Give Thanks & Praise To Jah - Sylford Walker
Rolling Stone - Welton Irie
Lambs Bread - Sylford Walker
Lambs Bread International - Welton Irie
Cleanliness Is Godliness - Sylford Walker
Stone A Throw - Welton Irie
Babylonians - Sylford Walker
Jah Come - Welton Irie
My Father's Home Land - Sylford Walker
Deuteronomy - Sylford Walker
Black Man Get Up Tan Up Pon Foot - Welton Irie
Eternal Day - Sylford Walker
Chant Down Babylon - Sylford Walker
Ghettoman Corner - Welton Irie
|There is a line in the beautiful
Gladiators tune 'Roots Natty' where lead vocalist Albert Griffiths sings
'I had a vision last night that I was walking on a street of pure gold'.
Coincidentally and ironically, there is a street of the same name
located, not in Zion but in the heart of Kingston's downtown ghetto.
Gold Street runs between East Queen Street and Harbour Street;
dilapidated and filthy, it is a million miles from the utopian
thoroughfare of Griffiths' song. the district in which Gold street lies
is popularly known as 'South Side'. But don't be misled; out of such
unpromising surroundings has come inspirational roots music of awesome
power. For 47 years South Side has been home to Sylford Walker - during
the 1970s producer Glen Brown also lived there. Glen Brown - the rhythm
master - had been in the Jamaican music business since the 1960s,
starting out as a singer before enjoying a run of hits as producer from
1972, when his instrumental 'Merry Up' (Joe White & God Sons) topped the
Jamaican charts. By mid-decade he had built a small but select catalogue
which included vocals by such as Gregory Isaacs, Roman Stewart and
Johnny Clarke alongside the work of leading deejays like U-Roy, Big
Youth, I-Roy and Prince Jazzbo. All Glen's productions were mixed by
King Tubby - indeed, Glen had been the first to credit Tubby as an
artist in his own right on the 1972 release 'Tubby's At The Control'.
Sylford Walker had begun his recording career in 1975 with Joe Gibbs when he recorded the sublime roots plaint 'Burn Babylon' and 'Jah Golden Pen' at the producer's Retirement Crescent studio. Subsequently, Clive Hunt produced 'Bad Bad Bad' on his E.B.T. Rock imprint in 1976. Although 'Burn Babylon' sold well as a 'pre-release' import and 'Bad Bad Bad' was actually released by Trojan Records in the UK, nothing changed Sylford's circumstances way down on South Side.
During 1977-8, Sylford was a frequent visitor to Glen's home. Glen's mother often cooked for the singer and Sylford made 'wood roots' - a health drink of the 'strong back' variety. Together, Glen and Sylford worked on the songs which eventually became the album 'Lambs Bread'. All the rhythms had been used for previous productions on Glen's labels. During 1978-9, several were released as singles on 'South East Music'; 'Chant Down Babylon' was first pressed on Tappa Zukie's 'Stars' label with Glen's production credit. At the same time, deejay Welton Irie (Welton Dobson) the mainstay of the celebrated Gemini sound system and also a friend of Glen's, began voicing versions of some of Sylford's songs. Piece by piece the music now presented on this CD was recorded and mixed.
In 1980 Glen Brown moved to New York where he has resided ever since, sporadically reissuing his 1970s work. Welton Irie went on to become one of the leading dancehall deejays of the early 1980s, and scored hits in Jamaica like 'Army Life', 'Mr Irie' and 'Outa Hand' for producers like Chanel One and the late Junjo Lawes. Sylford Walker stayed on Gold Street - he made a couple of sides for producer Stafford Douglas's 'Art & Craft' label, including a recut of 'Jah Golden Pen'. But it wasn't until 1989, when Glen Brown secured a four album deal with UK independent Greensleeves Records, that Sylford's songs finally saw their first album issue, a decade after they were recorded. Shanachie also issued the set 'Lambs Bread' on CD that year. Sadly it failed to sell enough during the period of the contract and remaining stocks were sold off cheaply as 'cut-outs'. A tour planned to promote the set never materialised; thus a disillusioned Sylford Walker remained on Gold Street, where he continued to eke out a living for himself, his wife and their three children, by selling roots drinks and juice to his fellow ghetto-dwellers.
Over the last couple of years we have received quite a few requests to reissue the album, particularly after we issued a dub album of Glen Brown rhythms 'Termination Dub' (BAFCD 015) which included a couple of dub mixes from Sylford's singles. For this reissue we have added six Welton Irie versions which complement Sylford's songs in exemplary deejay fashion. Like the Sylford's cuts, they were also voiced at King Tubby's studio with the exception of 'Stone A Throw', 'Jah Come' and 'Rolling Stone', which were voiced in 1982 at Noise Studio. 34th Street, New York.
Hopefully, the music will gain a new audience; only time will tell. But rest assured that here you will find three voices - producer, singer and deejay - truly speaking as one from the ghettoman corner.
|© Blood & Fire|