RAS REGGAE BOX SET (TJETD152) - In 1972, after spending two years in South America, a youthful American by the name of Gary Himelfarb underwent a life changing experience that in time would have a dramatic on the Reggae music industry in his native land - and well beyond. A friend of the young man introduced him to the music contained within the grooves of two recently issued albums that were beginning to make an impact both locally and elsewhere around the world: Bob Marley's 'Catch A Fire' and the soundtrack for Perry Henzell's cult Rude Boy classic, 'The Harder They Come'. In Gary's own words, he was immediately 'completely smitten by the music and culture of Jamaica'.
Over the ensuing years, Gary immersed himself in the sounds and culture of Jamaica and by 1980, felt ready to launch his own record label from the basement of his Washington< DC home. Whilst on one of his many trips to Jamaica, a meeting with Peter Broggs, led to recording sessions with the Roots Radics and top sound engineer and producer, Overton 'Scientist' Brown, resulting in enough material for the fledgling label's album debut 'Rastafari Liveth'. The success of the LP assured the long term future of the newly-named 'Real Authentic Sound' (RAS) imprint and over the years that followed, Gary worked tirelessly to expand the catalogue, issuing material by some of the finest Jamaican talents to emerge from the Kingston music scene. This compilation gives you a taste of some of varied and superb musical sounds to se release on the imprint over the past twenty or so years.
We kick off with Miguel Collins more popularly known as Sizzla 'Kalonji', who has been mashing up the Dancehall since 1995. Initially, we are treated to the previously unreleased version of his interpretation of 'Subterranean Homesick Blues', soon to be featured on a compilation of Bob Dylan songs, Jamaican style, while one of the earliest examples of his thoroughly unique style, is 'How Much' from his first album release, 'Burning Up'.
Before his untimely demise, one of Dennis Brown's final sessions resulted in the recently released 'Dennis Brown Sings Gregory Isaacs' collection (RZDCD 002 that features twelve sublime versions of the Cool Ruler's best known hits, including our selector's choice, 'Night Nurse'.
We continue with another sadly missed performer, the late Tenor Saw, who revived the timeless 'Stalag 17', when he signalled the demise of any contending 'sound bwoys'. Winston Riley reaped further rewards from the song when he revived 'Ring The Alarm' with Buju Banton and released two albums around the rhythm.
In May 1986, RAS relished a UK chart hit with Black Uhuru's 'Great Train Robbery' that spent three weeks in the top 75. The song featured the Dancehall style of Delroy 'Junior' Reid who stepped in following Michael Rose's departure to pursue a solo career.
Next up is Little Kirk who followed his brother Beenie Man into the Dancehall, performing with the Shocking Vibes crew. With the crew he recorded some great tunes and was not afraid to comment on sensitive subject matters such as our featured track 'Child Abuse'.
The combination of DJs and singers in Jamaica proved especially popular in the early nineties and none proved more successful than Chaka Demus and Pliers. The duo crossed over into the mainstream scoring two number ones with 'Tease Me' and a version of the Isley's 'Twist And Shout' with Jack Radics. Following their successful run of hits, the duo returned in the new millennium with the album 'Help Them Lord' that featured our selectors choice a version of Elvis' 'Don't Be Cruel'.
Beres Hammond should need no introduction having wooed all the young ladies with his dulcet tones for many years. On this set we have featured his JAMI award winning hit, 'Putting Up Resistance', released at a time when the singer's career seemed unstoppable.
Next up is Moses 'Beenie Man' David who enjoyed a pop hit with 'Who Am I (Zim Zimma)'. Here Beenie is in fine style with the Dancehall favourite, 'What Those Guys Are For', proving that the ten-year-old DJ wonder was equally as sensational fifteen years on.
Another early starter who crossed over into the mainstream was Freddie McGregor who sang with Clarendonians before relishing a successful solo career. He enjoyed his first taste of crossover success with 'Push Comes To Shove', which although did not chart preceded the more successful, 'Just Don't Want To Be Lonely'.
Staying with conscientious Rastafarian singers, founding and subsequently reunited Black Uhuru vocalist, Don Carlos performs 'Seven Days A Week' in fine style that demonstrates his achingly sweet vocals.
The vocal group Israel Vibration were all victims of poliomyelitis, although they did not let this encumbrance hold them back. While they performed as a trio, each member also recorded in his own right and here we present Apple Gabriel in fine style for the succinct 'Another Moses'.
Foxy Brown is a name familiar to the Hip-Hop community, but before the US diva enjoyed notoriety, a Jamaican songstress named Jennifer Hylton performed under this guise and released a series of hits including the wonderful 'Sorry', lifted from her album 'Foxy'.
Next up is Mark 'Gargamel' Myrie, more popularly known as Buju (the lyrics) Banton. Our track, 'Gold Spoon' is one of the DJs earliest releases looking good on a bogle rhythm.
While the opening tracks have concentrated on classic Reggae and Dancehall favourites, RAS was not afraid to release alternative sounds such as this contribution from Tuff Gong stalwart Kevin Davy who performs 'Children Of The World' as Yvad (geddit). The World music stylee of Yvad also features on disc two with Bayanga's 'Rumbaskankin' that demonstrates the blending of Jamaican music with alternative styles.
Following on from the Tuff Gong protégé, we are treated to a 'Reggae Party' with the Morwells, a celebrated group that featured the nucleus of the Roots Radics whose 'Hot We Hot' appears later in this set.
The prolific King Yellowman should need no introduction to followers of Dancehall and here the people's favourite performs the previously unreleased 'War' from the forthcoming collection, 'New York' (RZDCD 003).
Disc Two opens with Ripton Hylton's unique DJ style that under the guise of Eek A mouse is as instantly recognisable as his 6'6" frame. Making its debut on this collection, 'Lick Shot' echoes Michael Palmer's Jamaican chart-topper.
Winston 'Pipe' Matthews and Lloyd 'Bread' McDonald performed together as the Renegades and Pipe and the Pipers before settling as the Wailing Souls. The group are recognised as one of Jamaica's finest vocal groups, as demonstrated on the Prince Jammy produced 'Dog Bite'.
Studio One DJs, Michigan & Smiley began their recording career in the early eighties. Inspired by their success, RAS recruited the duo for the album, 'Sugar Daddy', recorded and released at the time of the Boops phenomenon.
Nigel Grandison, celebrated as Little Lenny, emerged from the Dancehall in the late '80s with the x-rated album, 'Gun In A Baggy', which was licensed to RAS in the USA. We have featured the hit album's title track that led to Little Lenny voicing extensively for other producers, although none have since matched the success of his debut.
The Itals evolved from the Tennors, with a varying line-up that has featured amongst others Ronnie Davis, Lloyd Ricketts and David Isaacs. The group released a series of favourites including the evocative 'In Dis Ya Time' that they recorded twice - just because it sounds so nice.
The conscientious DJ, Charlie Chaplin's 'Ruffian' is a fine example of his distinctive style. He performed alongside Brigadier Jerry on U Roy's Sturgav sound system, with the latter also appearing on this collection with 'Armagiddeon Style' - a worthy toast to the Bunny Wailer classic.
King Tubby's protégé, Scientist is next up demonstrating his skills on the mixing desk with a heady version of 'Baltimore' lifted from the fine compilation, 'RAS Portraits - The Scientist'.
By the time Lincoln 'Sugar' Minott joined RAS he had already 'crossed over' with his version of the Jackson Five's 'Good Thing Going'. Following his Pop sojourn, he returned to his roots with Youth Promotion and recorded the assertive 'Ain't Nobody Move Me'.
Sanchez, the Dancehall singer often referred to as Jamaica's Bobby Brown, embarked a prolific recording career in 1987 and two years on, with his career was fully established, he recorded the suitably entitled 'Place Mash Up'. Featuring the unaccredited toasting talents of Flourgan, the track featured on the highly acclaimed album, 'Number One'.
Inspired by the three part Rocksteady harmonies of their youth, the Mighty Diamonds were one of the most popular vocal groups of the seventies and eighties, and their success continued into the nineties with the self-produced and inappropriately titled, 'Gone Bad'.
Sweet sweet Cocoa Tea's vocals were originally highly praised in 1974, but it was the release of 'Rocking Dolly' that launched his career. He relished a high profile in combination with Shabba Ranks and Home T, while continuing to sustain a high profile as a soloist.
June 'J.C.' Lodge enjoyed notoriety with 'Telephone Love' alongside 'Someone Loves You Honey' and in the nineties with RAS when she released the inviting 'Activate Me'.
When the Wailers began recording with Lee 'Scratch' Perry, the trio of Bob, Peter and Bunny formed an allegiance with the Upsetters drum and bass duo, Aston 'Family Man' and Carlton 'Carly' Barrett, who later joined the group full time. The duo occasionally freelanced and later teamed up with Brad Osbourne to record a number of fine sides, including 'Capo Dub', which echoed their 1970 Upsetters release recorded without Perry.
Lloyd Brevett, Brent Dowe and Trevor McNaughton were acknowledged as the finest purveyors of Rocksteady after forming the Melodians around 1965. Eighteen years on, they regrouped to record the album 'Irie Feelings' and I am sure you will agree their vocal styling worked equally as well riding contemporary rhythms.
We open disc three with another example of the exciting releases ahead. UK based Neil 'Mad Professor' Fraser has worked with some of the top producers from Jamaica as well as purveying some of the finest lover's rock outta South London. He recently teamed up with Sly & Robbie for the sublime 'Peaceful Warrior' featured here as a sampler for the soon come, 'Dub Revolutionaries' (RZDCD 004).
Anthony B featured alongside the Firehouse Crew on the first Sanctuary/RAS release in the UK. Lifted from the album, 'Four Rebels Volume Two' (RZDCD 001), is the deeply spiritual 'Clean Heart'. The Firehouse Crew have included a number of Jamaican favourites including the aforementioned DJ, Sizzla, alongside the Dancehall vocalists, Luciano and Prince Malachi. On this set we present two timeless pieces from the singers, 'Moving Up' and 'Watch Over Me', respectively.
Anthony Wilmot aka Billy Mystic and his band, the Mystic Revealers, released the album, 'This One's For Jah' alongside the aforementioned Anthony B, as well as three albums with RAS that included the favoured 'Space And Time', featured on this set. Incidentally, Billy starred as C.C. in the Jamaican soap, 'Royal Palms Estate'.
Peter Broggs, who set the RAS ball rolling performs 'Rastafari Chant Nyahbingi' and clearly demonstrates why Dr Dread was motivated to enrol the singer when he launched the new venture.
The aptly named Rastafari Elders recorded the self-titled album dedicated to His Imperial Majesty, from which we have lifted the profound 'Kings Highway'. One of the elders was Ras Pidow, who released a fine solo album for RAS, entitled 'Modern Antique', from which our selectors have chosen the sublime 'Afrika', a song recorded as a mark of respect to the motherland.
In the mid-seventies, one time Soul Defender, Joseph Hill formed Culture, whose runaway success with Joe Gibbs soon after the group's launch led to a long and fruitful career. Released almost twenty years after their recording debut, 'One Stone' illustrates that his group has lost none of their appeal.
Irie FM disc jockey and dub poet, Alan Hope found fame as Mutabaruka and it was under his more commonly known mantle that he recorded the album, 'Check It', a collection featuring inspiring dub poetry, such as the title track included here.
Best known as the lead singer of Inner Circle, Jacob 'Killer' Miller, along with Ian and Roger Lewis produced a number of hits in Jamaica during the seventies, including 'Tenement Yard', a track that was featured in the film 'Rockers'. While performing as part of the group, Jacob also featured in the movie that starred Leroy 'Horsemouth' Wallace as a latter day Robin Hood.
Chalice are celebrated for their live performances, although the group's recorded output was rarely greeted with the same enthusiasm. However, one listen to the title track from their album, 'Blasted' demonstrates the inconsistency of a few blasé commentators.
Next up is the original Cool Ruler, who performs the brilliant 'Slave Driver', produced by the Riddim Twins from their classic showcase album, 'Sly & Robbie Presents Gregory Isaacs'.
Cedric Myton and the Congos are celebrated for defining three part harmonies in the seventies, during which time they released the phenomenal 'Heart Of The Congos' album. In the nineties, Cedric came back strong with 'The Rock Of Gibraltar', taken from the 1997 collection, 'Natty Dread Rise Again'.
Patrick Barrett aka Tony Rebel emerged in 1988 as a cultural DJ when gunman lyrics dominated the Dancehall. After cutting a few sides with the top producers of the time he embarked on sessions at Penthouse studios where he recorded a series of conscientious hits including our featured track, 'Loyal soldier' from the album, 'Realms Of Rebel'.
To finish, I would suggest that with this collection, you will feel those endorphins being released without worrying about your waistline - unless you can't whine your bodyline!
Gwaan Indulge Yourself.
Subterranean Homesick Blues
Time - 63:12
Time - 59:18
Time - 71:37
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