Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Blogariddims Terminus: Some Introductions to Reggae Songs

Coming after what I have no doubt will be an excellent mix from Eden and Meme (http://blog.grievousangel.net/blogariddims-terminus), even if they're obviously taking the piss with over 8 minutes, is my six and a half minutes of the introductions to reggae songs. Starting in the late nineteen sixties and finishing at the end of the pre-digital era (not strictly chronologically ordered)

At first, this contribution to the final Blogariddims was to feature only drum intros; you know that first few seconds of recorded sound that emanates from the vast majority of reggae when recorded using live players of instruments.

However, in the end, I allowed myself to include other introductions as long they ended with a solo drum sound, no matter how small (and even that rule I probably broke. More than once).

So, onwards...

In a genre where unwritten rules exist to be broken, one of the few constants of reggae has been that after the initial needle drop, when the subsequent vinyl crackle has- hopefully- calmed down a little, the drummer has a fleeting opportunity to show their flare, ready all those gathered and build excitement/ anticipation for what is to follow.

The calm before the storm...

I suppose it makes sense that a popular music derived from nyabinghi goundations can utilise some stretched animal skin, plastic and tempered metal to create instantly recognisable signifiers of what is to follow. Legends such as Sly Dunbar and Style Scott made intros an art unto itself, ably assisted by the development of dub, which stretched the anticipation quotient further and further during the 1970s, aided and abeted by the odd vocal interjection and yelp.

So, here we have 80 odd of the things, from early reggae, through Studio 1, the Black Ark, the Aggrovators, the Revolutionaries and Roots Radics, finishing with those moments before digital took over (which didn't see the use of the drum intro as a compositional tool coming to an end).

It was an honour to be asked to get involved in the Blogariddims series at all, let alone the final swan song, so a hearty hail to Droid in particular and everyone else involved- on this, and the other 49. You have enriched my listening greatly over the past couple of years. Thank you.

Now see how many you of these things you recognise and then get frustrated that the release never comes...

Download the whole mix here:


or here:


1. Scientist- 'Blood On His Lips'
2. Larry Marshall- 'Nanny Goat'
3. Lone Ranger- 'Love Bump'
4. Dennis Alcapone- 'Forever Version'
5. Horace Andy- 'Every Tongue Shall Tell'
6. Don Drummond- 'Man in the Street'
7. Skatalites- 'Guns of Navarone'
8. Burning Spear- 'This Population'
9. Cornell Campbell- 'Pretty Looks Isn't All'
10. Billy Dyce- 'Take Warning'
11. Cat Campbell and Nicky Thomas- 'Hammering'
12. Alton Ellis- 'Sunday Coming'
13. Sugar Minott- 'Love Gonna Pick You Up'

14. Sugar Minott- 'Try Love'
15. Judah Eskender Tafari- 'Jah Light'
16. The Heptones- 'We Are In The Mood'
17. Michigan and Smilie- 'Eye of Danger'
18. Harry J Allstars- 'Liquidator'

19. Bob Marley- 'Keep on Moving'
20. Eric Donaldson- 'Cherry Oh Baby'
21. U Roy- 'Way Down South'
22. Judah Eskender Tafari- 'Rastafari Tell You'
23. Light of Saba- 'Sabebe'
24. Jah Creation- 'Creole'
25. King Tubby and The Aggrovators- 'The Knockout Punch Version'
26. Prince Far I and the Arabs- 'A Message'
27. Johnny Clarke- 'African Roots'
28. Johnny Clarke- 'Too Much War'
29. Jacob Miller- 'I'm In Love'
30. King Tubby and The Aggrovators- 'Dub Place'

31. Linval Thompson- 'Whe the Wicked (2nd take)'
40. Johnny Clarke- 'Rastafari'
41. I Roy- 'The Duke'

42. Barry Brown- 'Better For I'
43. Dr Alimintado & Jah Stitch- 'The Barber Feel It'
44. King Tubby- 'Drum and Bass'
45. King Tubby- 'Harder Dub'
46. Little Joe- 'Tradition Skank'
47. Big Joe- 'Crucial Natty Dread'
48. King Tubby- '555 Dub'
49. I Roy- 'Satta'
50. Ranking Caretaker- 'No Dash It Wey'
51. Jnr Byles- 'Coming Again'
52. Bunny Scott- 'I've Never Had It So Good'

53. Jnr Murvin- 'False Teachings'

54. The Upsetters- '10 Cent Shank'
55. The Congos- 'Children Crying'
56. Brent Dowe- 'Down Here in Babylon'
57. Lee Perry/ Sly & the Revolutionaries- 'Long Sentence Dub'
58. Impact All-Stars- 'Wire Dub'
59. The In Crowd- 'Just Another Dub'

60. Alton Ellis- 'Too Late'
61. Little Roy- 'Hurt Not the Earth'
62. Hugh Mundell- 'One Jah, One Aim, One Destiny'
63. Hugh Mundell- 'Don't Stay Away Dub'
64. The Royals- 'Pick Up The Pieces'
65. Israel Vibration- 'Why Worry'
66. Johnny Osbourne- 'Take Me To A Rub A Dub Session'
67. Barry. Brown- 'Far East'
68. The Mighty Diamonds- 'I Need A Roof'
69. The Mighty Diamonds- 'Right Time'
70. Jnr Byles- 'Fade Away'
71. Sugar Minott- 'Babylon'
72. John Holt- 'Up Park Camp'
73. The Jays & Ranking Trevor- 'Queen Majesty'
74. Ringo- 'Working Class'
75. Frankie Paul- 'Worries In The Dance (Version)'
76. The Revolutionaries- 'Bossman Dubplate Mix'
77. Dillinger- 'Forward Commandments'

78. Sam Bramwell- 'It Go A Dread Inna Babylon'
79. The Revolutionaries- 'Afraid Of Dubplate mix'
80. Knowledge. 'Centry'
81. Devon Irons- 'Jerusalem'
82. Mr Bojangles- 'Election Derby'
83. Scientist- 'Beam Down'

(6 mins 33 secs)

The selection starts with a bit of ska and early reggae, with a focus on Studio 1. Records that were to lay the foundation for many, many future version excersions. Already the use of dum intros is evident, but possibly not yet formalised. The Studio 1 house band, the Soul Vendors drummer Bunny Williams and the Skatalites Lloyd Knibbs are featured.

Things really got going with the Aggrovators, Bunny Lee's session band. The main drummer was Carlton 'Santa' Davies who developed the 'flying cymbols' sound- named after Santa's use of the high hat- although Sly Dunbar and Carlton Barrett also featured on some sessions.

This is one of many styles named after what the drummer was doing behind the kit- 'one drop', 'rockers' and 'steppers' being other obvious examples, which make explicit the importance of the drummer and possibly gave license to explore increasingly complex intros.

All this was ably assisted by King Tubby's use of post production and the development of dub. Echo and delay were deployed and voices from the other side of the glass can be heard.

Arch experimentalist Lee Perry ignored drum intros by comparison, but then considering what he was doing with the rest of the song, this is perhaps understandable. House band at the Black Ark featured Carlton Barrett (until he joined the Wailers) and Michael Richards.

In the mid 1970s Channel One Studios developed a distinctive drum sound. House band the Revolutionaries- the first working partnership of Sly Dunbar (drums) and Robbie Shakespeare (bass)- created the 'rockers' rhythm.

The early 1980s saw the rise of Scientist, an apprentice of Tubbys and the Roots Radics (drummer: Style Scott) who recorded for Henry Junjo Lawes. The dub albums that came out of this relationship have brilliant titles and artwork, whilst the slow, pared down rhythms provided plenty of opportunity for experimentation.

Obviously, I've missed out a whole load of stuff on this mix (the Mighty Two, for example), but frankly, who cares?

Next up, Mr Rambler ( http://johnsonsrambler.wordpress.com/2008/10/07/blogariddims-50-terminus/) the man who has recently finished his Phd! He's a new father! His other Blogariddims contributions are marvellous! He still finds time to contribute to this one! BASTARD ;).


Gabriel Heatwave said...

Really enjoyed this, love it when the ones you know drop in, then out again, it's like an hour's mix in fastforward...

dub said...

Wow, I've always meant to do something like this and never got it together. Fantastic stuff...

Anonymous said...

Haha, madness!