Mystic Eyes - Mysterious - Vinyl LP
Formats available :LP
1979 Roots Reggae album reissued on 180 gram vinyl and on CD for the first time.
Probably the most famous member of the Mystic Eyes was Anthony Johnson who was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1957. He was raised by his mother Cynthia Hamilton who was a market woman by trade. His father before he split from Johnsons mother worked as a waiter at the Sombero Club in Kingston Jamaica.
Johnson lived with his mother in a tenement yard in the heart of Trench Town called Biah's yard at James Street and it was to prove to be a significant help in his development as an artist and musician.
Biah's yard was owned by an Indian gentleman who had moved to Kingston Jamaica from Cuba and at weekends and holidays it doubled up as a popular dancehall venue.
Some of the big sound systems of the time like King Tubby's played at the dances held in Biah's yard and these events were also attended by some of the top Jamaican singers of the time, again proving to be a big inspiration on a young Johnson.
The likes of John Holt, Dennis Brown and Alton Ellis regularly visiting these dancehall events.
When political violence broke out and escalated in Kingston, Johnson moved away to Montego Bay. He stayed with friends and while there sang in the Irving Steel Band which regularly performed at local hotels and these shows helped him gain confidence as a singer.
When Johnson moved back south he lived in Portmore where he became friends with actor/comedian Carl Bradshaw. Bradshaw had a band and Johnson became a backing singer for a while, again gaining further experience as a performer.
In the mid-1970s, Johnson began auditioning at Kingston's studios, along with one of his friends Horace Grassett (also known as Badoo). At this time Johnson made his first recording, a track called "Free Black Man" for a well-known record producer and although this track was not released, said producer suggested that Johnson should go out and record more material for eventual release.
Johnson took that advice and went onto record for the Hoo Kim brothers at Channel One Studios and also spent time at the Rasta camp on Selassie Drive where he met Les Clarke and Balvin Fials with whom he formed the vocal group Mystic I. (Also known as Mystic and for their UK Burning Sounds LP release as Mystic Eyes.)
The group recorded three tracks for Lee "Scratch" Perry at his Black Ark studio with the best track "Forward With Jah Orthodox" being released by Perry as a single in 1978 on his Upsetter label and later issues on the Black Art label.
The band also recorded several tracks with Linval Thompson which were to be released on the Burning Sounds record label as the album ‘Mysterious’ in 1979.
''Mysterious'' by Mystic Eyes is regarded by many reggae fans as a long lost gem of a record with tracks like ‘Must Eat Bread’ and’ I Hold the Handle’ being favorites with those lucky enough to own the album.
Mystic Eyes have also been regarded as one of the best vocal harmony groups alongside the likes of The Uniques and The Travellers.
Due to poor record sales or the bands record not getting the credit it deserved at the time little else seems to have been recorded by the trio.
Johnson continued to record after this release when he went solo, recording for several top Jamaican producers mostly at Channel One Studios.
Again with Linval Thompson ("Africa", "Life is Not Easy"), with Henry "Junjo" Lawes ("Let Go This One", "Now I Know"), and with Harry J ("Follow Them Footsteps"). Johnson however had his greatest success working with Jah Thomas who produced his first big hit in 1982 with "Gunshot.
1. Must Eat Bread (3.42)
2. Judgement Time (3.15)
3. Linger A While (3.00)
4. I’m Drifting (3.08)
6. Born To Love Rastafari (3.00)
7. Free Up The Ghetto Children (3.01)
8. One Jah Love For I (3.03)
9. Life Is Not Easy (3.05)
10. I Hold The Handle (3.15)