Tag Archives: Keith Hudson

Keith Hudson meets The Wailers on new unreleased album

$_35Keith Hudson, aka The Dark Prince of Reggae, died in 1984 only 38 years old. He was a creative and innovative producer turned singer that worked with some of the biggest singers and deejays in the 60s and 70s, including Ken Boothe on Old Fashioned Way and Delroy Wilson on A Place in Africa.

He’s known for his moody, haunting rhythms and a vocal style that’s an acquired taste. That’s why I have always preferred his role as a producer than a singer. And that’s also why I had slightly low expectations on a new Keith Hudson album that surfaced out of the blue in early December.

The tracks on Tuff Gong Encounter were recorded around 1984 with Carlton Barrett and Aston “Family Man” Barrett, known as the Wailers’ riddim section, on drums and bass. These key musicians were joined by Junior Marvin on guitar and Tyrone Downie on keys, two players that have also worked extensively with Bob Marley.

The cuts were intended for an album that never saw the light of day. Until now. More than 30 years after the recordings took place. But the album is not full-blown vintage material. Prior to the release King Jammy finished off the existing mixes for the six vocal cuts and also mixed six woofer testing dub versions.

Tuff Gong Encounter is solid. It’s one of Keith Hudson’s most accessible albums and his singing is more on pitch than usual. The dub versions are nicely mixed with just a dash of effects. And Keith Hudson’s voice is almost completely removed from the dub versions; the bass, the drums, the guitar and the keys does most of the talking.

The album comes with fascinating and detailed sleeve notes courtesy of Vincent Ellis, who is currently writing a biography on Keith Hudson. Probably the final album from one of reggae’s most ingenious producers.

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Hot Milk Records lits Hudson’s Torch of Freedom

R-4066427-1354125997-1624Via the newly established Hot Milk Records comes yet another Keith ”The Dark Prince of Reggae” Hudson album reissue – following Greensleeves‘ reissue of Rasta Communication and Sunspot’s Furnance. This time it’s the rare Torch of Freedom album, originally released on Hudson’s own Mamba imprint in 1975.

The reissue comes with original artwork and excellent and informative liner notes by music writer John Masouri. Musicians include the usual suspects – Robbie Shakespeare and Aston “Familyman” Barrett on bass, Carlton “Santa” Davis on drums, Earl “Chinna” Smith on guitar and George Fulwood on keys. On top of their heavy riddims is Hudson’s odd, non-melodic singing and quite a lot of synthesizer on some cuts.

The majority of these eerie and dense tracks are followed by an instrumental version, which makes this album an early example of the praised showcase style.

Compared to other albums from his camp, Torch of Freedom is funkier and more soulful, and less haunting and dread. Lyrically he also leans toward the more romantic side, for example Five More Minutes of Your Time, Lost All Sense of Direction and Like I’m Dying, recorded over his mystic Melody Maker riddim.

Keith Hudson is certainly one of the most original reggae artists ever, even though his singing, with obvious pitch problems, is an acquired taste. Torch of Freedom doesn’t reach the same high standards as some of his other album efforts, but this reissue – restored into perfect audio clarity – is definitely a welcome addition to the Hudson catalogue.

Torch of Freedom is now available on CD and by popular demand a vinyl edition limited to 500 copies will be put out later this year.

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Keith Hudson galore

Almost 30 years after his untimely death only 38 years old, the one and only Keith Hudson is perhaps hotter than ever before.

Greensleeves has recently reissued a deluxe two CD version of his Rasta Communication album and Sunspot has reissued his first album Furnace.

On top of this Vincent Ellis and Jean Scrivener have published an illustrated Keith Hudson discography in the form of pdf files on a DVD-ROM. It contains a comprehensive listing of albums, singles, compilations, riddims and productions of other artists as well as cover art and additional information.

Keith Hudson is a key artist in the development of reggae and a producer, songwriter and arranger with a uniquely deep and atmospheric style. His first hit song was Ken Boothe’s excellent Old Fashion Way released in 1968, and Keith Hudson was also the producer who provided Big Youth with his breakthrough hit – the Honda motorbike tribute S. 90 Skank.

Furnace was originally issued in 1972 on Hudson’s own Inbidimts label and includes twelve tracks with riddims supplied by relentless Soul Syndicate band and vocals courtesy of Dennis Alcapone, U Roy Junior and Keith Hudson himself, who has an unorthodox and non melodic singing style, not to everybody’s taste.

The exquisite sleeve notes to Furnace, provided by the aforementioned Vincent Ellis, give a detailed overview of the album and a comment to each of the twelve tunes.

Five years after the release of Furnace Keith Hudson dropped the dub album Brand, also known as The Joint. It was oddly enough released a year before its vocal counterpart Rasta Communication. Both of these albums are now put out in a deluxe two CD package complete with several hard to find bonus cuts and extended versions, including the previously unreleased dub version to I Broke the Comb.

The riddims on Rasta Communication are sparse and strained, and uses only guitar, bass, drums and keys. The vocals are solely handled by Keith Hudson, and the mixes on Rasta Communication in Dub are edgy and grim.

Keith Hudson’s music may not be for everyone, but these albums show an artist and a producer with an individual style and many years ahead of his time.

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