Friday, May 26, 2006

Oscar Sulley - Bukom Mashie

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And if you don't know this, then my friend you are in for some serious thrills.

Ghana Soundz 1& 2 available here
Afro Rock vol 1 available here
Benn Loxo Du taccu's perennially excellent African blog here

Photo : Malick Sidibé's "Fou De Disque", 1973, all rights reserved by the photographer.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Carl Dawkins - Satisfaction

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Christopher Porter's excellent blog The Suburbs Are Killing Us ran a post on Carl Dawkins last year, singling out his tracks "Dr. Rodney" and "Pluggy Brown".

He quoted from Colby Graham's Vintage Boss reggae fanzine, which had an interview with Dawkins from 2002 :

"I'm a user but not an abuser of no substance that society tends to push people aside for, when they are users too...My father [Joshua Dawkins] was a drummer with Sonny Bradshaw Big Band, and I used to go with him to help pack up the drum set when he played at Shady Grove and Glass Bucket. At that time he was based in Spanish Town. My Daddy eventually left for England and then to Germany..... I remember I was living in Allman Town when we had the 1951 storm [Hurricane Charlie], and my closet friends were the Sterling brothers [including the Skatalites' Lester]. I went to Allman Town Primary and then to Senior (Kingston) School where I would sing at school concerts along with the likes of Slim Smith, Marcia Griffiths, and Samuel Barton.

"I used to play football and cricket, and I was very close to Slim Smith [later of the Uniques], Fredrick Waite [the father of bassist Patrick and drummer Freddie Jr. of Musical Youth], Winston Riley [of "Stalag" riddim fame], and Franklyn White. That group eventually became the Techniques. I wasn't a member of the group, but we were all close and I helped to choreograph their stage act in the mid-'60s.... Slim Smith was my idol, and whenever the group finished doing their thing at the end of each day I would take the guitar and go off on my own and play. As boys we used to go down to Hunts Bay by the sea, and one evening when we were returning home the group went to audition for J.J. [producer Karl Johnson]. While there Slim Smith said to him that I have some 'hit songs.' He laughed at me like Santa Claus: ho ho ho! I sang my first songs, one called "Run Your Shoes Off," then "Baby I Love You' and 'Hard Times.' Man! J.J. loved the songs and they became hits."

"I went to Richmond Farm Prison, and lots of other artists were there, too, for smoking the weed. You had Lord Creator, Toots Hibbert, Bunny Wailer, and more. At Richmond we had celebrity status, and we wrote lots of songs while there."

"One day we played some football and smoked weed, and I felt nice. I had a guitar and I started playing with my friend Milton. I said to him that my heart was beating fast and Milton started making a beating sound. So I said to the weed man, 'Boy, mi satisfy, tell you the truthfully, you weed good yu see.' I then put words to the event and came up with 'Satisfaction.'"

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Tim Rose - Morning Dew

In the rock pantheon, two of the most covered songs remain "Hey Joe", and "Morning Dew". And Tim Rose claims he wrote both.

He didn't. "Hey Joe" was probably penned in the early 60's by Billy Roberts, but when Rose performed his edgy, lethally slowed down version at the Cafe Wha? in New York to an impressionable Jimi Hendrix, and subsequently watched as Hendrix sold buckets of a similarly slowed down version, Rose made an audacious claim as author : he re-recorded Hey Joe in the 1990s, re-titling it Blue Steel .44 and again claimed he wrote it, influenced by similar folk songs from his childhood.

Morning Dew was originally penned by Bonnie Dobson. She leant it to Fred Neil, who took it round the New York circuit - and Rose snapped off the smooth folky melancholic edges, replacing it with a snarling, apocalyptic, reverb saturated blast. He somehow managed to secure a writing credit through this appropriation, and the song went on to be covered ad nauseam till the present day. Worthy mentions go to the ever dependable Nancy & Lee.

For our purposes, there's one big detail here. It's a great song, but it's the breakbeat drumming and colossal chops that counts : stand up one Bernard "Pretty" Purdie.

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