Native - Rockstone
Black Tracks Version
Great God Over In Zion (Boston Jack)
In A Strange Land
Late September In May
Late September In May Version
King Solomon's Mines
In The Land Of Make Believe
Piano Country feat. Little Madness
Meet Mr. Nobody
Meet Mr. Nobody Version
|Native & Little Madness
with Lee Perry
One night in August 1977 Boris Gardiner, who later reached Number One in the UK with 'I Want To Wake Up With You', took me on a trip to see Lee 'Scratch' Perry at his Black Ark Studio in the Washington Gardens section of Kingston. The Black Ark was like a medieval space station with Scratch at the controls voicing Robert Palmer who would go on to achieve a Number One USA hit with 'Addicted To Love'. I watched in amazement as Scratch drove the mixing board like a Formula One racing car and extracted his mystical sound. Paul McCartney had been in the week before to work with Scratch on the little four track machine so you can be sure that it was the MAN and not the machine that was creating magic here.
After the session I got up courage to tell Scratch that I had some songs to play for him on my acoustic guitar. He listened and then declared: "I want to work with you because you are an Arawak Indian". I assured him that I was an Arawak Indian, but of course I am not, and he said to come back in a few days to record. Armed with a clutch of original songs that my brother Brian and myself had written we decided that we were ready to record and ALBUM of our songs and Scratch was the only person who would understand what we wanted to do. I gathered the core members of Native, along with the great Joe Higgs on percussion, and we descended on the Black Ark where we recorded the tracks presented here with the maestro Scratch at the controls. It was a life changing experience to have the genius of reggae production moulding my ideas into songs from another world.
"I strolled into the cinema after I paid the price
Took a back row seat to watch the movie of my life
But empty seats were everywhere
There was no one there to feel
The quiet panic that ensued with each succeeding reel"
Late September In May
I took the Lee Perry session tapes to London where they immediately started creating a buzz. Vivian Goldman chose them as her pick of the week in Sounds newspaper. I played them for John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) who started touting them as the best new stuff out of Jamaica. Vivian sent me to Ben Edmonds at Arista Records who signed me (Native) as the first reggae artist ever on Arista Records. I asked them to change the name of the company to IRasta Records instead of Arista but they refused!
"Look at all the people with their name a day careers
Safe from all poverty but hounded by its fears"
Meet Mr. Nobody
I returned to Jamaica to record the full album with Lee Perry but he started to get stranger and stranger. One week he would say that green was holy and would paint his house and studio green. The next week he would say that green was evil and repaint it red. Then the next week it would be another colour. He would spend days writing tiny Xs on the walls and it could take an entire day to do one wall.
Scratch told me that bananas were holy so each time I went to see him I had to take a large bunch of green bananas. He would kneel before the bananas and pray! He launched into a long sermon about how bananas were really God and said his name was no longer Lee Perry but was now Pipecock Jackson. He said that when he saw us arriving he knew that we were the real Arawak Indians from past times.
By now the Black Ark had broken down but a record company from Amsterdam had sent Scratch some new studio equipment which was waiting to be cleared at the Kingston wharf. Scratch sat around for weeks and would not collect it as his car battery was dead and he said it was an omen. So I went and bought a new car battery for him. The people in his yard got all excited and said: "You don't know what you have done. This is a miracle! Now he can get the equipment and start recording again".
"In the land of make believe
Where nations fall and empires bleed
And everything is part of yesterday
The sentries keep their triggers free"
In The Land Of Make Believe
I waited for a few more weeks but Scratch did not get the studio together so I ended up producing the rest of the Native album at Dynamic Studios where 'King Solomon's Mines' was recorded.
The original Jobsons came to Jamaica from the UK in the mid-eighteenth century settling near Claremont on the hills od St. Ann just a few miles from Nine Miles, the birthplace of Bob Marley, and were very soon assimilated into the Jamaican population. I was the sixth generation of these original Jobsons. My heritage is a mixture of English, African, Spanish and Scottish with my family including every shade possible. I have never considered myself as white as colour was never an issue. MUSIC was the main thing and, in Jamaica, nothing is as it seems and it is very difficult for a foreigner to understand the complex forces at work on a social level. Colour is secondary as in Jamaica we check more for one's attitude and heart. This is where so much of the stereotypes of Jamaica and Jamaicans fall short as there is a large percentage of the population of mixed heritage but outsiders seem to think that if you are not black then you can't be Jamaican. You get that comment a lot from foreigners who don't understand the racial makeup of Jamaica.
From an early age my brother and I used to go and listen to local musicians from our area including Ernie Smith and Justin Hinds who showed us a few chords on the guitar. We were lucky to be from St. Ann a parish that also produced Burning Spear, Marcus Garvey and Jack Ruby.
My early recording career had started one Saturday morning in February 1975 when myself and Brian packed up our guitars in our trusty old 1964 VW bug and headed down from where we lived in the village of Golden Grove in the hills of St. Ann towards the coast for what we knew would be a day to remember. This was the day that we had decided that we would venture into the studio in Kingston to record our first song. We had dreamed of this day from when we had formed our first band in school to the matinee stage shows that we had attended at the Carib Theatre in Kingston. Listening in awe to superstars (to us anyway) such as The Techniques, The Paragons, The Gaylads, The Wailers, Ken Boothe and others... and now it looked as though it might just happen.
Our first stop on the two hour trip to Kingston was in Steer Town, a few miles from out home, where we picked up Loxie and Jackie, two dreads who played the wickedest repeater drums and who had promised to play with us when we went to the studio. They would later go on to be part of the Wingless Angels a group of Rastafarians that Keith Richards would produce. They were waiting by the side of the road and climbed in with their drums. Then it was off to Rudy's Record Shop in Ocho Rios where we picked up the owner Rudy McFarlane who said he would play piano on our track. By this time there was hardly any space in the VW so we headed for Kingston.
On arriving at Randy's on North Parade in downtown Kingston we were greeted by numerous musicians and hustlers hanging outside the studio each eager to participate in one way or another. We thought that we already had all the musicians we needed so we proceeded up the stairs to the studio where Errol 'Errol T' Thompson was the engineer. We had seen his name on many records. Immediately Errol T told us to run through the song as time was already running and, in a panic, we set up and then realised that we didn't have a drummer. I quickly left the studio and went back outside to see if I could find a drummer among the multitude outside on the street. To my amazement who should be hanging out but Carlton 'Carlie' Barrett from The Wailers who were beginning to make some waves internationally.
"Carlie" I said "You can do a session for me?"
"Yeah man. Thirty dollars"
"What! You must can give me a little break. Me just a try a thing!" I replied as I only had fifty dollars budget for the entire record.
"Well then twenty dollars" countered Carlie.
"Cool. Come nuh" I replied breathing a sigh of relief.
We were on!!
We ran through the song twice and Errol T shouted "Make we take it now". The take went by in what seemed to be a flash and after doing one more we all went into the control room to take a listen.
"Yeah man. Wicked tune... next!" shouted Errol T and that was it.
"What's the name of the song?" asked Errol T.
"Mother Country" said I confidently.
"What's the artists name?"
I panicked as we had not thought of this.
"Ah, umm... Little Madness" I said coming up with the name on the spur of the moment as it was the name of the hotel that my cousin Dickie Jobson had owned in Ocho Rios and where I was doing a few weeks work. And that was it! I could not seem to understand what had just taken place as it seemed to have passed in an instant but, for better or worse, we had made our first record.
Two weeks later I took it to Tommy and Valerie Cowan at Talent Corporation on Oxford Road in Kingston because they had all our favourite artists and Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Jacob Miller and the others used to hang out in the yard under the mango tree. "Good tune" said Tommy after listening. "Valerie will give you a contract for the record. We will release it on the Arab label. Come back in a week and you can get a few copies." And that was the last I heard of 'Mother Country' until I heard it on the radio a few weeks later played once by Errol Thompson (the radio D.J.) on JBC. After a few months I dropped into Talent one day and was surprised when Valerie handed me a royalty cheque for ten dollars. Finally... I had hit the BIG time!
"You can take the music from the roots
But you can't take the roots from the music"
Native was the first rock reggae band out of Jamaica with our influences ranging from Sly and the Family Stone and War to Traffic and Pink Floyd. Once when we were recording at Tuff Gong Studios, Bob Marley came to the door and listened intently. As I was walking out I heard him say to his friend "I wonder if them man have the sound". That meant the reggae sound that would take reggae to the next level.
When Native did our first show ever on the beach at the 1979 Reggae Sunsplash in Montego Bay I was already nervous enough. But when I looked in the audience and saw Bob Marley, Jacob Miller, I Jah Man Levi and Don Taylor I started shaking. After the show Don Taylor came to me and said he liked the band's sound. Native opened for Bob Marley at The International Year Of The Child concert at the National Arena in Kingston in 1979. We had our Native banner up at the back of the stage when we played but did not take it down when we were finished. CBS TV was shooting a '60 Minutes' special on Jamaica and Bob Marley at the concert so when Bob appeared on '60 Minutes' the Native banner stood proudly behind him. I guess that was our 60 (15x4) minutes of fame!
"In a blazing sun our blood did boil
And still our souls remain unspoilt"
In A Strange Land
My cousin Dickie Jobson founded Island Records with Chris Blackwell who was his best friend growing up. Dickie used to manage The Wailers (Bob, Peter and Bunny) while his sister Diane later became Bob Marley's lawyer. 56 Hope Road belonged to Chris Blackwell and he gave it to the Wailers to rehearse there, Bob later bought 56 Hope Road and built Tuff Gong Studios there and it eventually became the Bob Marley Museum. I started hanging out with them there and jamming with Bob and Peter once in a while. This was a dream for me as the original Wailers had been my idols growing up and, as a kid, I told everyone that they had the greatest harmonies on earth with 'Screw Face' and the original 'Trench Town Rock'. For me this was a mystical experience meeting these three musical shamen.
I became friends with Peter Tosh who had an incredible sense of humour but was a total revolutionary at the same time. I later went on to produce the film on Peter's life 'Stepping Razor'/'Red X' which was nominated for an Academy Award (Genie) in Canada. At 56 Hope Road I again met the godfather of Jamaican music, Joe Higgs, who I also used to jam with and learn from. I helped to produce an album with Joe and the Hothouse Flowers from Ireland in 1998 and we remained friends until his passing in 2000. I am forever grateful to Joe for his guidance, inspiration and for his percussion playing on these Lee Perry/Native sessions.
"How can you feel the heat
With your central air conditioner
You'll never know what jail is like
'Cause you know the Commissioner"
While I was studying at the University of the West Indies in Kingston in 1973 I met a great singer/songwriter named Boston Jack from nearby August Town. I took him to Chris Blackwell who signed him to Island Records and released the wicked 'Starvation' on the 'Soul Of Jamaica' compilation. But nothing came out of the Island deal so I later took Boston into the studio and recorded 'Great God Over In Zion' which was never properly released. So here it is in its finest glory.
Living near Ocho Rios I started working on music with Burning Spear's producer the legendary Jack Ruby. It was Jack who helped me put together the musicians for the 'Black Tracks' session which I produced at Channel One. I played guitar along with the brilliant Black Disciples featuring one young bass player who was destined for greatness named Robert Shakespeare. I had written 'Black Tracks' with an American female singer living in Jamaica named Faybienne Miranda who later recorded the spectacular 'Prophecy' with Jack Ruby.
"Black Tracks walked creation, many a mile
Solomon's people, still a people on trial
Footprints in sand erased by the wind
Or was it an error of pencil and pen"
I consider myself truly blessed to have learned from and worked with some of the musical giants of our time, Joe Higgs, Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, Jack Ruby and Lee 'Scratch' Perry. I hope that this album embodies some of that inspiration and that we managed to get somewhere close to "I wonder if them man have the sound".
Great Love and Mad Respect
Native Wayne Jobson
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