The short-lived campaign to put more reggae in the blogosphere that I remember from last summer sees its resurrection today. You’ve already seen me waffle on in great and unnecessary detail about JP’s 1977 chart, where he compiled his favourite records of the year instead of making a public chart. Although the focus of the chart was the burgeoning punk scene, he had no less than a catholic taste, as I’ve already highlighted in my folk post. He also chose quite a few reggae tracks, and these are the ones I feature today. None of the artists appeared in any other Festive Fifty, and with one exception, very little is known about any of them.
Marlene Webber, Right Track
At #7, a record that until recently proved extremely elusive, and which several people have asked me for. This lady liked to change the spelling of her name: sometimes she was Merlyn, or Merlene. The track itself was a Trojan records standard which Phyllis Dillon had already recorded, but this rendition is more a dark Caribbean night than rum on the beach. She also appeared on the Trojan label singing a song that appears to be somewhat autobiographical, Hard Life, and a stonking cover of Tammy Wynette’s Stand By Your Man.
Jah Hayes & Ranking Trevor, Truly
Toasting features mightily on the dub excursion of this 12 inch, which predates rap by several years, and elevates it from being just another lover’s rock entry. It made #13. Again, very little is known about Trevor, and I bow to the excellent and authoritative Distinctly Jamaican Sounds blog entry on this man.
Jah Woosh, Freedom
The 77 list has this as Freedom Connection (FF 1977 #24). I had a conversation with Ken Garner via email about this track, since I could not locate it and was convinced it was the more well-known Free Jah Jah Children: however, Ken traced the original running order, and the track was indeed issued under this title on Jamaica Sound (in 1978!!), as can be seen here. Thus, I include Freedom, which I still think is the same song under another title and ‘dubbed up’. If there are any Woosh experts who can add any information and even an mp3 if I have the wrong song, you will earn my undying gratitude.
Elizabeth Archer And The Equators, Feel Like Makin’ Love
Yes, this (FF 1977 #44) is a cover of the Roberta Flack carefree classic of the early 70s, yes, it comes from the Playtime Reggae compilation, and no, I can’t find any details about these artist(e)s, not even a picture. Mind you, Peely was a fan of The Archers and appeared in it once as himself. Fact.
Peter Tosh, Stepping Razor
Tosh was the guitarist in the original Wailing Wailers, and had a chip on his shoulder, possibly due to his 6 foot 3 inch height. So much so that an early mentor, Joe Higgs, wrote Stepping Razor (FF 1977 #53) specifically about him and his short temper. When Chris Blackwell refused to issue his early solo album, he and Bunny Wailer left the band and released Legalise It, a paean to marijuana. The 1977 Equal Rights featured a stellar cast: Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare and Earl Lindo all appeared. Tosh was never a favourite of the Jamaican police, and proudly wore the scars that came from the beatings they inflicted on him. That white audiences were aware of him at all in the late 70s would be due in part to being in Marley’s band, and in part to his collaboration with Mick Jagger, You Gotta Walk (Don’t Look Back). His subsequent albums were released on the Rolling Stones’ own label. He seemed on the verge of a revival of interest in his powerful, direct music in 1987 when he was murdered at his home by a three-man gang, one of whom is still in prison for the murder.