med Josey Wales.

Boxen innehåller dessutom en 45-minuters dokumentär om Henry Lawes, där skivbolaget bland annat intervjuat Cocoa Tea, Michael Prophet och Anthony Johnson.

Men Volcano Eruption har tyvärr några problem. För det första saknas dub. Henry Lawes gjorde tillsammans med Scientist flera banbrytande dubplattor på 80-talet. För det andra är det för få discoversioner. Sådana finns visserligen på samlingen Greensleeves 12” Rulers från 2007, men det hade inte skadat den här plattan. För det tredje saknas ett antal spännande artister, exempelvis Little Harry och Flick Wilson. Skivbolaget hade enkelt kunnat byta ut några av låtarna från Josey Wales och John Holt, som har två vardera.

Volcano Eruption hade också tjänat på att få samma ambitionsnivå som samlingen från producenten George Phang. På Power House Selector’s Choice fyra volymer ryms hela 160 låtar indelade efter rytm. Det hade varit värdigt en av de bästa reggaeproducenterna genom tiderna.


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Dokumentär kastar ljus över Junjo Lawes karriär

Den 16 februari släpper skivbolaget 17 North Parade en diger antologi om dancehall-producenten Henry ”Junjo” Lawes. Volcano Eruption, som samlingen heter, innefattar två cd-skivor med totalt 40 låtar samt en dvd med en dokumentär om stjärnproducenten.

De flesta av låtarna på cd-skivorna är hyfsat lätta att få tag på redan i dag. Dokumentären är däremot helt färsk och innehåller en 45 minuter lång exposé över Henry Lawes alldeles för korta karriär. Dvd:n innehåller också en 30 minuter lång konsert från 1984 med artister knutna till hans soundsystem Volcano.

Henry Lawes mördades i London 1999 i vad som ryktas vara en knarkuppgörelse. Under 80-talet var han en av Jamaicas absolut främsta producenter och den som började exportera dancehall världen över. Stjärnor som Yellowman och Barrington Levy har till stor del honom att tacka för sina karriärer.

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Upphottade klassiker från Necessary Mayhem

Producenten Curtis Lynch ligger bakom skivbolaget Necessary Mayhem, ett skivbolag som under 2009 gett ut några av årets bästa låtar, exempelvis Young Gunz med Million Stylez & Joey Fever samt Dubplate med YT, Million Stylez, Tenor Fly, Blackout JA & Mr. Williamz.

Ett av Curtis Lynch signum är att ta gamla klassiska riddims och ge dem en ny och modernare känsla. Han har tidigare tagit sig an Augustus ”Gussie” Clarkes Rumours och Henry ”Junjo” Lawes Police in Helicopter.

Nu är det dags igen. Och den här gången tar Curtis Lynch sig an två ytterligare riddims från Augustus Clarke – Innercity Lady med Gregory Isaacs och Worth Your Weight in Gold med Delroy Wilson.

På det nya materialet medverkar bland annat Etana med en låt på varje riddim samt Gregory Isaacs som teamar upp med Blackout JA.

Låtarna finns att köpa som 7” eller via laglig nedladdning från exempelvis Reggae Sound Network.


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