Trojan
 
 

Originally released in early 1969 on Trojan's High Note subsidiary, 'Dancing Down Orange Street' showcased a dozen of the most popular productions of Sonia Pottinger, who over the preceding three years had established a reputation as one of the leading figures in the male-dominated and hugely competitive world of Jamaica's recording industry.

The LP has since become one of the most collectable albums of the classic 'boss reggae' era and is presented here in its entirety for the first time on CD, with the original selection bolstered by a further 13 bonus tracks from the period, all of which saw release in the UK as High Note singles.

Sonia Pottinger: Producer
Born Sonia Eloise Durrant in Leith Hall, St. Thomas, Jamaica, on 21st June 1931, Sonia Pottinger first became aware of Kingston's burgeoning market for records in the early 1960s when her accountant-turned-music entrepreneur husband, Lindon O. Pottinger, began producing popular 7" singles for his Gaydisc Records label. Following the separation of the couple Sonia followed her ex-partner's lead and embarked upon a career as a music producer, with the initial release on her Gay Feet label, 'Every Night' by Joe White, swiftly becoming Jamaica's biggest selling single of 1966.

During the ensuing rock steady and early reggae eras Sonia produced a number of significant sellers by such celebrated solo performers as Delroy Wilson, Ken Boothe and Delano Stewart as well as hits by a number of the island's leading vocal ensembles, most notably the Melodians, the Ethiopians and the Gaylads.

By this time, she had introduced a variety of other labels to complement Gay Feet, notably Pep, Rainbow and the imprint that, following its introduction in 1968, became the primary outlet for her productions: High Note.

Up until this time, Sonia's work had been issued in the UK on Graeme Goodall's Doctor Bird label, but towards the close of '68 a long term agreement with the recently formed Trojan Records resulted in the launch of a British version of her High Note (initially spelt 'Hi-Note') label. Such was its success that early the next year, the London-based company introduced a second outlet for her productions, Gayfeet, which again drew its name from its Jamaican counterpart.

In 1973 Trojan began culling their various subsidiaries for logistical reasons and with both High Note and Gayfeet discontinued, the producer's work thereafter saw issue on a variety of non-producer specific labels, including Horse, Trojan, Attack, Green Door, Duke and Smash.

After Sonia's Trojan agreement finally came to an end in 1975 she signed a short-lived deal with Torpedo before signing with Chips Richards' Angstar Records, which the following year launched the Sky Note off-shoot, specifically to showcase her output.

Over the next three years she produced some of the finest music of the period, featuring such illustrious acts as Culture, Bob Andy, Marcia Griffiths and Jamaica's leading instrumentalists, the Revolutionaries, who by this time were also acting as the High Note studio band. In addition to her newest work, she also had a number of vintage Treasure Isle tracks remixed and released having acquired Duke Reid's famed catalogue in the mid-seventies.

Meanwhile, in 1978, a licensing agreement with Richard Branson's London-based Virgin records resulted in international exposure for her productions with Culture, along with a number of collections comprising classic Treasure Isle material.

Up until this period and beyond, Sonia enthusiastically promoted female acts, with her roster including, at various times, some of Jamaica's leading women artistes, with such talents as Millicent 'Patsy' Todd, Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt and Sonya (Sonia) Spence among their number. But the arrival of the new strident dancehall sound at the close of the 1970s resulted in her gradual disenchantment with Jamaica's music business and in 1981, after her short-lived Dance Hall label failed to produce a hit of note, she all but stopped producing new recordings.

Over the years that followed, Sonia increasingly sought enjoyment in a variety of non-musical activities, although her contribution to the industry had not been forgotten and in October 2004 she was awarded the prestigious Order Of Distinction by the Jamaican government. A few years later, the important and inspirational role she played throughout the sixties and seventies was further recognised at the island's prestigious Excellence In Music & Entertainment Awards.

But as the 21st Century unfolded, Sonia increasingly suffered health problems and sadly, on 3rd November 2010, she passed away, aged 79. She was survived by her three children Sharon, Ronette and David along with eleven grandchildren.

During her lifetime, Sonia Pottinger O.D. was instrumental in transforming the Jamaican music industry, successfully overcoming an array of obstacles to rival her leading male counterparts in one of the most competitive businesses in the world. in doing so, she proved beyond any doubt to be one of the greatest Jamaican record producers of all time.

Dancing Down Orange Street; The Music
Released early '69, 'Dancing Down Orange Street' was only the second album to see issue on Trojan's recently formed High Note subsidiary label, the first being Roland Alphonso & The originals Orchestra's 'ABC Rock Steady' (HSLP 5001). The pop art styled illustration that decorated the LP's stunning bright orange sleeve was patently inspired by the photograph that adorned the cover of the Studio One LP 'Reggae In The Grass', released by Trojan around the same time.

Five of the dozen tracks featured on the collection had previously seen issue in the UK as High Note and Doctor Bird singles, with a further five only released as " singles in Jamaica - four of these on official Gay Feet 45s, and one on a 45 that was apparently only available as a pre, i.e. without a printed label. The remaining two recordings, performed by the Soul Rhythms, seem to have been exclusive to this LP, although 'It Hurts' later appeared as a flip-side of a UK single. The 13 bonus tracks included here were selected to compliment the original LP, with all having been issued on Trojan's High Note subsidiary throughout '68 and '69.

The album gets off to a cracking start with Winston Delano Stewart's 'That's Life', an extremely popular late rock steady track that over the years has been re-licked numerous times by an array of artists including Ronnie Davis, Honeyboy and The Tamlins. A member of the classic Gaylads line-up, Winston's recording career stretches back to the early sixties when, as a member of the Rhythm Aces, he recorded a number of sides for Chris Blackwell and Coxsone Dodd. He later cut a handful of solo sides for the latter and joined Harris BB Seaton in the Astronauts band, prior to the pair forming the Gaylads along with Maurice Roberts. A series of hugely popular 45s for Dodd ensued, after which the group signed with Sonia Pottinger with whom they enjoyed further success up until Delano's decision to resume his solo career in 1968.

The singer's spell with Pottinger promptly spawned a series of impressive singles, with the best of these early sides featured on this set: 'Tell Me Baby', 'Rocking Sensation' 'Let's Have Some Fun', 'Dance With Me' and 'Give Me A Chance' - the latter a duet with Millicent Patsy Todd. Patsy is also featured on this collection as a soloist on the equally impressive 'We We're Lovers', a cover of a US song originally recorded by the Exciters in 1964.

Arguably the best known artist on the LP is Ken Boothe, whose 'Somewhere' only saw issue as a 7" single in Jamaica, where it featured on the alternate-side to 'Live Good' - also included here. Ken was another who began his recording career in the early sixties, singing as part of a du with Stranger Cole, with the pair cutting a number of fine sides for Duke Reid, Vincent Chin, Mike Shadeed (aka Sir Mike The Musical Dragon) and Coxsone Dodd, before both singers embarked on solo careers. Ken swiftly secured a series of ska, soul and rock steady hits for Dodd, after which he worked with many of Jamaica's leading producers, most notably Lloyd Charmers, with whom he enjoyed significant success, most famously the 1974 UK chart topper, 'Everything I own' and its popular follow-up, 'Crying Over You'.

Ken's initial sessions with Mrs. Pottinger back in '68 produced two Jamaican best-sellers, 'Say You' and 'Lady With The Starlight', the latter being a late rock steady track melodically based on Nat King Cole's 1963 hit, 'Those Lazy Hazy-Crazy Days Of Summer'.

Like Ken Boothe, the Melodians, a vocal group comprising Brent Dowe, Tony Brevett and Trevor McNaughton, also enjoyed a long and very successful recording career during which they worked with almost every leading Jamaican producer of note. The trio began recording around 1966, working with the seemingly ubiquitous Coxsone Dodd, prior to spells with Duke Reid and, of course, Sonia Pottinger. Their final sessions with the latter produced a number of popular sides, including 'Heartaches' and 'Lonely', which towards the close of 1968 were coupled on Gay Feet 7", but only saw issue in the UK on the 'Dancing Down Orange Street' collection.

A year after the release of the above Jamaican single, the group briefly nudged the British Top 50 with 'Sweet Sensation', produced by Leslie Kong, with whom they also recorded the popular 'Rivers Of Babylon', which, like numerous reggae 7"s during this time, only failed to chart because of flaws in the method by which record sales were registered in the UK.

The Soul Rhythms were essentially the Broncos, who later became the Fabulous Five Inc. (Fab 5), namely, Conroy Cooper (keyboards), Frankie Campbell (bass), Harold Junior and Steve Golding (both guitars) and Joe McCormack (drums), although some have suggested the group that played on the High Note sessions were in fact the Hippy Boys, working incognito. Whatever the case, they were clearly extremely accomplished musicians capable of producing some cracking rhythms, as demonstrated by 'It hurts' and 'Put yourself In My Place', both of which had originally been recorded for Delroy Wilson's vocal versions of the songs that are featured on this CD as bonus tracks. also included here are two flute-lead instrumentals by the group, 'Round Seven' and 'National Lottery', the latter seeing issue in Jamaica as 'Tribute To Drumbago', in respect of drummer Arkland Parkes who passed away around the time of its release.

Not much is widely known about the Conquerors, other than that the line-up included Clifton 'Skibo' Harding and Aston Campbell, and that the group began their recording career with Sonia Pottinger around 1966. The trio is represented on this set by three fine tracks: 'Look Pon You', which appears to have been issued only in Jamaica on a 'Tip Top' stamped white label promo, along with 'If you Can't Beat Them Join Them' and 'Anywhere You Want To Go', both from early 1969.

The Afrotones, comprising Ricky Grant, Delroy Williams and George Allison, also appear to have commenced their recording career with Gay Feet around '66. Thereafter, they cut around half a dozen sides for the producer, with their sole effort on this collection, 'All For One', dating from late 1968. Following their break-up early the following year, Delroy and George founded the Mad Lads, while Ricky Grant joined the Gaylads before pursuing a long and successful solo career.

Another veteran of Jamaican music is the aforementioned Delroy Wilson, who embarked on a long and prolific recording career around 1963, when, as a youngster he was signed by Coxsone Dodd. He recorded exclusively for the Studio One producer for the next five years, before helping launch the Links co-operative record label, along with Ken Boothe, the Gaylads and the Melodians. After the venture's failure due to distribution problems, his joined his former Links colleagues at Gay Feet, cutting a dozen or so tracks for the producer over two separate spells - the late 1960s and mis-1970s. Included here are the impressive 'I'm The One Who Loves You', 'It Hurts' (an early reggae reworking of the Tams' 'I've Been Hurt'), and 'Put Yourself In My Place', a song penned by the famed Motown songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland.

The final contributors to this collection are the Beltones, whose earliest successes came in 1967 when they scored big with 'Dancing Time' and 'Smile Like An Angel', both cut for Studio One Records. During this time, Rudolph 'Bop' Simmonds fronted the group, but following his move to the United States, Trevor Shield was recruited by remaining members, Keith Mitchell and Owen Laing.

Soon after the trio joined Harry Johnson's roster of acts and promptly provided the rookie producer with Jamaican chart topper, 'No More Heartaches' before signing with Sonia Pottinger, who had them record 'Mary Mary' and 'Going Away', which saw issue on her recently formed High Note imprint early in 1969. Within weeks of its release, however, Owen and Keith relocated to Canada and the US, respectively, leaving Trevor in Jamaica, where he performed and recorded as both a solo artist and with a new Beltones line-up.

The talented men and women who created the music on this set should never be forgotten, for their collective legacy comprises some of the finest music ever produced within Jamaica's golden shores. Ample evidence of this are the 25 tracks on this long overdue collection, which sound as fresh and vibrant as they did almost half a century ago.

Andy Lambourn (aka Charlie Chalk)
Marc Griffiths (Bosssounds)

THAT’S LIFE – Delano Stewart
SOMEWHERE – Ken Boothe
HEARTACHES – The Melodians
TELL ME BABY – Delano Stewart
IT HURTS (INSTRUMENTAL) – The Soul Rhythms
LADY WITH THE STARLIGHT – Ken Boothe
LOOK PON YOU – The Conquerors
LIVE GOOD – Ken Boothe
ALL FOR ONE (IF I’M IN A CORNER) – The Afrotones
PUT YOURSELF IN MY PLACE (INSTRUMENTAL) – The Soul Rhythms
LONELY – The Melodians
I’M THE ONE WHO LOVES YOU – Delroy Wilson

IT HURTS (I’VE BEEN HURT) – Delroy Wilson
ROCKING SENSATION – Delano Stewart
WE WERE LOVERS – Patsy
ROUND SEVEN – The Soul Rhythms
IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM JOIN THEM – The Conquerors
LET’S HAVE SOME FUN – Delano Stewart
MARY MARY – The Beltones
PUT YOURSELF IN MY PLACE – Delroy Wilson
GIVE ME A CHANCE – Delano Stewart & Patsy
NATIONAL LOTTERY – The Soul Rhythms
ANYWHERE YOU WANT TO GO – The Conquerors
GOING AWAY – The Beltones
DANCE WITH ME – Delano Stewart

Trojan
© Doctor Bird Records