1985, Black Scorpio
Worries And Trouble
Loving The Morning
See Pon Me
Make Up My Mind
I am no Little John historian but I do know that he had a brief fling with the Horseman Sound – Black Scorpio – for some time in the mid-80’s and this is the one LP that came from that period of time. Not long ago, Big Daddy Leo uploaded some footage of an ’85 Black Scorpio dancehall session which features Little John, definitely check that video out as an accompaniment to this blog post.
Having made my way through the majority of Little John’s discography this year, this set was actually one of my least favourites on first listen but putting it on again today has put me in the mood to write. Really none of the tunes are bad – Loving The Morning is especially forgettable, and Any Day is subpar, based on the Dylan classic I Shall Be Released but falling far short of the mark set by other Jamaican versions of the tune, but still, neither are nearly bad enough to irritate or offend. But this record gives me a special kind of feeling, to put it rudely it’s a kind of appreciation of mediocrity. It’s low-brow dancehall music, emblematic of ’85 dancehall for better and worse. Not slack, not violent, not poorly produced, not poorly performed, no stupid yankee-stylee pop/funk/rap fusion attempts, just ordinary ’85 dancehall from one of its forefront acts. Little John can do and has done much better than this, and he has also done worse, but Worries And Trouble is just captivating in this way.
The Scorpio backing is surely a major contributor to the vibe of this record. I love the Horseman Sound, right from the goofy way Jack Scorpio mixes his snares to the sound’s unmatched deejay talent, and falling short of Jack’s business practices. But it’s the perfect example of that ‘low-brow’ feeling and I just revel in it. It’s exactly what you (might) want (sometimes) and nothing more.
In the middle of the record you can find a real Scorpio product – a very close recreation of Lord Sassafrass’ tune Poccomania Jump, on this set titled Poco Jump. Covers are few and far between in dancehall records – for those who do not know, there are many many copycat tunes, so many that you could pick it as a defining aspect of the culture, and quite a few re-interpretations of rocksteady and reggae classics, but few dancehall artists will make outright covers of each other’s tunes. Little John’s version of Sassafrass’ masterwork is on the same cut of the same riddim as the original (Mad Mad) and it’s done wonderfully. The original already took some notes from the singjay style and it’s a treat to hear it passed fully into that style.
And despite being a Scorpio record on the Scorpio label, there is an entire tune dedicated to Kangol (simply titled Kangol), another label that Little John did a clash LP with Triston Palma on in the same year. In mid-80’s videos I see a lot of respect between artists and sounds which I think is a great thing that ought to have been better upheld in dancehall culture.
If you are new to Little John and looking to be sold, I strongly recommend you begin with his 1982 album Reggae Dance instead of this one. English Woman, Clarks Booty, Boombastic and the Sir Tommy’s showcase clash with Trevor Junior are also likely to be higher up anyone’s priority list than Worries And Trouble. But a particular funny feeling has compelled me to talk about this one on this particular day. Perhaps you will be caught by the same feeling. There is only one way to find out!!
My picks: Be Intelligent, Poco Jump
Bim count: 0