- Horace Andy
Reggae Rhythm - It's Gone Internationally
Serious Thing - A Serious Version
Skylarking - A Better Version
Youths Of Today - Jah Youths
Don't Let Problems Get You Down - No Problem
Mr Bassie Discomix
Pure Ranking Discomix
Good Vibes - Dub Vibes
Control Yourself - Version Under Control
Ital Vital - Ital Ites Dubwise
|Nothing, they say, come quick to Jah
pickney; today Horace Andy is more popular than he has ever been.
Horace's career has already lasted over thirty years; he attributes his
longevity in the business to the sound education he received at Clement
Coxsone Dodd's Studio One in the early 1970s. Although he had first
recorded for producer George Phil Pratt around 1967, the tune
wasn't a success. The young Horace was convinced that his voice was too
light; his idol at the time was Delroy Wilson, the leading solo vocalist
for Coxsone, alongside Ken Boothe. Horace used to listen to Delroy's
records over and over - 'trying to sing deep' - but couldn't manage it.
Late in 1969 he attended a Sunday afternoon audition at Dodd's Brentford Road studio; the last to sing. he was immediately accepted. Coxsone even gave the singer his stage name: 'I think Mr Dodd had faith, he really did. I remember 'im say to me: youthman, weh you name? I say Horace Hinds. 'Im walk around and come back, an' 'im say: Horace Andy, like our Bob Andy out dere already. An' I say: alright. I had to learn to sing when I went to Studio One. That's why I respect Mr Dodd, beca' 'im mek me learn. If it wasn't for Studio One, yu wouldn't hear about me, I would jus' go 'pon the wayside. An' Leroy Heptones, me a fi give thanks for Leroy Sibbles all the time. That's why I mek 'Mr Bassie', off a Leroy Sibbles, fi real. Alton Ellis is mi father - me call 'im mi father. Me an' Dennis Brown, every day we used to tek 'way Alton(s) guitar an' go play it, every day. An' you see Bagga (Walker) and Pablo Black, those people a we teacher. That's why we sound good, 'cause we were amongst the best, me, Dennis (Brown), - Sugar Minott is the last one to get that teachin'. Professional people - even Earl Heptone (Morgan), 'im show mw 'D' - how to play the D chord on the guitar - an' I'll never forget that. 'Skylarking' was my first hit song - it was first released on an LP 'Jamaica Today' (Studio One). Tippatone an' Sir George played it off LP and mashed up the dance'.
At the foundation studio, Horace learned fast; he made a couple of albums and a series of singles for Coxsone that established his name and have become reggae classics. By 1972 he has moved on, and began working for a number of producers. Returning to Phil Pratt, he cut songs like 'Get Wise' and the first cut of 'Money Is The Root Of All Evil'; he made records for Leonard 'Santic' Chin including the first cut of 'Problems'. For Derrick Harriott, Horace made 'Lonely Woman', still one of the most requested songs in his repertoire; for Harry J he cut 'God Is Displeased', for Augustus 'Gussie' Clark he sang a version of Tom Jones' smash 'Delilah'. He made numerous other songs for smaller producers, like the anthemic 'Reggae Rhythm' included here, cut for Trio International.
During this time he also began recording extensively for Bunny Lee, who produced hits like 'You Are My Angel' and an album of the same name in 1973; among its tracks was an excellent cover of Delroy Wilson's 'Rain From The Skies' This compilation draws from 1975-1980, a transitional period in Horace's career, during which he moved from being a freelance singer through co-production with the New York-based Jamaican producer Everton DaSilva, to a stage where he had control over his own label, Rhythm. In 1975-76 Horace was still singing for Bunny Lee, digging deep into his Studio One back catalogue for cuts such as 'Skylarking' (included here) and scoring dancehall hits with a cover of Tony Orlando's pop hit 'Bless You' for Robbie Shakespeare's Bar-Bell label.
Again for Lee, he made a second version of 'Money Money', the herb anthem 'Better Collie', and 'Serious Thing', a song written by John Holt about an incident in the political 'war' that was beginning to explode in Kingston ghettos in 1976. Horace also made 'Pure Ranking' for Bunny the same year, and an album of that title was released by Brad Osbourne on Clocktower Records in New York in 1977. The lyrics of 'Pure Ranking' deal with the spread of 'bad manism', another feature of the heightened political tension of the late 1970s. The cut featured here is a special 12" version mixed by King Tubby and Prince Jammy in 1978. It was originally released on photographer Dave Hendley's Sufferer Heights label. Horace still worked for smaller outfits, issuing songs like 'Beware Of A Smiling Face' and 'Man To Man' on the Mr Big label, and the beautiful 'Rock To Sleep' on Arab.
The following year his combination with deejay/producer Tappa Zukie, 'Natty Dread A Weh She Want' was massive in the dance; Tappa released other singles, including 'Revolution' and 'Earth Must Be Hell', a new version of a song Horace had first recorded in 1972.
Invited by New York label owner Clintone to visit the USA, Horace also met up with Everton DaSilva in Hartford, Connecticut. 'That's where I met Everton DaSilva, an' we decide to do an album. Myrie was playin' the bass, and Andy Bashford (Guitar). Me id the firs' person tek 'im to the studio. We laid tracks at A&R (NY), an' then we went to Jamaica, an' lay the other tracks with Augustus Pablo and Leroy Heptones in Harry J's (studio). Everton send fi Leroy, that's how much we respect Leroy'.
The collaboration with DaSilva on the album 'In The Light' (Blood and Fire BAFCD 006) remains a high point of Horace's late 1970s work. DaSilva also issued a number of 12" discomix singles mixed by Prince Jammy at King Tubby's studio - recuts of 'Children Of Israel' and 'New Broom', both featuring deejay Prince Mohammed, and a brilliant version of 'Mr Bassie' mentioned by Horace above as another tune he had first recorded at Studio One in the early 1970s. DaSilva also issued the brooding 'Youths Of Today' as a 7" single on his Hungry Town imprint, again with a Jammy dub. 'Problems' originally cut for Leonard Chin earlier in the decade was also recut at these sessions; it was retitled 'Don't Let Problems Get You Down' when Horace released it on his own Rhythm imprint in 1978. By this time Horace was living in the USA, basing himself in Hartford, Connecticut. He issued a series of singles on Rhythm: 'Good Vibes' (riding a cut of 'Shang Kai Shek'), 'Control Yourself', and 'Ital Vital' (over the top of Freddie McKay's 'Rockabye Woman' rhythm). All are included with their dub versions on this current set. Horace also made a version of Delroy Wilson's 'Won't You Come Home Now'.
He began an association with expatriate Jamaican producer Lloyd 'Bullwackie' Barnes, who was running his own studio at 241st Street and White Plains Road in the Bronx - 'right in the heart of Babylon' as Horace remembers it. Milton Henry and Sugar Minott were also frequent visitors to Wackie's, the studio which pioneered the recording of reggae in the USA. Horace learned to play keyboards there over the next couple of years, eventually releasing the 'Dance Hall Style' album for the label.
Horace maintained his profile throughout the 1980s with regular albums and singles, both self-produced and for others; in 1990 he was asked to join the Massive Attack posse, and has been with them ever since, commenting that 'I always wanted to try music like this, but there was no-one in Jamaica to do it'. Early in 1997 the career-spanning compilation 'Skylarking' was released on Massive subsidiary Melankolic.
Horace has continued to record in the reggae market, most recently making excellent sets for Mad Professor and similarly fine singles with Mafia & Fluxy for the innovative Annex label in Kingston.
So far it's been a remarkable run for the man they call Sleepy; the ten discomix-length songs of roots and reality on this compilation offer further convincing evidence of his unique talent and his continuing ability to reach new audiences.
Steve Barrow - June 1997
Horace Andy interviewed July 1996, London
|© Blood & Fire|