The next official reissue oozes the feelgood factor, a reggae disco cover of ‘Ain’t Nobody’ by Jamaican artist Yvonne Archer. For the first time since the original release in 1980 the full length original 12” mix gets the reissue treatment along with the Lovers Rock leaning ‘Checking Out The Way I Feel’.
Balmagie Jam Rock consists of 16 unreleased dub mixes from the dub master King Tubby. All the original songs were written and produced by Roy Cousins from The Royals. Featuring a virtual who’s who of reggae from the classic era — Sly & Robbie, Lloyd Parkes, Pablo Black, Lloyd Charmers, Ansel Collins, Earl Lindo, Tony Chin, Geoffrey Chung, Ernest Ranglin, Earl “Chinna” Smith, Bobby Ellis, Tommy McCook, and many more. With the voices of Prince Far l, I Roy, The Royals, and Baba Dread. Recorded between 1966 and 1979 at Dynamic, Channel One and Randy’s studios, mixed and voiced at King Tubby’s.
In the early 1960’s, when the Jamaican recording industry was still very much in its infancy, the local music scene was dominated by a mere handful of performers. Among these musical pioneers was Derrick Morgan. A year after the launch of the Island record label (1967), they released the ‘Derrick Morgan And His Friends’ LP, which has since become a highly prized collector’s item. Recorded at Jamaica’s premiere recording studio, WIRL, and featuring the musicianship of leading session crews, the Carib Beats and Lyn Taitt & the Jets, the quality of the tracks remains consistently high. Morgan is one of reggae’s real unsung heroes and this compilation makes it all the more compelling.
“Over the years, they would come to say that the Africans just appeared one day in Jamaica. That two Congo men somehow materialized on the streets of Kingston sometime in 1977, almost as if by magic, speaking not a word of English or patwa. The duo, they say, were musicians brought in by a Jamaican promoter—a woman who ditched them, leaving them to fend for themselves, stranded in a strange land. “What really happened is harder to fully divine. The two young Africans—Molenga Mosukola (aka Seke) and Kawongolo Kimwanga (aka Kalo)—were musicians from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, then known as the Republic of Zaire, and had indeed been brought to Jamaica by a woman. But she was not a Jamaican promoter; she was a Frenchwoman named Nadette Duget, an executive at CBS France. “Seke and Kalo were both vocalists and guitarists who also played percussion; one of them also handled the saxophone. Initially, Duget had intended for the recording to take place at Byron Lee’s Dynamic Sounds studio. Somehow, though, the project instead ended up at Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s Black Ark. “When Seke Molenga and Kalo Kawongolo arrived at the Black Ark, Perry was wrapping up the sessions for the Heart of the Congos. He was immediately enamored with the two Congolese visitors and did regard their presence as a fortuitous sign. As he later said in 1992, ‘I know they were sent from Africa, because Africa wanted to make that heart connection in the Ark Studio. So African have to appear in the Ark Of The Covenant to manifest the African drum.’ “Perry eventually completed the work with Seke and Kalo: a deeply rootsy and rugged album under the working title Monama (which in Lingala means ‘Rainbo’). He submitted it to Island, but as they had done with Heart of the Congos, they passed on releasing it. “While it has remained relatively obscure, even as Perry’s Black Ark oeuvre has been rehabilitated and lionized over the past two decades, the album has nevertheless been quietly influential. Its groundbreaking amalgamation of African music and dub anticipated similar experiments by producers like Adrian Sherwood, Bill Laswell and Jah Wobble who would ride to critical acclaim in the ’80s and ’90s.” – Uchenna Ikonne (excerpt from the liner notes)
Long before the fusion of dancehall and reggae, there was a time when vocal trios dominated Jamaica’s music scene. From the early ’60s, three-part harmony ensembles peppered the charts with driving ska hits. By the time the lilting rhythms of rocksteady emerged in late 1966, an outfit made some of the most popular and enduring music ever issued on the island. They were, of course, The Uniques. The Uniques’ classic line-up of Slim Smith, Lloyd Charmers and Jimmy Riley would record a series of superior sides with legendary producer Bunny Lee, most notably The Impressions’ “Gypsy Woman,” the soulful original “Speak No Evil” and the haunting “My Conversation” (which may be one of the most “versioned” tracks of all time). Charmers produced the cover of Buffalo Springfield’s 1967 hit “For What It’s Worth” (aka “Watch This Sound”), which was originally released on the group’s own Tramp label. As 1968 drew to a close, these recordings (along with the remainder of their best-known songs to date) were compiled for The Uniques’ debut album, Absolutely The Uniques, which unusual for the time was released as a full-price collection by Trojan in the UK. Antarctica Starts Here presents the long out-of-print domestic release of Absolutely The Uniques. Reproducing the original sleeve design, this reissue is part of an archival series that focuses on Trojan’s essential ’60s and ’70s catalogue. Liner notes by Laurence Cane-Honeysett.