Hard Fe Get
Guide Us Father
Following his debut showcase "Heart Mind And Soul", General Trees followed up with three more LPs in 1985, and although I don't know which one came first I suspect it was this one. This is just something I have always assumed without having any reason for believing so but now that I think about it I think the clue is the riddim style, it favors 84 records more than the other two. Anyway. The funny thing about this record is that it isn't a Maurice Johnson (Jack Scorpio) production, nor released on his label. It's done instead by Errol Lewis and Errol Marshall, in their second LP venture following Half Pint's "In Fine Style" set the year prior. They also did some tunes for Pad Anthony and King Everald. I recently watched an interview with Mr. Trees by a media outlet named Teach Dem and he alleged in that interview that he did all his recording in his early career with Jack Scorpio and never branched out despite not receiving any royalties from the man. It's an interesting story that bewildered the interviewer and worth having a watch if you're interested, but unfortunately at least partially not true because General Trees does indeed have early recordings with other folks, and I do hope he got his piece of the cake when these sets hit the market.
The Younger Horseman is named so because General Trees' teacher Lord Sassafrass was already nicknamed The Horseman, and the album cover will tell you the rest. If I recall correctly, Trees never actually jockeyed himself but he was certainly very into the horse race life and it comes through a lot in his lyrics. In this set, The Horseman and Veteran Handicap are unsurprisingly the horse tunes, and the versatility of the younger horseman shines through in the rest. I mentioned in my last post about Trees that he can be frustratingly difficult for a foreigner like I to understand, and this is the album I have the most trouble with. Case in point, Bike Family, where I am just totally stumped by the hook, my ears are hearing "this is my icicle fun, this is my royal chucklemore, me nutty bout the sound weh join you give me rainbow", and I can only assume that these are bike words that I just do not know. If you can help me out then please FORWARD a message with the form below.
Ahead of Bike Family though is Wo Wee, I believe both were minor hits, and Wo Wee is definitely the more memorable tune from this set. I've heard many artists from this era do the "wo wee" style, couldn't tell you who originated it, perhaps it comes from this very tune. To me it's an iconic Trees tune for the way that his voice comes through on the recording, his vocal cords tearing apart as he pulls out of the long notes juxtaposed with the grainy, dark style in the low pitched melodic parts. Every vocalist is beholden to what their DNA deals them and the artistry is in making something special out of it, and yes, see General Trees in Wo Wee for another excellent example in reggae music. Then in Hard Fe Get Trees spars with Squingy, who has a minor and uncredited role on the tune, and Guide Us Father sees scatting devolved into straight gibberish, which works exceedingly well, and then the set rounds out with Mi Teeth on a version of Answer augmented with a great organ part and loads of empty space. The tune is a tale of struggles going from dentist to dentist, one of the pinnacles of Trees' storytelling talent and a real must listen for the 80s deejaying scene. Fans of Lone Ranger's Apprentice Dentist will be very pleased by this wicked-and-wild spiritual successor.
My picks: Wo Wee, Bike Family, Mi Teeth
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