Various - The Magnificent 7 & Rough Road
'The Magnificent 7' features the work of some of the heaviest deejays of the period, inspired by the tenets of Rastafarianism, extolling the virtues of living upright in those dread times. Opening with Jah Walton who would go on to greater success as Joseph Cotton in the nineties, followed by Big Youth who had made some of his earliest records with Phil including the aforementioned 'Tell It Black' and 'Phil Pratt Thing'. He returned to the studio with Phil a few years later and created the austere, admonishing 'Keep Your Dread' over Ken Booth's 'Artibella' and an astonishing version of Al Campbell's 'Going The Wrong Way' entitled 'Love Jah Jah Children', featured here, originally released on Federal's Wild Flower subsidiary. Phil once memorably described Big Youth as 'a giant youth! I Roy, Jamaica's most literate and articulate deejay, steps forward with two big hits, 'Ital Dish' and 'Musical Air Raid' before two tracks from King Sighta, a young deejay who apparently lost an eye in a factory accident, and who released the eponymous 'King Sighter The One Eyed Giant' album on Terminal that year. Very little is known about Little Wicked, but Big Joe recorded extensively during the seventies for Studio One, Harry Mudi's Moodisc Records and many other top producers although this is his sole recording, released on Chanan Jah in London, for Phil Pratt. The set concludes with Jah Stitch, deejay for Tippertone and Black Harmony sound systems, with another big hit, 'Evilous Thing' over Horace Andy's ever pertinent 'Money, Money' the love of which is the root of all evil.
By way of total contrast, the 'Rough Road' album showcases a selection of some of the smoothest, sophisticated singers Jamaica has ever produced. David Isaacs, another Denham Town resident, originally sang with Byron Lee before moving on to The Upsetter, their version of Stevie Wonder's 'Place In The Sun' was a very early hit for London based Trojan Records, and recording his signature tune 'Just Like A Sea' for Harry Mudie. Trinidadian Lord Creator was a stalwart of Jamaican music throughout the sixties and the island danced to his Number One hit, 'Independent Jamaica' on Vincent 'Randy's' Chin's Creative Calypso label, as Jamaica achieved independence in 1962. He recorded extensively for Vincent but is now remembered for his wistful 'Kingston Town' produced by Clancy Eccles in 1970 which received worldwide acclaim when it was covered by UB40 nearly twenty years later. Phil Pratt was one of the first to recognise Al Campbell's potential despite apparently being told by a number of observers at their initial recording session that 'Al couldn't sing'. He went on to record a number of classic sides with the young vocalist including 'Gee Baby' and 'Going The Wrong Way' and his 'Version Of Lov', a version of Ray Charles' 'Somebody Oughta Write A Book About it' by way of Slim Smith's 'Can't Do Without It' interpretation is a class example of his approach. Two examples of 'country' reggae, typified by gentler rhythms and a less aggressive vocal style, often with overtly sentimental lyrics close the set: Lord Creator's hymn of praise to all mothers everywhere and Don Tinglin's cautionary tale of the perils of young men keeping bad company. Paradoxically the wrongful influences here are young John Brown's unfaithful Rastafarian friends... we did mention that it was a total contrast.
More sleeve notes in CD booklet.
The Magnificent 7
- Jah Walton - The Seed You Sow
- Big Youth - Love Jah Jah Children
- I-Roy - Ital Dish
- I-Roy - Musical Air Raid
- King Sighta - Master Off All
- King Sighta - Shining Star
- Little Wicked - Sister Sheron
- Big Joe - Natty Love
- Jah Stitch - Evilest Thing
- David Isaacs - True Love
- Lord Creator - Precious Time
- Lord Creator - Passing Through
- Al Campbell - Just A Close Talk With You
- Al Campbell - Rough Road
- Al Campbell - Version Of Love
- Lord Creator - Mothers Love
- Don Tinglin - John Brown