Toyan [1982]

Toyan [1982]

Toyan [1982]

Toyan [1982]

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.

Tracklist
A1 Curfew
A2 Chalice
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
B5 Posse

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Listen to ‘Cuss Cuss’ by Toyan

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Jah Thomas ‎- Nah Fight Over Woman [1980]

Jah Thomas ‎- Nah Fight Over Woman [1980]

Jah Thomas ‎- Nah Fight Over Woman [1980]

Jah Thomas ‎- Nah Fight Over Woman [1980]

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.

Tracklist
1 Hear It In The News
2 Please Mr Officer
3 Stylee-Stylee
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

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Listen to ‘Morning Ride’ by Jah Thomas


Listen to ‘Nah Fight Over Woman’ by Jah Thomas



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Charlie Chaplin – Que Dem [1984]

Charlie Chaplin - Que Dem [1984]

Charlie Chaplin - Que Dem [1984]

Charlie Chaplin - Que Dem [1984]

This is a very young looking Charlie Chaplin on the cover of his album ‘Que Dem’ that was released in 1984 on Power House records and distributed by Sonic Sounds.

The album cover is by Wilfred Limonious who also provides his signature hand-drawn cartoon on the rear of the sleeve. The cartoon shows Charlie Chaplin (the actor) bumping into his Jamaican DJ-namesake and saying “Reggae? What ever it means, it sounds good to me“.

Limonious started his career illustrating albums at Sonic Sounds, but as soon as his reputation grew he designed album sleeves from pretty much every label on the island (as well as a few abroad)….but it was on Sonic Sounds where he cut his artistic teeth and made his name as a designer/illustrator.

The album is pretty awesome too and shows why Charlie Chaplin rapidly became one of Jamaica’s most popular DJs in the early 80s. This is laid back dancehall DJ-ing over some great rhythms from some top Jamaican musicians including Skully, Sly & Robbie, Willie Lindo, and more.

Tracklist
A1 DJ A Dance
A2 Exploiting
A3 Now A Days
A4 Pretty Girl
B1 Coco Deala Brown
B2 Unfair
B3 Diet Rock
B4 Que Dem
B5 Food Man Rock

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Ranking Joe – Weakheart Fadeaway [1978]

Ranking Joe - Weakheart Fadeaway [1978]

Ranking Joe - Weakheart Fadeaway [1978]

Ranking Joe - Weakheart Fadeaway [1978]

First released in 1978 on Greensleeves records ‘Weakheart Fadeaway’ collected together ten previously recorded Ranking Joe tracks, all recorded and mixed at Channel One Recording Studios, and released on the Channel One label.

Produced by Jo Jo Hookim (Joseph Hoo Kim), this collection featured The Revolutionaires on the riddims who at the time featured some of the best musicians of the era including Sly & Robbie, Ranchie, Ansel Collins, Duggie, and Sticky.

Ranking Joe cut his teeth on the legendary Stur Gav Sound System, and he is in top form on this album. Most long-time reggae fans will be familiar with most of the riddims featured on this album, but the production is slick and Ranking Joe brings his own unique pattern and excitement to each of the tracks.

The artwork is pretty special too. This album easily benefited from the Greensleeves release who clearly put some design effort to create a striking image of the dread on the motorbike – the artwork was created by Paul Smykle, and the sleeve was printed out by Garrod & Lofthouse.

The artwork reminds a bit of Dillinger’s ‘Bionic Dread‘ album on Island Records from 1976.

Tracklist:

  • Dub Sister Dub It
  • Rock Pon De Rock
  • A Dread Earthquake
  • Natty Dread A Trademan
  • Nine Months Belly
  • Weakheart Fadeaway
  • Natty The Collie Smoker
  • Queen Tell
  • Honest Living
  • Milkman Coming

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Prince Jazzbo – Kick Boy Face [1976]

Prince Jazzbo - Kick Boy Face [1976]

Prince Jazzbo - Kick Boy Face [1976]

Kick Boy Face was released by Prince Jazzbo in 1976 on UK based ‘Third World’ records and features a great hand-drawn Kung-Fu cover in a ‘Blaxploitation’ cinematic style. The artwork here was created by Tyrone Whyte, an artist that created a number of artwork and album sleeves for various reggae releases on a range of UK based labels.

The ‘Blaxploitation’ film genre was hugely popular in the 1970s and the action-packed and swagger-filled films were adopted with relish amongst Jamaican audiences and reggae DJs – with many artists naming themselves after the heroes (i.e. DJ Jim Kelly) or name-checking the silver screen stars in their songs:

“Check Jim Kelly him a kick to the belly” – Dillinger, from ‘Natty Kick Like Lightning’ (CB 200 album)

If someone produced a range of classic posters of reggae album art, then this would be pretty high up on my wish-list.

The album itself was mixed At King Tubby Studio Kingston, Jamaica, and was produced by Bunny Lee, and it collects together some great DJ tracks from Prince Jazzbo. Well worth a listen. Hard to find now though, but many of the tracks are available for download on other Prince Jazzbo albums.

Track List:

  • Kick Boy Face
  • I And I
  • Hand Of Babylon
  • Nigger Is A Winner
  • Virgin
  • Rebel Boy
  • Church Is A Rome
  • Far Star
  • Hello
  • Youth In Service

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