Tamoki Wambesi, 1985
Oh Happy Day
Guiding Star Version
Concrete Castle King
The King And I Version
Wanted By The Massive
Wanted For Version
Too Much Guns
Village Girl Version
Not only is this record a clash-showcase between two vocal artists, but each side was recorded completely separately - the A side was done at Channel One with the Roots Radics and an engineer credited as "Bunny", while the B side was done at Aquarius with a band called Stars Inc. - looking up their members suggests that they were crew associated with the Tamoki Wambesi label. Christopher Daley at the controls. But despite the separate production, this set flows wonderfully, with a very similar mix, very similar style, and consistent high quality throughout.
On the A side, Junior Reid pays tribute to 70's reggae greats - Oh Happy Day draws lyrical inspiration from Horace Andy's I Don't Want To Be Outside, while Movie Star and Concrete Castle King are covers of Dennis Brown tunes. Last year I got very stuck into Dennis Brown's records and I've come out the other end with a very deep appreciation for just how influential he was on singers in the 80's. On this record, Junior Reid sometimes sounds more like Dennis Brown than himself as he appears on other contemporary records like Boom Shack-A-Lack or Original Foreign Mind. The cadences, the woahs, and the ays all draw you into the Dennis Brown trance until you hear a little lick of the vocal chords that tip you off that it is in fact Junior Reid on the microphone.
Our enigmatic "Bunny", revealed to be Scientist, goes far left field in Daylight Version, dubbing the guitar and snippets of the vocals to the stratosphere, bringing them full circle to be the skank for a few seconds of respite, before letting them succumb to his delay and looping fuckery again to ride out the rest of the cut. This is by far the craziest dub I've heard from Scientist and the juxtaposition of consistency in the drums and bass with outrageous loops you'd sooner hear in a Merzbow or Steve Reich record does my ears a unique treat. Guiding Star Version and The King And I Version play it somewhat safer - still very dubby, very atmospheric, very Scientist, but within the realm of dub conventions and sanity. Special mention to a particular minor 9th chord in the arrangement of Concrete Castle King and whoever's idea that was.
Wanted By The Massive was my first exposure to Teezy, an artist I rarely hear the name of. I hear touches of Little John, Dennis Brown, and Horace Martin in his voice but he has a very unique comfort space in the vocal range. It's lower-pitched than most, quite smooth, but very confident and very convincing. There's a particular cadence he does at the end of some phrases that I have heard in King Kong's 2018 tune Money Could A Buy - could be a connection there! Too Much Guns shows Teezy's ability to get closely in touch with the riddim, which is not a quality shared by all rub-a-dub singers, and the rest of the set closes out inconspicuously, with one more nice tune from Teezy and some simple, cozy versions from Christopher Daley. The Daley+Stars Inc. sound is far tamer than Scientist+Radics, and when you pay attention the difference is astonishing, but what I find more impressive is that they manage to combine into such a coherent and enjoyable album.
My picks: Daylight Version, Movie Star, Wanted By The Massive
Bim count: 0