Tag Archives: I Roy

Dennis Bovell gives his vintage catalogue a dubwise treatment

The latest album release on the Pressure Sounds label is not the ordinary reissue. On Mek it Run UK musician, producer, arranger, singer and sound engineer Dennis Bovell has selected rare vintage titles from his archive for a brand new dubwise treatment. Put it simply – it’s new mixes of vintage tracks.

Dennis Bovell is perhaps the most interesting and versatile reggae musician from the UK ever. He has worked with lovers rock, heavy roots, dub, soul, punk and even produced an album with legendary Nigerian afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti.

Mek it Run contains 16 cuts originally recorded in the 70’s and early 80’s with renowned musicians Drummie Zeb, Tony Gad, Jah Bunny and John Kpiaye. The new mixes were done over at Mad Professor’s studio because, as it is stated in the CD booklet with words by Steve Barker, “he knew the Professor had every gadget under the sun” and he also wanted to use “a whole range of outboard gear from old analogue to the latest digital sets.”

The imaginative mixes feels and sounds like they were done in the 70’s, and 14 of the tracks contain little or no vocals. The other two are I Roy vocal tracks, of which one – Burden – is a version of the gospel standard Down by the Riverside. Of course the album also features its dub companion Cross to Bear.

Dennis Bovell’s and I Roy’s relation started in the late 70’s when the deejay visited UK and toured with Matumbi, Dennis Bovell’s band at the time. Together they recorded the early reggae/rap album Whap’n Bap’n for Virgin, and Mek it Run collects the dub version of the title track titled Dub d’Cap’n.

Mek it Run contains lots of effects, sampled sounds and a beautiful sonic landscape and presents Dennis Bovell right up there with his Jamaican contemporaries such as King Tubby, Prince Jammy and Errol Thompson.

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Four crucial Niney productions reissued

There have been several well-compiled compilations dedicated to Jamaican producer Winston ”Niney” Holness aka The Observer. Niney The Observer – Roots with Quality, Blood & Fire – Hit Sounds From The Observer Station 1970-1978 and Observation Station should belong in any record collection.

17 North Parade – a subsidiary of reggae giant VP Records – has now issued a new box set dedicated to this hard-edged and uncompromising producer.

Deep Roots Observer Style includes three previously released albums – Dennis Brown’s Deep Down, The Heptones’ Better Days and its dub companion Observation of Life Dub – along with a compilation of I Roy singles titled The Observer Book of I Roy.

Niney got his big break in the early 70’s with roots masterpieces such as Max Romeo’s Rasta Bandwagon and The Coming of Jah as well as his own haunting Blood & Fire.

His production style is the essence of rebel music and is often sparse with a brimstone and fire kind of feeling.

This style suited the late Dennis Brown very well and some of his best material was recorded for Niney. So Long Rastafari and Open the Gate are two sublime vocals included on the Deep Down set, actually one of Dennis Brown’s earliest roots albums.

The Heptones’ Better Days has Naggo Morris instead of Leroy Sibbles on lead vocals and was originally put out in 1978. It contained ten tracks – among them the sublime God Bless the Children – but this version is strengthened by five roots anthems. Through the Fire I Come and Temptation, Botheration and Tribulation are two of the best conscious tunes ever voiced by the trio.

The dub counterpart to Better Days is a lethal drum and bass deconstruction and even though Niney is most well-known for producing singers rather than deejays he managed to capture I Roy in his essence with tunes such as Jah Come Here and slack Sister Maggie Breast.

Deep Roots Observer Style drops on February 13th and the CD version includes an eight page fully illustrated booklet with liner notes courtesy of Harry Wise.

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Reggaefajter på vax

Hip-hop battle är en reggaetradition” skrev jag på Skivkoll för en tid sedan. På Jamaica har man nämligen jobbat med så kallade clasher ända sedan början av 60-talet. Då handlade det om olika soundsystems som krigade med varandra om att ha de mest ovanliga plattorna och de fetaste dubplatesen.

Clasher är fortfarande vardagsmat på Jamaica, även om allmänheten förknippar företeelsen med hip-hop. Reggaebloggen skriver exempelvis regelbundet om de många verbala fajterna mellan artister som Bounty Killer, Vybz Kartel och Beenie Man.

Det är en härlig jamaicansk tradition att utmana och håna varandra verbalt. Två av de mest klassiska fajterna är de mellan deejaysen Prince Jazzbo och I Roy samt mellan Prince Buster och Derrick Morgan.

Dusten mellan Prince Jazzbo och I Roy ryktas vara ett marknadsföringsknep, medan Prince Buster däremot lackade på riktigt när Derrick Morgan bytte till Leslie Kongs skivbolag Beverly’s på 60-talet.

Prince Jazzbo och I Roys ordväxling skedde över tunga riddims signerade Bunny Lee och King Tunny. Titlar som Straight To Prince Jazzbo Head, Straight To I Roy Head, Jazzbo Have Fe Run och Gal Boy I Roy skvallrar om en skön dust.

Men ordväxlingen mellan Prince (eller Princess som I Roy kallade honom) Jazzbo och I Roy är långt från den enda under reggaens 40-åriga historia. Det finns mängder av clash-plattor, och ett antal enskilda låtar.

Roots Archives har jag hittat några härliga låtar där artisterna ger varandra svar på tal. Många av titlarna är riktigt sköna, exempelvis Let Me Go Girl med Slim Smith. Dawn Penn svarar med syrliga Me Never Hold You. Echo Minott frågar sig What the Hell Can the Police Do. Junie Ranks svarar med uppkäftiga Tell You What the Police Can Do.

Sedan finns det fajten mellan britterna Starkey Banton – låten Jungle Bungle – och Tenor Fly – låten Don’t Dis the Jungle. Eller dusten där Johnny Clarke och Jacob Miller anklagar varandra för att vara fejkade rastas – Commercial Locks respektive False Rasta.

Alla de här ordväxlingarna har dock varit rätt harmlösa. Och det är så det ska vara. Inga slagsmål och ingen skottväxling inom reggae, bara smågnabb på skinande blankt vax.

På den här Spotify-playlisten kan du lyssna på några meningsutbyten mellan exempelvis Tenor Saw och Nitty Gritty.

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