Horace Andy

Horace Andy is a man who should really need no introduction. His influence on reggae music, and on reggae vocalists in particular, is immeasurable, yet after over thirty years in the reggae business, his humility still sets him apart from his contemporaries and many less talented reggae artists. He is responsible for inspiring an entire style of reggae singing and has left in his wake a whole host of imitators who have proved that it really is the most sincere form of flattery. Without a doubt he is one of the music's most distinctive and original singers and song writers.

Born Horace Hinds in Kingston, Jamaica on 19th February 1951 Horace Andy, also known as 'Sleepy', began his musical career with Phil Pratt but in 1969 found his way down to Studio One on Brentford Road where he attended one of Mr Dodd's legendary Sunday afternoon auditions. He was immediately accepted and Mr Dodd promptly gave him the stage name of Horace Andy, in honour of leading songwriter, Bob Andy. Over the next couple of years, Studio One became his musical college - Horace himself acknowledging that his time spent there enable him to successfully continue his singing career. His main influence had always been Delroy Wilson but he soon developed his own unique, haunting style, with the help of the other teachers and pupils at Studio One. Most notably Leroy Sibbles and Earl Morgan of the Heptones, Alton Ellis and Dennis Brown.

His first hit, 'Skylarking', was a direct call to the youth to straighten out the way they were living and it quickly became his signature tune. much of his work for Studio One can be found on his two classic albums 'Skylarking' and 'The Best Of Horace Andy', while many of his songs from the era have since become part of reggae's musical foundation. tunes, such as the aforementioned 'Skylarking', along with 'New Broom', 'Just Say Who' and 'Mr Bassie' (his tribute to Leroy Sibbles) form part of the fabric of Jamaica's musical vocabulary.

In 1972 Horace moved on from Studio One and returned to his original employer Phil Pratt before freelancing for a variety of producers, including Derrick Harriott, Leonard 'Santic' Chin and Augustus 'Gussie' Clark, before settling down, for a while at least, with Bunny 'Striker' Lee.

He became another classic example of the Jamaican freelance singer caught up in the workings of the Jamaican recording industry without managers or contracts, yet the standard of his music remained impeccable - including his version of the Tom Jones hit 'Delilah' for Gussie Clark! 'Striker' and Horace worked together for a number of hit making years and produced more than their fair share of classic recordings but Horace also had the time to record with other producers too such as Keith Hudson, Augustus Pablo and Errol Thompson.

His next close working relationship came with New York based Jamaican producer Everton DaSilva and together they produced what many regard as some of his best work for the 'In The Light' album.

By the end of the decade he was based in the USA in Hartford, Connecticut and had set up his own 'Rhythm' label. The strength and power of his output seldom faltered and he continued to record in Jamaica, occasionally returning to the theme of Kingston's bad youths (now grown up into bad men) that had been his original inspiration for 'Skylarking' - most notably 'Pure Ranking' for King Tubby's.

A decade on and this time the mood and the treatment was much, much darker. As the eighties ushered in the much maligned dancehall style, Horace was there again showing the way, uniting with deejay/producer Tappa Zukie to update Alton Ellis' 'Hurting Me' to the anthemic 'Natty Dread A Weh She Want' - a record that proved to be one of the biggest hits of his career, only narrowly missing breaking into the UK National Charts.

Staying with the dancehall style, Horace next linked up with another New York based Jamaican producer, Lloyd 'Bullwackie' Barnes. Wackie's unique musical approach and mixing style provided Horace with another big hit with his version of 'Love Hangover' that transformed the song into an extended aching lament.

Wackie then released the 'Dance Hall Style' album with Horace considered by many as a classic which contained the brooding 'Spying Glass'. He continued to freelance throughout the eighties working in Jamaica for Jammy's, Bobby Digital, Prince Jazzbo and many more and he also recorded extensively in the UK for Blacker Dread, Jah Shaka, Ariwa and Fashion.

In 1990, he was approached by the Bristol based musical collective Massive Attack and asked to contribute vocals to their album, 'Blue Lines'. The LP established a relationship that has continued up to the present, with Massive Attack releasing a retrospective set, 'Skylarking' in the late nineties. The compilation that included many of the highlights of his astounding career and introduced the original music of Horace Andy to a whole new audience. It is truly heartening to see that a man who really has paid his dues in the reggae business time and time again now receiving his fair measure of 'praise and raise'.

The majority of the music on this double set is selected from his work together with Bunny 'Striker' Lee and demonstrates that he is as equally at home with hard-hitting social commentary as he is with soulful love songs. Not content to just 'do-over' songs, the pair revisited some of Horace's greatest Studio One recordings and breathed new life into them.

It's a truism to sat that many of Horace Andy's best work was only ever released on obscure seven and twelve inch records that have been lost forever and a collection of this calibre conveniently packages many of them together for the first time ever. It's a marvellous way to enjoy some of the best of the best whether it's his heart rending original 'You Are My Angel', or his interpretation of Bill Withers' 'Ain't No Sunshine' or the Tams' 'Riding For A Fall' or his magnificent and really rather scary 'Don't Think About Me' for Keith Hudson or perhaps the misogynist 'Don't Try to Use Me'.

He has always been the roots man's roots singer but he is also more than able to croon some of reggae music's most popular love songs - Horace Andy has it covered on all fronts. He has played a vital part in all the major movements in reggae music since the late sixties and while many of his contemporaries were left out of the equation during the dancehall explosion of the eighties and the digital revolution that followed in the nineties, Horace Andy stood his ground.

The new millennium finds him in as strong a position as he's ever been in during his long and productive career. Never having had what could be termed a very high 'media' profile, he has always preferred to let his music do the talking - long may it continue.

Steve Barrow: In The Light - Horace Andy BAFCD 006
Steve Barrow: Good Vibes - Horace Andy BAFCD 019

I May Never See My Baby (Anymore)
I Feel Good All Over
Lonely Woman
Thank You Lord
You Are My Angel
Gonna Keep On Trying (Until I Win Your Love)
Ain't No Sunshine
Can I Change My Mind
Don't Break Your Promise
Dream Lover
John Saw Them Coming
Riding For A Fall
Rain From The Skies
Where Did Love Go (Illiteracy)
(Woman) Don't Try To Use Me
Tag Along
Let The Teardrops Fall
Today Youth (aka Youth Of Today)
Love Ja Ja Children
Don't Think About Me (& Earl Flute)
Satan Side (aka Peter & Judas) (& Earl Flute)
God Is Displeased
I Don't Want To Be Outside
Get wise
Zion Gate
Letter To Mummy And Daddy
Better Collie
Better Collie Version
No Man Is An Island
(We Got To) Forward Home
Nice And Easy
Nice And Easy Dub
A Serious Thing
Something On My Mind
Just Say Who (aka Who Baby)
Sky Larking
Man To Man
The Love Of A Woman
Bless You
Money Money (aka The Root Of All Evil)
My Guiding Star
True Love Shine Bright
Poor Man Style
Psalm 68
Dub 68

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