Listen: Conscious Man / The Jolly Brothers 01 Conscious Man 1.mp3
There’s a story about this record, told to me many times by Duane Sherwood, who knows all there is to know reggae-wise. It forever gets cloudy in my memory, but here goes. There was a period when Lee Perry’s relationship with Island Records in London was going south as they were rejecting many of his submissions, due to the sheer volume of his output. It lead him to burn down his Black Ark studios, but not before making some of the most historic reggae recordings ever. One such rejection was The Congos album, an original Jamaican copy will set you back. It’s been beautifully reissued by Blood & Fire, but you can never replicate the sound of recycled Jamaican deep groove vinyl, hence the quest for the original.
Then there’s this, The Jolly Brothers ‘Conscious Man’. Scratch was so annoyed by Island, he apparently never even offered them The Jolly Brothers master. He just licensed it off to United Artists in England, and it became a hit. For whatever reasons, those early pressings don’t even credit his production, but it only takes one listen.
It was everywhere during an October ’78 London trip, when we’d stayed at Howard’s place in Hammersmith and did the town with him every night. I remember finding the picture sleeved copy at Harlequin Records just off Marble Arch. Never saw another.