Horace Andy - Get Wise

80% Badness
I Don't Want To Be Outside
Feel Good
Youths Of Today
Today Youth
Get Wise
Wise Dub
Holy Mount Zion
Let Your Teardrops Fall
Sexy Jean
Roots Of All Evil
Evilest Thing
Evilest Thing Version
I Will Forgive You
Tag Along
I May Never See My Baby

Horace Hinds was born in Kingston on February the 19th 1951. There are different accounts relating to his name change, suffice to say that it's by the moniker Horace Andy that the world knows him today. Horace was born into a musical family and is the cousin of the renowned vocalist Justin hinds.

Phil Pratt and Horace Andy's paths had first crossed in the small but vibrant 60s Kingston Music scene. By chance Phil Pratt and his friend Hemsley Morris had been at Studio One as Horace Andy and another singer called Frank Melody unsuccessfully auditioned there. Horace Andy had however impressed Phil Pratt and they agreed to rendezvous at a later date, with a view to collaborating together. this later meeting was fruitful and they arranged the song 'Black Man's Country' which was sung by Horace. Pratt produced the track and a small number were subsequently pressed on Ken Lack's Caltone label.

The song didn't sell particularly well and Pratt suggested to Horace that he return to Studio One, in order to develop his talents both as a vocalist and a composer. Pratt had already experienced working with Coxson Dodd; indeed he cites Mr. Dodd and Prince Buster as the producers who most developed the Jamaican music business, especially in regard to the 'street' and the downtown musicians, singers and producers. it was the Khouri, Lee and Kong families who controlled the uptown music scene, but it was Prince Buster and Studio One who had an ear for what was going on elsewhere.

Working out of Studio One proved to be a wise move for Horace. Under the tutelage of the close knit Studio One regime his fledgling talent rapidly developed. Pratt still continued to give the young singer tip and advice on the art of song writing and arrangement. Horace was always very receptive to the wise words and encouragement given by Pratt.

Horace Andy's subsequent output at Studio One was of the highest quality. Like so many others that passed through Mr. Dodd's gates, his raw talent was molded and developed, into something quite unique.

Pratt's own career as a singer sadly declined due to the demands of his growing family, not the least that of putting food on the table. It's a pity he did not record more material as a vocalist as he was an excellent singer. like many other independent operators he was squeezed out of getting radio play and consequently his sales suffered. "It's difficult for people to understand today how important radio play was back at that time" explains Pratt. Without airplay it was very difficult to make any progress in the business and he was forced to rely on soundmen and the dances for promotion.

Pratt was constantly striving and grafting. From the 60s onwards he moved between singing and producing to being a (very able) cook, or indeed to whatever else he could turn his hand to, in order to earn a living. Any extra money that he earned was put to good use buying precious studio time. It was tough to survive in the endless grind of Kingston poverty but there was still fun to be had and money to be made if you were sharp, enterprising and hard working. Pratt opened a record shop in Orange Street before moving the shop to Beckford Street just near the Kingston bus terminal. Being in the hub of downtown Kingston provided an endless source of song writing inspiration as Pratt watched all kinds of characters hustle their way through the day, both legally and illegally.

Song writing sessions at this time would go on above the shop after it was closed. Horace Andy and other artists were often there working on songs in the evening. Singer Barrington Spence had his motorbike stolen from outside the Pratt shop on Orange Street (he was at the time working as a messenger), whilst working on songs with Pratt upstairs. Needless to say he was not amused.

After making his mark at Studio One Horace Andy had become an in demand artist in the local recording scene but still returned to working with Pratt as both a singer and writer. It was Horace Andy, according to Pratt, who was the main songwriter of the song 'Strange Things', although Pratt chipped in with some of the lyrics. It was John Holt of course, who voiced the song exquisitely and Pratt released it on his own Sunshot label. According to Pratt, Horace Andy was also the main writer of the song 'What About The Half' recorded by Dennis Brown. Pratt also released this tune on the Sunshot label.

The 'Get Wise' album was built around a series of 45s recorded intermittently as and when finances permitted. Although not conceived originally as an album it actually has continuity in regard to production. It does for the most part, sound like it was recorded during the same period and with the same group of players. The album was only ever given a Jamaican release. Most of the recordings date from 1972-1974 and the album was eventually released in 1975 and has remained unavailable ever since then.

As discussed the never-ending problem of getting radio airplay, in order to promote whatever you had scraped enough money to record and press, was always frustrating. but Pratt had made sure he maintained a good relationship with the Sound System operators and had returned to the studio to overdub horns on to  the 'Youths Of Today' 45 after finding it was popular with sound men. He often turned over his master tapes for 'Soft Wax' dub plates to be cut by the Sound Men. Realistically it was the only way tht his music was going to reach its audience, as Jamaican radio remained very conservative all through the 1970s. Ironic when you think about the brilliant music that was flooding out of the Kingston recording studios during this period.

Songs such as 'Get Wise', 'Eighty Percent Badness', 'Money Root Of All Evil' all reflected Horace Andy's excellent ability to express an understanding of the nuances of a good socially conscious song. He is equally at home on love songs. 'Let You're Teardrops Fall' was originally recorded by Ken Boothe for Studio One. The Horace Andy cut has Pratt on vocal harmony. It's a lovely lilting song perfectly suited to Horace's voice. It's possible the song was originally adapted from the Patsy Cline song of the same name. Many of the songs on 'Get Wise' stand up well against Horace's Studio One material. They perhaps lack the superlative craft of the Studio One session musicians but nevertheless they are still excellent records. 'I Don't Want To Be Outside' was a song that Horace recorded several times over for different producers. The vibe on the original Pratt production rocks as well as any of the later cuts. Aston Barrett's bass line is steadily hypnotic and the rhythm is pinned down by Leroy Wallace's pin point drumming. It's a heartfelt song and has always been a mainstay of Horace Andy's live shows.

'Get Wise' was a popular song for Horace. The DJ cut 'Evilest Thing' by Jah Stitch is included on this set as well as the version. There were other DJ cuts such as Prince Heron's 'Don't Follow Propaganda' released on Pratt's Sounds United label not included on this release. It's a slow dark rhythm that was very popular with Jamaican Sound Systems although Horace Andy's lyric to be "Dreader than dread or you can't get no skirt" are light hearted for sure. there are also a couple of versions spread over Pratt's various dub albums.

Pratt had always been a demanding perfectionist and therefore wasn't always the easiest of producers to work for by all accounts. He demanded a high quality of playing from his musicians. Although time and money constraints meant he could not spend as much time as he would have liked in the recording studios, he still managed to produce a steady flow of recordings that were spread around some of the best artists that were active and recording in Jamaica at the time. He remains a hard worker. He is now (primarily) a successful restaurateur. it's time he stepped forward. He is a talented producer and an excellent vocalist.

Horace Andy's vocals are possibly some of the most distinctive in reggae music. It's no mystery that he is as popular now as he was 30 years ago. His influence as a vocal stylist actually continues to grow. His lyrics are intelligent and his vocal delivery has a unique quality that was self evident from the first records he made.

Together Phil Pratt and Horace Andy are a formidable partnership. 'Get Wise' is now available again. Enjoy.

Pete Holdsworth 2014

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