Lloyd Parks - Time A Go Dread

Money For Jam – Lloyd Parks
Money For Jam Version – Lloyd Parks
Push Push – Lloyd Parks
Push Version -Skin Flesh & Bones
Time A Go Dread – Lloyd Parks
Dread Dub - We The People
Mafia – Lloyd Parks
Mafia Version - Black Expression Band
Take A Ride - Wallie Bucker
Shake Up Yu Dread – Lloyd Parks
Shake Up Dubwise - Kow All Stars
Strike – Lloyd Parks
Part 2 - We The People
Slaving – Lloyd Parks
Slaving Version – Lloyd Parks
Money Done - Dillinger
Doney – Lloyd Parks
Famine – Lloyd Parks
Come Back Early – Lloyd Parks
Version 2 - We The People
Girl In The Morning – Lloyd Parks
Girl In The Morning Part 2 – Lloyd Parks

September 1972. It is early morning in the Waterhouse district of Kingston, Jamaica, and Lloyd Parks is about to drive to the studio to record one of the pivotal reggae songs of the period. 'Slaving' will be the tune to really make his name as a singer, and move him up into the top rank of studio musicians.

"In 1972 I was living in Waterhouse, near Sly Dunbar and just down the road from where King Tubby was starting his studio. Waterhouse in those days was just nice, no war, no crime, everybody could just walk on the streets on Friday night and look for parties. Everything was just peaceful in Jamaica at that time, until politics came in and destroy the whole unity."

By the early '70s Lloyd Parks was already a veteran of the local music scene, enjoying parallel careers as a singer and session musician. He'd enjoyed some success at Studio One as one half of vocal duo The Termites, whilst his inventive bass playing was starting to secure him regular work in the competitive Kingston session scene.

"We had a little community of musicians, with Sly and Radcliffe Bryan, cos we were very much in demand. I had a group with Sly from long time. The first band I ever played in was called the RHT Invincibles - a local man had a community centre and tried to help musicians, and it was called RHT cos he was a Rastaman and he had a church called the 'Rainbow Healing Temple', so the band was called the RHT Invincibles.

"Myself and Sly Dunbar came from the same community in the ghetto, and we always sit together and write a lot of songs, songs like 'Ordinary Man', 'We'll Get Over It' and 'Slaving', and we just decided that we would record that song 'Slaving' that day. so we book Dynamic Sound Studios ourselves and we operate as a team of musicians, so I would bring my tape and Sly would bring his tape and Radcliffe Bryan bring his tape, and then we don't pay eachother, we just play for each other, and together we pay for our studio time. These guys were studio musicians so everybody have their own car to drive to the studio. We were in demand so everybody could afford a car, like myself and Radcliffe Bryan, but Sly Dunbar used to like to take taxis. That's why he named his record label Taxi - he would always have a taxi come for him!

"So we start the session at Dynamic Sound, and when we recorded the riddim track of 'Slaving' it was so good that everyone shout out "it gone!" cos we knew it would be a hit. So then I lay down the voice, and the harmony was sung by myself and Jimmy Riley. Well the lyrics of 'Slaving' is like how you write a script for a movie. I just imagine things that would happen to certain people, cos I'm an artist too and I'm good at painting, so my imagination just goes wild. For 'Slaving' I get a little inspiration, cos there was a time when I had a really hard time in life, so although some of those words are not pointing directly to me, like 'working everyday in the coalmine', still I have the inspiration from that feeling of hard times to imagine the life of someone in a coalmine."

After the recording at Dynamics, Lloyd took the tape back to Waterhouse to mix it at King Tubby's studio. When 'Slaving' was released a couple of weeks later on the Shalimar label it was a huge hit. But as 1973 rolled around, a batch of other releases started to appear using the same rhythm track, mostly produced by Glen Brown.

"Some people think that 'Slaving' was produced by Glen Brown, but Glen Brown is a thief and he rob a lot of people. What happened was that when I record that riddim, I gave it to some Indian guys that came to Jamaica and their name was Shalimar. I gave it to them just for distribution, but in those days you give them a split 2-track tape to make their stamper from, and Glen Brown took the clean riddim and put other artists on it. And then later when I go to PRS (Performing Rights Society) I realise Glen Brown even put his name as a writer for my song 'Slaving'. But 'Slaving' is my riddim. The organ was played by Tyrone Downie of the Wailers, myself on bass, Ranchie McLean on lead guitar, Philip Grant on rhythm guitar and Neville Grant on drums. Neville Grant was a drummer who did a little time in Jamaica and then went to Canada - he also played on 'Officially'.

'Slaving' was Lloyd's biggest song so far and the unauthorised versions, like Big Youth's 'Hot Cross Bun' and I-Roy's 'Black Man Time', were popular too. Lloyd had scored not only a hit tune, but also a hit rhythm, and his career as a session musician really took off.

"All of us used to try to get studio work, but when I made that song 'Slaving' it was a hit and everyone asked who played that bass, and the I couldn't get no rest! Sometimes we had to hide from the producers and ignore some of them, cos it was too much work and sometime you need to rest. It was session after session, cos even Federal have me in their resident band, and then I played that number one song 'Everything I Own' for Ken Boothe, and 'War Inna Babylon' and 'Psalms Of Dub' and everyone want me to play."

Lloyd Parks' career as a session musician had already had an impressive start. He had played guitar on Dave and Ansell Collins' huge hit 'Double Barrel', and bass on 'Soul Rebel' and '400 Years' by the Wailers. After the success of 'Slaving', Lloyd went on to drive a huge volume of music with his bass playing, as a member of The Professionals for Joe Gibbs, The Aggrovators for Bunny Lee, The Upsetters for Lee Perry, The Revolutionaries at Channel One, Skin Flesh and Bones, and We The People band.

"When I play, most people can identify my playing and say that's Lloyd Parks. I used to play guitar before so maybe when I'm playing the bass a little of the guitar style comes out in it. As an instrumentalist I'm very innovative, and I like to try new things and create a different unique feel. I have a very creative mind and I always try to do something that is not already out there. If you search and search you're not going to find a bass line that sounds like 'Push Push'. the way that bass line is just walking and walking. And the same with creating my versions - anything I do is just how I feel, you know.

"I give thanks to Lee Perry, cos he might be acting strange now, but he was one of the greatest producers from Jamaica. He was the man who predicted me, he believed in me, cos when I played for Lee Perry he get some stuff out of me that I didn't know I had in me. So I give him credit for that, he predicted that I would become what I am right now as an instrumentalist."

"Some producers were just the guy with the money who hire the musicians. And at the end of the day when it says produced by Joe Gibbs... well Joe Gibbs not even there when you record it, he's downtown selling records. Really and truly the work was between the engineer and the musicians, so it was a lot of injustice. But we love music so much that we just tolerate it and enjoy playing the music."

The success of 'slaving' was to launch Lloyd Parks as a vocalist internationally. Trojan Records in Britain was soon releasing several albums of his songs, and he was now writing and singing prolifically.

"I was the really first singer from Waterhouse, and then comes Black Uhuru and all the rest. At the time Slim Smith told Bunny Lee that I was the only singer who could give him competition... Bunny Lee told me that."

And what comes through powerfully in the songs on this compilation is Lloyd gift for social commentary, clearly delivered through direct snapshots of ghetto life.

"Most of the time my songs are based on things that I've seen around me, and not necessarily agreeing with. Sometimes the punchline in the lyric carries the song. Like the title of the song 'Money For Jam', it just creates attention. So I always like to write a song with a punchline, you know. For 'Time A Go Dread' I was visioning what is still happening right now, like people used to leave from Jamaica and go travel all over the world, and I was visioning like some serious thing was going to happen, right. 'Mek we forward back a yard' is like when things get worse we should come back to Jamaica, our homeland.

"There was a time in Jamaica when the working man get fed up with their treatment by the boss, like hard work and small pay. And every other month the petroleum workers would strike, and other workers strike, and one time even the police strike. So I write the song 'Strike' which says 'the boss a eat big chicken, we want to it too, so we strike' and 'we gonna mash up the dolly pot', which means we gonna smash up the doll's house - like if you're playing games with me, well I'm gonna break things up.

"'Famine' was just a song where sometimes I see people really in need, and I look over Africa where people are dying cos of malnutrition, and I realise that these things take place everywhere. So I am saying 'how can a man be free, when his wife and kids live in misery', so it speaks on the everyday situation that is taking place all over the world, because people are struggling to survive.

"'Shake Up your Dread' was kind of a gimmick thing, ca sometimes you have to write songs using something kind of humorous. 'Chucky Chucky' is like a bad man, and 'Baldhead went to seek his queen, saw a natty dread upon the scene' is like a man found another man there with his girl - that is like a slice of Jamaican life. I wasn't really a Rasta, you know, but at one time I was thinking about it. I even had a dream that I was a Rasta man. But when I saw how some Rasta man live, I just say no, I'm not gonna relate to their rules. I more believe in Christianity.

"One time we made a riddim alone without a song, and when I was trying to put words to it I hear a guy called Bobby say 'Me a mafia', and I say 'rahtid' and then I just finish the song up as 'Mafia'. So sometimes the title and the first line of a song attract people you know. They still really love that song in Italy cos that is the home of the mafia! I also play melodica on that, and on 'Strike' as well, that instrument that Augustus Pablo used to play. We record and mix them both at Channel One. Melodica was like the in thing, and you know I try and play a little of each instrument, and then I just play it on that song, and it come out so marvelous that most people thought it was Augustus Pablo. So some of my tunes have that sort of vibe, like 'Strike' and 'Mafia'. The way 'Mafia' was done was deliberate, cos sometimes you have to make the song like that, with not a lot of instruments but just a good riddim, so you get the [people to pay attention to what you're saying. Sometimes a song with too much instruments can eat away from the whole idea of the lyrics."

Parks was also coming into his own as a producer of other artists, including Dillinger and Wallie (aka Wally) Bucker.

"Wallie Bucker came from port Antonio, and I used to know him when I lived there, and I used to think he was a really good singer, like a better singer than me. So when I came back to Kingston and I started my musical career I say I should do a song with him but it is only one song cos he died after. he is probably the same guy recorded a few songs for Mikey dread also from port Antonia."

Today Lloyd is better known as a bassist and bandleader than a singer, with his We The People band having played around the world backing almost every major artist to come out of Jamaica.

"We still always working, you know. At one stage I had my son on drums and my daughter who is the toughest female keyboardist player in Jamaica, and we back up all the artists, Alton Ellis, John Holt, Ken Boothe. And now the music teachers are teaching about the history of the music and the foundation musicians who paved the way, so it is good that we are now getting the proper respect for what we have done."
The tracks on this compilation certainly demonstrate Lloyd Parks' gifts as a conscience lyricist and soulful vocalist, who fully deserves to be ranked in the frontline of Jamaican singers.

Diggory Kenrick

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