1989, Rohit Records
Hot Fe Me
Full Metal Jacket
Good To Have Feeling
Fling It Up
Yellowman & Derrick Harriott - Starting All Over Again
Amongst all of his gimmicks and slackness and willingness to voice record after record after record, it can be easy to lose sight of Yellowman’s vocal talent as you explore his discography. Occasionally we need a great – not good but GREAT – album to remind ourselves that Yellowman didn’t earn the title of King with his complexion and lyrics about fat vaginas. Within this (higher) category, “Mister Yellowman” on Greensleeves paved the way, “Nobody Move Nobody Get Hurt” is faulted by few, and I also personally really really enjoy “Under Mi Fat Thing”, a shorter, but very consistent set. “King Of The Dance Hall” is an album I didn’t get around to for a very long time, and it’s nice to be pleasantly surprised so much later, because while Yellowman doesn’t really have bad records, there’s always tunes like Rub A Dub and Come Back To Jamaica (on “Going To The Chapel”) hiding around every corner.
Immediately as Hot Fe Me gets going, Yellowman starts singing, which is usually bad news, but one of the wonderful things about this set is that where Yellowman strays from straightforward deejaying, the results are actually very good. He’s in tune, kind of engaging, and puts a memorable touch on an already fun tune. Full Metal Jacket is a gimmick tune, with layered vocals of drill sergeant Yellowman doing call-and-response chants with a group of recruits in the Yellowman army. Their first chant is “Mama and Papa were sleeping in bed, Mama said to Papa, ‘your dick is dead’!”. The lyrics switch between silly slackness and actual army lyrics at no notice many times throughout the track. Musically it sounds great, and that is exactly how we love it when we listen to Yellowman – batshit ideas with brilliant execution.
“King Of The Dance Hall” is a Scorpio production, and is bursting with its flavour – I love the digital Scorpio riddims to death, and some of the best are on here. Monkey Time is on the riddim originally (I believe) from General Trees’ small hit Kingstonian Man, with lyrics that much better suit its goofy style - not to fault Kingstonian Man by any means. We hear Peany Peany on New York, Kuff on Have Fun, and more brilliant Scorpio riddims I don’t know the names of on Good To Have Feeling and Greatest Lover. The latter two are very straightforward, simple deejay tunes, not pretentious or overdone in any way, pure quality. “It’s good to have the feeling you’re the best” – a very relatable line! New York is fairly repetitive and lacks the punch of the original Peany Peany, but I love the result nonetheless, hardcore tune about all the good and bad things you can get in the big apple. After the hook, the first thing Yellow introduces is a whole bunch of fast food restaurants - priorities. Have Fun, as I mentioned in my previous post, is perhaps the best tune on the Kuff riddim, with Yellowman going full effort into his deejaying – even the gimmicky vocal bits come out sounding deliberate and perfect. Yellowman makes comments about his brethren on Scorpio: “Daddy Jack, you know you welcome, General Trees, you know you welcome, Carlton Rank*, you know you welcome, Culture Lee, you know you welcome, Barry Back, you know that you no welcome, anyway, see a stool dey, gwaan go siddung!”. What problem Yellowman had with the great Barry Back is beyond me.
This record was later re-released in 1993 as part of the Reggae Masters Series, credited as “Yellowman Meets The Paragons” by Yellowman / The Paragons, with all song titles changed. Of all the fucked up re-releases and mis-re-releases and stupid cash grabs with Yellowman’s name on them, this is among the most outrageous, with the Paragons never having any involvement with this record. Both CD and LP were distributed, and not just the one time, but again by three other companies. And then two other companies kept it credited to Yellowman but changed the title for good measure. Although the Paragons were not involved with this record, rocksteady veteran Derrick Harriott was, featuring on Starting All Over Again, which is a Gilbert** track. Derrick sounds like a past-his-prime celebrity doing a ‘current events’-related song to make the public feel better, which he is, and then Yellowman backs him up with the lyrics “Gilbert bad, Gilbert bad, Gilbert bad bad bad bad bad bad”, which only Yellowman can be forgiven for. Must love it. He also has good lyrics on the tune as well.
*Not a name I’m familiar with, the lyric sounds like “Carter Rank” to me, but Black Scorpio has posted on Instagram about a “Carlton Rank” passing away in 2021 – probably the man. There’s a “Carlton Dread” with one record to his name on Discogs, as well as a “Carlton Ranks” credited for producing one other.
**Hurricane which devastated Jamaica in 1988.
My picks: Monkey Time, Good To Have Feeling, Greatest Lover, New York, Have Fun
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