Archive for the ‘Dillinger’ Category

Burning Spear

Friday, November 28th, 2014

Listen: Lion / Burning Spear
Listen: Lion / Burning Spear

Most consider MARCUS GARVEY and the accompanying dub version, GARVEY’S GHOST, both from ’76, to be the ultimate introduction to Burning Spear. Not me. The ’77 followup, MAN IN THE HILLS, takes the prize hands down.

Blame it on the compilation THIS IS REGGAE MUSIC (Volume 3). Howard Thompson sent a copy with a bunch of Island punk and reggae releases in his very first mailing that began our friendship. It was known as a care package in those days, the kind you’d load a new pal up with when you worked at a record company. Just go over to the cupboard and pull one of anything remotely good, then ship it off. And the cupboards at Island were bursting with good stuff back then.

I dare call it life changing. Sure, that sounds way over dramatic. But no, it’s actually not. The records in that big box did just that, not only to me, but to my closest friends and Corinne as well. She for one, dove head first into a reggae addiction from the get go. Took her years to shake, to find a normal balance between it and everyday life, but not before up and going to London to see Burning Spear and Aswad at the Rainbow, with Karen. I think they had some unfinished Eddie & The Hot Rods business on that particular journey as well.

The box. Yes. I can still recall every record in it:

Various Artists THIS IS REGGAE MUSIC (Volume 3)
The Upsetters SUPER APE
Toots & The Maytals REGGAE GOT SOUL
The Heptones NIGHT FOOD
Derek & Clive LIVE
Max Romeo & The Upsetters WAR INA BABYLON

Eddie & The Hot Rods ‘Writing On The Wall’
Eddie & The Hot Rods ‘Wooly Bully’
Eddie & The Hot Rods ‘Teenage Depression’
Lee Perry ‘Roast Fish & Cornbread’
Dillinger ‘Cokane In My Brain’
Aswad ‘Back To Africa’
Aswad ‘Three Babylon’
Junior Murvin ‘Police & Thieves’
The Heptones & The Upsetters ‘ Sufferer’s Time’
The Heptones ‘Book Of Rules’
Justin Hines & The Dominoes ‘Fire’
Justin Hines & The Dominoes ‘Carry Go Bring Come’
Kevin Ayers ‘Falling In Love Again’
Sparks ‘Big Boy’
Sparks ‘I Like Girls’
Ultravox ‘Dangerous Rhythm’
Max Romeo & The Upsetters ‘One Step Forward’
Max Romeo & The Upsetters ‘Chase The Devil’
Trevor White ‘Crazy Kids’
The Dwight Twilley Band ‘I’m On Fire’
Fay Bennett ‘Big Cockey Wally’
Leroy Smart ‘Ballistic Affair’
J.J. Cale ‘Travelin’ Light’
The Jess Roden Band ‘Stay In Bed’
Rico ‘Dial Africa’
Agusutus Pablo ‘King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown’
Burning Spear ‘Lion’

Might as well get this over with now: the 7′s were all promo copies. Sorry.

Yeah, go ahead. Take a breather. I tell you what. There was no preparing for that package in real life either. I wasn’t expecting a box, maybe a few records, but not a box. Howard had rung me from his office shortly after receiving a letter I’d sent off to Island, written on WITR stationary. We talked for a bit, he filled me in on Eddie & The Hot Rods, who were my original reason for writing, suggested we trade some records and that we should stay in touch. Little did I know both his package and that phone call would change my life forever.

A week or so later, I just found this large box from Island Records UK in my apartment building’s lobby. Cost something like £40 to ship, a fortune in ’76. Hoisted it upstairs and into our place, could not open it fast enough. Fuck me, a shock to the system indeed, like my heart froze. Yet somehow I’ve lived to tell.

We poured over these records, the bunch of us, for weeks. You couldn’t wait for whatever was playing to end, so you could begin another. Corinne worked nights back then, and I vividly recall staying up until dawn, those first two days in a row, eating white crosses and just playing them, waiting for her to come home. Wow, what a fantastic flashback.

Every track on THIS IS REGGAE MUSIC became anthems to us, every one a badge of honor, knowing we’d found some of the best music of our lives, suddenly a whole new world opened up, and that album did it.

Burning Spear was little known to me at that point. Saw the US copies of those first two albums occasionally, but hadn’t heard either, or even tried to. Reggae had not entered my life. Once this compilation arrived, I became insatiable for it though.

‘Man In The Hills’, the title track, opened Side 2 of the comp. It was instant. Immediately tore through that pile of 7′s, sure I’d seen a Burning Spear single amongst them. The whole day was a blur, it was hard to process this all at once. Yes, there it was. ‘Lion’ / ‘Door Peep’ by Burning Spear

‘Lion’ defines my very favorite style of reggae, where the chorus keeps getting sung over and over and over. Just a lazy, hypnotic swirl that’s hard to fight. The genre has many a unique voice, but Winston Rodney’s, well it’s one of the greatest.

Justin Hines & The Dominoes

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

JustinHinesCarryUKA, Justin Hines & The Dominoes, Jack Ruby, Island

JustinHinesCarryUK, Justin Hines & The Dominoes, Jack Ruby, Island

JustinHinesCarryUS, Justin Hines & The Dominoes, Jack Ruby, Island

Listen: Carry Go, Bring Come / Justin Hines & The Dominoes

Back in ’76, when Howard Thompson was still a junior A&R scout at Island UK, we struck up a quick friendship. Well it happened quick but it’s still going today and as strong a friendship as one can have. The first package he sent over, and a big one at that, included the compilation THIS IS REGGAE MUSIC (Volume 3). His accompanying note implored me to listen, citing the ‘almost psychedelic’ nature of the songs and their production. More accurate words have never been written. That sampler changed my life.

I couldn’t get down the phone fast enough to him. The call was quickly followed by a box, a fucking box, jammed with full length LP’s from just about every act on that comp: Aswad, Jah Lion, Burning Spear, Junior Murvin, Max Romeo & The Upsetters and Justin Hines & The Dominoes’ JEZEBEL – plus a slew of 7 and 12″ singles from all the above and more (Lee Perry, Fay Bennett, The Skatalites, Leroy Smart, Rico, Lord Creator, Millie, Dillinger, Augustus Pablo) each with that vital dub B side. A treasure trove if ever, ever, ever there was one. I’ll never forget ripping that one open. Can you imagine how it blew my mind and my friend’s minds too? Well it did.

There were a couple of singles in there from Justin Hines & The Dominoes. A then current reggae remake of his very own decade old Jamaican ska hit (then listed as Justin Hinds & The Dominoes) ‘Carry Go, Bring Come’. This newer version being my preferred choice.

JustinHinesJezebelUKB, Justin Hines & The Dominoes, Jack Ruby, Island

JustinHinesJezebelUK, Justin Hines & The Dominoes, Jack Ruby, Island

JustinHinesJezebelUS, Justin Hines & The Dominoes, Jack Ruby, Island

Listen: Jezebel / Justin Hines & The Dominoes

It’s flip, ‘Jezebel,’ a confusingly titled non-LP track from the JEZEBEL album, stay with me here, is actually a very nice dub of the A side ‘Carry Go, Bring Come’. Give it a listen and see for yourself.

To my knowledge, it’s never appeared on a reissue of any sort.

JustinHinesFireUKA, Justin Hines & The Dominoes, Jack Ruby, Island

Listen: Fire / Justin Hines & The Dominoes

‘Fire’ still reminds me vividly of that summer ’76 when Corinne worked the night shift and I had the place to myself, with not a responsibility in the world between semesters but doing a bunch of play whatever you want radio shows. So I’d spend all night spinning records and drinking tea, then sleeping the morning away once she got back home. Ah the joys of being young.

‘Fire’ in particular was the well worn 7″, a perfect song to overlay onto the backdrop of an alarmingly silent city, all asleep, not even a mouse was creeping on the deserted streets – quite eerie. Jack Ruby, the record’s producer, was indeed known for just such a haunting production quality. I still prefer to think of him as Reggae’s Joe Meek. We’d listen to it at least a few times, religiously, every morning before passing out.

JustinHinesNatty, Justin Hines & The Dominoes, Jack Ruby, Island

Listen: Natty Take Over / Justin Hines & The Dominoes

There’s not a bad track on that JEZEBEL album, yet there is a favorite: ‘Natty Take Over’. A most obvious A side to me, yet relegated as a B, I was just happy it was on a 7″ at all.

It fit in perfectly with the Island promo shirts announcing these reggae releases. The shirts came in many colors. I preferred the purple one with sky blue lettering that said quite simply, REGGAE on the front, with that palm tree Island logo on it’s sleeve. What better thing to wear almost daily during a nice hot summer. I still have that shirt.

J. J. Cale

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Listen: Travelin’ Light / J. J. Cale

March ’77, Corinne and I made our first trip to England together for a fortnight of fun. We ended up staying at the then seedy Royal Scott Hotel, way before the area became chic. But seriously, it was heaven to us, a real taste of old London, now long gone.

Most importantly, the visit marked our first meeting with Howard. Who knew then that we’d become life long friends. HT showed us around for two weeks solid, and must’ve been glad to see the back of us.

This was a time almost like no other, with the energy of punk united against the stale old guard, and HT had every night sorted: The Damned, The Jam, Eddie & The Hot Rods, Ultravox, Eater, Johnny Moped, The Sex Pistols, The Heartbreakers, Sham 69, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Rockpile, The Downliners Sect, Generation X, The Clash, The Vibrators. Pretty sick, right?

We would start every morning in one of the many rickety cafes along Argyle Square or Crestfield Street, covering traditional English breakfast fry ups of eggs, chips and mushy peas with plenty of HP Sauce, gagging back several sugary teas, then scouring either the record shops or dumpy street markets, Corinne looking for deco jewelry and vintage clothes, me for used 45′s. By early evening, flying on Cadbury Flakes or Fry’s Chocolate Creams, we’d meet Howard, always in a swinging pub with a happening jukebox.

He introduced me to Andrew Lauder on one of those nights, and we all found quite a lot to talk about simply by scouring through the records in The Hope & Anchor’s jukebox. ‘Travelin’ Light’ was visually playing at the time, meaning the machine was a vintage model, one whereby you can watch the vinyl spinning round. Easily, it made for a lasting memory.

Released by Denny Cordell’s Shelter Records, quite possibly ‘Travelin’ Light’ was a single simply to allow the B side, ‘Cocaine’, availability to jukeboxes and club dj’s. For obvious reasons, that track doubled as bragging rights amongst us all, and along with Dillinger’s ‘Cokane In My Brain’, became our cheap theme.

Still it’s this A side, ‘Travelin’ Light’, that I can play endlessly and never tire of, all the while doubling as a journey back in time, to that jukebox and those incredible two weeks.


Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Listen: Natty B.Sc. / Dillinger
Natty B.Sc. / Dillinger

Amongst the wave of deejay toasters who rose to prominence during the mid 70′s, Dillinger went global with single ‘Cokane In My Brain’. In fact, that record is a bigger calling card for reggae meeting punk than the media gives credit to. It was everywhere, and still is. ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ my foot. It was all about drugs. Those mainstream media anthems, like The Clash faking their way through ‘Police & Thieves’, had nothing on Peter Tosh ‘Legalize It’ or ‘Cokane In My Brain’.

In seemingly no time at all, ‘Marijuana In My Brain’ was released as a 7″ by a competing label. Good move, it would appear a logical followup to an unsuspecting public. Problem being the single wasn’t great. The hoax failed.

Even at the time, Dillinger had released half a dozen albums on as many labels in the Jamaican market, so UK record companies in search of all things reggae had, as with loads of acts, plenty to pick from when licensing product for Britain. To date in fact, Dillinger has released some thirty albums worldwide.

But the real followup single was ‘Natty B.Sc.’, this time on the Black Swan label, then an Island subsidiary. Born Lester Bullock but christened Dillinger by Lee Perry, the connection to Black Swan makes some sense. Scratch didn’t produce any of his Island/Black Swan output, but had indeed been the first to take him into the studio for ‘Ready Natty Dreadie’ in ’75.

Listen: Buckingham Palace / Dillinger
Buckingham Palace / Dillinger

The favored side of WIP 6380 was by far ‘Buckingham Palace’, one of the very best tracks from CB 200. A perfect representation of the hard, political sound we all loved back then. Everyone did. Man, this stuff sound great when cranked up late at night. A precursor to LKJ even.


Monday, July 12th, 2010

Listen: Cokane In My Brain / Dillinger DillingerCokane.mp3

‘Cokane In My Brain’, being a summertime hit during exactly the same year and season one’s friends and one’s self dove head first into the festivities is something you never forget. Trust me. 1977 was a great one.

Talk about a badge of honor. We all touted around copies of this Dillinger track, on record, on tape. Seemed no party, club show or event was quite perfect without it, both musically and literally. Oh, to be a kid again. I wouldn’t trade the timing of my youth with any generation.

Well maybe the one just ahead of me, come to think of it. That way I could have gotten on a plane to London a few years before I actually did and seen The Move and The Action and……I better not start.

Linton Kwesi Johnson

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Listen: Di Black Petty Booshwah / Linton Kwesi Johnson LKJBlackPetty.mp3

I recollect LKJ’s FORCES OF VICTORY and BASS CULTURE albums suddenly being of great interest amongst our whole crowd. For whatever reason, they seemed like the first full lengths after that initial introductory (to us) influx of ’76 and ’77 releases (Max Romeo & The Upsetters, Justin Hines & The Dominoes, Peter Tosh, The Mighty Diamonds, Jah Lion, Dillinger), and they were both non stop favorites for months. It never occurred to me some singles might actually be pulled from them, given they were such ‘album’ albums. I still thank the decision makers who chose to proceed otherwise.

The Sly & Robbie Taxi productions combined with acts like Steel Pulse and Inner Circle that raced toward a clean, syndrum, soul-less era of early 80′s reggae was just about to begin. FORCES OF VICTORY and it’s follow up, BASS CULTURE, bar a few others like Black Uhuru, basically ended my hardcore infatuation with most reggae music that followed, due to this new sound twist, uncomfortably merging expensive modern equipment with one of the only non flash earthiest genres left.

From BASS CULTURE, ‘Di Black Petty Booshwah’ was a nice example of LKJ’s countless A1 tracks. I still don’t get why so many songs ended up gracing 7″ singles that seemed to have no hope for airplay. I’m guessing in the case of reggae, the pockets of Jamaican communities around London might have been the target – but they weren’t exactly singles buyers like in the 60′s, where they?

My money would’ve been ‘Inglan Is a Bitch’ as the choice. If you’re going to end up being struck down at BBC playlist music meetings, you might as well make an unsettling statement.

But I’m well content to own the promo and stock of ‘Di Black Petty Booshwah’, complete with custom sleeve. It sounds just that tiny bit better than the album, given the nice wide grooves and the revved up speed of 45.

Listen: Straight To Madray’s Head / Linton Kwesi Johnson LKJBlackPetty Dub.mp3

Misleading title for the actual dub of this A side. I double checked via INDEPENDENT INTAVENSHAN – THE ISLAND ANTHOLOGY, a comprehensive double cd encompassing his work for the label, complete with dub versions of just about every song. And guess what – this isn’t included. So to the best of my knowledge, one needs to track down the 7″ if adding it to the collection is required.

While on the subject earlier of mischosen LKJ A sides, it’s worth wishing history had dictated a 7″ release of ‘Independent Intavenshan’ and it’s priceless extented dub version which can be found on the above anthology.


Friday, June 5th, 2009

Tribal War / Little Roy

Listen: Tribal War / Little Roy TribalWar.mp3

War Is Over / Dillinger

Listen: War Is Over / Dillinger NoMoreWar.mp3

No More War / Prince Far i

Listen: No More War / Prince Far i NoMoreWarFari.mp3

Little Roy hired Lee Perry to produce this 1974 single, about the peace treaty arranged between Kingston’s warring gangs, for Roy’s new Tafari label in Jamaica. The track was recorded and voiced at Perry’s new home studio, the Black Ark. Fueled by the pedal phased guitar of Roy Hamilton, with Pablove Love on keyboards, it also featured singer Dennis Brown playing bass and legendary drummer, Leroy Horsemouth Wallace, rounding out the rhythm section.

‘Tribal War’ was a hit and resulted in a number of successful cover versions, including heavily influencing Third World’s album track of the same name. But Little Roy’s understated original is the definitive one. Original pressings are scarce as hens teeth. I found a small scan of one on the web and worked it up to a viewable size as much as possible. Easier to locate is the Pressure Sounds reissue from earlier this century.

Dillinger’s Joe Gibbs released version, ‘War Is Over’, starts off with a heavy patois laden proclamation, declaring there has been a “Peace treat, so now ya haffa come out and get likkle fresh air…” “Peace treat…” what a great term. And in a nod to Kenny Rogers, he further states “Son, don’t take your guns to town”. It originally came out on the Joe Gibbs sub-label, Errol T., which featured the productions of resident engineer Errol Thompson. The label shown here is from the Joe Gibbs Gold Label reissue series.

Prince Far i’s version, ‘No More War’, directly confronts the warring parties with authority. “So you’re the one who come here to mash up this place, eh? Well, war is over… Natty dread come over.” Atop a low burning and minimalist roots-echo groove, the good Prince gives testament in his own deep voice of conviction. Self-produced & released on his Cry Tuff label in Jamaica.



Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Cokane In My Brain / Dillinger

Listen: Cokane In My Brain / Dillinger DillingerCokane.mp3

The misspelling fooled no one. This was the drug song of choice for eons. I’ll never forget that first listen.