I liked that last Pama one so much that I decided to add another one from a Pama subsidiary.
If you aren't intimately familiar with the early Jamaican music scene, you may not recognize the vocals here. Starlight is Stanley Beckford, one of the biggest names from mento music, on vocals. Mento was the predominate native music predating reggae and ska in Jamaica. It was mostly acoustic instruments and often lewd vocally.
The song here, "Healing In The Barnyard" was Stanley Beckford over a decade after the mento tradition had died out, but still has the mento lewdness in the lyrics. I won't go into explanation of the content but I'm sure you can pick it out with a listen or two.
Beckford died at the end of 2007 after a battle with throat cancer. During his dying months as his hospital bills soared, other famed reggae artists such as Derrick Morgan and Toots Hibberts paid respect by visiting Beckford in the hospital and contributing what funds they could to help foot his bill. His music will live on in Jamaican history, so make sure you're familiar with it!
Here are two great tracks on the famous Pama label. Pama, a British based reggae label that outputted records between 1967 and 1973, released hundreds of killer singles on their many subsidiaries. All of the tracks out of Pama are strongly melodic and certainly groovy and these two here live up to those ideals.
The Youth is a pseudonym for Ijahman Levi, a Jamaican singer who began recording music with Stranger Cole in the early 1960s and then migrated to England and continued his work there. He would release a handful of singles before his full length album debut in '78, Haile I Hymn. By the time of that release he was a full fledged Rastafarian but at the time of these two tracks, 1971, he had not yet made the conversion. The conversion came, according to Wikipedia, during his prison stint between 1972 and 1974.
Anyway, these really are two great, exciting tracks. The harmonies are spot on and the groove is as strong as any reggae has to offer. It's always fun to listen to a singer who really has a skilled voice and Ijahman Levi undoubtedly fits that bill. I wish I had more singles of his to upload but this, unfortunately, is the only one I have. Enjoy!
Sorry for the scratches on this one... but aside from the two great tracks, there are a handful of interesting tidbits about this one.
Amalgamated records was started founded in 1968 by Joe Gibbs who had been recording artists in the back of his TV repair shop since '67 with the help of the famed Lee Perry. The label ran through 1970 producing handfuls of killer rocksteady tracks produced almost entirely by Gibbs, under his birth name Gibson. The quality of these tracks makes the Amalgamated label a sought after one these days.
The a-side here, "Just Like A River" is credited to Stranger & Gladdy - Stranger Cole and Gladstone Anderson. Stranger Cole had been singing from the earliest days of ska and even began doing some producing around this time (see my Tabby & The Diamond posting here). Cole continued to record and tour through the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s making him a well known name in reggae history.
Gladstone Anderson was a pianist and became one of the key members of Lee Perry's Upsetters backing band who pushed the limits of reggae in all directions. When Perry left Gibbs from Amalgamated to form his own studio, musicians followed him. Referring to the members of The Upsetters who followed him, Lloyd Bradley's This Is Reggae Music says "the reason Perry could lure musicians of this calibre wasn't the money but the creative freedom he was offering.... If a musician had an idea, then Perry would make it work within a reggae format."
The b-side, "Hope Someday," is my favorite of the two tracks here because I feel it more exemplifies the rocksteady groove and you can hear the despair in the singer's voices. I couldn't track down any information on The Leaders. The Roots Knotty Roots database lists a few songs of theirs and credits various vocalists for several productions - Ken Boothe, Joe White, Roy Shirley, Milton Henry, Keith Blake, etc. My guess is that The Leaders were Gibbs' house band with rotating singers to show off Gibbs' song writing.
Otis Redding's name is synonymous with soul music and he is renowned for being able to convey strong emotions through his voice. He began his music career in 1960 when he toured with Johnny Jenkins & The Pinetoppers and subsequently recorded his first tunes as Otis Redding & The Pinetoppers. His first solo smash came in 1962 on Volt Records, a subsidiary of Stax, with "These Arms Of Mine," a chilling ballad that showcases his vocal talents at the age of 19. He would stay with Stax and its subsidiaries until his untimely death in 1967 from a plane crash.
The "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" here was released in 1968 as the first Redding single released posthumously. It is a live cut and shows the power he could display in his live shows, which can also be seen from the famous video recordings of the Monterey Pop Festival that he performed at months before his passing. It's originally a James Brown tune, but is displayed valiantly here in all of its glory. The b-side "Direct Me," is my favorite of the two tracks and comes off as more of a bare bones soul track than the a-side and Redding's soulful voice shines through the whole way along. Enjoy!