Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Reggae Review: Harry J. All Stars / Burning Spear / UB40

This track has always been acknowledged as one of Reggae's finest instrumentals. from the opening bass riff to the magnificent keyboard riff the whole track is one complete jam. It's so brilliant Chelsea FC took the instrumental and made it their opening theme at Stamford Bridge. Reggae was making it's way into British culture when Harry J Allstars released The Liquidator in 1969. The fundamentals were essential. The trio composed the song and it was initially going to be used on a Tony Scott song. However Trojan records bought the rights and the key core of The Upsetters & The Wailers released the single to great acclaim. The reverberated keyboard notations will always stick out as a fanfare-esque segue before the Trojan esque drum work continues in Reggae fashion. Check out this wicked instrumental at this location on YouTube.


With Jamaican music being dominated by the likes of Peter Tosh and Bob Marley, it was only right that the third most known Reggae artist released an astonishingly beautiful Reggae album which has been noted as one of the best in the business. The track 'Slavery Days' in particular has always stuck out as a clear 70's Reggae icon. The haunting vocals cut through the steady instrumental with great fiery as Burning Spear repeats the line, "Do you remember the days of slavery?". Released in 1975, this album was one of many before Burning Spear grew in popularity through Island records. People always tell me, the one Reggae artist they wish they had seen in their youth was Burning Spear. Maybe he will come to England sometime this year.. Check it out here.



Back in 1975 Gary Tyler (17 year old African American) was sent to life imprisonment for the murder of a white teenager. Tyler was on the bus during the incident and the white teenager was on the street. No gun was found on the bus yet Tyler was sentenced. The racially fuelled case has stirred much confusion and hate between both races and universal human rights organisations. UB40 released 'Tyler' in 1980 and features a very broad dub sound with fantastic brass and a characteristic wah wah guitar. The vocals sound desperate, it's a plea to help. The political ideas and lyrical representations give UB40 complete credibility as one of Britain's best Reggae songs. Most of UB40's discography is covers, but this was a catastrophic track on their defining album.
~Eddie

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