Apr 24, 2012

RhoDeo 1217 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 ?   In the mid-late seventies it wasn't just Bob Marley and The Wailers carrying the torch for reggae music in the west, there were other greats like Max Romeo and  volcal harmony acts like Culture, specially the soulful, gorgeously pure harmonies and tight, catchy songwriting of the Mighty Diamonds made their own splash...

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Max Romeo (born Maxwell Livingston Smith, 22 November 1947, left home at the age of 14 and worked on a sugar plantation outside Clarendon, cleaning out irrigation ditches, before winning a local talent competition when he was 18; prompting a move to the capital, Kingston, in order to achieve a successful musical career. In 1965 he joined up with Kenneth Knight and Lloyd Shakespeare in The Emotions. In 1966, the group had their first hit, with the Lack-produced, "(Buy You) A Rainbow". The Emotions went on to have several hit singles and by 1968, the singer, by this point known as Max Romeo, felt confident enough to launch a solo career.

Later on in 1968, Romeo wrote new lyrics for the rhythm track of Derrick Morgan's "Hold You Jack" and handed them over to Bunny Lee, leading the producer to Romeo to sing the lyrics he had written. The result, "Wet Dream" (1969), was an instant hit in Jamaica, although in the UK it was met with a BBC Radio (cringe) ban. Predictably, the ban only made it more popular and the single entered the UK Singles Chart, peaking at number 10 and ultimately spending almost six months in the chart, before featuring on his LP, A Dream (1969), which included several follow-up singles in a similar vein. A UK tour also met with Romeo being banned from performing at several venues, although many allowed him to play.

Early in the seventies saw Romeo release a series of politically charged singles, most advocating the democratic socialist People's National Party (PNP), which chose his song, "Let The Power Fall On I", as their campaign theme for the 1972 Jamaican general election. Romeo joined the PNP Musical Bandwagon, travelling around Jamaica, playing on the back of a truck. He worked with producer Lee "Scratch" Perry, producing the classic singles "Three Blind Mice", "I Chase the Devil". and  "Sipple Out Deh", and a remixed version of which entitled "War Ina Babylon", was another popular track in the UK, the first fruits of his deal with Island Records, and was followed by the classic album of the same name, after which the pair fell out.

Romeo moved to New York City in 1978, where he co-wrote (with Hair producer Michael Butler) the musical, Reggae, which he also starred in. In 1981 Keith Richards co-produced and played on Romeo's album, Holding Out My Love to You. The rest of his output during the decade went practically unnoticed, with Romeo finding work at a New York electronics store. He returned to Jamaica in 1990, and began touring and recording more regularly. He visited the UK again in 1992, recording the albums Far I Captain of My Ship and Our Rights with Jah Shaka. In 1995 he recorded Cross of the Gun with Tappa Zukie, and he joined up with UK rhythm section/production team Mafia & Fluxy in 1999 for the album Selassie I Forever. This last decade saw the release of several compilations.

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Though Max Romeo got his start singing smutty novelty tunes (his first big Jamaican hit was titled "Wet Dream"), he later turned to serious political and religious themes, and while he always had some trouble gaining the respect he deserved as a singer, the recordings he made in the mid-'70s at the Harry J Studio, at Randy's, and especially at Lee Perry's Black Ark are some of the most powerful of that period, when much timeless music was being made in those studios. This marvelous collection brings together some of the best singles of the period, most of them in tandem with their dub versions. Romeo's sweet tenor voice and effortless delivery belie the lyrical content of these songs, which is invariably dread, dread, dread. The pleasant melody and gently loping rhythm on the classic "Warning, Warning" will lull you into blissful complacency until the lyrics wake you up with a jolt: "And now you rich people, listen to me/Weep and wail over the miseries/That are coming/Coming upon you." The backing musicians are mostly variations on the Upsetters' lineup, and much of the production bears the unmistakable Lee Perry imprint (though all of it is credited to Romeo on the reissue). This is an essential from reggae's classic period.

Max Romeo - Open the Iron Gate 1973 - 1977 (flac 256mb)

01 Every Man Ought To Know 3:18
02 Revelation Time / Hammer And Sickle 5:06
03 No Peace 3:43
04 Tacko 2:49
05 Blood Of The Prophet Parts 1 & 2 6:24
06 Warning Warning / Version 7:42
07 A Quarter Pound Of I'cense 2:43
08 Three Blind Mice 2:54
09 Open The Iron Gate Parts 1 & 2 5:14
10 Valley Of Jehosaphat / Version 5:02
11 Fire Fe The Vatican 3:33
12 Melt Away (12" Version) 6:05

Max Romeo - Open the Iron Gate (ogg 108mb)

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Vocal trio the Mighty Diamonds were one of the most internationally popular reggae groups to emerge from the '70s roots era. More accessible than many other roots outfits, the Diamonds boasted soulful, gorgeously pure harmonies and tight, catchy songwriting, much of it from within the group itself. They were devout Rastafarians, but balanced their spiritual and political messages with sweet romantic material, which gave them a more universal appeal than militant groups like Culture or Black Uhuru. Regardless of whether they were singing love songs or protest anthems, the Mighty Diamonds brought a startling emotional commitment to their best material, and their debut album, Right Time, still stands as one of roots reggae's all-time classics.

The Mighty Diamonds were formed in 1969 in the Kingston ghetto of Trenchtown, also home to Bob Marley. From day one onward, their lineup consisted of founder and harmony singer Pat "Lloyd" Ferguson (aka Judge Diamond, the Judge), lead singer Donald Shaw (aka Tabby Diamond, the Prophet), and harmony singer Fitzroy Simpson (aka Bunny Diamond, the Jester). Their sweet sound and polished choreography were distinctly inspired by the Motown groups of the '60s. During the early '70s, they recorded for several producers, including Stranger Cole and Rupie Edwards, without much success. Finally, in 1973, they caught on at Byron Lee's Dynamic Sounds studio and notched their first hit with "Shame and Pride."

From there, the group moved on to Joseph "JoJo" Hoo Kim's Channel One imprint in 1975. They scored two quick hits with "Country Living" and "Hey Girl," and then had their biggest success yet with "Right Time." Signed to a major-label deal with Virgin, the Mighty Diamonds issued their first album, also titled Right Time, in 1976. It was an instant classic, tackling a multitude of social and spiritual issues with powerful yet graceful music, and spawned further hits in "I Need a Roof," "Have Mercy," and "Africa." Now stars in the U.K. as well as Jamaica, the group traveled to New Orleans to record their follow-up LP, Ice on Fire. Produced by Allen Toussaint, the album was an uneasy marriage of reggae and American R&B, and was received poorly by the group's roots-minded fans.

Retreating from crossover territory, the Mighty Diamonds returned to Channel One and cut several strong roots albums over the next few years: 1978's Stand Up for Your Judgement, 1979's Tell Me What's Wrong, and the most acclaimed of the bunch, 1979's Deeper Roots. In the early '80s, the group started working with producer Gussie Clarke, reworking old Studio One rhythm tracks into new songs on their 1981 album Changes. One of those new songs, "Pass the Kouchie" (or sometimes "Kutchie"), was a major hit in Jamaica, and in 1982 it was covered by the Musical Youth for the U.S. and U.K. smash "Pass the Dutchie" (substituting a type of cooking pot for the original's marijuana slang).

In the mid-'80s, the Diamonds began to incorporate the digital sounds of ragga into their music, on albums like 1985's Struggling and the Clarke-produced efforts The Real Enemy (1987) and Get Ready (1988). Additionally, several collections of the group's unreleased work for Channel One appeared during the decade. Their recording pace slowed a bit in the '90s, though they still came up with fine new albums like 1993's smooth, soul-oriented Paint It Red and 1994's harder-hitting Speak the Truth. The group also continued its extensive international touring schedule up into the new millennium, and kept up a steady string of appearances at the annual Reggae Sunsplash Festival.

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As Jamaica geared up for national elections that would bring the politically right-wing, free-market JLP to power after eight years of left-wing rule, 1979 was a pivotal year in the country's political history. The economy had been shattered by the oil crisis, and reduced to further tatters by the IMF. Violence erupted, and well over 800 Jamaicans were murdered before polling day finally decided the nation's fate in early 1980. It was in the midst of this turmoil that the Mighty Diamonds recorded Deeper Roots, an album that zapped the Zeitgeist of its time. The contemporary carnage is reflected in the haunting "One Brother Short," with its rumors of war and the disappearance of brethren into the grave. Poverty is omnipresent, even casting dark shadows over the band's walk down memory lane on "Two by Two," while oppression is eternal. "I can't stand no more," Donald "Tabby" Shaw laments on "4000 Years," a sentiment echoed on "Blackman," where he decries "Brothers and sisters we can take it no longer, so much pain, so much pain and misery." Yet Deeper Roots is not lost to despair, for the trio has a "Master Plan" for freedom and a lock on hope. Prayer plays an important part, as "Be Aware" eloquently explains, as does the need for unity, a theme the Diamonds return to again and again. "Reality" further elaborates on other changes needed, as well as providing a primer on righteous living. All of which culminates in "Dreadlocks Time," the trio's celebration of victory over the baldheads. The Diamonds' powerful and thoughtful lyrics continue to resonate, their melodies unforgettable and their harmonies flawless. But what made the album an instant classic was the Diamonds' overwhelming optimism, even while acknowledging the horrors around them. Twinned with Jo Jo Hookim's expert production and the Soul Syndicate's bright but edgy backings, this album is a stunner. One of the best sets from the roots age, with the CD reissue further enhanced by the inclusion of the set's dub companion, Deeper Dub.

Mighty Diamonds - Deeper Roots and Dub (flac 423mb)

01 Reality 3:15
02 Blackman 3:48
03 Dreadlocks Time 3:16
04 Diamonds And Pearls 3:01
05 One Brother Short 3:45
06 Bodyguard 3:31
07 4000 Years 3:30
08 Master Plan 4:01
09 Two By Two 3:35
10 Be Aware 2:49
11 Reality Dub 3:17
12 Blackman Dub 3:42
13 Dreadlocks Time Dub 3:09
14 Diamonds And Pearls Dub 3:01
15 One Brother Short Dub 3:06
16 Bodyguard Dub 3:30
17 4000 Years Dub 3:33
18 Master Plan Dub 4:01
19 Two By Two Dub 3:04
20 Be Aware Dub 2:55

Mighty Diamonds - Deeper Roots & Dub (ogg 160mb)

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Joseph Hill had been trying his hand at a solo career for some time before forming Culture. .He recorded several solo numbers during his stay at Coxone studios in 71, including "Behold the Land" and "Take Me Girl," but nothing came of them. Hill floated through several bands prior to forming Culture in 1976. His cousin Albert Walker came to him with the idea of forming a vocal group, and the two quickly recruited another cousin, Roy "Kenneth" Dayes, to sing harmony vocals along with Walker. Initially calling themselves the African Disciples, the trio hooked up with producer Joe Gibbs in Kingston, and soon changed their name to Culture.

Overseen by Gibbs and engineer Errol Thompson, aka the Mighty Two, they debuted with the single "This Time" on Gibbs' Belmont label. Not long after, they broke through with several hit singles, including "See Them a Come" and "Two Sevens Clash." The latter was a Rastafarian vision of the rapidly approaching apocalypse, which fueled public paranoia in an already violent election year; it also provided the title track of the group's debut album, which was released in 1977 to tremendous acclaim. Two Sevens Clash was a spiritual manifesto against racial injustice and poverty. It won a huge following not only in Jamaica, but also the U.K.

After their success with Gibbs, the group went on to make a string of albums for producer Sonia Pottinger. Culture began working with some of the premier musicians of the day including Robbie Shakespeare, Sly Dunbar, Ansel Collins, Cedric Brooks and the ever-present percussionist Sticky. Virgin Records picked up the albums, and that added distribution enabled Culture to gain an even larger following outside of Jamaica. In 1982 the three singers went their own ways. Joseph Hill carried on using the Culture name, and recorded the ‘Lion Rock’ album, which was released in the United States by Heartbeat Records. In 1986 the original line-up reformed to record two highly regarded albums – ‘Culture in Culture’ and ‘Culture at Work’. They resumed touring as well, and kicked off another prolific and productive period with albums like 1988's Nuff Crisis (which featured the powerful protest "Crack in New York"), 1989's Good Things, 1991's dancehall-flavored Three Sides to My Story, and 1992's Wings of a Dove.

In 1993, Kenneth Dayes left the group to pursue a solo career, wanting to continue their earlier experimentation with dancehall. Culture was then touring with an independent backing band called Dub Mystic, and that group's lead singer, Malomo, became the third vocalist in the trio. He appeared on two studio albums, 1996's One Stone and 1997's Trust Me. Malomo was replaced in 1999 by Telford Nelson, who made his debut on 2000's Payday. Hill released another effective solo album, Humble African, in 2001, and Culture returned in 2003 with the acclaimed World Peace. On August 19, 2006, during a show in Berlin, Germany, Hill collapsed on-stage and passed away.
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Culture has always been a bit unique, dominated by the mystical and strangely charismatic lead singer and songwriter Joseph Hill, Culture has always dealt in simple and yet absurdly catchy melodies, astringent harmonies and lyrics of the very dreadest character -- very few love songs, very few party songs, just lots and lots of dire warnings issued to Babylon and its fellow travellers. Although the band is most commonly praised for its work with producer Joe Gibbs (most notably the stone classic Two Sevens Clash album), many the tracks Culture recorded under the supervision of Sonia Pottinger are every bit as good, and Cumbolo includes ten of the best of those. Just about every song here counts as a highlight, the backup is provided by a shifting contingent of Jamaica's studio aristocracy that includes Sly & Robbie, Ansel Collins, and "Deadly" Headley Bennett, among other luminaries.

Culture - Cumbolo (flac 280mb)

01 They Never Love In This Time 4:23
02 Innocent Blood 5:37
03 Cumbolo 3:52
04 Poor Jah People 5:40
05 Natty Never Get Weary 3:52
06 Natty Dread Nah Run 3:51
07 Down In Jamaica 4:04
08 This Train 4:48
09 Pay Day 4:15
10 Mind Who You Beg For Help 5:03

Culture - Cumbolo (ogg 114mb)

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Max Romeo & The Upsetters – War Ina Babylon (flac 200mb)

Culture - Two Sevens Clash ( 77 ^ 142mb)

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Anonymous said...

Thank you very much!

Saudi Mike said...

I love that you post rock and reggae mixed!
Awesome music taste bro!
Thanks for your efforts!

Le Sot said...

Mille mercis for the roots, the dub & the flac !

Raver said...

Best blog on the web...not even close. I've downloaded every roots album you've posted. Righteous works here. I don't know how you avoid all the audio police around here, but more power!

Mark said...

Hi, would it be possible to re-up "Mighty Diamonds - Deeper Roots & Dub" in FLAC? It would be much appreciated! Thanks in advance :)

Mark said...

Once again, thank you ;)