Joe Higgs – Unity Is Power – Pressure Sounds Release


unityispowerJoe Higgs – Unity Is Power – Pressure Sounds Release

Joe Higgs is an unsung genius of Jamaican music. Haunting, slightly off the beaten track, inventive, controlled, emotional, intimate and the real deal in only the way a true artist can be.

Many, even the Reggae elite pass him by as the man who taught the Wailers how to Wail; but all it takes is a moment, a moment where you engage with him personally, to convince you once and for all the you have discovered something extremely special. Something to cherish.

Tunes like ‘World is Spinning Around’, or the acapella ‘There’s a Reward’ (on the film Rockers I think it is) will turn you on forever to him and his music.

Pressure Sounds record label are bringing out for the first time the Unity Is Power Lp on the Cd format. Record Labels send me their stuff all the time, for review here and publicity on my online Radio Show and it’s rare I have the time, or have the inclination to spread the word, but when the word is that there’s a new Joe Higgs release due out, be sure that I’ll let you know.

Get it, ….. simple …… as its fabulous. And after you get it, go looking for his Lp ‘Life of Contradiction’, which Pressure Sounds also put out some time ago. Then go and get all the Ska (as Higgs and Wilson) Rocksteady, Early Reggae and Roots tunes you can, you won’t ever be disappointed.

Released – 27/08/2013

p.s. it’s also released on heavyweight vinyl for all you turtablists out there!

TRACKS ARE:

Devotion
One man kutchie
Unity is power
Gold or silver
Love can’t be wrong
Vineyard
Small world
Think of the moment
Sadness is a part of my heart
Sons of Garvey
Invitation to Jamaica (bonus track)
Version (bonus track)

RIP – Gregory Isaacs Dead at 59


Gregory Isaacs dies at his London home after a long illness

Truly Extra Classic

One of the greatest names in Reggae music has passed away this morning (25th October 2010), Gregory Isaacs, the ‘Cool Ruler’.

He was diagnosed with lung cancer some time ago. However strangely there are some other reports online saying that it was liver cancer that he had battled against.

Whatever the diagnosis, one fact remains. He was truly a superstar of Reggae music; taking that music worldwide on countless tours and spreading that music’s message and melody worldwide on countless recordings.

Night Nurse was of course his most famous outing, but classic songs like Mr. Cop, his cover of Dobby Dobson’s Loving Pauper and Poor and Humble didn’t just excite the Reggae crowd, it defined them.

Popularity

In the mid 1970s only two singers abroad and one other at home in Jamaica could rival or exceed Gregory Isaacs’s popularity, Bob Marley and Dennis Brown ‘a foreign’ and Jonnie Clarke ‘inna yard’.

The Supreme Stylist

His laid back style and effortless approach was well suited to the smoke-laden 1970’s golden era of Roots Reggae; and as the epitome of  solo singer and frontman, Gregory Isaacs inhabited the stage with a confidence that shone with what seemed to many like a cock sure self-assured arrogance.

The Cool Ruler – Photograph by Beth Lesser who owns copyright.

Born in the Ghetto

Like many of Reggae’s most succesful singers Gregory Isaacs was born in a Kingston slum in 1951 but managed through nothing but raw talent, desire, necessity and determination to succeed. Not only did he break the notoriously tough home market, but he went on the become one of Jamaica’s most loved performers and to have many hits there. Over and over again he proved himself in a country where it is said everyone is a singer. You probably couldn’t get a tougher audience, or more competition.

Over a long career

He started his recording career pre 70s and after a false start he hit with vocal group ‘The Concords’ who recorded for Rupie Edwards, and a very fine, crisp and clean harmony group they were, check them out if you haven’t yet heard them! Don’t Let Me Suffer is a great tune and one of the best Edward’s ever produced for anyone. (In this writer’s opinion.)

Wonderfully Lazy

Gregory’s own record label

Over time he honed his style until it sounded like he was exerting the absolute minimum of energy required to deliver his songs either to his audience or for the tape machine’s ferric oxide.

He had the sort of vocal performance that could at a stretch give rise to the fantasy image of studio technicians prodding Isaacs awake at the end of each take, or tape editors cutting the snoring off of the mix before mastering!

He often sounded wonderfully under-whelmed and gloriously lazy; like a man who couldn’t care less if you came to the gig or bought his music. Surely there has always been something dashingly attractive about anyone talented, who doesn’t give a damn.

Just remember though momentarily that this on the surface of it ‘apathetic’ approach is a dangerous game for Gregoy Isaacs to play; as having come from a Kingston ghetto and the associated poverty of growing up in such a place he must have had nerves of steel and sublime confidence that his approach, style and self direction was what would make him successful, and it did. Thank goodness. Otherwise, it could have been back to the slum.

African Museum

Gregory Isaacs recorded with many of the greatest producers to come from Jamaica – GG Ranglin, Rupie Edwards, Niney, Gussie Clarke, Harry Mudie, and Lee Scratch Perry, but Isaacs produced too, starting his label African Museum with then friend Errol Dunkley in the early 1970’s.

Dunkley and he had originally met in around 1969 when Gregory took Errol Dunkley to see producer Rupie Edwards. Isaacs and Dunkley went their separate ways only a few years after starting African Museum but the label and the later shop continued onwards in an effort to remain independent of other producer’s manipulation of Isaacs and his fellow artistes. He funded further releases on the label with further work for other producers.

In 1982 – and on….

When all was going well for Isaacs internationally he was arrested for illegal firearms possession in Jamaica and incarcerated there for 6 months. It transpired at this time that he was a Cocaine addict and was involved in drug dealing and the gangland of Kingston. Unfortunately for his many fans this affected his voice and of course, sadly, Mr. Isaacs health.

As time then passed his once lazy delivery began to sound energy less and extremely ‘nasal’ and those that knew his great work of the past mourned the loss of the Cool Ruler’s extra classic voice.

He claimed many times that his addiction to Cocaine was over, but rumours persisted.

Sadly missed – this time its personal

It was a real shock finding out that he’d gone today, I hadn’t heard any rumours that he was ill, though fairly close to the Reggae rumour mill; and so when I was told couldn’t quite grasp that we have lost both Sugar Minott and Gregory Isaacs in this year alone. Gregory however remains one of my all time favourite artists, and I’ll be shaking the dust off of Loving Pauper and listening to the I-Roy cut tonight too.

Top 20 Johnny Clarke Selection


For years I’ve collected tunes by Reggae singer Johnny Clarke,

here is my personal top 20, in no particular order, tunes that are, I think, enjoyable listening or interesting from the ‘collector’s’ perspective in some way.

Be Upright Natty Dread – Impact – bl rrs 3219 rrs – Bunny Lee
Johnny Clarke & Dillinger- Commercial Locks- Justice-N/A-FBL 7313 A-Bunny Lee
Bring It On Home To Me-Caribbean-cbn 301 – a – 1u-Bunny Lee
Dread A Dread-Jackpot-DSR 5673a-Bunny Lee
Waiting In Vain-Afrik- AF 112-DSR 4031 A-Prince Jammy
Rude Boy-Art & Craft-ART00512″-ART 005 A-Stafford Douglas
Strictly Ragga Muffin-Firehouse-fh 018-a-King Tubby
Rebel Soldering-white ‘blank’ label-fbl 74 ?-Bunny Lee
Poor Mans Cry-Clocktower Records-ct disco 2000 b-Brad Osbourne
I’m Alone-Tree Roots-ts 1001a-Augustus Clarke?
Jump Back Baby-Cactus-ctep32a-Glen Brown
Lemon Tree-Pyramid-pyr 7013b-Bunny Lee
Simmer Down (no more Gun)-Attack-DSR A Side 10705
Too Much War-Attack- bl 7667 a -Bunny Lee
Young Rebel-Fashion / Dub Organiser-DOT 102 A-Fashion
African Roots-Jackpot-cs 9 a-Bunny Lee
Tt’s True-Barbell-rs4571-4640 rrs-Robert Sharkespeare (robbie shakespeare)
Enter Into His Gate With Praise-Lord Koos-koos 42 a-Bunny Lee
Don’t Go-Pep-PEP 001A-Rupie Edwards
Everyday Wondering-Atra Records-atra 019a-Rupie Edwards

CHECK OUT THIS WEBSITE FOR MORE INFO ON CLARKIE! – STUDIO IDLER