"You're not the young Al Capone, you're Dillinger." Lee Scratch Perry.

Possibly the last of the Old School Jamaican Deejays. Yet one of the first to introduce the art to an international audience. Dillinger learnt his craft the hard way, in a time before it was even recognised as a real craft, chatting on Kingston's Sound Systems by night and striving to persuade the city's producers to record him by day. There was no map to follow when Dillinger was trodding this rugged path and the routes that he took had to be made up along the way.

Born Lester Bullock in Kingston, Jamaica on 25th June 1953, his mother emigrated to the USA when he was still very young, leaving Lester to be brought up by his grandmother who sold market produce. He attended Rio Cobre, Greenwich and Boys' Town schools and he found his true direction by regularly going to dances and immersing himself in the burgeoning world of sound systems that, since its inception in the late forties, had held Jamaica's underprivileged in a vice-like grip. His early heroes were the pioneering deejays, King Stitt and U-Roy and, at this time, the art of the deejay was still usually confined to the dance halls, with recordings of these talk-over talents few and far between. If you wanted to hear the masters at work then you had to hear them live and direct.

"I used to see them in the dance hall. Listen to King Tubby's Hi Fi that U-Roy used to play and Coxsone Downbeat I used to listen to King Stitt."

As Lester immersed himself deeper and deeper in the dancehall subculture, his personal and particular favourite became Dennis Smith who deejayed as Dennis Alcapone on 'The El Paso' sound system. Lester had originally deejayed for a local sound system named 'Prince Jackie' and had been simply known as 'Tat', but he now named himself 'Young Alcapone' or 'Alcapone Junior', as he tried to emulate his hero. Along with 'Samuel The First', another El Paso follower, he would beg to be allowed to take up the mic, to demonstrate his talents, although he was so keen to be accepted that he willingly involved himself in all aspects of the sound system including the really hard work.

"Me help to lift the soundboxes onto the truck. But me didn't mind that because me love the music".

Alcapone would later recall just how keen his young protégé had been.

"Whenever we are playing Dillinger always come right beside the amplifier, him always there. He wanted to be involved so some time when I'm deejaying I could hear him doing him own little thing. A tune was playing. You could hear him humming something, so one night, him ask me fe give him a talk over the mic, I gave him the mic, and I realised that he had potential, you could hear there was something there..."

In 1972, the Upsetter, Lee Scratch Perry, had arranged an evening recording session at Dynamic Sound with Dennis Alcapone and, although Dennis had worked with Lee Perry before, he was still unhappy with the financial arrangements. "I can remember Scratch telling me to come for my money. Yes, and me keep going..." The Young Alcapone pleaded to be allowed to accompany him to the recording studio. "Can I come along? Will I be allowed to record? Mindful of money matters. Dennis advised his apprentice not to give the Upsetter everything at once, but to only let him have the tunes he really wanted him to have.

Scratch was very quick to realise the potential of Alcapone's student and he set the tape rolling for the talented and enthusiastic youth. The pair ended up staying in the studio all night as Lester voiced rhythm after rhythm after rhythm ranging from older tunes such as 'Tighten Up' to brand new Upsetter shots such as 'French Connection'. Scratch decided that Lester was "even badder than Alcapone" and so he renamed him after another notorious USA gangster of the prohibition period, John Dillinger, and a new star was born. this set contains the most comprehensive collection of that one night's work ever before released and provides fascinating insights into both the Upsetter's working methods and how Dillinger must have sounded live on a Sound System at the outset of his career.

"Due to you're young and greedy you have a lot of inspiration and stress and anxiety to get it all out..."

Scratch was the first producer willing to try out the youth and, carried along with Dillinger's fresh approach, the session provided enough material for "about 2 LPs", but unfortunately none of the singles that were released from this marathon of music making proved to be hits. However, Dillinger, having now made his first recordings, found that other producers, who had previously shunned him, were now lining up to record the youth. Dillinger would return to Scratch the following year and demonstrate just how far he had come when he voiced 'Dub Organiser' over the 'Cloak & Dagger' rhythm at King Tubby's studio in which he extols King Tubby's studio and advertises his services in providing 'Dub Plate Specials'; for the top Kingston Sound Systems.

"A lot of Sounds, they used to go to King Tubby's for dub because he got the best dub in those days, everybody have to see Tubby's..."

Over the next couple of years Dillinger recorded for Vivian 'Yabby You' Jackson, Augustus Pablo, Phil Pratt, Alvin 'GG' Ranglin, Winston 'Techniques' Riley and 'Prince' Tony Robinson amongst others but he really made his mark when he arrived at Coxsone Dodd's Studio One where he was given only the choicest cuts to deejay over such as 'Fever', 'Full Up', 'Mojo Rock Steady' and 'Real Rock'. The resulting album for Studio One 'Ready Nattie Dreadie', where Dillinger's innovative styling's are coupled with a selection of Brentford Road's finest ever rhythms, still sounds every bit as fresh as it did when it was first released over thirty years ago.

"The album you are about to hear contains all Studio One original rhythms, of which all rockers are danceable and popular on disco's. So swing to all..."

The work of a talk-over artist is usually fleeting and is best captured live in a dance hall or on seven inch forty-fives yet, paradoxically, the move that can seal a deejay's reputation for posterity is to have a best-selling album released at the height of their powers: think of U-Roy and 'Version Galore', Dennis Alcapone with 'Forever Version', I-Roy and 'Presenting I-Roy' or Big Youth with 'Screaming Target'. Dillinger's next move was to Channel One where his album 'CB 200' defined the art of the mid to late seventies deejay in the same way that the aforementioned artists had summed up the earlier half of the decade.

"Most artists grateful for an LP, 'cause a 45 like a little slug from a gun but the LP like a rocket launched long distance missile that shoot far"

The title track was a cut to Gregory Isaacs' 'Sun Shines For Me' his compelling version of Bob Andy's classic, which celebrated the Kingston cult of the motorbike in a shameless advertisement for the 'Honda CB 200'. Dillinger enjoyed a serious series of hits for Jo Jo Hookim's Well charge and Disco Mix labels such as 'Fire Bun', 'Caymanas Park', 'Natty A General' and later 'Ragnampiza' and 'Eastman Skank', which were the deejay benchmarks of the period, when the Maxfield Avenue studio ruled the roost. The Mighty Diamonds were the vocal group. The Revolutionaries were the instrumental band and Dillinger was the resident deejay telling it like it was.

The original version to 'Cocaine In My Brain' was taken from the album and became a massive worldwide hit for Dillinger. Ironically it was far from being the best track on this superb album and it bore very little relation to his usual way of deejaying while the rhythm (which Sly Dunbar had given to the Hookim Brothers) was in a totally different funk-based style to the trade-mark Channel One 'militant' double drumming beat. but it struck a chord worldwide and Dillinger was not slow to capitalise on his success as he recorded hit after hit for the music's top producers including Bunny 'Striker' Lee, Niney The Observer and Joe Gibbs.

He toured Europe at the height of the Punk explosion where his stagecraft, developed over long nights on Kingston's grueling Kingston sound system circuit, won him many new followers. All deejays have their time and tend to fade in the face of the strength of the young upcoming competition, but Dillinger stood his ground and continued to make music that mattered as the decade progressed. Some of the best examples are included here and this compilation is an excellent opportunity to compare and contrast the young Dillinger at the very beginning of his career with his later and more mature work.

"Enough man come into the music to get rich quick and make a lot of money. But it's more than money, because when the money spent out, the music still liveth to showeth the corruption and foolishness."

His style was always completely unique, developed from his early love of the work of Dennis Alcapone, filtered through the dread consciousness of Big Youth and then delivered in almost conversational asides, shot through with flashes of wit and insight. It concentrated on detailing the daily tribulations of life in the ghetto and the ups and downs of the Jamaican recording business. The role of the deejay was at the crossroads when Dillinger led it forwards towards an art that was to become internationally recognised. By cleverly looking inwards he had showed the way out and as the local became universal, Dillinger was always willing to try anything and see where it would take him. 'Cocaine In My Brain' took him all around the globe and back again and, in the process, introduced the world to the demonstrative delights of the Jamaican deejay.


Tighten Up Skank
Cane River Rock
Uncle Charlie
John Devour
Mid East Rock
Ensome City Skank
Dub Organiser
Festival Rock
Cock Bully
Fat Beef Skank
Stick The Beef
God Is Standing By
Dangerous Sound Boy
Donkey Bine
Babylon Yard
Leggo Violence
Liar Linda
See And Blind
Truth And Right
Natty Dread A The Ruler
The Table Gonna Turn
The Fool And His Money
Flat Foot Hustling
So Long Rastafari (with Trinity)
Answer My Question
African Worldwide Love
Don't Take Another Man's Life
Blackboard Jungle
Mark My Word
Funkey Punk
Mickey Mouse Crab Louse
Cocaine In My Brain
Mr Wicked Man Know Yourself
War Is Not The Answer
Love Is What The World Needs
Ranking Of The Past
Trial And Crosses
Judgement Day Rock
Marijuana In My Brain
African Roots Rock Reggae

All material © Trojan Records