Apr 17, 2012

RhoDeo 1216 Roots

Hello, we're still on that island with a huge place in the global music catalogue, Jamaica. A production hothouse and they say the Weed makes you slow and lazy-go figure. Without the ganja driven reggae music Jamaica would have remained a Caribbean backwater and dare i say would never have given us Bolt, the fastest man in the world.

Can't get enough of that dub music ? Planning a reggae party ? How about some Deejay's sharing their toasts.

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A man with a message, Big Youth arrived on the music scene in the wake of U-Roy, Dennis Alcapone, and I-Roy, but quickly established his own style, threatening to eclipse them all. The consummate cultural toaster, the DJ ruled the dancehalls across the '70s, and although his career flagged in the next decade, he returned with a vengeance in the '90s, and continues to have an impact on both his own nation and beyond. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, on April 19, 1949, Manley Augustus Buchanan had his moniker long before he had picked up a mic. He was named Big Youth by his co-workers at the Kingston Sheraton hotel, where the tall teen was employed as a mechanic. Initially, he toasted to himself (the DJing equivalent of air guitar), but eventually he took the chance of picking up the mic at a few parties. The enthusiastic response he received prodded him to perform at dances, and by the late '60s, he had a small, but avid following. This fan base swiftly grew and as the new decade arrived, Big Youth was now DJing regularly at Lord Tipperton's sound system, quickly becoming the top DJ for the outfit.

By this point, U-Roy, Alcapone, and I-Roy had already made their vinyl debuts, but Big Youth would wait another year, finally releasing his first single in January 1972. Several singles with different producers failed to entice. The drought was finally broken by a young (just out of his teens) up and coming producer, Gussie Clarke. For "The Killer" single, he had the DJ toast over the rootsy Augustus Pablo number, and the result was magnificent. The pair followed it up with "Tippertone Rocking, another major hit. Big Youth was now in demand.

Big Youth's own debut album, Screaming Target, arrived in 1973. Produced by Gussie Clarke, the album was stuffed with classic rhythms from the likes of Gregory Isaacs and Lloyd Parks, and filled with hits as well, including the magnificent title-track. The DJ seemed to have now glued himself to the chart and during that year, four of his songs, including "Screaming Target" (a version of K.C. White's "No No No" and Buster's "Chi Chi Run"), the Derrick Harriott-produced "Cool Breeze," and the Joe Gibbs-produced "A So We Stay", sat proudly on the Jamaican Top 20 for the entire year.

From boxing bouts to the "Facts of Life," a hit cut for Sonia Pottinger, Big Youth was the tops on any topic. He'd matured swiftly, from a barely understandable mumbler who exhorted the crowds with typical U-Roy or Alcapone-sque exhortations, to a more relaxed, conversational style. And it was this very ease of delivery -- relaxed, but so perfectly timed to the rhythms -- that had entranced the nation.Big Youth released his second album in 74, Reggae Phenomenon, and it was as phenomenal as its title suggested. It featured new songs (all chart-bound), remakes of earlier cuts, and smash hits like the title cut, and the DJ's phenomenal chart success continued with producer after producer.

Big Youth would again pair up with Dennis Brown for the Harry J.-produced "Wild Goose Chase." Niney Holness liked what he heard and kept the duo together for his "Ride on Ride On." The two would go on to record a stunning version of Bob Marley's "Get up Stand Up." Marley's version wasn't alone; besides toasting over classic rocksteady rhythms, Big Youth was now increasingly utilizing heavier roots rhythms. In 1975, the Dreadlocks Dread album appeared, a seminal album overseen by Prince Tony Robinson and split between Big Youth's toasts and instrumental dubs. Accompanied by Skin, Flesh & Bones Band, the album remains a masterpiece of dread roots and provocative cultural toasts.

Dreadlocks Dread had a massive impact on the U.K., where it was picked up by the Klik label and prompted Big Youth to tour there the following year. 1976 brought two albums in its wake, Natty Cultural Dread and Hit the Road Jack, both self-produced by a self-confident Big Youth at the peak of his powers. Again the albums featured a clutch of Jamaican smashes.

Having now signed to the Frontline label in the U.K., Big Youth's debut album for the Virgin subsidiary was 1978's Isaiah First Prophet of Old, a fiercely roots record produced by D Russell. The DJ also had a cameo role in the movie Rockers. He's absolutely unmistakable, stepping out of a flash car and flashing a smile that shows off his front teeth embedded with red, yellow, and green jewels, as his long dreads whip around his face. But behind these eye-catching trappings was a thoughtful and thought-provoking DJ, as his records proved time and time again. Perhaps Big Youth was now seen as too radical for Virgin, and the label chose not to release the DJ's next two albums, Progress and Rock Holy. Nor did they pick up on the former's dub companion, the excellent Reggae Gi Dem Dub, remixed by the up and coming master Sylvan Morris. However, the toaster's grip on Jamaica was also beginning to loosen, and a new generation of chatterers were beginning to come to the fore.

Big Youth continued to record, but no longer ruled the charts, and most of his singles were now self-produced and released through his own labels. The increasing violence in the dancehalls prompted him back into the studio in 1982 for "No War in the Dance," cut for producer Lloyd Parks. He proved his popularity wasn't totally gone, with a steaming, hits-filled set at Reggae Sunsplash before an adoring audience that summer, giving a repeat performance the following year, and again in 1987. In 1985, Big Youth released a surprising new album, A Luta Continua, where he transformed from toaster to singer and roots rasta to jazzman, accompanied by Jamaican jazz hero Herbie Miller.

However, 1988's Manifestation found the DJ regaining his footing, for a roots-drenched set split between excellent toasting and sub-quality singing.
With his profile now the highest it had been in years, Big Youth guest-starred on Capleton's I Testament album, Mutabaruka's Gathering of the Spirits, and Creation Rebel's Fear of a Green Planet. In 1995, the DJ released his own new album, Higher Grounds; overseen by Junior Reid, it was an intriguing mixture of R&B, reggae, and other styles. Another powerful set at Reggae Sunsplash was delivered the following year. The new millennium saw the release in the U.K. of the compilation Tell It Black, a two-CD set that rounds up 31 seminal songs from 1972-1975. But that pales next to Natty Universal Dread, released by the British Blood & Fire label that same year. Three albums and a total of 51 tracks brilliantly wrap up the best from 1973-1979 and include a clutch of Negusa Negast singles that have never been reissued.

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Screaming Target is the debut album by Jamaican deejay Big Youth. It was recorded and originally released in 1972. The album was produced by Big Youth's childhood friend Augustus "Gussie" Clarke. Some of the tracks on the album had previously been hits as singles, it was largely responsible for bringing the DJ art form forward after U-Roy's innovations. Here, in place of hip, jive-derived phrases, listeners find Big Youth ruminating on themes that exemplified the new consciousness of the 1970s. Many of roots reggae's most innovative releases emerged from the studios of young producers intent on rivaling established businessmen like Coxsone Dodd, Duke Reid, and Prince Buster, and Screaming Target is no exception. The rhythm selection is superb throughout, including Leroy Smart's "Pride and Ambition," Gregory Isaacs' "One One Coco Fill Basket," and Lloyd Parks' "Slaving," and Big Youth's toasts are a pure joy to listen to. The music on this release is simultaneously a benchmark for reggae in general and the DJ form in particular -- and a classic of recorded music, regardless of the genre.

Big Youth - Screaming Target (flac 344mb)

01 Screaming Target 03:40
02 Pride and Joy Rock 02:36
03 Be Careful 03:35
04 Tipper Tone Rock 03:26
05 One Of These Fine Days 03:04
06 The Killer 03:26
07 Solomon and Gunday 03:09
08 Honesty 02:37
09 I Am Alright 02:41
10 Lee A Low 02:17
Bonus Tracks
11 Augustus Pablo And The Simplicity People – K.G.´s Half Way Tree 03:25
12 Augustus Pablo – Origan Style 03:34
13 Big Youth – Screaming Target (Version 2) 03:45
14 Leroy Smart – Pride & Ambition 02:39
15 Dennis Brown – Their Own Way 03:35
16 Roman Stewart – Try Me 03:10
17 Big Youth – Tipper Tone Rocking (Version 2) 03:07
18 The Simplicity People – Rhythm Style 03:03
19 Gregory Isaacs – One One Cocoa 03:10
20 The Society Squad – Skylarking (Version) 03:14
21 The Simplicity People – Anywhere But Nowhere (Version) 03:09
22 Lloyd Parks – Slaving (Every Day) 02:59
23 Glen Brown – No More Slavery 03:23
24 Gregory Isaacs – I'm Alright (Aka Loving Pauper) 03:44

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He wasn't the first -- U-Roy wasn't nicknamed "the Originator" for nothing -- but in Jamaica in the early '70s, Dennis Alcapone was part of a triumvirate of toasters, alongside U-Roy and Big Youth, who ruled the island. Crashing out of the sound systems and onto the airwaves like a tidal wave, this trio of talent was responsible for bringing the art of DJing to never before imagined heights. U-Roy was first off the starting block, releasing his debut single in 1969. But in his shadow, the young Dennis Smith was readying to follow suit. Born in Clarendon, Jamaica, on August 6, 1947, a move to Kingston and a name change were the first order of business. Then, with friends Lizzy and Samuel the First, Alcapone set up the El Paso Hi-Fi sound system in 1969. Its success was legendary, its popularity virtually unrivaled in its day. As the new decade dawned, the DJ recorded his first singles, both for Niney Holness and Rupie Edwards. Filling the platters with rhyming chatter -- catchphrases, exuberant exclamations, bouncing off the original lyrics -- while never losing step with the beats, Alcapone's unique singsong style immediately caught the public's attention.

Producer Clement "Coxsonne" Dodd quickly pounced. But Alcapone was not recording exclusively for Dodd, he was doing equally spectacular singles for producer Keith Hudson. The DJ was already maturing and evolving, on "Spanish Amigo," a version of Ken Boothe's soulful "Old Fashioned Way," Alcapone manages to stuff the single not just with his expected catchphrases, but engages in snatches of responses to the lyrics before running away with them entirely. Many of the singles cut with Lee were gathered up for 1971's Guns Don't Argue, which was later reissued by the Jamaica Gold label.

And while Alcapone may have played the tough guy, especially on his album sleeves (Forever Version, for example, found him astride a cannon), in reality, it was his easygoing, personable style that drew the fans. On "DJ's Choice," he actually publicizes the competition, running down a list of top DJs and their catchphrases, with his own last, and encouraging listeners to "voice their choice." Fans could only infer that the congenial Alcapone didn't see the others as competition at all and loved their music as much as they did. By 1972, the DJ's reputation had already crossed the Atlantic to Britain, and Alcapone now went off on his first British tour. He returned home in triumph and was awarded the Best DJ of the Year by Swing magazine. A second U.K. tour was even more successful than the first -- while back home, he seemed to have the Midas touch.

In the three-year period running from his recorded debut in 1970 through to the end of 1973, Alcapone released over 130 singles. Working with virtually every name producer on the island and versioning classic after classic, the DJ's prolificacy is almost beyond belief. At an annual rate of almost 45 releases a year, what's truly stunning is just how good most of them are.

In 1974, Alcapone followed his heart and relocated to London. Love may conquer all, but in the DJ's case, it conquered his seemingly unstoppable career. The lackluster Belch It Off album, produced by Sydney Crooks and released this same year, was a foreboding of things to come. Signing to the U.K. label Magnet, King of the Track also appeared this year and compiled older Bunny Lee-produced hits with four new tracks cut with Lee's associate Count Shelly. Any hopes Alcapone had of re-creating his Jamaican success in Britain swiftly faded with Magnet's own loss of interest. And back home, the DJ was quickly fading from memory, as a wave of new young guns swept into the scene and onto the charts. The man who once swamped the island with records was now reduced to cutting all of a half-a-dozen singles between 1975-1976.

A move to the Third World label offered a glimmer of hope. He recorded three albums for them -- Dread Capone, Six Million Dollar Man, and the the Bunny Lee-produced set Investigator Rock -- all before the end of 1977. However, none made much of an impression. The RAS label's Universal Rockers bundles up tracks from this era, a reminder that Alcapone hadn't so much lost his form, as his following. There just wasn't large enough interest in the U.K. to sustain his stardom, while there wasn't enough output to keep him fresh back home. By the end of the decade, Alcapone had left music entirely -- but not permanently.

In 1988, the DJ returned to the stage and the following year saw him take the WOMAD festival by storm. Alcapone returned to Jamaica in 1990 and began working again with Bunny Lee. Most of his releases since have been low-profile and have had little impact on the current scene. In 1997, however, he cut the 21st Century Version album with producer the Mad Professor, which received the most attention of this decade's output. Alcapone continues to record and appear live, but sadly, his glory days turned out to be far too brief. However, he led by example and his career and life can best be summed up by his own catchphrase, "Live it up."

Dennis Alcapone - Musical Liquidator (flac 132mb)

01 King Of The Track 3:05
02 Girl Of My Dream 3:18
03 Here I Come 3:25
04 Don't Rush It 2:47
05 Memory Lane 4:00
06 Two Of A Kind 2:18
07 Lorna Banana 3:05
08 Jamaica Way 2:57
09 Freedom Skank 2:37
10 Musical Message 2:12
11 Musical Liquidator 2:42
12 Cassius Clay 3:33
13 Tour The World 3:35
14 Love Is The Key 3:25
15 Repatriation Now 2:44
16 Train To Zion 3:37

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U-Roy (born Ewart Beckford, 21 September 1942, Jones Town, Jamaica), also known as The Originator. His musical career began in 1961 when he began deejaying at various sound systems. This included a stint operating Sir Coxsone Dodd's Number Two set, while King Stitt "The Ugly One" ran the main set. U-Roy eventually worked with King Tubby at Duke Reid's Sound System in the late 1960s. Around this period, King Tubby had started to experiment with his studio equipment in an attempt to create new effects and sounds, which would eventually lead to a new style of Reggae called dub music. With U-Roy as his most prominent deejay, King Tubby's new sound became extraordinarily popular and U-Roy a local celebrity. Calling himself, "your ace from outer space", U-Roy revolutionized the musical style of reggae in 1969. Even though U-Roy was not the first microphone artist, he was the first to gain recognition through recording this style. U-Roy popularized and gained a wider audience for "toasting"; rapping over "versions" of popular songs remixed by King Tubby. Considered one of Jamaica's first Deejay stars, "U-Roy raised the art of toasting to new heights. U-Roy's success continued throughout the 1970s, perhaps most famously with the album Dread in a Babylon, produced by "Prince" Tony Robinson and propelled by the album's skank smash hit "Runaway Girl". By the early 1980s he had become one of Jamaica's biggest stars, also garnering significant acclaim in the United Kingdom.

In a way on Serious Matter, U-Roy has come full circle. The DJ started off interjecting his own comments between the vocal lines of classic songs in virtual duets, but quickly the original vocals all but disappeared. Now, however, they're back with a vengeance; in fact, every song within is credited as a duet, even one that's actually an instrumental! And so Serious Matter finds U-Roy returning to the sound system days of yore, singing along with the original vocals, playing off the lyrics, and sharing his utter delight about the tracks with the listener. And it's easy to be swept up with him, as he swings along to 17 classic recordings. An equally impressive roster of musicians accompanies the DJ, the elite of Jamaica's session men. This large host creates an ever-shifting rootsy backdrop that shimmers from haunting to celebratory, reinvigorating all of the songs. Although U-Roy's work in the 1990s had its moments, nothing remotely equaled his previous work with Tony Robinson or his earliest efforts with Duke Reid. But to move forward, the DJ has had to take two steps backwards, retrieving the evocative rootsy sound and rediscovering his initial love of connecting to the listener through the original songs, every single track is a sheer delight. It's been decades since U-Roy has sounded so relaxed and cheerful, and it's obvious that he enjoyed himself thoroughly during the recording session. .

U Roy - Serious Matter (flac 410mb)

01 Intro 0:10
02 Half Me Get feat Dennis Brown 03:37
03 Attention feat Pierpoljak, Third World 4:00
04 Money feat Horace Andy 3:54
05 A Capella feat Israel Vibration 0:44
06 Same Vibe feat Israel Vibration 3:58
07 Half 3 The Hard Way feat Cheb Aïssa, Dennis Brown 3:54
08 Know Yourself feat Ernest Wilson 4:00
09 Love Fe Me feat Jimmy London 3:34
10 Serious Matter feat Beres Hammond 3:56
11 Ska Version feat Johnny Moore 4:07
12 When Jah Come feat Dennis Brown 3:57
13 Interview 0:48
14 Bass Power feat Horace Andy 3:50
15 Know Who I Am feat Third World 3:58
16 Night Nurse feat Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs 3:48
17 Miss Till I Kiss feat Jimmy London 3:43
18 Love Fe Me 3 The Hard Way feat Jimmy London & Manu 8:41

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Jams Runt said...

Hey, could you re-up the Big Youth in flac? Thank you so much.

Jams Runt said...

Thanks again. I just discovered your site recently, and it truly is a goldmine. I'll try not to bug you too much.

Ian Buckley said...

Is anyone else finding tracks 14, 15, 16 and 17 aren't playing properly when unpacked? Or have I just got a corrupt download?

Ian Buckley said...

Rho, I have downloaded U Roy again and I still get the tracks from 14 to 18 not playing properly. Could you have a look please as it does seem it has been uploaded like it. Thanks, Ian.