Sep 18, 2012

RhoDeo 1238 Roots


Hello, it's been 3 months since we left that island with a huge place in the global music catalogue, Jamaica. Plenty of time to drift towards the UK, thanks to the gulfstream. Plenty of Jamaicans found there way to UK shores and set up shop there. One of the labels that came to be was On U sound, Adrian Sherwood having been infected with the reggae/dub virus in the decade preceding decided it was time for the UK to get their heads rung by the massive tech-dub sounds.

For starters a ON U supergroup Singers & Players. I try out a new host as well, Filecoud.io let me know if it works for you.

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The early eighties saw what was perhaps the most feverish bout of recording, and corresponding leaps in musical development, for the young record producer Adrian Maxwell Sherwood and his new On-U Sound label. Licensing deals were in place with the likes of the Cherry Red organisation and Situation 2 and there was a fresh determination brought to keep control of all the aspects of the business.

The Singers And Players, as implied by their name, were not a band but a loose collective, and therefore a contribution to what was to become an On-U Sound tradition. At this time Sherwood held a vision that around fifteen to twenty musicians, all friends / lovers / musical co-conspirators, could revolve around one axis, creating five or six touring and recording bands, taking money off as many big record companies as possible, all sharing the same vaguely subversive but essentially gentle visions, all driven forward by the pulse and vibration of drum and bass, all willing to lose time in space of echo and reverb, all coming in from different musical and cultural directions. Of course this was the crazed dream of a slightly demented idealist and was never fated to work out - at least not to the letter!

The original concept behind the formation of the Singers And Players was therefore not just the creation of a reggae "super group" but an attempt to bring together a loose collective of vocalists, DJs, musicians and engineers to record and tour under the same banner. In so doing this would provide a common level of support and a platform for them to maintain their individual careers whilst avoiding the mistake of over-recording, a common problem which has plagued so many reggae artists.

In November 1981 the extended, bass-dominated workouts that dominated the debut "War Of Words" set (ON-U LP 5) must have sounded like the bizarre noises received from a blazing comet rapidly travelling away from the orbit of Planet Earth, a much safer place where sound was increasingly being sucked through a process to provide a comfortable dose of the slightly dangerous for an audience that was growing more and more immune to the sucker punch.

Recorded in 1981 the follow-up "Revenge Of The Underdog" album (ON-U LP 11) combined vocal and DJ talents of Bim Sherman and Lizard Logan with Prince Far I and Jah Woosh. Trademark On-U dub outings were also in evidence from Sherwood - it being important to note that at the time these were being regarded by some of London's reggae-critical mafia as "excessive white boy studio doodlings" and not an early clue to the new direction. The music did and still does dash away the ramblings of those more suited to reviewing garden furniture.

By 1983 the On-U Sound megacorp was truly full stride with the release of "Staggering Heights" (ON-U LP 23). Featuring an all star line-up, with the newly arrived Mikey Dread and Congo Ashanti Roy joining stalwarts Prince Far I and Bim Sherman as the "Singers", this strictly reggae album marked a level of creative production in the genre which set a high standard to be lived up to in the future.

Congo Ashanti Roy was brought to On-U Sound by his friend Mikey Dread and both were contemporary contributors to the Singers And Players' family, arriving in the UK from the States in the early eighties. Ashanti Roy was, along with Cedric Myton and Watty Burnett, part of the trio which constituted the legendary Congos who had collaborated with Lee Perry in producing the masterpiece that was "Heart Of The Congos".

Mikey Dread (a.k.a. Michael Campbell) first achieved a certain notoriety via his Saturday night radio show on JBC - "Dread At The Controls". Two of his three contributions for On-U Sound were self-referential, "Autobiography" was almost a follow-up to his "School Days" for this album.

Re-recordings of both "Breaking Down The Pressure" and "Autobiography" went on to appear on 1984's "Leaps And Bounds" set on Cherry Red (ON-U LP 33). In both sound and core personnel this was the last of the "original" S&P albums and was dedicated to Prince Far I who had been brutally murdered at his Jamaican home in September of the previous year. This tragic event was to profoundly affect Adrian Sherwood, who for several years after produced very little reggae-flavoured output.

By the time 1988's "Vacuum Pumping" album (ON-U LP 39) was unleashed on the public On-U Sound had moved-on both musically and in terms of its core band of supporting musicians and vocalists. While long-timers Bim Sherman and Lizard Logan were still in-effect, many new contributors like Style Scott (of Dub Syndicate), Akabu and Bonjo I (of African Head Charge) were now playing a part in the mix. It was perhaps then unrealistic for the set to be anything other than a departure from what had come before. Consequently it was the last original album released under the S&P banner.

It says much for the vision, freedom of playing and the sheer energy which went into particularly the early Singers And Players productions that, like jazz, blues and much other so-called genre playing, the music still retains that certain ingredient which still makes them sound fresh today.

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The short-lived Singers & Players were something of a reggae supergroup, comprised of various top-notch studio players (among them several members of the legendary Roots Radics) and a revolving lineup of singers including, at various times, Bim Sherman and the gravel-voiced DJ Prince Far I. Revenge of the Underdog was the follow-up to War of Words, and was one of the more important early production efforts by the very young Adrian Sherwood. There really is not a single weak track here: Lizard Logan, Prince Far I and Bim Sherman all take turns working over the rhythm from "Dungeon" by the Wailing Souls; Prince Far I delivers two of his most indelible performances with the stern "Prodigal Son" and the more light-hearted "Water the Garden." Bim Sherman's wispy voice is showcased to fine effect on the sufferer's anthem "Too Much Work Load." On every track, Sherwood spins his glistening web of intrusive, hyperactive magic, a production approach that would never work for anyone else but almost always does for him. No reggae collection should be without this one.


Singers and Players - Revenge Of The Underdog (flac  236mb)

01 Dungeon/ Merchant Ship/Jah Army Band 7:38
02 Too Much Work Load 4:51
03 Prodigal Son 4:24
04 Follower 3:36
05 Water The Garden 4:09
06 Resolution (Pt. 2/Version 2) 6:35
07 Thing Called Love (Don't Fight) 3:00
08 Cha-Ris-Ma 4:26

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Like Revenge of the Underdog and War of Words, Staggering Heights provides just a taste of Singers & Players' magic.  On this set,  Prince Far I,  Bim Sherman,  Mikey Dread, and Congo Ashanti Roy (formerly of  The Congos) are featured, with the latter surprisingly grabbing top honors, with his enjoyable "Snipers in the Street" and the classic "African Blood" .  A pair of superb DJ tunes rounds out the best of this album: Prince Far I's playful yet insightful "Bedward the Flying Preacher" and Mikey Dread's "School Days."  Prince Far I's "Autobiography" (not to be confused with Singers & Players' "Autobiography (Dread Operator)" on the Dub Xperience: The Dread Operators collection), however, is a bit dull for me.  Although he talks straight through "Bedward," it works there because the music is so intoxicating.



Singers and Players - Staggering Heights (flac  255mb)

01 African Blood 3:50
02 Bedward The Flying Preacher 4:43
03 Snipers In The Streets 6:09
04 A Matter Of Time 5:46
05 School Days 3:55
06 Autobiography 6:56
07 Socca 5:55
08 This Assembly 4:30

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A meanwhile rare compilation of Singers and Players 4 albums; War Of Words (Tracks 1/2/8), Revenge Of The Underdog (Tracks 3/6/13/14), Staggering Heights (Tracks 4/7) and Vacuum Pumping (Tracks 5/9/10/11/12) . This should get you into the Singers and Players



Singers and Players - Golden Greats Volume 2 (flac  453mb)

01 Quante Jubila 3:40
02 Sit And Wonder 6:31
03 Dungeon / Merchant Ship / Jah Army Band 7:38
04 This Assembly 5:46
05 Lighthouse / Dreamworld 4:27
06 Charisma 4:24
07 Matter Of Time 5:36
08 World Of Dispensation 4:32
09 Pneumatic 4:15
10 Holy Scripture 5:44
11 To Be Free 3:23
12 Boof Um Baff Um 5:25
13 A Thing Called Love 3:02
14 Resolution Pt. 2 6:32

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21 comments:

FrankDell said...

Had Revenge back in the day, Thank you for returning it to me.

Anonymous said...

Please please please please re-up flac

Rho said...

Well I agree Singers and Players should be heard ...N'Joy

Anonymous said...

Any chance of a re-up for these musical treasures in flac?

Anonymous said...

Update: I managed to find one working link for "Staggering Heights", but the other album's links are dead.

Rho said...

Well Anon, of cause i can reload and create some fresh new links...N'Joy

RasLeroy said...

Ha, I'm not normally anonymous... much. Thanks for the re-ups, these out-of-print On-U discs are getting ridiculously expensive these days. So I am very grateful to get them here. Great blog, man.

Anonymous said...

Any chance of getting the full version of "War of the Worlds" in flac ?

Anonymous said...

Staggering height links dead ?

Rho said...

Anon, Not sure what you're on about i get plenty of choice after clicking the staggering heights link

Inertia from Oz said...

Hi Rho. The 'Staggering Heights' links are all dead, even though the Mirrorcreator says there are 4 active...
I've tried all 4 to no avail...

Cheers

Inertia

Rho said...

Oops, ah yes it would happen, to give you an idea I have to upgrade my index, the posting file and the online post, at the last one something went wrong i didn't update Staggering Heights even though i re-upped it. Now it's there for you to N'Joy

Inertia from Oz said...

Awesome! Thanks again Rho. Very much appreciated.

Cheers

Inertia from Oz

earlsgate said...

any chance of a re-up of the Golden Greats Singers and Players so I can listen to the divine Dreamworld

Rho said...

Hello, Get your head out of that cloud earlsgate all 3 albums here are available

earlsgate said...

?still not working on filefactory

Rho said...

It's definitely back up now Earlsgate n'joy btw Dreamworld is a bim sherman track

earlsgate said...

yes finally able to obtain! thanks again Rho for your very helpful blog with particular praise for the quality of comment given at each posting

very much appreciate the dedication to your work!

Paul C said...

Reup please Rho ??

Paul C said...

Great stuff Rho.Many thanks for the reups.

Anonymous said...

Hello Rho,
thanks a lot for the re-ups.
However no cigar for Staggering Heights...
can you give it a look please?