Linton Kwesi Johnson – Tings An’ Times (1991)

Linton Kwesi Johnson
Tings An’ Times
1991 Intercord IRS 986.939 Germany

Four months into the year and this only the second blog post here (not counting the 12 days of Xmas series)? I wish I could tell you I’ve been off seeking wisdom in the Himalayas away from any internet, or retracing the path of Genghis Khan through the Gobi Desert. But if you were to peek at my Instagram you would find the truth in a succession of extremely similar yet always stunning sunsets and banal snapshots of food and LPs. But never LPs covered in food, because I don’t really ‘get’ most conceptual art, having narrowly escaped the ranks of the lumpen-proletariat in my youth. The no-calorie platters on my (turn)table this Spring have been fairly bourgeois fair, soulful white guys like Lee Michaels, Hall & Oates, or early Steve Miller Band. And I’ve been rediscovering my fondness for Weather Report and Tony Williams Lifetime (Old and New). None of which I apparently deemed worthy of blogging about. Either because it might tip people off that I’ll never actually be as cool as I once pretended in 2008 or simply that I don’t have time to put together coherent blog posts any longer. Is this a coherent blog post? Personally 2019 has been kind of a lousy year. People keep getting sick and dying around me; expectations of 21st-century longevity having gone the way of hover-cars and who really wants to live to 120 anyway? The politics of the entire world have gone to shit in a gilded hand basket in the last few years. Shouldn’t we all be doing something more revolutionary than reading/writing blogs? I guess that’s where LKJ comes in. He is a breath of fresh air in times like these. A brief description of this record is below the nitty-gritty details.

1 Story 5:20
2 Sense Outta Nansense 4:59
3 Tings An’ Times 6:32
4 Mi Revalueshanary Fren 5:19
5 Di Good Life 5:30
6 Di Anfinished Revalueshan 5:33
7 Dubbing For Life 4:03

Recorded At – Sparkside Studio
Mixed At – Fallout Shelter

Credits

Accordion – Ian Hill  
Drums – Paul Blake 
Guitar – John Kpiaye
Keyboards – Nick Straker
Organ, Piano, Synthesizer – Paget King
Percussion – Everald Forrest, Geoffrey Scantlebury, LKJ
Piano – Henry Holden
Bass, Percussion – Dennis Bovell
Vocals – Linton Kwesi Johnson
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Steve Gregory
Trombone – Fayyaz Virji, Henry Tenyue
Trumpet – Paul Spong
Violin – Johnny T.

Recorded, engineered, mixed, and produced by Dennis Bovell
Words, music, composition, and additional production by LKJ

Cover painting – Antonio Vignocchi
Photography By – Anthony Brennon


Early 90s and still hitting it hard, this is top-shelf LKJ. Some of the harder edges may have softened, just a bit, since his ‘Forces of Victory’ days but the trade-off is a broader sonic palette on the arrangements. The first track features a violin solo, and the recording features a variety of woodwinds, brass, pianos, B3 organ, and accordions. Whether or not the similarity to Brazilian forró on the track “Di Good Life” is purely coincidental, I can’t say. “Mi Revalueshanary Fren” is a highlight here, easily the funkiest reflection on the early-90s state of post-Soviet radical politics and black liberation you’re likely to encounter. Incidentally, the following year LKJ would publish a book of his poems with the same title that would go on to become (in the mid-2000s) one of the only Penguin Classic editions of a still-living poet.





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Flabbergasted Freeform Radio Hour # 8

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FLABBERGASTED FREEFORM No.8
April 2014

Well it’s about time for another podcast.  I hope you enjoy it.  You can listen to it on either Mixcloud , or get yourself a direct download from these links.

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Playlist

Lord Nelson – Garrot Bounce
Alejandro Duran – Cumbia Costeña
Latin Fever – Chirrin Chirran
Sly and The Family Stone – Jigsaw Puzzle
Chubby Checker – Gypsy
Gabor Szabo – Theme From Valley Of The Dolls
Shorty Rogers and His Giants – Chega de Saudade
João
Gilberto, Miúcha, and Stan Getz – Isáura
Conjunto
Ajiruteua De Marapanim – Da Cacaia
Blue Mitchell – Flat Backing

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Nelson Sargento – Primavera
James Moody – You Got To Pay
Paco de
Lucia – Quizás, quizás, quizás
Jackson do
Pandeiro – Nortista quatrocentão
Raul Seixas, Sergio Sampaio, Edy Star – Quero Ir
Isaac  Hayes –
Chocolate Chip
Alberta Hunter – Sugar
Prince Buster – Don’t Throw Stones (or Rude Rude Rudie)
Olodum –
Vinheta Cuba-Brasil
The J.B.s – The Grunt Pt. 1
Golden Gate Quartet – Same Train
Som Três – Oh Happy Day
Maysa – Quizás, quizás, quizás
Ijahman Levi – Are We A Warrior

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Gregory Isaacs – Mr. Isaacs (1977)

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Gregory Isaacs
“Mr.Isaacs”
Released 1977 on DEB Records
Reissued 2001 on Blood & Fire (BAFCD 035)

1 sacrifice
2 storm
3 story book children
4 handcuff
5 slavemaster
6 take a dip featuring Dillinger*
7 get ready
8 set the captives free
9 the winner
10 smile
———————–
11 mr brown extended*
12 conversation*
13 mr know it all*
14 war of the stars*

*BONUS TRACKS added to original album

Producer : Gregory Isaacs & Ossie Hibbert

Engineer : Ossie Hibbert

Backing Vocals : The Heptones
Backing Band : The Revolutionaries

Studios :
Recording : Channel One (Kingston, JA)
Mixing : Errol Thompson’s (Kingston, JA)
Voice Recording : Errol Thompson’s (Kingston, JA)

Review from Mojo:

Reggae Reissue Album Of The Month Originally released here on Dennis Brown’s DEB label in ’77, “Mr Isaacs” has subsequently been available on various weird, woefully packaged Jamaican / European CDs. Predating his honey-tonsilled loverman phase by a couple of years, this was Gregory’s first attempt at recording a whole album in one go. Here is a militant rootsman, firng off broadsides against social injustice on songs like Set The Captives Free and Slavemaster, the classic tune he delivered in the Rockers movie. In this context, covers of Smokey Robinson’s Get Ready and even Story Book Children (yes, the Roger Whittaker one) sound like natural anthems of ghetto suffering, Isaacs’ voice quavering with the anguish he’d later use to evoke his lady troubles. With five bonus tracks including Dillinger’s DJ cut of “Slavemaster” and an extended Mr Brown, it’s essential stuff. AP, Mojo (UK) April 2001

The Cool Ruler left us today, 59 years young. This post is my way of offering a eulogy. A great record and a great reissue, although I wish Blood & Fire had left the Dillinger version of ‘Slavemaster’ until *after* the original album sequence and tacked it on with the other bonus material. That’s all I am going to say about this for now. Isaac’s name and reputation is enough, as are the other players on this album.

Here is a nice obituary published in The Guardian:

Gregory Isaacs obituary

Reggae musician known as the Cool Ruler who scored a big hit with Night Nurse

David Katz
guardian.co.uk, Monday 25 October 2010 18.44 BST

Gregory Isaacs, who has died of cancer aged 59, was one of reggae music’s most popular singers. Known as the Cool Ruler for his exceptionally suave and emotive voice, Isaacs scored many hits during the 1970s and 80s, including the perennial favourite Night Nurse, and remained active as a recording artist, live performer and producer in the decades that followed. Although best known for romantic ballads, delivered with a hint of vulnerability, he also excelled at songs of social protest and work that expressed unwavering pride in his African heritage. However, his long-term drug use and involvement in criminal activity led to long periods of incarceration and repeated arrests, hastening his physical decline.

Isaacs was born in Fletcher’s Land, a particularly neglected patch of the ghetto in the Jamaican capital, Kingston. His father left for the US during his childhood, so Gregory and his younger brother, Sylvester, were raised by their mother in the rough streets of nearby Denham Town. Showing a natural aptitude for singing, Isaacs began making an impact on talent contests during his teens (often as a duo with Sylvester). He was inspired by stars such as Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, as well as local acts including Alton Ellis and the Melodians, but named his mother as his first vocal role model, since he used to hear her singing while she ironed.

In 1968, Isaacs recorded and produced a duet, Another Heartache, with an aspiring singer from the neighbourhood, Winston Sinclair, but the song sank without a trace. His next effort, Ballroom Floor, was recorded for Prince Buster, after receiving a personal recommendation from a local gangster, Lester Lloyd Coke (aka Jim Brown). In the same era, Isaacs sold marijuana on behalf of Toddy Livingston, father of the singer Bunny Wailer.

Isaacs subsequently formed a trio, the Concords, with two other hopefuls, recording a number of impressive tunes for Rupie Edwards in 1969, of which the most notable was Don’t Let Me Suffer. Other stirring solo singles, such as Too Late and Lonely Man, followed. By 1970 he had formed the independent label African Museum with a fellow singer, Errol Dunkley. They found instant success with Dunkley’s Movie Star and Isaacs’s moderately popular My Only Lover (featuring the Wailers’ backing band), before Dunkley broke away to found his own label. Isaacs’s first substantial hit, All I Have Is Love, was produced by a perceptive downtown promoter, Phil Pratt, in 1973. The following year, he scored an even bigger hit with Love Is Overdue, the first of several for the producer Alvin “GG” Ranglin, who soon issued Isaacs’s debut album, In Person (1975).

As his songwriting skills matured, Isaacs shifted focus to address social injustice, in work that expressed longing for his ancestral African homeland, and grew dreadlocks as a sign of his commitment to the Rastafari faith. At Lee Perry’s Black Ark studio, he cut the anthem-like Mr Cop in 1976 and the censorious Black Against Black, which decried self-destructive ghetto violence. After the release of the self-produced concept album, Mr Isaacs (1977), he received a major career boost in 1978 by signing to Virgin Records for the album Cool Ruler and making an appearance in the feature film Rockers. The 1979 Virgin follow-up, Soon Forward, included the chart-topping Mr Brown and a popular title track which was one of the first recordings to make use of the production skills of Sly and Robbie.

A shift to Charisma Records’ subsidiary Pre in 1980 brought the album Lonely Lover and its follow-up, More Gregory, the latter featuring the Jamaican chart success Top Ten. Both albums were backed by the Roots Radics band, with whom Isaacs toured the UK in 1980-81. Night Nurse (1982), issued by Island, was his most commercially successful set to date, but just as he reached a pinnacle of popularity, problems arose. He was imprisoned in Jamaica following the discovery of an unlicensed firearm at his home, and he also served time for cocaine possession. He addressed his experiences of prison in the subsequent Island release, Out Deh! (1983).

After recording the relaxed Private Beach Party album for the producer Gussie Clarke in 1985, he cut less impressive work for a number of relatively unknown producers. Then, in 1987, another cocaine bust prompted him to go into rehab. This was followed by a more productive period that peaked with the release of Red Rose for Gregory (1988), a hit dancehall album issued by Clarke, and featuring the outstanding single, Rumours.

Although Isaacs would score a few more Jamaican chart hits, record for the British label Acid Jazz, open a recording studio in Jamaica, and launch the singing career of his son Kevin, he continued to use drugs. This resulted in several patchy releases, the loss of a number of his teeth, and a reputation for unreliability. Nevertheless, he maintained a loyal fan base, both at home in Jamaica and overseas.

He is survived by his wife Linda and several children.

• Gregory Anthony Isaacs, singer, so
ngwriter and record producer, born 15 July 1951; died 25 October 2010


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V/A – Studio One Soul, Volume 2 (2006)

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Released 2006 on Soul Jazz Records #SJRCD 128

1. Jacob Miller — Westbound Train
2. Hortense Ellis — People Make The World Go Round
3. Horace Andy — Ain’t No Sunshine
4. Soul Vendors — Swing Easy
5. The Heptones — Choice Of Colours
6. Jackie Mittoo & The Brentford Disco Set — Choice Of Music Part 2
7. Prinze Jazzbo — Fool For Love
8. Cornell Campbell — Ten To One
9. Winston Francis — Don’t Change
10. Jackie Mittoo — Jumping Jehosophat
11. Tony Gregory — Get Out Of My Life Woman
12. Dub Specialist — Darker Block
13. Little Joe — Red Robe
14. Devon Russell — Make Me Beleive In You
15. Jerry Jones — Compared To What
16. Ken Boothe — Thinking
17. Anthony Creary — Land Call Africa
18. Jackie Mittoo — Fancy Pants

All tracks produced by C.S. Dodd

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A wait of five years for a second volume of Studio One Soul might have created unreasonable expectations, but regardless of that it is hard not to see this collection as weaker than the first. Although I wouldn’t exactly say they are scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel, I am not sure how “Norwegian Wood” (given dub treatment here on “Darker Block”) qualifies as soul music, unless it is because it was on an album called “Rubber Soul.” The opener, Jacob Miller’s “Westbound Train,” steals its guitar line directly from Al Green’s `Love and Happiness` in spite of Dennis Brown getting all the credit. Some highlights on this one include yet another version of Bill Wither’s “Ain`t Know Sunshine” (by Horace Andy, and Prince Jazzbo, The Heptones, and Cornell Campbell all turn in an appearance. Jackie Mittoo has no less than three credits on this record, making for too much Mittoo for me. I would say that my two favorite tracks are from the wonderful Hortense Ellis, doing The Stylistics “People Make the World Go Round,” and Jerry Jones doing the Eugene Daniels tune “Compared to What” in a version that sounds more inspired by the Roberta Flack version that the hit version by Les McCann that preceded it. This may not be an essential collection but it is well worth checking out for yourself.

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V/A – Studio One Soul (2001)

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Various Artists – STUDIO ONE SOUL
Released on Soul Jazz Records (SJRCD 050), 2001

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Leroy Sibbles – Express Yourself
Norma Fraser – Respect
Leroy Sibbles – Groove Me
The Sound Dimension – Time Is Tight
The Heptones – Message From A Black Man
Otis Gayle – I’ll Be Around
Jerry Jones – Still Water
The Sound Dimension – Soulful Strut
Richard Ace – Can’t Get Enough
The Chosen Few – Don’t Break Your Promise
The Eternals – Queen Of The Minstrel
Norma Fraser – The First Cut Is The Deepest
Ken Parker – How Strong
Ken Boothe – Set Me Free
Senior Soul – Is It Because I’m Black
Jackie Mittoo – Deeper & Deeper
Alton Ellis – I Don’t Want To Be Right
Willie Williams – No One Can Stop Us

Produced by C.S. Dodd

Some artists whose material is interpreted here: The Impressions, Barry White, Aretha Franklin, Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, Syl Johnson, P.P. Arnold, The Delfonics, and more
————————

I am sick with a winter cold and need to conserve my voice, so I will try to keep my words here brief and succinct for once… Besides, I think everybody already has this collection, don’t they? If you haven’t heard it then you are in for a real treat. It’s a Friday. This is a great Friday record. As Honest Jons highlights in the accompanying booklet, the music on this collection is all about transculturation and the flow of ideas, politics, and music circulating around the waters of the Black Atlantic. These songs are not just “covers”, but reinventions, “responses” (as Jons calls them) from soul to soul. No disrespect to Aretha or Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd — but for me at least the original recordings of “Express Yourself” and “Respect” are kind of ‘played out’ — classic and brilliant, of course, but I’ve just heard them so many times that they usually fail to inspire me at this point in my life. The versions here breathe new life into those cuts. About the only track that doesn’t shine much (again, my personal opinion) is Norma Fraser’s take on “The First Cut is the Deepest”. It a nice enough treatment, and the song’s beauty can’t be contained (although sadly the song was murdered by one awful American singer in 2003 who shan’t be named..). It’s just that I feel Fraser’s doesn’t really add much to it, and her reading is almost bereft of any emotion compared to the P.P. Arnold recording, which for my money is the definitive version. Perhaps the song is so transcultural that the vibe actually gets lost somewhere: a song written by Cat Stevens (whose own cultural biography is deliciously rich), made famous by an American singer and former Ike & Tina backing singer P.P. Arnold, who relocated to England and recorded for the Immediate! record label and began hanging out with the likes of Steve Marriot and the Small Faces, and given a Caribbean reinterpretation here. It’s cool and and I can dig it (baby) but I just end up wanting to hear P.P. Arnold sing it again.

Leroy Sibbles is a bad-ass.

But the great thing about this compilation is that it reminds us just how incredible the songwriting really is in classic soul music – a song like The Supremes “Set Me Free” could receive equally-inspired and utterly different interpretations from the likes of Vanilla Fudge and Ken Boothe and still be instantly recognizable. Jamming on for seven minutes, it should be pointed out that the Boothe version actually has the instrumental track just repeated twice in its entirety, almost like having a dub version tacked on to the full vocal version. Senior Soul’s reworking of Syl Johnson’s “Is It Because I’m Black” is also great (Ken Boothe would also cover this tune, incidentally. I’ll leave it up to you which one is the stronger..)

THIS COLLECTION NEEDS MORE WOMEN ON IT. That’s about my only gripe, though.

A nice feature of the packaging is that Soul Jazz took the trouble to give us some notes on the original tunes, including details about their composition and production that add additional depth to their Jamaican recontextualization. There is a second volume to Studio One Soul and, if you are nice, who knows…

The Revolutionaries – The Revolutionaries (1976)

reggae

Well since I missed an opportunity to post something appropriate for International Workers Day at the beginning of the month, I thought I might make up for it by setting myself a challenge of posting one politically-oriented post a day for the last week of May. They will run the gamut from overbearingly obvious to more nuanced material, and I reserve the right to stop the experiment at any time should my real life get in the way. The write ups will be briefer than they have been lately, but since the music tends to speak for itself I figure that’s okay. Like this record — you should really pay attention to the lyrics!

What better way to start this off than with a reggae album featuring tracks (HIT songs, no less) with names like M.P.L.A. and Angola and a rendering of Che Guevara on the cover before he began to appear on baseball hats made in sweatshops? Additional acroynmic titles pay homage to the A.N.C. and the P.L.A. These early days of The Revolutionaries were when Sly & Robbie were infiltrating the reggae universe with their subversive, machine-tight (perhaps overly so..) rhythmic propaganda. All they lacked was their own airplane from which to drop these tracks over the impoverished masses hungry for Rasta socialisim across the globe. The record is also notable for the polemical sax playing of Tommy McCook and the class consciousness of guitarist Chinna Smith.
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Original release 1976 on Well Charge
CD pressing, Channel One (#JJCD 034)
Also known as “Revolutionary Sounds”

M.P.L.A.
Earthquake
Why War
Leftist
Sudden Attack
Angola
P.L.A.
I Need A Roof
A.N.C.
Right In Ah It
Death In The Arena
Death Trap
Headache
Toothache

Producer : Joseph Hoo Kim

Engineer : Ernest Hoo Kim & Ossie Hibbert

Backing Band : The Revolutionaries
Drums : Sly Dunbar
Bass : Ranchie & Robbie Shakespeare
Lead Guitar : Rad Bryan & Tony Chin
Keyboards : Ansel Collins & Tarzan
Trombone : Don D. Junior
Tenor Saxophone : Tommy McCook
Alto Saxophone : Herman Marquis
Percussions : Sticky

Studios :
Recording : Channel One (Kingston, JA)
Remixing : Channel One (Kingston, JA)

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