Tag Archives: Trojan Records

25 hot shots of reggae

HOT-SHOTS-OF-REGGAEOne 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.


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Trojan collects four Lee Perry sets on one album

TJDCD565_-_hires_copyTrojan Records has collected four Lee Perry produced albums – Africa’s Blood, Battle Axe, Rhythm Shower and Double Seven – on one album called The Trojan Albums Collection.

This new compilation highlights a part in Lee Perry’s career when he was just starting to make a name for himself as a producer. It was at a time when he was working with Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer and before his dense, trippy and swirling productions at his own studio Black Ark.

The cuts showcased here – a swinging 53 originally released between 1971 and 1973 – are mostly instrumentals played by The Upsetters. Some are little more than versions or backing tracks, while others show a producer that has just started to experiment with sonic effects that would soon be an integral part of dub. But even though these recordings were pre-Black Ark Lee Perry still had his very own, and unique, sound with rock-solid rhythms.

Some of the tracks feature well-known vocalists like Delroy Wilson, I Roy and Junior Byles, while other performers are virtually unknown, for example The Hurricane’s, an outfit that make a memorable performance on Isn’t It Wrong.

Standout cuts include Junior Byles’ heartfelt A Place Called Africa, and its dub version by Winston Prince aka Dillinger, Dave Barker’s exuberant Do Your Thing and The Upsetters funky Jungle Lion. The compilation also showcases a few of Lee Perry’s wackier efforts – Kentucky Skank with its flowing water and idiosyncratic vocals as well as the psychedelic Waap You Waa.

This is timeless and classic Lee Perry.

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The Kingstonians’ Sufferer finally reissued

KINGSTONIANSJamaican 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.

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The Treasure Isle Story shines new light on the legendary label

61IkZdJpG+LFinally Trojan Records returns with another hefty and well-compiled compilation. The Treasure Isle Story comes with four discs and a whopping 115 tracks, of which 29 (!) are new to CD, including unreleased versions and alternate cuts.

Duke Reid and his label Treasure Isle have been compiled many, many times over the years, but this compilation is the first comprehensive anthology and includes a deep look at reggae – from mento and ska to reggae and of course rocksteady; this is what made Treasure Isle famous. Duke Reid certainly had a keen ear for melody.

The hits here are way too many to mention, but standout cuts include Justin Hinds & The Dominoes’ raw Carry Go Bring Home, The Techniques’ beautiful You Don’t Care and Jaya Landis’ pulsating Moonlight Lover.

Gems from the deeper side of the vaults include The Silvertones’ lively Don’t Run For A Hiding Place and Pat Kelly’s a cappella version of the gorgeous I Wish It Would Rain.

This album is well-balanced and comes at a bargain price. Essential to any music collection.

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An excellent overview of reggae’s main eras

For the last couple of months the market has been almost flooded with celebrations on Jamaica’s 50th year of independence, as Reggaemani has previously noted. There have been magazine articles, concerts and single and album releases. And some genuinely fine various artist compilations to showcase reggae music.

The four volumes of Bass Culture is one of the finest – if not the finest – yet. Each volume collects 40 tracks on two discs covering the 60’s ska and rocksteady era (This Town is Too Hot!), the early reggae era (Boss Sounds 1968-1972), roots, rockers, DJ’s and dub (When Reggae Was King 1970-1980) and the birth of dancehall (Mash You Down 1980-1985).

Compiler Jim Layne has dug deep in the record bins and has done an outstanding job selecting the tracks for each volume. There are almost no fillers and the ratio between unknown gems and smash hits are handled carefully, which makes the set interesting for hardcore collectors as well as the more casual reggae fan.

Almost all artists, groups, producers and labels that have had an impact on reggae are included, for example Coxsone Dodd, Niney, Bunny Lee, Linval Thompson, Prince Buster, Prince Jammy and Joe Gibbs, to name but a few.

Each volume comes with extensive and highly informative liner notes adapted from Lloyd Bradley’s comprehensive book Bass Culture. Each track also comes with information on producer and year of release.

Boss Sounds is an excellent overview of the four main eras of Jamaican spanning three decades, and is together with Trojan Records’ five disc anthology Freedom Sounds the best compilation to be put out in 2012 yet.

Now I just wish someone will take interest in Jamaica’s more contemporary sounds and compile a great anthology for the years 1985 to 2012. This period is treated unfavorably compared to the so-called golden era, and a showcase for these years is badly needed.

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True sounds of freedom

The legendary Trojan label has had a huge upswing over the last years with some sublime and interesting reissues, including classics and overlooked gems on both vinyl and CD.

The latest addition is the Freedom Sounds box set with music ranging from early shuffling Jamaican boogie to profound roots reggae and ragga. It comes with five discs collecting a total of 108 songs along with four post cards, a sticker and a 52 page booklet focusing on the history of Jamaica and its musical heritage written by Ian McCann, editor of Record Collector magazine.

Trojan has obviously put some thought and hard work into this compilation. All discs have their own direction – Freedom Sounds, Jamaican Hits, Pioneers, Innovators and Forgotten Treasures. Most of the 23 tracks on the hits disc are well-known, while many of the others are new to CD and have also not been issued outside Jamaica until now, including some crucial moments by Toots & The Maytals, The Carib Beats and The Planners.

The majority of the tracks were issued in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and there’s no contemporary roots or dancehall included and almost no ragga.

But that’s not an issue, because this compilation is determined to successfully celebrate the leading performers, producers and studios that have shaped Jamaica’s national sound over 50 years.

And this is not just another compilation to celebrate Jamaica’s 50 years of independence nor is it just another reggae compilation with the standard list of hits from the usual suspects.

Freedom Sounds is one of the best compilations in recent years and a well-representative overview of Jamaica’s gift to the world of music, a gift that has influenced generations of music makers around the world for more than five decades.

These sounds lead the way and will certainly set your mind and body free. Get it now. It’s a no-brainer.


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10 Ft. Ganja Plant focus on the organ

Do you miss keyboard wizards such as Glen Adams, Winston Wright or the late and great Jackie Mittoo? Then the latest album from U.S. roots and dub band 10 Ft. Ganja Plant might be of interest.

10 Deadly Shots Vol. 2 is a instrumental album that puts the organ courtesy of Roger Rivas from The Aggrolites in the front row. The other instruments – bass, guitar, drums and percussion – are handled the usual mysterious musicians that make up the band, probably members of John Brown’s Body.

The 10 deadly shots are vintage sounding and would have fitted perfectly on a Trojan Records’ compilation back in the late 60’s or early 70’s.

The production provides plenty of space for Roger Rivas groovy organ to float over the skanking riddims and it builds up an easygoing atmospheric soundscape for everyone to dance to.

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Beloved and forgotten gems on The Story of Trojan Records

The story of the legendary Trojan Records has its ups and downs. In the 60’s Trojan was the label for reggae music. As the Specials’ Lynval Golding has stated – “If you saw a Trojan 45 you knew you could buy it without hearing it first.”

But in the early 70’s reggae music changed. Roots reggae was suddenly the new black and Trojan didn’t manage to follow the trend.

Labels like Island and Virgin signed a whole bunch of dread and eerie artists and dropped a number of records that took the public by storm.

Then came dancehall and another label popped up – Greensleeves. Trojan didn’t manage to follow that trend either.

Instead of signing new artists Trojan has for a long, long time focused on its back catalogue and has flooded the market with reissues of varied quality.

The latest reissue is the generic titled The Story of Trojan Records that holds five CD’s with a total of 123 tracks. Included are also a sticker, four post cards, a 50 page booklet written by Trojan long-timer Laurence Cane-Honeysett and if you decide to register your box over at Trojan Appreciation Society website you can download an exclusive 12 track bonus digital album.

There hasn’t been a release like this on Trojan before, even though two compilations come close, at least with regards to the title. The double LP The Trojan Story put out in 1974 and The Trojan Story vol. 1&2 released in the late 80’s.

This latest is indeed special and highly recommended. It covers the hits, artists, producers and labels as well as unreleased rarities, alternate takes and the occasional live version.

The first disc covers the big UK hits and is a good start for non-seasoned collectors. You’ll find sublime music that has been played over and over again – The Maytals’ Monkey Man, Wonderful World Beautiful People from Jimmy Cliff and Symarip’s classic Skinhead Moonstomp.

Disc two, three and four cover Reggae Greats, The Big Shots – The Producers and A to Z of Trojan – The Labels. Included is veritable who’s who in early reggae and roots reggae. The discs also feature a number of styles, instrumentals and dubs.

Most of the tracks were recorded between 1968 and 1975. There is however some tough early dancehall represented – The Viceroys’ Come Closer My Love recorded in 1981, produced by Linval Thompson and issued on the We Must Unite album.

The fifth disc is the most interesting piece in this box set since it includes gems, rarities and oddities. And there are no less than nine previously unreleased tracks included here. Several of them actually very worthwhile which make me wonder why they have been left laying around unloved, unissued and forgotten until now.

For example, The Dynamites’ funky version of Jr. Walker and The All Stars’ chart-topper What Does it Take to Win Your Love, Nora Dean’s take on Harry J’s immortal Liquidator riddim and Bob Andy’s pop-flavored I Can Win. Dave Barker also does a nice version of The Gaylads’ Can’t Hide the Feeling.

This box set represents a time of innocence. Before slack lyrics – not really, but almost anyway – and before singjays, hip-hop beats and auto-tune. It’s about being festive, joyous and happy.

Since Trojan was acquired by Universal a few years ago things has really started to happen and it seems that the management has great hope in the reissue business.

Let’s hope this is the beginning of a new great era for Trojan Records and that the story doesn’t end here.

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Absolutely essential from The Uniques

The late and great Keith ”Slim” Smith is one of the many great voices in reggae music and his delicate falsetto was heavily inspired by early American soul and artists such as Curtis Mayfield. Slim Smith recorded several magic tunes up until his way too early death in 1973, only 25 years old.

Slim Smith was a key figure in vocal harmony groups The Techniques and later on in The Uniques, a group that’s been responsible for timeless classic such as My Conversation and People Rock Steady. A part from Slim Smith, the group consisted of Lloyd Charmers and Jimmy Riley, two singers that would later on find fame as solo vocalists and producers.

Several compilations have been dedicated to both Slim Smith himself and to The Uniques. And one would think that yet another would be a waste of both time and money. I beg to differ.

On October 17, Pressure Sounds drops Absolutely Rock Steady, a compilation dedicated to the works of The Uniques.

This is not the first compilation of material from The Uniques on Pressure Sounds. About ten years ago the label issued Watch This Sound.

You might think that many of the tunes appear on both albums, but Pete Holdsworth – project co-ordinator and founder of Pressure Sounds – has managed to find a new set of songs. The duplicates are set to a minimum.

Bunny Lee is the main producer on both albums and many of the tracks on Absolutely Rock Steady have been re-issued during the years, for example on two compilations from Trojan. But that doesn’t really matter.

These tunes have been chosen with great love and devotion. Included are both popular songs alongside some of their less well known ones. And there aren’t hardly any fillers, just great tunes, such as the beautiful Blinded By Love and the much versioned Let Me Go Girl. The compilation also include its answer tune, I’ll Let You Go (Let Me Go Boy) by Dawn Penn.

And – as usual with Pressure Sounds – the packaging is well above par with great sleeve notes and some nice footage.

If you already own several compilations with material from Slim Smith and The Uniques, then this compilation might be superfluous. But if you don’t, Absolutely Rock Steady is a great addition to the record collection. It’s timeless music for fans of soul, pop and reggae.


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Fira första advent med reggaetema

Ända sedan reggaens begynnelse har covers varit en vital del av genren. Det har huvudsakligen handlat om covers på kända och okända soul- och RnB-låtar, men även en del Elvis Presley och Bob Dylan.

Ett kapitel för sig är de många julsånger som av någon anledning spelats in av berömda reggaeartister. John Holt och Jacob Miller är några av dem som till och med spelat in hela julplattor.

John Holt gav 1986 ut skivan The Reggae Christmas Hits Album med låtar som White Christmas och Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.

1978 kom Jacob Miller med plattan Natty Christmas. Flera av låtarna, exempelvis All I Want For Ismas och On The Twelve Day Of Ismas, är duetter med deejayn Ray I.

Samlingsplattor finns det också gott om. Skivbolaget Studio One firar jul med Christmas Greetings From Studio One och Joe Gibbs önskar god jul med Wish You A Merry Rockers Christmas. Ras Records hälsar julen välkommen med Ras Records Presents A Reggae Christmas. Längst går dock skivbolaget Trojan med boxen Trojan Christmas Box Set, som innehåller hela 50 jullåtar i reggaetappning.

På skivan Yard Style Christmas från 1981 har man varit en smula finurlig med låttitlarna. Barrington Levy & Trinity bjuder på I Saw Mommy Kiss A Dreadlocks och Carlene Davis & Trinity gör Santa Claus Do You Ever Come To The Ghetto.

Det är svårt att föreställa sig julsånger i reggaetappning. Och faktum är att låtarna är mer roliga än bra. Av de reggaejullåtar jag hört är det få som går att lyssna på. Två som är helt okej är The Maytals Happy Christmas (The Christmas Song) och Natty No Santa Claus med Jacob Miller, men ingen av låtarna passar annat än vid jul.

Men för ett reggaefan som nödvändigtvis vill lyssna på julsånger är låtarna ett bra komplement till originalen.


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