Lloyd ‘Jammy’ James caused a music revolution in Jamaica.
When he unleashed Wayne Smith’s ‘Under Me Sleng Teng’ onto an unsuspecting public in 1985, production values changed overnight as Jamaican music was thrust headlong into the ‘digital’ age of computerisation. Literally hundreds of versions of the song were eventually issued, and most producers ditched live musicians for sequenced beats in the original single’s immediate aftermath. But Jammy’s long career involves so much more than just the ‘Sleng Teng’ landmark.
Black Uhuru ‘Willow Tree’ (aka Michael Rose ‘Born Free’)
Black Uhuru is a vocal trio with a complicated genesis. Many are familiar with the classic recordings the group cut with Sly and Robbie for Island Records with Puma Jones, but their debut album Love Crisis was produced by Prince Jammy in 1977, when the group consisted of Michael Rose, Duckie Simpson and Errol Nelson. The whole album is killer but ‘Willow Tree’ is outstanding, Rose’s impassioned commentary on the post-colonial condition nicely framed by unusual instrumentation, including an upfront clavinet line.
Lacksley Castell ‘What A Great Day’
A lesser-known singer from Waterhouse, Lacksley Castell drew on the style of Hugh Mundell, Barry Brown and other high tenor singers in the neighbourhood, the ultimate source traceable to Horace Andy. ‘What A Great Day’ speaks of a coming retribution for the Rastafari faithful, delivered over a fantastic Jammy rhythm with a vibrant horn line, a rock-solid bass pattern and plenty of percussive embellishments; the dubwise portion amplifies the musical artistry and emphasizes the driving rhythm, with heavy doses of delay and phasing effects lending an ethereal quality.