Top 5 Galore – Waggle Dance Studios
Five choice picks in a vinyl mix from Waggle Dance Studios home of Eeyun Delroy Purkins and The Co-operators rhythm section.
Here are the first five records in the stack next to my turntable so truly picked at random, I wrote a little about each one, be sure to check them out as you read all about.
1: Roland Alphonso – Sai Pan
I think that this tune was originally released in 1966 a raging ska instrumental featuring Roland Alphonso’s distinctive tenor sax sound over an up-tempo shuffle. Many of my generation view ‘heaviness’ as the foundation of a good soundsystem tune and feel that weight is defined by a four to the floor drum beat and a two note bassline, don’t get me wrong I see and feel the appeal of that but this tune is truly foundation music and for me is a real heavyweight killer. The musicality of its instrumentation speaks volumes about the discipline present on the island at that moment in time and the movement of the rhythm would get anybody dancing.
2: Ethiopians – Everything Crash
I was given this record many years ago by an old friend of mine Martin the Mod an infamous soul and ska DJ from Manchester. Released in 1968 it is conscious classic talking of how ‘fireman strike, watermen strike, telephone company too’, it paints a vivid picture of an island halted in its tracks by social upheaval and protest.
1968 was a year of protest the world over with the famous events of Paris 68 taking up much of the limelight Jamaica’s ‘Rodney Riots’ that happened in October of the same year are often forgotten. The civil disturbances occurred when Walter Rodney an avid advocate of socialism and black power activism was dismissed from his position at the University of the West Indies. He was dedicated to raising the consciousness of the Jamaican poor and a critic of the middle classes of the Caribbean and his dismissal resulted in large protests in Kingston.
3: Glenn and Dave – Wake up to Reality
Produced by Sonia Pottinger one of the first female producers in Jamaica it is a plea to the people of JA for co-operation declaring ‘we ought to wake up to reality’ a message as relevant in 1968 as it is in 2017. It is a timeless classic underpinned by Count Ossie’s Nyabinghi heartbeat recently reissued as a limited run of 600 7” 45s. Pick it up before its too late!
4: Maxie and Niney- Bearded Men Feast
Jumping forward in time to 1972 this number features Max Romeo talking about the police and soldier putting pressure on Jamaica’s Rastafarian population. Being an adherent of Rastafari was historically not something that came without consequences on an island where the first prime minister of independent Jamaica actively portrayed Rasta’s followers in to villains demonising all involved. It could easily be said that Alexander Bustamante brought his round up plea right out of a wild west picture, demanding he wanted dreads brought in ‘Dead or Alive’ after ‘bearded men’ allegedly set fire to a gas station. It is said that the men lead by Rudolph Franklyn were aiming to settle their grievances with the land owner after they were evicted from property they had been squatting in Coral Gardens. Although Rastafari presents a philosophy of peace and love Bustamante’s declaration that all Rastas were a threat lead to what can only be described as a a death sentence to all followers of the faith. The brutality that followed resulted in eight deaths by government forces and an additional two police fatalities and in the years to come it advanced the progressive repression of Jamaica’s Rasta population.
Maxie and Niney’s Bearded Men Feast is a defiant statement against this mentality proudly declaring how ‘they never run, they never run, when police men come’ but sadly saying how ‘they affe run when soldier man come’.
5: Little Roy – Tribal War
Now famous for voicing Prince Fatty’s production ‘Battle in Seattle’ a compilation of Nirvana covers in a reggae style Little Roy’s influence as a foundation artist could easily be missed by younger fans of Jamaican music.
This classic tracked in 73 and released in 74 was recorded in Lee Perry’s legendary Black Ark studio and it features the likes of Dennis Brown on bass and Rockers anti hero Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace on Drums. The vocal is a plea for peace between Jamaica’s rival gangs recorded first take with the intention of it being a rough guide but its quality shone through and it was kept. Little Roy released ‘Tribal War’ on his own Tafari label and sold thousands by hand walking to Kingston’s North Parade with stacks of vinyl distributing it himself to the record vendors. It received little airplay keeping out of the charts although it was one of the hits of the day alongside Junior Byles ‘Curly Locks’.