Deliver Me From My Enemies - Yabby You

Deliver Me From My Enemies
Deliver Me From My Enemies Version
Judgement Time
Blood A Go Run Down King Street
Love In Zimba
Zion Gate
Lonely Me
Stranger In Love
Pound Get A Blow
Pick The Beam
And Amlak (One God)
Jah Vengeance (Yabby You & Trinity)(12" mix)
Free Africa (Yabby You & Trinity)(12" mix)
Babylon A Fall (The Prophets)(12" mix)
Falling Babylon (Tony Tuff)(12" mix)
Pick The Beam (dubplate mix)
Pick The Beam Version (dubplate mix)
“Yabby You in a class by himself. That Ras there a very strong Ras, and you have to be strong to deal with man like Yabby You: head strong, rootically strong, biblically strong, physically strong.”
[Michael Prophet]

As Michael Prophet says above, the producer and vocalist, founder of the Prophets, Yabby You [born Vivian Jackson, Kingston 1950] occupies a unique place in 1970s Jamaican roots reggae.

Not simply in the way he constructs his songs [and their lyrical sentiment] but also in their rhythmic conception. In this way, the words ‘Yabby You’ become almost adjectival when applied to his rhythms; hence the celebrated ’Yabby You Sound’ . A Yabby You song is always recognisable, always true to its producer’s vision.

With the release in 1977 of his third album “Deliver Me From My Enemies”, Yabby completed a trilogy that began in 1975, with the stunning “Conquering Lion” album and continued through 1976 with “Walls Of Jerusalem” [Both LPs are included on the 2-CD set “Jesus Dread”, BAFCD 021]. These albums - and the many singles released by Yabby in the same period - constitute a striking body of work, at once pure, coherent and moving. Although the original LP - issued through Yabby’s association with Grove Music in London in 1977 - was, overall, perhaps not quite as spiritually consistent as the earlier works, it certainly offered a more varied range of styles. As well as songs that matched the earlier works in intensity and expression - like “Judgement Time”, Blood A Go Run Down King Street” or “Zion Gate”, there were straight-ahead love songs like “Lonely Me” and the recut of John Holt‘s “Stranger In Love”. Yabby’s treatment of this type of material prefigure the work he would shortly undertake with vocalists Wayne Wade, Patrick Andy and Michael Prophet. He recently explained his decision to record this type of material:

“I was not a person who live with woman, run-run round and girl-girl, those things. So mostly now I use to look at myself as somebody by meself, never no woman, so... lonely me ! An ‘ “Stranger in Love” now, I did love that song.....”

The instrumental “Love In Zimba” is, similarly, another recut - in this case an old ska classic, Baba Brooks “Shang Kai Shek”- whilst the anthemic “Amlak” has a pronounced Nyabinghi feel and “Pound Get A Blow”, unusually for the producer, comments on the relatively modern matter of currency devaluation. The powerful title track pleads convincingly for guidance and protection from God, directly relating to Yabby’s own situation at the time:

“I was livin’ at a place - that was Kingston 13, a road name Burke Road, number 9, up by Maxfield Avenue - up Channel One way. A policeman own the place, an’ im wife was a teacher. So I neverexpect them to believe in obeah-ism, y’know? The wife, me an’ she grew up, an’ her parents dem never expected dem could a deal with dem tings. So, she rent me a back room [and] we share the same facilities, like the bathroom and washroom. One mornin’ when I get up, my daughter, she show me a box, weh ‘ave in all kind a obeah bottle, black oil, black powder, all kind of spiritual, diabolical black obeah’ I was so surprised, that I decide now, seh, well, me a fe move. Me a mek a song, an’ mi jus’ go in a di bathroom, and look ‘pon the bottle, look ‘pon it as mi enemy, an’ so the song come up - “Deliver Me From My Enemies”.

As a bonus track, we have also included the b-side to the original 45 rpm issue.

“Pick The Beam” also relates to a series of fractious experiences Yabby was having at the time:

“Those days you use to ‘ave the Rasta business, an’ you ‘ave the church business.. The Rasta man always tryin’ fe show seh Haile Selassie is the Supreme. And meanwhile the church people dem use to show seh Jesus is the son of the Almighty, son of the Creator, the true son. Well, each one want fe tell fe dem point, dem never really tell of the life weh dem demselves live, beca’ to me, righteousness is an action, weh you suppose to exercise right livin’, to be righteous. Wrong livin’ is unrighteous.

So I use to say, instead of tryin’ fe show other people, you mus’ first pick the beam out of our own eye, pick the mote that is over our own eye, so we can see clearly, fe guide others, fe show others what is right from what is wrong.. So I come up with that song, pick the beam out of your own eyes, yunno?”

For the additional bonus tracks we have added a brace of 12” discomix songs that originally appeared as Grove Music releases; “Jah Vengeance” revisits Yabby’s earlier classic, utilising a steppers remake of the classic song of retribution - the “Jesus Dread” 2-CD set contains versions of the original cut, whilst this recut showcases deejay Trinity, who also made his own album for Yabby You [“Shanty Town Determination” BAFCD 031] . Yabby had this to say about his association with the deejay, with whom he was reunited for a series of European appearances a couple of years ago:

“Well, Trinity - Dillinger bring Trinity to me, an’ tell me seh, well, ‘im would a like fe promote Trinity, because anywhere ‘im go a dancehall, ‘im carry ‘im. So ‘im would a like fe promote ‘im. When he bring ‘im to me, I show Trinity seh well, what I really defendin’ is righteousness, God fearin’ lyrics.

It was about God, the creation, it wasn’t really strictly about dancehall an’ dem things. So I show seh, if ‘im is willin‘, to come and do those style a songs, pertainin’ to the Supreme, pertainin’ to what is right. An’ ‘im agree right away, so me start fe record ‘im. When we start record ‘im, ‘im realise seh the crowd like ‘im, beca’ what did draw me to ‘im, ‘im sound like Big Youth. Big Youth is popular those days, an’ ‘im sound exactly like Big Youth. An’ Big Youth those days was a man incline fe do conscious lyrics. Then ‘im just fit in, to me ‘im did more versatile than Big Youth. ‘Im catch on right away. ‘Im start go about now an’ record fe all kind a people, Joe Gibbs an’ all different producers.

Trinity is in similar Jah Youth-inspired form on his other track, “Free Africa”, on which Yabby eccentrically includes Guatemala in his lyrical roll-call of ‘African’ countries. The remaining 12” single included is “Babylon A Fall”, credited to the Prophets on release, the latter part of which contains some excellent soloing by the hornsmen. The other side of that single featured Tony Tuff, performing in the then-new ’singjay’ style. Tony was another singer that Yabby brought into his circle at the time and who eventually made a whole album with the producer:

“Those days now, the style weh Tony Tuff a do, it was more like a sing-type a deejay, those things they call singjay, an’ I like the idea, yunno. Tony Tuff did in a group with Sugar Minott and Eric ’Bubbles’, name African Brothers, and ‘im start to do that type a thing. I use to suggest to him seh, mek Sugar Minott leave the group, beca’ ‘im ‘ave a better voice, so ‘im start tryin’ new tings... ‘im start try the idea now, an’ then we call it a singjay ting. The group eventually mash up, ca’ Sugar Minott go start sing fe Coxsone,, sing back on Coxsone old riddim, an’ Eric Bubbles go away. So the style eventually work in Tony Tuff benefit....”

The album closes with two mixes taken from a dubplate made by Dave Hendley and Chris Lane of the song “Pick The Beam”, with a mix by Prince Jammy that differs considerably from the previously available mixes on 45 and LP. Blood and Fire are please to present this expanded edition of “Deliver Me From My Enemies”, featuring one of Jamaica’s greatest roots artists offering us his strikingly original world view.
Steve Barrow - September 2006
© Blood & Fire