We are big fans here of Massive Dread – he has been at the center of some wonderful album art (like ‘Massive Dread‘) as well as some ‘so bad it’s good‘ album covers like This is Massive.
This mini-album, released on UFO Records (Up Front Organization records) in 1982 is at the better end of the artistic spectrum as it shows a great (if somewhat surreal) cartoon piece by Orville ‘Bagga’ Case.
The cover shows a crossroads with cartoon depictions based around some of the tracks on the record – such as a vampire dancing between two soundsystem speakers for ‘Vamps on the Corner’, and numerous chickens and roosters running around for ‘Chicken Chest’ and ‘Mr. Rooster’.
This is solid early 80s dancehall toasting / DJ-ing in Massive Dread’s distinctive laid-back style.
A1 This Is Massive
A2 Strictly Bubbling
A3 Mr. Rooster
B1 Vamps On The Corner
B2 Chicken Chest
B3 Just Cool, Melba
This is the self-titled album from DJ Toyan that was released in 1982 on J&L Records, a subsidiary label of Jamaican based Channel One that was owned and run by Jo Jo Hookim and Ernest Hookim.
The artwork here is by Jamaal Pete and it shows a full portrait of Toyan positioned above his name, with red, gold, and green as the dominant colours in the piece. This is actually one of the more simple Jamaal Pete artworks, usually his pieces have far more detail and colour – the simplicity on display here actually makes this cover more eye-catching with greater gravitas.
As ever with Jamaal Pete’s work, the rear of the cover has a real sense of care about it, with all the credits and tracklist being done by hand. You can see Jamaal’s signature on the inside of Toyan’s collar on the rear sleeve.
The music is what you owould expect from early 80s Toyan, solid bass-heavy rhythms with hypnotic DJ’ing that almost slips into chanting. Classic early dancehall.
A3 Wife + Sweetheart
A4 Spar With Me
A5 Cuss + Cuss
B1 Life In Jam Down
B2 World War Affair
B3 Gun Shot
B4 Ronnie + Lou
This is ‘Weh Dem Fah’ which was released by Carl Meeks in 1988 on the wonderful Redman International record label.
This is a great late 80s dancehall vocal album, with Redman International studio regulars Steelie & Clevie laying down the digital rhythms.
The cover artwork is another Wilfred Limonious piece and shows some of his geometric style designs that he was partial to doing in the late 80s for the rear cover. That hand-drawn ‘Carl Meeks’ logo on the cover should turned into an actual font – love it.
Granny Say No Worry
Red Eye Lover
Whey Dem Fa
Without Your Love
Hey Bad Boy
Listen to ‘Weh Dem Fah’ by Carl Meeks:
Listen to ‘Hey Bad Boy’ by Carl Meeks:
‘Weh Dem Fah’ remains a popular track, so much so, it was recently re-recorded with Gappy Ranks and Lion D jumping on the track with Carl Meeks. Check it out below:
Released on Tads Records in 1980 this was Jah Thomas’s third album.
Despite being a local celebrity since the mid-70s, Jah Thomas found international fame with his first album ‘Stop Yuh Loafin’ when it was picked up by Greensleeves Records, a new label at the time that was founded by Chris Cracknell and Chris Sedgwick, and was based in West London. Greensleeves would go on to become an integral part of taking a wide roster of reggae and dancehall artists to international markets, and ‘Stop Yuh Loafin’ would also feature the first cover-art by Tony McDermott – another artist responsible for some of the most creative and distinctive reggae album art o.ver the years
The artwork here is another striking piece by Jamaal Pete, and features his detailed and colourful style and brush strokes.
The rear of the album is equally as impressive, featuring hand-drawn lettering for the tracklisting and other album details which gives a true artisan feel to the whole product.
The music itself is a pretty good set, not the best by Jah Thomas, but solid enough with heavy rhythm tracks from the Roots Radics band and deep mixing by Scientist.
1 Hear It In The News
2 Please Mr Officer
4 Nah Fight Over Woman
5 Have To Spend Me Hotel Fee
6 Mary Lou
7 Cocky & Pussy
8 Hotel No Lack
9 Morning Ride
10 Put It On Back
This is as good as it gets, a King Tubby digital album, intros by Fuzzy Jones, and great album artwork by Jethro “Paco” Dennis – this is about as close to the essence of Dancehall as it it possible to get from a single album.
King Tubby’s name will always be associated with dub for many casual reggae fans, but he was equally as at home when the digital age of reggae hit and wasn’t left behind like many other producers who began their careers in the same era that Tubby did.
The Sound Clash culture is a staple of Jamaican dancehall and a clash can make or break sound systems and even artists. For beginners it can be an opaque and a confusing tradition to get to grips with, but this album is a pretty good entry point and acts as a good a blueprint as you will find anywhere to get to grips with this subculture of Jamaican Dancehall where sound systems battle each other by playing unique custom records (dub-plates) until the crowd decides the winner and the losing sound is ‘locked off’.
The album sleeve is a great piece of artwork by Jethro “Paco” Dennis, that shows a sound clash in full flow. The selector is shown on the right-hand side shouting “Dis ya wan, ya a go straight to a Di-Bi Di-Bi Sound Bwoy head!” as patrons look on, or dance. The rear of the sleeve shows a muscled hulk type character throwing a dub-plate into a grave with a sound system speaker lying in it. Above his head is written “Kill A Sound Bwoy”.
The music also attempts something a little different with each track being introduced by Fuzzy Jones who was widely regarded (along with Joe Lickshot) as one of the best intro-men in the dancehall who could hype up a tune and drive the crowd into a frenzy. The intros included here have all be made for this album, but really give an authentic feel of being actually in the dancehall during the late 80s. Each track included in this compilation are all focused around the subject of sound clashing and killing sounds.
The rear of the album also features a great essay by King Tubby describing the principles of a sound clash. Essay reproduced below:
“This album is the first of its kind. The purpose of this album is to give those people who don’t attend dances a feel of what’s happening inside the dance hall also to be used in sound system clashes.
All of the tracks from this album are specials. Specials are recordings which are made from rhythm tracks rented from producers who take along an artiste of their choice to do a recording.
This recording is copied on a Dubplate. A dubplate is made of metal and covered with wax. They are produced for the sound system personal files and they only play them when they compete with each other.
Tubbys made the first special in 1970 with Roy Shirley and Slim Smith, Johnny Clarke and Cornel Campbell.
King Everald opens the album with the tune “Kill Ole Pan”, the line “Do you know how to kill a sound lick dem and chop dem with apiece of ole iron” does not mean a physical chop. Due to the fact that the Dubplate is made of metal and covered with wax, so the term “Chop a sound” means you play a Dubplate with a hot tune on it against the other sound.
Incidentally the voice you hear at the start of each cut is Fuzzy Jones the Intro Man who introduces most specials in Dance Hall business.
Gregory opens side 2 with “The Ruler”. Gregory was passing through the studio and when the idea was put to him, Gregory said he had the right lyrics for the idea. He voiced the tune with just one take.
Gregory buried the Sound but not the Slector or Crew. Pad Nthony closes the album with “Charge Dem” which takes care of all the crew, “charge dem and give dem a sentence” a line from the tune.
This special is a popular one and was done for many sound systems by Pad Anthony. Relax and listen or move some of the furniture to one side of the house and invite your friends and partner over to your Dance Hall”
A1 King Everald: Kill Ole Pan
A2 Johnny Osbourne: Line Up
A3 Trevor Levy: Nah Run From No Clash
A4 Bananaman: Take A Lick
A5 Michael Bitas: Die Yu Die
B1 Gregory Isaacs: The Ruler
B2 Little John: Fade Away
B3 Sugar Minott: Play Me
B4 Conroy Smith: Original Sound
B5 Pad Anthony: Charge Dem