TROJAN ROCKERS BOX SET (TJETD338) - The Rockers era (or Steppas as it is also known) is often associated with the mid '70s. This was a time when the cream of Jamaica's session men were recruited by the island's leading studios to create groups such as Channel One's Revolutionaries, Joe Gibbs' Professionals and Bunny Lee's Aggrovators. one of the common denominators linking these three giants of their field was legendary drummer, Lowell Charles 'Sly' Dunbar.

Sly began his recording career in 1969 on RHT Invincibles' 'Night Doctor', produced by legendary keyboard artiste, Ansel Collins. Ansel subsequently licensed the tune to Lee 'Scratch' Perry, who issued it accrediting the Upsetters as the performers. By the mid-seventies Sly had become recognised as one of Jamaica's leading musical talents, whose natural born creativity stimulated his desire to develop new drum patterns.

And it is while performing with the Revolutionaries at the famed Channel One Studios in Maxfield Avenue that he is acknowledged as being the creator of the now celebrated 'militant' double drumming style. This technique is often compared to the interplay between a military snare and the 'big' bass drum as often heard in the island's marching bands.

One of the earliest examples of this militant style is John Holt's 'Up Park Camp'. As with many of the Channel One rhythms of the day, the song was recorded over a remake of a Studio One hit, namely the Heptones' wonderful, 'Get In The Groove' and was one of the first of many versions that surfaced in the Rockers era. Sly and the Revolutionaries recreated the rhythm and subsequently revived the singers credibility when it topped the charts in Jamaica. Incidentally the Heptones were still active in the Rockers period. And with George Boswell aka Winston 'Niney The Observer' Holness, in the producer's chair, they released the favoured 'Oh Jah', a track also featured in this collection. However, back in 1975 Tapper Zukie provided another early example of Steppas when he celebrated the new style with the suitably named 'Rockers', which demonstrates Sly's apparent ease on the drum kit. The DJ also performs the wicked 'New Star' providing a further example of the militaristic double drumming while Tapper asserts his 'militancy' as part of Jah's army.

The following year Rockers was in full swing and in the role of producer Tapper Zukie recorded with Errol Dunkley whose 'Stop Your Gun Shooting' mashed up the dancehall. As a producer, Tapper also worked with Junior Ross and the Spear, a notable partnership that resulted in the sublime 'Daniel'. On this collection we've decided to highlight another side of the group's work, the equally worthy 'Rasta Come From Zion', recorded for Ossie Hibbert. Ossie's credibility was further enhanced when he joined the Crown Prince of Reggae for two classic examples of Dennis Brown inna Rockers style. His productions of 'Whip Them Jah' and 'Children Of Israel' consequently proved live favourites and Dennis clearly rocked the house. It was around this time that junior Delgado was making a name for himself as a solo artist and true to the Jamaican recording industry, he recorded inna Rockers style for a variety of producers. On this set he performs 'Devil's Throne', a song that echoes Dennis' theme of Israel, while Junior's other classic Steppas tune, 'Warrior', cut later in the decade is clearly incomparable.

During the height of the Rockers phenomenon, producer/director Theodorus Bafaloukos hoped to repeat the success of Perry Henzell's 'The Harder They Come' when he released the movie 'Rockers', reflecting the period. Although not relishing the same cult status as its predecessor, it was still a delight to Reggae lovers as it featured cameo appearances from a who's-who of the Jamaican recording industry.

A number of the artists featured on this set also starred in the movie. These include, amongst others, Jacob Miller and the Inner Circle band, who perform 'Tired Fe Lick Weed Inna Bush'. In addition to 'performing' at a hotel on the North Coast, the group's lead singer is additionally celebrated for the food chase scene. Also featured in the motion picture was the original don, Leroy Smart, whose cool persona remained intact in the movie just as it did when he performed his self-assured Rocker, 'I Don't Like It'. Another principal character in the film  was the Cool Ruler, better known as Gregory Isaacs, who played the bizarrely named Jah Tooth. On this set the Cool Ruler provides three tracks, including the mind-blowing disco-mix mix of 'Black A Kill Black' as well as 'Set The Captives Free' and the song he performed in the movie, 'Slave Master'. While we're on the subject you might notice that this song is the second on this compilation to ride the Heptones' 'Get In The Groove' rhythm.

But let's get back to the movie and the soundtrack, which featured hits from the principal Rockers from Jamaica, including superstars such as Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh. Bunny's contribution was the spelling song 'Rockers', which in turn inspired Lloyd Charmers to emulate the style as you will hear on 'R.O.C.K.'.

At the time of the picture's release, Lee Perry was working on his own style of Rockers when he recruited Earl Sixteen to voice 'White Belly Rat' that was subsequently shelved. A while later he decided to voice the tune himself, although conversely he selected one time lead singer of the Overtakers, Leo Graham to perform 'Voodooism', a song Scratch would later revisit And if that weren't enough Rockers from the Black Ark, we've also included further examples of Scratch's laid back Steppas, including a wonderful version of Junior Murvin's 'Roots Train (Number One)'. Our final Black Ark Rocker is a classic from Bunny 'Devon Irons' Gayle alongside Winston 'Dr Alimantado' Thompson (who also featured in the aforementioned movie), who shook the house with 'Ketch Vampire'. And if you think Scratch's Rockers were pretty chilled, just check the In Crowd's timeless classic 'Back A Yard' that topped the UK Reggae charts for what seemed like an eternity. The tune proved particularly popular in the dancehall and reputedly inspired some cool moves from the Rockers dance troupe, Jah Scorcher.

While Lee Perry continued to experiment with his unique style, his old sparring partner, the aforementioned Niney The Observer produced a catalogue of Rockers most-wanted hits. From those chart favourites we've included the Ethiopians' 'Obeah Book', proving that Leonard Dillon's Ska vocals were perfectly suited to the Rockers style, and the breathtaking 'Jah Can Count On I', on which Freddie McGregor, who nurtured his vocals with the Clarendonians, demonstrates his Steppas credentials in no uncertain terms.

Niney was also on hand to produce a rare outing from Junior Byles in 'Weeping', a fine example of this sadly underrated performer. The rhythm, with its beautiful guitar work suitably punctuated with a Rocking drum beat, inspired the late great I Roy to ride the rhythm on an early collaboration 'Caveman Skanking'. However, in the spirit of this compilation we've included Niney's production of the DJ performing the timeless 'Point Blank'. This is our third version of 'Get In The Groove' and continues with the theme established by 'Up Park Camp'. I Roy also recorded our featured tracks 'The Godfather' and 'Crisis Time' for Bunny 'Striker' Lee, whose productions of the latter lent its title to the DJ's first album by a major label.

Bunny was at the forefront of the development of Rockers, having been accredited for the flying cymbals that evolved into the double drumming pattern. so it will come as no surprise that we've featured several of his productions. Included are classic from Horace Andy - 'Money Money (The Root Of All Evil)', as well as the unmistakable falsetto of one-time Sensation and Eternal, Cornell Campbell, who can be heard in fine style with the advisory 'Control Your Daughters' and our final track 'No Man's Land', which yet again revives the 'Get In The Groove' rhythm. It seemed that Bunny could do no wrong at this time and Johnny Clarke proved one of his top Rockers. Our selection includes the discomix of '(Just Call Me) African Roots', alongside the fast talking DJ, Clint Eastwood, as well as the popular 'Give Up The Badness' and 'Peace And Love In The Ghetto'.

Another vocalist to enjoy Bunny's golden-touch was the late lamented Barry Brown. His 'Step It Up Youthman' signalled a promising career, topping the global Reggae charts in 1978. In addition to voicing classic Rockers tunes, Bunny released a series of instrumentals with the cream of Jamaica's session men. These included Studio One legends such as keyboard maestro Jackie Mittoo and leading hornsmen, Tommy McCook and Bobby Ellis. Our selection includes Jackie's 'Channel One Crash' and 'A Revolting Rockers' whilst Tommy and Bobby drop the breathtaking 'Smiling Rockers'.

Bunny was also the key to Tapper Zukie's success and encouraged the DJ to assume the role of a producer. In addition to the previously mentioned track from Errol Dunkley, Tapper is celebrated for introducing the group Knowledge to a global audience. On this collection the group perform 'Word Sound And Power', the title of which also provided the name adopted by the undisputed original Rockers, Sly & Robbie, when they supported Peter Tosh. While Knowledge were signed to a major label, the DJ continued producing the cream of the Rockers. Two notable sessions were with the up and coming Frankie Jones and the (Jamaican) Seekers. These resulted in 'Living The Life We love' and the inspirational 'Jah Jah Say' (aka 'Jah Know You').

Another performer turned producer was Edmund 'Mike' brooks, who produced the Morwells' wonderful 'In God We Trust'. The group's line-up featured Eric 'Bingi Bunny' Lamont who played with Channel One Rockers, the Revolutionaries before linking up with Errol 'Flabba' holt to form the Roots radics. Meanwhile, mike worked with the illustrious Gladstone Anderson and Jarret 'Bim Sherman' Tomlinson who respectively performed 'Holy Mount Zion' and 'Down In Jamdown'. While working as a producer, Mike also voiced the rocking denunciation of 'Fighting Your Brethren', one of his finest sides from the period.

While the style of Rockers from groups such as the Mighty diamonds and the Gladiators inspired major label interest from the corporate moneymen, they overlooked some of Jamaica's finest. These include the Royals, whose 'Pick Up The Pieces' triggered Tapper Zukie's 'Pick Up The Rockers' and the woefully underrated Earth And Stone, who released the magnificent 'My Sweat Turns To Blood' and the equally impressive 'No Wicked In A Zion' (aka 'Wicked Have Fe Dressback'), respectively. Our final vocal group on this compilation are Israel Vibration, who were discovered by the one time performer with the Jamaicans and renowned promoter, Tommy Cowan. 'Lift Up Your Conscience' featured on this selection, was lifted from their critically acclaimed album, 'The Same Song' a collection subsequently picked up by EMI.

The roots Rockers continues in fine style with the Rocksteady veteran, Ronnie Davis, who performs 'Nation Against Nation'. Ronnie sang with the Tennors before going solo, just as Lincoln 'Sugar' Minnott had nurtured his vocals in the African Brothers. Although by the time of the Rockers period the group had disbanded and Sugar's solo career was well established, as demonstrated by the King Miguel produced 'In The Residence'. Our final Rocker is Linval Thompson, who released a series of Steppas hits during this time, including a version of Dennis Brown's Studio One classic, 'If I Follow My Heart', presented on this collection inna twelve inch style.

It's almost inconceivable to imagine when you listen to these cool sounds, that Rockers was recorded at a time when Jamaica was under heavy manners, with the sound of gunfire howling through those balmy Kingston nights. And if marching bands inspired Sly's militant double drumming, was it the state of emergency that inspired the rim shot?

Whatever inspired these sounds, I'm sure you'll get in the groove and agree when I paraphrase that thirty year old adage 'ladies and gentlemen that, this is a rockers, original rockers!'

Stephen Nye




Tapper Zukie
Up Park Camp
John Holt
(Just Call Me) African Roots (12'' mix)
Johnny Clarke & Clint Eastwood
Stop Your Gun Shooting (12'' mix)
Errol Dunkley
Rasta Come From Zion
Junior Ross & The Spear
I Don't Like It (12'' mix)
Leroy Smart
Whip Them Jah
Dennis Brown
Junior Byles
Money Money (The Root Of All Evil)
Horace Andy
Black Kill A Black (12'' mix)
Gregory Isaacs
White Belly Rat
Lee 'Scratch' Perry
Nation Against Nation
Ronnie Davis
Crisis Time
I Roy
Roots Train (Number One)
Junior Murvin
Channel One Crash
Jackie Mittoo & The Aggrovators
Fighting Your Brethren
Mike Brooks
Set The Captives Free
Gregory Isaacs

Children Of Israel
Dennis Brown
Voodooism (12'' mix)
Leo Graham
Obeah Book
The Ethiopians
Devil's Throne
Junior Delgado
Point Blank
I Roy
Ketch Vampire
Devon Irons & Doctor Alimanado
In God We Trust
The Morwells
Control Your Daughters (12'' mix)
Cornell Campbell
Slave Master (aka Paymaster)
Gregory Isaacs
Smiling Rockers
Tommy McCook & Bobby Ellis
No Wicked In A Zion (aka Wicked Have Fe Dressback)
Earth & Stone
Just Give Up Badness (12'' mix)
Johnny Clarke
Holy Mount Zion
Gladstone Anderson
Jah Jah Say (aka Jah Know You)
The Seekers
Tired Fe Lick Weed A Bush
Jacob Miller & The Inner Circle
R.O.C.K. (Rockers)
Lloyd Charmers

Living The Life We Love
Frankie Jones
The Godfather
I Roy
Back A Yard
The In Crowd
Peace And Love In The Ghetto
Johnny Clarke
New Star
Tapper Zukie & The Musical Intimidators
Oh Jah
The Heptones
A Revolting Rockers
Jackie Mittoo & The Aggrovators
My Sweat Turns To Blood
The Royals
Words, Sounds And Power
Step It Up Youthman
Barry Brown
In The Residence
Sugar Minott
Jah Can Count On I
Freddie McGregor
Lift Up Your Conscience
Israel Vibration
If I Follow My Heart (12'' mix)
Linval Thompson
Junior Delgado
Down In Jamdown
Bim Sherman
No Man's Land
Cornel Campbell

Time - 72:00

Time - 66:19

Time - 67:30

All material Copyright Trojan Records