By Peter I – London UK

Let the spotlight now shine on one important, but controversial, part of the Jamaican music business, in the role of the producer. In most cases these people only sponsored the project without taking active part in the actual production of the music. A realproducer is looked upon as someone shaping and forming the sound of a recording. He or she was actively involved and together with musicians worked out the magic in the studio. In JA this came mainly through musicians and engineers. In reggae music they are, for the most part, just looked upon as financers. But naturally there are exceptions. Niney, Lloyd the Matador, Coxson in his early days, Keith Hudson, Lee Perry, Clive Chin, Sonia Pottinger, Phil Pratt, Jo Jo Hookim and Bunny Lee are in these times regarded as the exceptional producers who spent the time needed to get the goods out of their stable of artists.

Lee was also known as the effective one, cutting the most out of a limited time available. For some, he is not up there with the most innovative of producers throughout the history of Jamaican popular music, but nonetheless he has contributed his part of new and exciting innovations over the years. If nothing else, he is a brilliant story-teller with a detailed memory like few others. He will serve you a verbal plateof treasured musical memories for years to come, if you come close. The following interview is one such occasion. My thanks to Bunny, Reg (Three Kings), Carlton Hines, Carl Gayle, David Corio, Laurent Pfeiffer, and (especially) Steve Barrow.

If we go back to your youthful days in Jamaica, what did you look for in music, say the late 1940s, it was mainly jazz and mento, wasnt it?
Yeah. No man, the early days of Jamaican music was whe you call it now mento and calypso. Yes, it would be mento, calypso and a ting named quadrille. Quadrille is a form of mento but it going through first beat or second beat or ting like those. Those tings Jamaican people start off with.

So what was your first love, musically speaking?
Well, we used to listen to a lotta those quadrille business ancalypso. And then Jamaica start bringing in the Rhythm & Blues. People like Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis, Roscoe Gordon andyou know, Louis Jordan. Louis Jordan was one of the biggest of those days. You have Louie Prima, Smiley Lewis was big too.

And the sound systems was from some time in the 1940s.
Yes, the late 40s, right. Because you used to have man used to keep dance now with orchestra. With orchestra is like band, musicians used to come anplay. Youd have to hire a band. Because the calypsonians dem used to come ando them ting firs’ an’ them quadrille, and then the other band would sing the American songs like Louis Jordan anall those t’ing, like Val Bennett an’ those people.

That was optimal.
Yeah man. Probably it was a pick-up band with different, different musician, yunno. They was the name band, it was a mento band, but the mento band they were versatile, they could a play Rhythm & Blues aneveryt’ing.

Where did they keep the dances?
House dance, people used to rent houses ankeep the dance. And you used to have a few like all Liberty Hall an’ t’ing like those.

This was at the same time when the sounds used to play?
No, the sound system come in after now. After the sound system come in, a guy in Jamaica name Goodies, I think he may had the firssound system. Nick The Champ, a man name Nick The Champ, him come from Maxfield Avenue. AnHedley Jones, Hedley Jones is a technician. So those guys start bring in them sound system business now. Yeah, when the sound system come in now, it was better, becawhen the band dem tek a break, yunno, dem eat out the profit. Them eat off your curry goat anall a dem tings deh, anif you say anyting whe dem nuh like, dem juspack up angone home.

You understan’.

So thats about the time when you started to follow sound systems.
Long time, man. From sound systems come up we wasyou know, in our teens. Before we in our teens we used to listen to Jones, Count Jones, Hedley Jones them ansome other sound. Any time a sound system string up, yunno, it draw a crowd. Yes.

What was the scene like in your area, Greenwich Farm?
Not Greenwich Farm alone, man. You have Greenwich Farm, Trench Town, those places. Greenwich Farm, you used to have Jones Town, twas Jones Pen, those areas was formerly Pen til them change them to Town now, is Greenwich Town now. It was Greenwich Farm anJones Pen. Trench Pen is Trench Town now. So those areas is around a long time, yknow. And people used to live in a place named Ghost Town. Whe alms housewhen a man dead from alms house, a poor man, dem used to bury dem in a place dem call Ghost Town. People used to build up dem house, capture dem land deh anbuild dem house. Tivoli Garden was Back OWall. So even why today those areas still have violence in a dem, becadem people deh in dem days deh was violent people, like Woppy King anall dem man deh come from dem areas deh.

So were talking the early rude boys
Yeah, those was before rude boy. Two-Gun Rhygin, Martin him did name, call him Rhygin. Jimmy Cliff dem mek a show with part-time story, with this script aroun’ him.

The Harder They Come’.
The Harder They Come. It was a real rude boy life in a Jamaica, yunno. Yeah.

Theres a certain glorifying of the rude boy in Jamaica, in some circles at least. Did some people look up to these outlaws in those days, or it was rather the opposite?
People used to fraid a dem, man. People never look up to outlaws in a Jamaica dem times. People dem was Christian people ango to work an’… Firstime from man smoke all a spliff, man, if you smoke all a spliff anyour parents know, dem ban you! Dem nuh want you to come back a dem yard anall a dem ting deh. Jamaica did change. Yet the rude bwoys dem them days deh go to Back OWall anGhost Town anthem place. Man neva glorify badman, badman haffe stay in a bush any time the people a call the police, yunderstan. Yeah man.

But that wave of ‘rude boy-ism’ swept over town sometime in the sixties, didnt it?
Politics, its politics now. These politicians, after British rule gone now anwe get independence then the politician waan tek over now, thats when them start.

Infiltrate the communities.
Yes, a man starta politician start anyet a man claim seh dem is your leader, whe a big politician call im anseh well, you work with me now. Them give you the money fe get the guns fe get the guys fe intimidate people fe vote for me. But some a the man, them bother himfrom them stop there so, them start rob ankill people. As I say, some a them a come back from the old days, the whole Ghost Town anBack OWall days deh now, a man a chop off all a man head andem days deh dem used to hang people. But it different now, yunno. The firstime before a man kill a man, him t’ink… y’know, him seh bwoy, if dem hold him dem a go chop off him head. But nowadays dat no gwaan now, dem new youtdeh different.

Times change. Like Derrick Morgan said, if you didnt return a hello’ or ‘good morningto the elders, you could get a flogging for that.
Yeah, dat the oldays, you haffe respecyour elders, man. It different now.

It was easierto live under British rule?
Yeah. When we did ave British rule, man, it was much better. Yeah man, land order was the order of the day, man. From we get independence the politician dem with dem greedy self, dat mash up the place. Thats why the gunman come in, becaeach man waan stay in a power, yunno. Most of the politician dem is frien, when dem meet up dem drink anseh bwoy, I give you help to any situation bwoy, my bwoys dem was down deh. The bwoy, tomorrow me a senrounmy bwoys dem too, yunno. So, when the badman dem start kill dem now, dem take a closer look ansome a dem get fraid. But sometime it get outta hand, probably even now. Becayou hear a man jusa kill, kill, kill so, yunderstan’.

Yes. And the rude bwoy it gotten in a the music now, becayoud hear they had a ting down deh now with Movado anVybz Kartel now, one on Gully side anone name Gaza, one a Gaza. It reach all de school now, de school children dem. The guys dem start instigate this anthat against dem one another anthe school youtdem tek it up. The nex’ t’ing, a Gaza man a stab a Gullybank man.

The current dancehall feuds is nothing new on the map, is it? I mean, Jazzbo and I Roy
Yeah, but Jazzbo anI RoyYou have it in a the oldays too, Derrick Morgan anPrince Buster ana few others, right. Jazzbo anI Roy, but dem rivalry deh now was jusfe sell record. No man neva shoot you cayou tink someting bout him, a man jusgo in a the studio anmek up a nex’ song an’ answer you back. But dem new youtnow dem a play it fe keeps. Yes.

How did you actually start out in the business, was this as a record plugger for Duke Reid, or it goes even back before that?
Yes, also Coxson and Leslie Kong.

How did it come about?
We used to have a panel whe we ave our vote at Teenage Dance Party. Sonny Bradshaw, him die the other day, bring in that. So, if a tune get earmarked, right, anyou get your friendem fe vote fe it, anit vote to a hit, it play right through the week powerplay. Right through the week that tune play, so it grow on the people dem. So a man used to want get powerplay fe him tune, anwe as the panel people, dem vote. Sometime, its not every week we on the panel, but you ave other people jusvote. But youd have to influence dem seh bwoy, this week you pon de panel seh bwoy, me have four tune, yunno, me waan dem one from Coxson, two from Duke Reid, and one from Leslie Kong. You waan dem tune get powerplay, so you haffe vote fe it. The same week when your time come round dem come an’… you have to do one another favours. Yeah.

So thats the link.
Yeah man, because when we leave work a daytime or evenintime you go straight to dem record shop anyou collecdem records fe go a the radio station anplug it, get it played. So as a man put out a new tune, the big guys dem like Duke Reid, we used to go a dem record shop during lunch-time anall that, dem would a leave the record dem fe we so we carry it in the radio station. Small man dem find you now, yunno, like when Joe Gibbs jusa start, dem find you fe getbecause thats how you get your play. But the big guys dem like Byron Lee now, the radio people go to all Byron Lee fe play it, becaafter a while him was the big band in a Jamaica, so anyting him mek good or bad it had fe air it. Them days deh youd have one radio station till you have JBC come in now, Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation, youd have two station andem was the main one.

Before that was the Rediffusion.
Rediffusion was in a the fifties. Poor people who couldnt buy a radio, right, it didnt come the mother company was from England ere. JUI was the firsradio station whe turn RJR andem bring in a radio station, the rediffusion, some lickle boxes, anyou hire JUI, it used to be fe a month. So people used to have one in a im house. So, a so they get the news an’ it’s the radio anthe radio series anall a dem ting. You used to have one nameSecond Spring come over pon a Sunday night-time, man. Like a oman, her husbandead anshe a fe marry again, everybody, everybody a fe listen to that. Second Spring. When a man have a radio in aall a area, yunno, people crowd round dem radio antwo hundred people listen to one radio. Thats when Rediffusion come in now, everybody could a hire one. Them jusinstall it anwhether you ave money or not, it spread like wildfire.

Whats the story of your first connections in the music industry, such as Ken Lack, the Caltone label?
Same way. Ken Lack did ave a agency business, yunno. Ken Lack used to manage the Skatalites anKen Lack get we fe come round now anstart do tings. Ken Lack used to deal withKen Lack use we as a young people fe produce the tune dem anall that, anit work.

How long did you stay with Ken?
Well, I was all over the place, yunno. I was by Ken Lack, Duke Reid same way, an’ Coxson. An’ I can remember Ken Lack promised me all a car fe mek thisone a him tune go number one. Ken Lack, Joe Gibbs come in a the business anyoud have two big guy work a post office – McDermott, Jerry – dem used to come in sometime anstorm the placewe used to call them the Big Cat. Used to walk with him back full of record when he was a postman, yunno, when him doneTom and Jerry, man. Him sing some nice tune too. I dunno if dem still alive now. Tom Jerry McDermott did ave a heart problem one time anhim go, him go America go do operation. Him did come back anleave ango America go live, I dont know if him still alive. But dem guys deh did do some great music with Bobby Aitkens & The Carib-Beats. Yeah man.

Did you always have that in mind, the ultimate goal, to go into the business fully to produce yourself when you hung around Duke, Leslie Kong, Lack and all these people? Taking the step to go into self-production, how did that come about?
Oh, when you around the business so long now anmost of the young artists dem get fe know one another. And we meet the evening time anfe work pon some a them ownseh dem na get enough revenue, we start decide fe do our own t’ing. An’ the musician dem get fe know we anall that. So it wasnt so hard.

You had the connections already.

How did you get treated personally by these people, Duke for example?
Good, man. Duke Reid was a man that give me the firsstudio time fe start, yunno. Him had a festival tune antek it way. Me used to go anpromote it like politics, put on all a loud speaker pon yu cyaar and campaign! Yeah. So all dance before a radio station, becawe couldnt afford air-time. Put on loud speaker pon yu vehicle antruck we call them truckin a Jamaica – an’ go right through anadvertise it. (Raising his voice) Tonight is the night at Forresters Hall, Sir Coxsones Downbeat youll be dancinto in tune with brand new hits!, yunderstan. All them way the people flock the danceMr Curry-Goat anMiss Wright will be there dancin’ an’ Red Stripe beer anall that, yknow. Them guys used to advertise the dance stylish, man. Them time Red Stripe beer was the ting in a Jamaica. And white rum.

Yeah. White rum still that is the only ting I never see dem advertise all when I grow.

I was gonna ask you how you solved the problem with airplay, because I assume you had the same problem back then, during the 1960s, with payola over the airwaves, didnt you?
Yeah. When I started now, right, I used to buy a radio show, fifteen minutes. Me anRandy, Randy used to sponsor sehVincent Chin, Bunny Lee anRandys a Go-Go Presents, fifteen minutes to over thirty minutes, every Thursday night. Anpeople start listening ancome in anbuy the records. Then everybody start do what we do now anthen we start get it pon the two station till Randy start do it fe himself anme start do it fe mine. Them days deh was foundation a Jamaica, twelve pound fe half-hour. But dem days deh, twelve pound, yunno, is big, it come in like all twelve thousand now. But you ave fe save, yunno, anwhen yu record sell you could pay yu rent fe your record shop anthe time you a produce people come from all four corners of Jamaica every Thursday night anFriday, yu shop full, yunderstan. So it used to work out.

So it was a combination of Randys and your product at first on that radio show?
It started as Bunny Lee and Randys a Go-Gofirst till it change to The Bunny Lee Show. Yeah.

And it ran from 67 until long into the seventies?
Yeah man.

And then you expanded the show.
Yeah man, we go right on till half an hour. We go right on from fifteen minutes to half-hour from both radio stations. Becaeverybody every other new producer anthe old one dem start. Duke Reid used to have a program, him firsstart with Treasure Isle Time’ ‘pon a Saturday, whe him used to advertise him liquor store. It was a way of life fe the people dem when him start with a tune name’ ‘My Mother’s Eyes’ an’ the man seh “‘Treasure Isle Time!Coxson did start one too. But after dem fade out now we as the younger generation come in.

You came up in a time when rock steady was shaped, competing against those big shots in the music.
Yeah, well, we were pluggers, yunno, so we now come in with our different ideas. First Coxson dem used to copy the Rhythm & Blues ting anall dat now, and then we slow down the beat. Duke, it was Duke idea still, yknow, to slow down the beat, but we juscontinue with it. Because when the beat come you coulda hear (imitates bassline) ‘boo boo podobo podobo’, the bassline come out more better an’ t’ing anthe people didnt have fe rock so muchswing, yunno, like the pants get a lickle hole. When you have great dancer dem, like Sparky an’ Pluggy an’ Lloyd Pompadoo andem guys deh, dem was electric, man. AnPersian the Cat now was a rock steady dancer pretty, yunderstan. Every era produce some great dancers. So rock steady was a beautiful music. Up to now, you still have the rock steady, yunno. But, you see, the reggae you know what reggaeis? Is the organ shuffle in a the rock steady. It carry up back the beat lickle (imitates the beat) chuh chuh, reggae reggae’ – thats the organ shuffle. Carry up back the beat anmek it in-between. Becayou tek out the organ shuffle outta the reggaetek the organ shuffle outta the business.

So what do you say about the claim of Hold Themby Roy Shirley to be, probably, among the very first rock steady tunes out there at the time, if not the first?
No! Derrick Morgan tune Rudies Dont Fear’.

That was the first?
Yeah man. A guy nameBusby. Busby useto come in a the dance anjus’ rock.

Can you recall how people responded at first to it?
The dance man dem useto love it, man. AnByron Lee band was the band whe tek up the music ango uptown with it now.

The Dragonaries.

So they sort of took overrock steady for a time?
Yeah man, them tek over calypso, every damn ting!

Byron Lee. Because the whole people dem useto follow them uptown, yunno, Saturday night.

So when did the door open up for a visit to European shores, when you decided to try to get a break and succeed in England?
Forty odd years ago. When I come a EnglanI never know where to go. Juscome pon a plane. Island (Records), Dave Betteridge, him did a work fe Chris Blackwell at the time, him did invite me up here.

Betteridge was like the right-hand man to Blackwell?
Yes. Him used to run the country, the country of music. Dave Betteridge used to come a Jamaica fe Island anjusbuy music fe put out inna Englan. Becaour music used to come up on pre. So him them guys used to mek two to three trips from Englan’ an’ come there. Him anLee Gopthal now, dem did form Trojan (Records). Through dem could get Duke Reid tings, dem form a label up here nameTrojan, because it was Duke Reid the Trojan, yunno, anstart put out records. Trojan record company start off a Duke Reid t’ing.

Right. What about Pama Records?
Well, Pama start dem same time too, yunno. I start Pama dem. Pama did start with Alton (Ellis) anClancy Eccles anit never work out. Now, 68 when I up here now, Pama dem find me over Paris Gate, the three brother dem come anme see them all black man so me decide fe give it a chance, so dem gimme bout £700 pound. I dont remember if it 300 pound cash or 400 pound cash or three hundred pound cheque. I go Jamaica anstart mek some music anthe rest is history.

But you managed to get some compilations out on the Island label at the time, like Put It On Its Rock Steadyfor instance.
Yeah man, nuff tings with Island, man. When we start Island was the main label, becaJackie Edwards anJimmy Cliff dem was my friend dem before them come anlive a Englan. Them was the firsset a artist, anOwen Gray. Beverley’s, Beverley’s beat, he used to come down a Greenwich Farm anrent a man named Les Buchanan pon a Lizzy piano anrehearse before dem go studio. Actually Jackie Edwards go as a piano player pon the Owen Gray session anChris Blackwell hear him singin’ an’ recording. It come out before. Owen Gray and Jackie, they never looked back. Thats how me do so much work with Jackie, when Jackie come up back a Jamaica.

You didnt license much to Chris and Island, but how long did you last with Pama?
Well, at the time Pama did have the Black Power ting, yunno, where all they give the black man the bly, yunderstan. But I do a lotta work with Island too, man. CaIsland come up here with some tunes from Mr Pottinger anMr Robinson, them guys send me to Chris becadem remember yu hear from Chris, dem remember dem get pay anChris useto explain an’ seh nutten nuh gwaan.

Could you secure airplay for your product at that time in the UK?
Yeah man. Well, Chris used to makeDave Betteridge dem run the t’ing.

Certainly not on the BBC, but (Radio) Luxembourg?
No man, dem days deh it used to go in a the trash-pan. BBC never inna no reggae andem music in a the old days.

Not even Caroline or Luxembourg?
Fight, we used to fight. We used to have a station name’… yes, Luxembourg, it was a pirate station. And Radio Caroline. Used to haffe buy time fe play your reggae tune pon it. Yeah man. How longit come on till in a the evenin, Tony Blackburn andem guys deh start pon dem station. The BBC employ them becadem get so good.

Lee Gophtal of Trojan Records now, the late accountant, the stories surrounding his work for the music is of a man not so knowledgable about Jamaican music but at least he could get the product out there and not just the West Indian circulation of shops
Lee Gophtal, him amalgamated withBlack people used to go to him firswhen dem come up. Is him, Blue Cat, him useto put out Coxson ting. You had a label nameBlue Cat, is him, Lee Gophtal, and Dave Betteridge, come together anstart the Trojan label. Even to this day is Trojan put out some Island tune and Island put out some Trojan tune. But some a dem Chris own ansome a dem was Lee Gopthal. The man whe really start the ting bigthe man whe start the big ting on ya

was those two?
Eh? No man, you have a man nameShallit, yunno, him useto deal with Prince Buster. Emill Shallit, him start the Blue Beat label on ‘ere.

Thats right, yes.
Yeah. So him do im part too, Emill Shallit. The main tree people was when I come a Englanforty odd years ago, right, was who now? Mrs King, Iris King and Irishusband nameBenny. Benny useto come a Jamaica too, yunno, anput out a get record. Him useto put out anyting whe Ken Lack (Caltone imprint) make, Rita anBenny, yunderstan’.

Rita & Benny King, R & B Records?
Yes, Rita anBenny, right. Them did ave a big distributing place from dem was powerful people inna the business. Mrs King was a force to reckon with. Them useto have a place inna Stamford Hill. If she na sell the record is better yu come outta the business.

When she talk everybody jump! By the way, she a the firsperson whe bring U Roy come inna this country. And Roy Shirley anMaxie Romeo. Max Romeo did come aready with Pama dem but him did go dung back, a Rita did bring im back. Yeah.

And that was in the late sixties.
Ah, she put them in which part nowI think a the early seventies, when U Roy come, she put a tour together fe im. I think a Croydon a the firsplace they did go. A promoter nameLes White useto work with her.

But in the end your relationship with the Trojan crew got sour. They went bankrupt in the mid seventies, got accused from all over for a massive amount of piracy, and so on.
Yeah, the whole a dem is some damn pirates, yunno. Ca’ Trojan use’ to put out Duke Reid ting, becathrough dem mek the Trojan label people think it wasDuke never give them no tune. Is after a while Duke come dung deh Duke draw ‘im gun ‘pon Dave Betteridge anLee Gophtal, dem run like thief! Go write a book anmek people know bout it. A me haffe cool off Duke becaDuke was a wealthy man, him never need no guy a Englanfe put out him record, fe pay people or not. Duke did ave him money. Yeah man.

OK, they simply took his stuff, Dukes productions, without a license for it and put it on?
on the Trojan label. I was there when Trojan label formed. Dandy Livingstone useto work with Mrs King anshe anhim fall out, anme anhim was up by Dave Betteridge anPama did give im some money fe mek a album, anDandy give it to Trojan fe put out. Trojan firsalbum, it name’ ‘Dandy Returns. You see im come off a plane step, Dave Betteridge go pon the phone ansell fifteen thousand of that album right before – ‘pon the phone. Firstime when it come on ya ana man see yu with all a pre, he mek em hold them, he no waan hear it, yunno. From is a white label, if it is even stupidness him a pay a money anhold it. You have a man seh Whadat, pre? Mek a hold dem now. Him no even waan hear it.

What do you feel was the downfall of the Trojan empire back in 75 then?
Bad management. Yeah man.

Obviously. How much could you sell of a substantial ‘hit’ back in those days?
Could sell plenty, man. Plenty.

Were talking figures around forty to fifty thousand?
Yeah man, fe a good seller dem days deh you have thirty, forty, sixty thousand or so. Or a hundred thousand. Cayou used to ave Jamaica, Englan, America did young to it, although you had a guy nameBrad (Osbourne). AnRandys start fe put out records, Chin-Randys was before VP. But Chin-Randy never gwaan good. It was Vincent brother Vincent, VPis Vincent & Pat’, yunno. Me an’ Vincent start, becahim bredda never waan pay no royalty anput out record. AnVincent jusstart VP Records, Vincent and Pat, him anhis wife. Him use’ to mek – we do the work a Jamaica, usethe studio time a Randys studio anin return we give him the tune dem fe instead of paying studio time fe release in America. Ansee VP today big ting. Yeah.

What about Keith Chin?
Keith Chin was Vincent brother too. Him useto dry cleaninbusiness in America.

But what about yourself in this period, say 68 to 71, did you go over to New York to cover that market as well?
Yeah man, I start go to New York inna those days, it was me anRandys. It was Randys anmyself. I useto stay a Keiths house, yunno, thats how Keith got interested in a record business. BecaKeith anhim wife did ave a dry cleaninbusiness in New York.

Randys did have a releasing outlet in New York even as early as 69 or 70, I think.
Yeah, Randys start him produc’ – Vincent start him product long time, right, the brother that tek on the name Chin-Randy’s’ off a Vincent label inna Jamaica. VP was Randys Records inna Jamaica, yunno. Chin-Randys was one a him brothers, him name’ Victor.

Victor, an’ the other bredda nameKeith. Yeah.

What was the main players for the Jamaican record market in the late sixties or early seventies in the New York area? It was basically the same names, Brad Osbourne, Bullwackie?
Brad Osbourne was one of the backbone inna the business, becaafter me anBrad hook up the rest was history, right. VP never when I say VP never born yet, it was Chin-Randys, but Chin-Randys jusdecide fe put out your music anno pay nobody, anclaim seh (turns into a complaining voice) Oh, me cyan owe myself two hundred anme cyaan mek back me stamper money, anBrad tell we it was a lie anwe and Brad start workin’. An’ then him do the same ting with Vincent now, so thats why Vincent start VP Record. Cahim couldnt get no return from him bredda. Keeling (Beckford) has that breddas place now, I think Keeling rent it from him wife. And then him sister nameMolly, she was inna the business, she useto put out record. But when her husband dead she never bother. AnMiss Pat anVincent come over to America anlive anthe rest is history. VP a one of the biggest reggae distributor inna the world now, not even in a New York cathem buy out all Greensleeves. Yes.

You became one of the first independent producers to use the newly built Randys studio in Kingston?
You have to say I start using it before everybody, then Lee Perry. Cawhen it jusstarted it had a distorted sound. E.T. (the late Errol Thompson) was an apprentice at Coxsons studio at the time, yunno, anE.T. was the firsengineer at Randy’s studio.

I think he and Clive Chin, they were schoolmates at that time.

You kinda repeated this by using Channel One when they arrived on the scene.
74 Channel One arrive’ an’ I have the firstape, the first session there inna that studio, too. History tape, firs’ set o’ tunes that do inna Channel One was me. Me useto open the studio dem, yunno. Harry J studio, me firsrecord inna it. Me was the guinea-pig whe test out the studio dem.

Byron Lee did ave a nexstudio whehim do it fe Mick Jagger but Mick Jagger dem did prefer the top studio. Byron Lee did set up a studio fe dem (the Rolling Stones), come mostly do all Cherry Oh Baby’ an’ ‘Goat Head Soup, fe the album, but dem prefer the big studio. Becaeven Cherry Oh Babya do over five or bout six different times, yunno. Anthe one whe stand out was the one they do pon the number one studio, right. Dynamic Sound have the greatessound up until this day. Them pull down the equipment now anall dat, but it was from West Indies Records. The bass never distort inna that studio. Anthen you have Federal which was before them with the Khouris dem. Federal useto do a lotta calypso till them start do reggae, rock steady, Ernie Smith anall them guys. So everybody chip in a lickle. Federal was a big manufacturer, like WIRL Records, dem were bankrupt anByron Lee get a name-change to Dynamic Sound. Harry J build him own studio. Bob Marley biggest hit LP dem come outta Harry J studio, Natty Dread’ an’ all Catch A Fire’ an’ all dem ting deh. Harry J studio dat make.

But Blackwell did invest a reasonable sum in that studio, Harry Js?
Yeah. Him did invest, cahim did get result. Any way you get result you invest your money. Chris did have a vision, yunno, so

Yes, but you yourself mustve had a certain visionabout recording when you took chances on all those new, unfinishedstudios at the time?
Yeah, but Chris did born up here, yunno, so Chris had money. People like we start from nutten. I start do my firssession with twenty pound, put it inna Lynn Taitt hand anthe four a them come; Lynn Taitt, Bryan Atkinson pon bass, an’ Joe Isaacs ‘pon drums, anGladdy Anderson pon piano. A so me start. Them days deh was thirty shilling a side fe musician, yunno. Them days deh we start with four man anthey play four tune fe me fe twenty pound. Cyaan bawl, through me useto go round with everybody the studio time come anfrom there the rest is history.

Did you leave the production ideas in the capable hands of these people or you had a basic idea from the beginning how that first session should be?
Yeah man. You see, we was the youth whe go to dance ansaw what the people dem like. CaI record even U Roy before, before Duke start record him, with a tune name’ ‘Here Comes the Man Lennox Brown With the Big Horn, like a live effect. That was supposeto come on an LP now, Lennox Brown. Him did not much talk inna it but at least… ‘hear the brother play anthe brother pa paaah daaahyou can swing answay, yunderstan, that was one a the firsU Roy tune. That was our ting. How we bring all version now. Me could not afford fe do everyting a session, me haffe use the same riddim anput horns pon some andub organ andub t’ings… tek all one riddim anmek a LP, with different artist, different sound. So everybody start follow we. But, a true, we couldnt afford it fe every music, every singer or every instrumental is a different ting, is a different riddim. So we start these tings, through lack of funds an’ t’ing. An’ when me deh a record Delroy Wilson, Ansel Collins play drums pon that, yunno. Four man again, This Whole Heart of Minein a 67, forty-one years anyou hear that tune deh put on right now youd have a guy say it jus’ make.

But some critics would probably say that this practice cheapenedthe musicin the long run.
No man, them know dem tune deh is classic anthem stand up up till now. Better than whats happenin’ now.

True, but the issue of versioning, what it caused was, perhaps, to hold the development back a little. But to each his own.
In a them days deh everybody a do the versionnow. The critics them only talkin, if you follow critics yu dead fe hungry, yunno, you dead of hunger. Old time people inna Jamaica seh If you fraid a Eye yu cyaan eat Head!That mean if you afraid a the fish-eye you cyaan eat the head.


So, you no listen to critics, or wha(is) critics, you listen to the band. Man used to say dem wrong, dem say Bunny Lee an’ him drunkard musician’, became couldnt afford the big guys dem, the big guy whe all over the place. Me get my lickle organis, like a guy nameGlen Adams, usehim one finger untilhim mek use of it like the big guys dem couldnt do. We changed the sound. The big guys dem, if dem waan eat them haffe start whawe do. Man dance to whahim like, him no dance chord! A to E-flat anB to B-minor, man jusdance! Music whadem like. So the music becomemore anmore anmore youths join in ana lotta more singers, anwhen we tek it a Englanto the people dem now, a we break it inna Englanhere, Pama anIsland anBlue Beat. Then we turn to America anCanada.

How was the market in Toronto in those days?
Not too bad. You useto have Pete Weston did just leave Micron andid jusstart the Micron Music company, anyou did ave a lickle guy up there nameCookie (Chin) now. Canada was always a small market. Becaman useto leave from Canada ango down inna New York ango buy record, caNew York was the bigger market. In the rest a the States, dem catch on.

I wanted to ask you about creative juices flowing and how you interacted among the congregation of players; your pool of musicians in the studio, did you let them come up with something or you had them pick up your stuff, basically?
Well, you useto have people like Bobby Aitkens. Through dem waan get good like Lynn Taitt andem people, dem play whayou want. Them try fe please you instead of one do all Take Five, it called Russians Are Comingnow andem seh Uh!?, dem tell me seh No man!” “Any tune yu can play fast it can rock, slow it dung, we a go do this, Take Five, rock steady. Classic today, anBobby dem say Mek we try it, man, on the drummer” – an’ it work. So, it was not a case of musician juspick up everyting angone through the door, becathrough him is a big-timer yu cyaan talk to him. Them guys was the underdog whe me use. So dem waan them name big out deh like Lynn Taitt & The Comets or Lynn Taitt & The Jets. Becaright now Bobby Aitkens build one othe biggesreggae riddims of all time, dem even put him bassman name pon it, Laurel White – ‘My Conversation. In every era dem version that riddim. Bobby Aitkens & The Carib-Beats, 67. Anywhere that Slim Smith tune put on bam! The big guys never stop version them tune deh. So when you hear critic a talk, even the other day a tune do with She’s Royal’, right?

Tarrus Riley.
Yeah, the riddim dem jusa thief offa Delroy riddim anjusdo it over, a Delroy Wilson riddim but Dean Fraser as a musician fe a different horn phrase an’ t’ing, but nuff people no know seh is offa dat. Beres Hammond, him is a man whe love do over people riddim anchange the horn phrase anthe ting ancall it different name. If yu no understanfe yourself dem tek way your publishing too. Delroy a no alive fe claim it.

When you suddenly get successful, a lot of people tend to flock around you, wanting various things, each one taking a little piece off you, if they can. How did you handle all the hangers-on back in those days?
Same way, man, same way until now. You jusdeal with people as a individual. You no mek yu head get big angwaan like yu better than dem. Like you mek outta iron an’ dem man mek outta hay… you deal with everybody, as a man. The whole a we a one, yunno. Some man might be passionate more than some or dem ting deh, soBut some a the other producers andem ting, all when dem come a Englan, me start the trend anmek man know dem can come a Englan. Me come antek five hundred pound from Pama angive Ital Records fe him start, to stop hanginarounCoxson another studios, thats how him could a do him own ting. Me never do it fe myself alone, me spread out. You always haffe look out fe your people dem arounyou. So, more time it nutten hard fe handle. It come in easier. Ana man come with idea, anseh, Bwoy, Striker, how this sound?Me seh, Hold on deh! Stitch, yu ave ideas try it!Right? Anme go inna the control anlisten anme listen to whathey have anme seh, Mek we do it the Stitchie way. So variety is the spice of life. Cawhathe other man dem did a gwaan with, Stitchie idea come up better. So, a so it go. Thats why most of my ting no sound alike. A musician come with idea, yu mek im work out him idea antry it. Anif yu no like it yu still take it. Anyou take one a your idea. Sometime in the end a musician waan the ting I prefer. An’ it – boom! go out deh an’ it’s a big hit. Becais a wheel, yunno, if it go anyu no fix the wheel the wheel a go bad until the whole wheel mash up. So you listen to every man, treat every man round you as a man, listen to whadem haffe say. It come like the other day I go somewhere anhear some man mek a tune, with Ambelique, anthem ask me opinion. I say: Well, keep that, that sound good. Tek a nex’ cut”. The guy juscome pon it an’ say: Bwoy, me no old-time producer, me no waan no advise pon it. All now dem cyaan get it back, dem wipe it off. So when dem get one-two ansee whadem a ask me, whame tink, me say me a old-time producer, yunno, me no do anyting, me no waan hear nutten. The new guys, dem too big-headed anthink them know it all andem no know nutten. Some a dem is Mr Know It All.

(Laughs) I guess thats right.

Tell me about your working relationship with (King) Tubbys, how did that start? I dont know exactly when he opened up his studio, or when he acquired the old board from Dynamic, circa 71 or so?
No, it start before, right. The studio dem a get too busy, anTubbys have a lickle place up deh with some curtains, him a go play gainst Tippatone anme deh come a Englan, anme seh Tubbs, we can do special. All dem specialbusiness whe man a talk, a me start that, yunno. Can voice some tune in there with Roy Shirley ansome more man. Anme bring up someting. Me did carry U Roy come up after him tour with Mrs King anU RoyTubbs a fret now becahim is is deejay at the time anBig Youth a clap now! Big Youth a clap on Tippatone sound anthe man Tippatone a go play. So me seh No man, me have a deejay inna Spanish Town nameI Roy, man, whe sound like him imitate U Roy. That a no problem, anjusgo anpick up I Roy an’ mek ‘im familiar with the dubs, anon the Sunday night the dance was a success. I Roy useto do deejay one or two ting fe Moodies, but that night I Roy mek ‘im name. Ca’ if him coulda go up gainst Big Youth anBig Youth was the biggest ting away from U Roy now, him anDennis Alcapone anDennis Alcapone did live a Englanat the time now, so I Roy come on anstand up! I wasnt at the dance the night becaI did fly out, but him do a special namethe Iron Gate, man, an’ one name’ ‘Joe Frasier’ – ‘Joe Razor, with Roy Shirley. So we start voice tune deh. Useto make the riddim anTubbs put dem pon two-track firsuntil it a go onTubbs mek a lickle board anwe start do most of Slim Smith firsalbum, up deh me voiceit anmix it. Becathrough Tubbs did a cut dub now we did give ‘im ‘pon dubplate, give it fe im custumer. So when Byron Lee change out the board now, Byron seh the ting a tek up space anme jusa seh, Byron, I woulda get this fe Tubbys anwe go pay fe it later”. An’ I go antell Tubbs anhim get it – an’ the resis history.

You went over there because, in many ways, it was a lot cheaper to voice at Tubbys?
Yeah man, becawe set it up in a lickle bathroom now anput some eggshell ansometing inna Tubbs now, anstart voice. From inna the early days before him get the board. From we do the special, Tubbs did ave some velvet curtain, anwe draw them anhim tun down the ting low anyu plug in you earphone anyou listen the riddim anget the riddim through it, anvoice. So we start voice tune until we start carry Scratchup deh too, anthe whole a we start anthe nex’ t’ing yu know, King Tubbys born till the version’ t’ing come in now. Anwe start use up the ting pon the board now, whe dem other engineer tink a decoration, yunno, anstart get the ‘chukho chukho’. You know when the drum anbass come in? You ave a man sing someting wrong, yunno, anyu jus’ mek ‘im sing anwhen you mix it yu jusdrop out dem part a de riddim. When the chord change ande man dem clash – an’ people start follow we ando it, y’know. An’ then Tubbys anRuddys deh a Duke Reid a cuttinsome soft waxyou call it dem days, and Smithy (Byron Smith, sound engineer at Treasure Isle studio) mek a mistake anleave out de riddim I mean the voice, anhim a go stop it an’ Ruddy seh Don’t stop it, jusone. Tek the riddim”. An’ then him tek the vocal after that now, right. Anthe night man a Spanish Town man, me seh me haffe go over there anme see Ruddy put it on, man. Him put on the singinpart an’ seh Me goinplay part two!” An’ so when him put on that, man, the song was a easy song as they ear it, so everybody start sing pon the pure riddim anthe deejay start talk over it, man! Anthen me seh Bwoy, Tubbs, yu see the joke whe wha’ ‘appen up by Duke studio the other night, we haffe go do it, yknow. Ruddy pop down Spanish Town with it, the riddim, so we start do it now. I got Slim Smith ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg, we start with the singin’ an’ lick in the riddim antek out the voice anpeople start seh Bwoy, Tubbys have a amplifier weh can tek out the voice outta the riddim, so everybody flock to Tubbyssound. But a the sofwax, dem cut da way deh (giggles). So, U Roy start play all six piece of one tune. When you come with it again U Roy seh Come with another version, Rasta!” An’ me say Rooyyy, a de name dat. Then the name versionwas born. Plenty a de guy dem seh we a drop out all riddim after the vocal, them nuh know why we do it, dem jusfollow anit become a way of life, cawe set the trend, man. We do a whole heap a ting. Coxson dem start follow too everybody!

In part 2 of the interview Bunny Lee talks about King Tubby, trends, his own studio and other studios, the flying cymbals and the tickler, the Wailers, Soul Syndicate, Aggrovators, and much more.


What do you recall as being the very first dub album, was it Aquarius Dub?
Nah man, Roots of Dubby King Tubbys! Tune will sell like 45 whe introduce dat. Tubbys mek a tune, mix a dub anplay a version anput behind a tune name’ ‘Roots of Dub’ – I mean Psalms of Dubfe a guy name(Carlton) Patterson, anthe tune become a hit. Every time you go Randys (record store) andem hear ‘do do wup do do wup do do wup chek chek’, anpeople like tek offa de dub. So you start put the dub dem pon the record. Some a the dub dem people like it even more than the vocal. I rememba I do a Johnny Clarke vocal anI never liked the riddim, how I do it, becawhen me deh ya a man seh a finger with the control now antek it off, man, anthe tune jusstop. Then Miss Pat seh Bwoy, Bunny, yu cyaan do a ting like dat, people dem waan de one whe de tune come out with. So me haffe go cut it back pon a record, yunderstan, antransfer it anput it pon a tape. Because is jus’ a t’ing me try, yunno, anit come out dat way, when dem machine ya a trouble de control room but the people dem love it. Come like Have Some Mercywith Delroy Wilson; Niney a trouble de control anit come out like seh(imitates a specific cut upsound in the studio). It’s like dem t’ings deh.

Trends can often start from mistakes.
Yeah man, nuff mistake. Look how much tune a mek from my mistake. When Derrick Morgan ave a tune, we do the riddim at Duke Reid anRoland (Alphonso) up by Coxson studio anme go up deh, an’ seh Rol’, me waan do a instrumental, anRoland seh Bwoy, yu waan carry the riddim back?” An’ me seh No, Rolie, we a do it pon the spot vibes!” An’ Derrick say Here comes Roland solo with one thousand tons of megaton hook mammy anreggae now!’ An’ Roland start ‘panaana panaana’ an’ Derrick beside him a dance an’ a split an’… One a de time the engineer stop it, me seh, How come Mr (Sylvan) Morris, whayu stop it for?Him seh, Bwoy…”, anme seh, No stop nutten whame a do until me tell yu seh fe stop it!Tek it down whawe a do again anfe Derrick a mek a mistake inna it anme jussignal to im an’ seh Continue!Up to now man a dance to mistake. Derrick was like the way him should a say What the farmer said to the potato; I plant yu now an’ dig yu later’.

But Roland a bubble! So me justek it, anwhen de tune come out, mana hit! Roland Alphonso biggeshit! All a dem big tune whahim do fe Coxson never sell like Everybody Need Love, the version a it; One Thousand Tons of Megaton. Yu rememba dat tune?

Any time yu see it you listen it anyu hear the mistake whaDerrick make, anme jusmek it go through

and you called it ‘style’.
Yeah man, every spoil is a ‘style’. Nuff tune me do dat, man, anme tell the engineer Don’t stop it, mek it go on!

Another thing Id like to hear about is, when you had so much hits, success over a longer period, why didnt you reach the level of building your own studio back in, say, the mid seventies?
A me buy Joe Gibbsfirsstudio, me lock up dat fe bout fourteen or fifteen years. Cause me useto work round a Tubbys. If me work a Tubbys yu ave a crowd a go follow me, any studio when me deh-deh a crowd there, yunno.

Because there was talk in the mid 1970s that Vulcan Records and Phonogram, they almostinvested in a studio for you back in 76 or so?
No man, Eddy Grant mek dem wind up Vulcan Record when Trojan mash up. Somebody sign me name seh dem give me twenty thousand, right, fe buy a studio, equipment, annutten never go so. Anme tell Eddy Grant, anEddy Grant go down deh anhim know the boss anhim wind up Vulcan withThat was Junior Lincoln anWebster Shrowder. Them guys deh a crook, man, dem guys deh was fe themself, yunno. Andem put out some big LP ansome good tings. Me start a company nameKlik, Pama Record, Jamaica Sound Record, yu name it.

Joe Sinclair ran Klik, after he left Trojan and their bankruptsy in 75?
Joe Sinclair? Was a man nameLarry Sevitt own it (Jamaica Sound), it was the man whe useto check it.

So that never materialised in the seventies. But you did actually get a studio together in the eighties, like you said.
Yeah man, me had a studio from inna the seventies, beca’ Joe Gibbs’ firsstudio, a me did buy it. But as I say, I never bother. I did sell Channel One the machine. I never bother becathrough me ‘ave Tubbys’ studio anif me did start me own studio, the crowdBecause Scratchdid start a studio, Larry Sevitt bought two board; one fe me anone fe Scratch. Me mek him buy the one fe Scratchso Scratchstart him studio, E.T. a set it up. Anup to now Scratch’ don’t give Larry Sevitt a tune yet.

Did you use the Black Ark in those days for your own productions?
No, sometime me test it out, but me ave my own studio so me never need fe do it (there). AnTubbysstudio. Every studio inna Jamaica a me seh me waan use it, yunno. Me get it, becaif me a use your studio the crowd gwaan come. This man anman goin(to) come.

Would you say the success of Channel One destroyedRandys (studio) which led to their permanent stay in America?
No, everybody have them own sound. When me start use Channel One, Jo Jo look him own sound until him go America anfind it. Becahim ave some parametric equalizer anSyd Bucknor at the time never usethem. Me do tune at Channel One, yunno, like Living In the Footsteps of Another Man, dem tune deh sound good but another sound deh Jo Jo did want. Jo Jo find whahim want now anJo Jo brothernow come ando dem t’ing. Randy’s did ave dem own sound, Joe Gibbs did have him own sound; when him have a studio now him start put in parametric equalizer becaE.T. was a smarter engineer. The parametric useto bring out the bottom; the bass more inna the tune, anthe drum sound. CaJoe Gibbs did get the board whe we useto use down a Dynamic, down a the bottom studio, anE.T. get parametric angrow up with it, so Joe Gibbsstudio sound like Channel One.

The various patterns you introduced on your labels at the time, sounds like flying cymbalsand ticklers, this was partly inspired by, for instance, listening to American studio musicians, drummers from, say, Philadelphia International?
No, actually I tell Sly fe play that firs’, yunno. ‘Flying cymbaldeh round a long time, a guy nameWinston Grennan. Even Take Five, if yu listen pon the hi-hat (imitates the sound). But through me deh a eat chicken-wing me jusstarted ‘flyers’. Its jus’ – the name can do a ting, yunno, so everybodyall one time Carly, Carlton Barrett, Bob (Marley) haffe send him out beca’ ‘flyers’, flying cymbal a kill everybody. Carly come anwhen him play Gorgon, me seh Carly, yu haffe play ‘flyers’ today, yunno(giggles). So him seh Wha’ so name’, Mr Lee?” An’ me say what, anme tell Santa (Davis) show ‘im. An’ when me do Gorgon(Cornel Campbell); Gorgon, a him play dat, yknow, him ana guy nameBagga Walker, play the bass. So it was jusa name. But dem make dat kinda ting deh out, becaeven Sly play aready pon a tune name’ ‘Here I Am (Baby), with a guy named Al Brown. But it never ave no name, we come with the name ‘flyers’ an’ put the guitar on top of it fe match it chengeh chengeh, with Tony Chin, ancreate a different ting deh so. Anwhen me carry it up a Tubbys now anmix it anpass it through the… a t’ing with the board, a high-pass filter; different sound yu get again, it gone to a different dimension. So the whole ting justek off. And then tweeters did jusa come in pon sound system, so it sound nice through the tweeter phwwhhh phwwwhh. So its the separation with the tweeters. Then the ticklercome in now with someting near like dat. A me jus’ name’ a nex’ t’ing named the ticklers, me seh to Santa Why yu tickle the hi-hat?Like all ‘bram pah…’ – ‘My Guiding Star, the hi-hat, anpass it through a filter. Different sound, so me juscall it the tickler’, ca’ I ave been experimentin. BecaStudio One sound never jusstay so, yunno, Morris experiment with (Eric) Frater through a kinda reverb back whe yu get the feedback, the guitar teckeh teckeh’ – when yu touch the guitar it go eteckeh eteckeh, yunderstan, you get a after effec. A that was the Studio One engineer, a him shoulda name’ ‘Studio One. Him was the sound, when him leave Coxson ango Harry J, the crowd go with im ango Harry J studio. Even back then, him a go mek it work. BecaMorris was the man whe dem work with in the studio. Coxson useto out ando business an’ t’ing. Coxson would come in a evening time anlisten whaMorris anthe musician dem do anselecwhich tune him a go put out as release. But basically when most a dem tune a mek Coxson no deh-deh. Coxson useto get some Santa Mango (Mongo Santamaria) record angive Roland anJackie Mittoo dem to play over andem copy them angive them different name inna the dancehall. All ‘Exodus’, a Dizzy Gillespie tune. Something Special, him sound play them an(Count) Matchuki the deejay seh This is something special!All Sir Coxsons Hop, a no so the tune name, but Matchuki juscall a foreign tune paaahh daa dap ta dap daaah’ an’ seh ‘This is called Sir Coxsons Hop!’ An’ them scratch off the name offa the record, so yu jushaffe know it by that.

How come you got Bob and The Wailers to record Mr Chatterboxback in the early seventies, was that the only track you cut with them? You mustve had more in that session?
No man, me got plenty more tracks. Them is down Dynamic, me a go find them. When me deh a run West Indies Record, me useto give them studio time. When Bunny Wailers deh a jail anBob an(Mortimer) Planno come dung deh a night-time, me useto mek dem record; some fe dem ansome fe me. Then all when Scratch – me ‘ave John Holt andem man deh when dem anScratch come back, me seh It better yu go record with Scratch, yunno, andem seh Chicken Scratch!, anme seh Yeah man, a me spar!So dem start record mongst Scratch. All Brad dem ave a whole heap a Bob Marley song, but through him dead now (shot in NYC in the early eighties) dem either thief back the tape or Brad so-called wife sell dem. Cawhen Bob deh a America andeh a Delaware me mek Brad bring im up anput im in a place nameTwo Sixteen Hotel fe all a week, ana pure recording dat, yunno! Sometime when Peter (Tosh) dem an’ t’ing start travel now dem come up deh ansome a dem put on some harmony. All Brad mek Tyrone Evans from the Paragons harmonize it, yunderstan. So Bob ave nuff nuff tune. Is only dem fe find it, dem last treasures deh.

(Laughs) Yes.
Nuff tune, man.

Can you recall what the song was about, Mr Chatterbox, who was it directed at?
Ahhh, up a Niney.

(Laughs) Thats it, yeah.
Niney me anBob did make it off, man.

There was some conflict in the air at that time.
Yeah, Niney did start some foolish argument, anme anBob jusmek the tune. Mr Chatterbox, how long will you live…’. ‘Always to receive annever to give, always carry news all arounthe place. Up to now a dat Niney a do.

I think the story goes that there was an incident with Niney at Bobs record shop, and thats where Niney got beaten up for something
outta my record shop.

It was your shop? OK.
Yeah. No, we did ave contac. You see, Mr Rae Bunny Rae did ave this pressing plant, so if a record press in deh, we useto get all the firstwenty-five before the owner. A me useto share record with Bob, so when Bob put dem record in his shop, it dont releasethere yet till it release. So somebody in a the shop a play this Niney tune Blood & Fire, anNiney pass it round anBob a hear it. So the person tell im seh Aks Bunny Lee, becaBunny Lee carry it come deh. So when Niney come inna my shop now ‘uuhhheeeuuuhhh’ an’ Bob come on an’ seh A our, Striker!, anme tell im seh It Niney. Dem seh Niney a thief!” an’ them start mek noise, so Bob dem beat ‘im up. An’ him buss him nose anthe man seh (switches to a complaining voice) Bwoy, see the blood ya now an’…” – typical Niney.

So we mek the tune.

And speaking of typical conflicts within the business, you directed your feelings toward certain characters you came into clinch with, deals which didnt work out, whatever, and you had like straight to…’ someones head on the flip of the singles.
Straight To Channel One Head’… you motivate people by doing that. Straight To The Boy U Roy Head’, ‘Straight To The Boy Big Youth Head’ an’, yknow, when a man see that him seh ‘Bwoy…’ – we mek a tune an’ release it one time when Channel One a bad name’ ‘Channel One Crash’, seh ‘Jo Jo better sing Chiney language ansell it inna Hong Kong’. An’ de yout’ dem love’ it, dem buy the record! A man seh You no hear seh Channel One crash, people like dem kinda t’ing deh, man. Teasin’, you haffe motivate people fe get them back inna the record shop or get them interested inna t’ing.

And the story goes that you only played your own products in your record shop (Bunny Lees Record City)?
No man. Aeehh, that useto carry dung plenty sound anplenty ting. Me sell everybody record, man. My wife useto bring the records, all Satta Massa Gana’ – you know how long she useto tek it? From the guy dem box-box ansell it till… ‘Satta Massa Ganajustek off, man jus’ seh Whayu a talk to? Satta, bwoy!” An’ Tippatone, dem tek it up, yknow. Spanglergang tek it up, Satta, anthe nex’ t’ing yu know Sattais a classic all now. They ave a scene ya when the tune deh jusmek, man, them couldnt sell it. A my record shop, my wife keep box under the counter anthe time she a sell our records, she sell one anwhen dem come dem get dem money till them start, yunderstan’.

I would like to go back to the time when you started to use a fresh, young band named the Soul Syndicate, when you took a chance on them, when was it?
No man, dem good. Me useto listen dem a night-time, a me carry Chinna a go put Chinna inna da band deh, yunno. Chinna useto mek him guitar pon a sardine-pan ana play. Me give Chinna a guitar anput im inna dat band. Me carry the whole band! Cawhame useto do inna the oldays now, through me couldnt afford, like, the big guys dem whadem want, yunno, me find out how much the band play out fe a night, a club hirethe whole band. Some a dem useto work, so you mek arrangement when everybody can be there. Anthen you jusdo your ting, you jusrecord dem. Call ‘Can’t Explain’, ‘Too Late (Shall Be Your Cry)’ an’ all dem Twinkle Brothers tune, a Soul Syndicate band play two track record, we juscarry the whole band go studio. Anit work out, cheaper fe me da way deh more than fe pay the thirty shilling a side. Andem was underdog andem waan get good, so every man glad fe see imself pon a record, too.

And most of them came from Greenwich Farm in those days?
Yeah man, Greenwich Farm, Soul Syndicate bandtill them leave, so Fully (Fullwood) leave ango rent a place at Delamere Avenue anthe youtdem stay together right on until dem go California anall bout.

But you renamed them the Aggrovatorsfor your productions. It was basically the Syndicate were talking or you added various people so it wasnt the ‘normal’ Soul Syndicate to speak of?
No man, Aggrovators was anybody whe me usenow. Because me start use Sly & Robbie, Santa & Robbie. My set of musician, a guy up from even Eddy Grant from The Equals, me had a friend, him dead the other day nameLarry Lawrence (of the Ethnic, Reggae and Ethnic Fight imprints), him useto travel with dem man anthem useto say Oh, thats aggro, man!” “Say Eddy, wha’ ‘aggromean?Him say Oh, giving me trouble, man. Larry, your friend, is causinme aggro. So me like the name, yunno. Me go dung, me start call my group The Aggrovators. Then me start put the musician dem name whaplay pon the tune, anlet the people know is not me a play it. Cayou useto ave Joe Gibbs & The Professionals, anJoe Gibbs cyaan play even a shaker in time. Joe Gibbs try singin’ an’ him couldnt sing. Drumbago (the late drummer Arkland Parks) say him sound like a goat.

So, me start put the guys dem name, Santa, me hail Santa pon drums, Fully bass, anpeople start get fe know bout dem guys. Anbetter now, I start put dem picture pon the back of the LP. So these guys start get recognition. Cawhat the Aggrovators was like, sometime you go studio anyou ave Ansel Collins ana guy nameTarzan (Errol Nelson) I tink, it come like a percent of Aggrovators was like Family Man anhim brother, Carly, with Glen Adams. Them become the Upsetters now, too. Roland Alphonso & The Upsetters was a band Roland did ave, but Scratch like it ancall them fe im band dem, the Upsetters. Anyou did ave a guy nameLynford Anderson, him ave a label nameUpset, him was the big engineer at the time.

Andy Capp?
Yes, Andy Capp. Him produce some great songs, too. Him was a genius, him useto work at the radio station as an engineer up deh anleave ancome a West Indies Record. Then him anByron go America when Byron get Dynamic from the receiver, anbuy the board. A him anByron did go buy da board deh, from Atlantic. Byron useto put out Atlantic Record inna Jamaica, yunno. So when him get the studio an’ t’ing anget bigger, West Indies useto distribute fe im now anDynamic Sound start ave them own press an’ t’ing now, so the resis history. BecaDiana Ross an’ – no, not Diana Ross, whathe girl deh from Atlantic? Aretha Franklin, theyre bad! She was the A-star, yu know that?

Sure. Now, I would like to know more about this exchange of rhythms at the time, you sort of came up with this thing, perhaps started it, to lend outrhythms to other small producers such as Niney or Lloydie Slim. How come, how did it start?
Yeah man. A man me deh mongst, a me start Niney as salesman, man, anstart give everybody dem start. Is that me a tell yu, no money, you give Niney Niney ave someting him want, a riddim, or him waanYou mek im go inna studio anmek a riddim too anyou give im a cut offa it, a me give Lee Perry dem, man. Prisoner of Loveby Dave Barker, a my Slim Smith riddim me give ‘im, man. Me an’ Scratch a run a session now, Scratch couldnt pay the big league musician no more, so me tell Scratch Me ave a session today. Me do the firspart or him do the first part, anwe usethe same tape. We useone anedda riddim whaScratch mek or whame make, it lookwe useto live good dem days deh. One banana aneverybody a eat it.

(Laughs) Yes. If I just drop a few names you worked with back in those days, what was the potential you saw in them, how they could fit in the best with the changing market, and so on
Ah, I useto like listeninto Clyde McPhatter (the late lead singer of The Drifters) anCurtis Mayfield, because dem useto play pon the house dances dem, yunno, Ben E. King anall a dem guys deh. Firstime I hear Slim Smith a sing inna the Techniques (half-singing) Tellinlies…’, anme say to Derrick Morgan… “Bwoy, Keithy, da youtdeh sound like the nexbig thing, if me tek it over it could become a big hit. Yeah man, me say to Derrick, Da guy deh a sound like Clyde McPhatter’.

What was Slim like to work with?
Slim Smith a one of Jamaica greatessinger all now. You never ave a nexSlim Smith him irreplacable.

What made him so great in your opinion?
Some man jusborn great. Look how much years him dead now anyou put on a Slim Smith recordLook pon (My) Conversation, da riddim deh go on ango on. Every time yu hear Conversationit come like yu jus’ mek it.

Yes. All the big company dem aneverybody do over dat tune, anthe big singers dem. Is Slim Smith tease Dennis Brown fe play guitar anall dat too, yunno. Slim Smith anDelroy Wilson, those was no ordinary singer, those guys useto phrase! Delroy Wilson was a nexgreat singer, great artisdeh. Dem two singers deh teach Dennis Brown, yunno, thats why Dennis Brown grow up mongst dem. Thats why Dennis Brown was so versatile.

Where does Cornel Campbell fit in here?
Cornel Campbell out a sight singer, too. Great! Him coulda come like Slim Smith success, him a sing before Slim Smith too, yunno. Him useto selecfe Coxson. Cornel Campbell good too. Dave Barker! Lloyd Parks. But, as I say, Slim Smith stand up in dat group, as a singer. Pat Kelly, whayu say inna dat falsetto anthat Sam Cooke or Curtis Mayfield. When Curtis Mayfield hear Slim Smith sing is tune, man, Curtis said, Damn, this guy is good! This guy sounds like me”.

What about Horace Andy?
Horace Andy a good singer, too. I see im the other day, good singer. All a the singer dem good. Errol Dunkley, I find Errol Dunkley as a yout’ an’ carry im go to Joe Gibbs. You have many good singer. Alton was good, great inna him class. John Holt ave a voice yu cyaan hide. Ken Boothe yu name dem, man. Jackie Wilfred Edwards, one of the greatessinger come outta Jamaica. Owen Gray is like a blues blaster from the olden days, like Rosco Gordon andatOwen Gray, he is still aroun. You ‘ave Winston Francis, yu ‘ave some great singers come outta Jamaica. But as I say, Derrick Morgan come up, him was like me teacher, yunno, when me jusa start my session, me anhim useto walk. Derrick an’ Prince Buster. An’ I say Bwoy, me a go come like Buster when I start produce. Because I useto inna de studio when im produce, Buster a produce ‘im t’ing. Him come with him ting anhim write him song round the mike an’ ‘im do. Prince Buster know whahim want! Him start a whole heap a trend too. Start clap all him hand inna de tune until it could become a reality. Lascelles Perkins, one a de firssuperstar from Trench Town. Bob Marley dem aneverybody look up to him, Alton. Great, Lascelles Perkins, him still alive, bout seventy odd now.

Talking musicians, how about Val Bennett?
Aaahhh!! Ahhh, dat man did great, man. Val Bennett! Roland Alphonso anall those cats inna him band too, yunno. Val Bennett is de man whe yu say was, like, the father of all dem guys deh. Val Bennett now, is him play all Alcapone Dont Talk(simply Al Capone (Guns Dont Argue)by Buster All Stars) fe Prince Buster, yu know dat?

And I think (King) Sporty do the talkin(raises his voice) Al Capone guns dont argue!’ Val Bennett an’ King Sporty a de deejay. But through Buster have the name dem time deh it juscontinue goinin a de British chart too. Shallit jusput out anyting he find with Derrick Morgan name or Buster pon it, plenty a the old singer dem get stifled because a only people know bout Derrick Morgan anPrince Buster. Because dem name on the record its gonna sell, any Blue Beat. Yeah.

Who were some of the artists you really wanted to work with, but it never materialised?
Well, you ave some a dem, yunno. When dem ave no manners, me never record dem. But me record with almosall a dem. Jackie Edwards himself was a gentleman until him leave this eart’.

The Nat KingCole of Jamaica.
Yes, anby himself. Me record all Lord Creator, too. You name de singers dem, man.

I heard you wanted to work with the Maytals, but it never happened.
No, no, no, no, me neverDerrick Morgan turned down the Maytals, right. I was always a competitor on the Maytals, with all Derrick Morgan anthe Festival Ten anall dem songs. Maytals to me was like a group of Pocomania songs, or singer. Well, Chris Blackwell think Toots a one of the greatessinger in the world all now. Yes.

How come you cut so much oldiesmaterial with Johnny Clarke at the time?
Yeah man. Becapeople want dem type a tune deh, ancouldnt get, like, dem slow R & B ting. That put him to be a household name, the big people buy dem type a music. Cornel Campbell, him do a few. Hortense Ellis. John Holt do a album like dat too name’ ‘My Desire. The people dem want dem sixties R & B ancouldnt get them, so I find dem ando them over. I think dem immortalise plenty a dem at the time, even Jackie Edwards do an album name’ ‘Come To Me Softly. Fe big people, Christmas time, dem record deh did sell, man. Ossie Scott, My Way’ an’ ‘Wonderful Sound of Ossie Scott(meaning The Supreme Sounds of…’ LP), those music like some Perez Prado tune, Patsy(meaning Patricia) an’ ‘Cherry’, ‘Cherry Pink & Apple Blossom White(two of the biggest crossover hits by Prado in the mid 1950s) anall dem tune deh. You never hear da Ossie Scott album deh?

Portrait of My Love. Yeah man, dem song deh sell inna Canada an’ America wide. An’ if man hear seh Johnny Clarke andat a Jamaican singer a do it, man, dem buy it.

Looking back, do you feel now, with some perspective on it, that you over-recorded Johnny, over-exposed him?
No man. Me still ave tune with Johnny Clarke anCornel dem to come out, anJohn Holt. You ave some hostagewhe yu haffe hold. You cyaan record too much.

What about the series of reissues through Ravensquire in Birmingham in the mid nineties, Brian, this realised some long lost classics on vinyl again, but then they stopped. It was a lot more that shouldve been pressed at the time.
No, Coxson son (Stephen ‘Coxson Jr.’ Dodd) me did give them fe put out, a fe ‘im t’ing deh, Junior Dodd anhim friend dem, from Birmingham.

I see.
Ca’ Third World (Records) was one of the strong company up ere too, yunno, Count Shellys.

Right, with the (original) Live & Love subsidiary.
Yeah, Live & Love anall dem ting deh, ‘im ‘ave a portion of record, him had from one to ten album inna the chart one time, all was Bunny Lee stuff, too.

Albums like Straight To Babylon Chest’, ‘Dreadlocks In Jamaica’…

Strictly Rockers In A Dread Land’… do you think those albums could come out again? Because they sort of came and went, and they still stand up well, quality-wise, up to these times.
Yeah man! People askinfor them but some a dem, I cyaan find the tape. I put them out same way, man, or I put them pon CD, dem sell, man. You know where I can find them? You ave a guy nameDr. Buster (Dynamite) from Holland, he useto find plenty odem tings deh, like all some Doreen Shaeffer album.

Correct, there was a bunch of great compilations of your sixties era on the Jamaican Gold label, but theyre deleted now.
Yeah. No, no, the backer did die, yu see. A guy nameRupie did back Dr. Buster, he pass away, soThat label would be a force to reckon with.

Definitely. Now, I would like to ask you about a matter which has been pretty controversial and widely criticised in various circles it simply should be left intact as it is and perhaps welcomed by others, to give it a fresher feel, the idea to remix sixties and seventies material. What is your feel about this, does it enhanceor polish the material, or what is the attitude there?
No, well, some a dem like Kingston Sound (a subsidiary of Jamaican Recordings) ting, yunno, is freshly ting with the whole tape. Some a dem is from Tubbysera ansome a demyu cyaan find the tape. So these people like old time music, so they jus’ ‘ave a different version of it from the master.

But the whole issue of ‘distorting’ original recordings, that you shouldnt put your fingers on something vital enough as it is?
Some a dem original mix now, you cyaan get it. A man get a mix, different mix of a tune anput it out. So some odem original mix deh now, dem been contracted to Pama or Trojan, yu dont want to give Tom the same ting whe Trojan ‘ave. Say, yu ‘ave a different mix offa it, yunderstan, thats why you ave different style. Is the same riddim, so a man play the original one, dem play the other one anplay all three cut. Becaif you mix a version, no care how yu good, you cyaan get it the same way, unless yu copy it pon a tape anput up dat tape, but you haffe do it over. Now probably yu can store it inna youcomputer same way. But in those days yu didnt have no computer. Most o’ dem tape dem disintigrate or yu ‘ave to get it from record anclean it up anuse it.

By the way, what became of the documentary which was supposed to come out a couple of years back, I believe it was produced in England?
Which one?

Don’t know it specifically. This was supposedly a small production company doing it and it was articles at the time published about it forthcoming, but nothing has materialised since.
Who did it? You ave one on Channel 4, yunno, it name’ ‘Deep Roots Reggaewith me anLee Perry dem (Howard Johnsons historic Deep Roots Musicseries from 1982).

Ah, yes, but this one was a different documentary, they had new footage of you, new interviews with various people you had worked with over the years, and so on.
Oh, it was a guy deh nameSmogg, filmed (or ‘flimed’, Jamaican pronounciation) someting antry fe sell it anput pon the internet, I never bother. We did stop him, man. Cause some guy ongle waan de sunshine fe imself, the sun rayfe im own stuff alone.

(Laughs) Yeah. Will you ever write a book, ever thought of writing a biography of your life and times within the music?
We ave a ting a come out, yunno, with some tune ansometing. The Kingston Sound people, me gidem a lickle ting, yu haffe give dem a lickle story to dem. Me deh ‘pon flim an’ a talk ana talk bout some record shop anall a dem ting deh, so

So there is something concrete coming, thats good news.
Yeah. But you have the real ting soon, it might come soon. You cyaan jusget up ango give it so, yu haffe get some money fe it, innit.

Yes, and a decent deal.

But you should really make an effort in putting together a biography.
Yeah, me ave this story come right up from orchestra dance come up. Me a 69 nexyear, so me can tell you bout Coxson, Duke Reid anPrince Buster anall a dem guys deh, more than anybody. Tell you bout Bob Marley dem more thanyunno?

Ca’ plenty man, dem never know Bunny Wailers did go serve time in prison. Yu did know?

Did read it somewhere, the authorities caught him smoking a little something and put him behind bars for a year or so, late sixties.

How do you see the future of the Jamaican music industry with all the downloading, how can people make a living from it now, from a Jamaican perspective?
I see dem a clean it up, yunno. The government dem a make some effort, so it soon come in now anthe big company dem waan get the ting. Because monopoly, Universal waan keep everyting, becaright now me andem at loggerhead. Becadem waan me fe sign the whole o’ my t’ing fe lickle or nutten, anme na do it. Me haffe keep my t’ings dem.

Of course. How do you store and preserve your archive of tapes?
Me still ave plenty tings pon tape fe come out, whe I ave some pon harddrive computer, is nuff of it. If you see my store-room of tape, man, youd be surprised, came supposeto ave more album than Coxson anDuke Reid put together. Caeven a company a Jamaica a put out someting fe me, yknow whaI mean? Him nameCap, Lucas (meaning the Reggae Box Project, Cap Calcini). Some vintage 45s all bout, yunno.

How do you decide now what will be the most suitable to put out on reissue, whats the process?
People a aks me dem an’ yu ‘ave some tune a sell pon the internet fe a big sum omoney. The poor man cyaan get it, so sometime yu haffe busthe collector dem bubble, jusreissue dem.

And make it more accessible.
Yes. Cayou ave some tune a sell pon the internet fe all two or three thousand American dollars. You release dat now anyou’d ‘ave a seller, but de collector dem no like it.

A big question, obviously, but how would you like to be remembered after all those years of involvement in Jamaican music? I mean, producers has always been a controversial subject, not the least among artists and musicians, for being ripped, treated unjust or underpaid, whatever, but
Well, hold on. Some of de guys dem that we ave, Coxson dem, them never get pay enough so them couldnt pay no artist. I dont feel Coxson or Duke Reid or Beverleys dem carry dung no artis. Some a dem artisya a greedy too. Cawhen dem start dem start release all Coxson anDuke Reid tune dem fe themself anexpecthe man dem fe pay dem. When the man dem fe get a deal, the tune dem out. So, some a dem artist, yunno, dem cry a whole heap all de while anwhen de man dem deal with them, Coxson dem usedem money an’ invest inna de business. Ca’ I anDelroy talk one day, I say Delroy, every week yu mother come to Coxson fe money, anhim send yu go high-school, him haffe pay de ting. Them man a businessman, when the time come him a go draw out back him money, so him no thief yu”. Y’understan? You go look for Coxson anapologise, man, cadem ting deh hurt. When yu do so, other people no waan do nutten with you cadem see yu as ungrateful. So, is a mix of situation, yeah?

But people will always look back on those days as the biggest rip-off in the history of the music.
Yeah, but in those days the producer dem never ave no pay, no pay fe get neither, dem justek out fe dem record. Them owe money whe demgo sell. Mek record ansell, anpay the artist. Dem days deh a musician get thirty shilling a side, or even less too, right, ana singer get probably twenty pound fe a song. The producer haffe go cut stamper anprobably him lose, da tingit was a game of chances. Probably fe a man a make it him call in de singer, anhim seh Bwoy, de tune sell more than expected, so a nexfifty pound or a next… y’understan? Andem days deh fifty pound was big money too, come in like five hundred thousand (JA dollars) ya now. Them days deh was cheap days. So it was a mix, yu hear suh. Sometime me jus’ use’ to do my ting. How me useto do my ting now; if yu a swing, you carry de whole everybody there. Me no rate no man over no man. If Johnny Clarke a swing, him haffe carry Cornel Campbell aneverybody inna my organisation, right. When Cornel time come him haffe do the same ting. If yu cyaan do dat you leave ango somewhere else. One hand wash the other. You have a time when me useto pay all Peter Tosh dem twenty pound a week, yunno. When Bob deh a Delaware, a me dem man did deh mongst, but then Peter Tosh useto sing harmony. Me never record him as a singer, became no rate him over Derrick Morgan. Derrick Morgan can do anyting whe Peter Tosh can do better. Me useto use him as a instrumentalis; a guitaris, or organis, or harmony singer. Me useto pay dem guys twenty pound a week a me, or we. Me haffe busme shirt a daytime fe sell all record under-price. Every Friday a man go home with twenty pound inna him pocket. So, is a hard game. It never useto appen so. When tings start look up now thats why me deh a fe give Total Sound my ting. Every week the artisdem go anget a good money an’ put inna dem pocket.

You feel that people shouldnt complain so much.
Yes. Because sometime you give a man a tune or a riddim fe im go sell antek the history offa you, becaif you a carry everybody, Pama tell me one day, Bunny, yu cyaan help everybody, if yu do that, yunderstan’.

How come you sort of withdrew from the scene, at least not quite as prolific, when ‘Sleng Teng’ and the digital wave hit Jamaica?
No, that time I was in England. Me ave version of dem ting deh, me have machine music now, yunno. Me have ‘Sleng Teng’ too, the same guy whe play it back fe Tubbys useto do that ting inna the machine (for me). Da riddim deh come in a Casio machine, yu know that?

But is that I tell yu now, a name again. The guy jussing a tune Under me sleng teng, anthe dance the hype. Jammys dub in a ska guitar ana ska piano, but a no im mek it it come inna the machine. The riddim deh aready, that. So me always a do my ting, thats why my music dem stand out until now.

The deal you landed with Virgin Records for Johnny Clarke, what became of it it was that album, and that was it?
No, two album fe Johnny Clarke

Sorry! Two, of course.
An’ three album with I Roy.

But you never got enough, or a substantial, long-term deal with those guys?
No. Me prefer deal with Shelly, de lickle man whe can do more fe you.

So Shelly was optimal?
Yeah man, cayu cyaan see dem. Virgin anIsland not even Island, Chris dem did aright, anTrojan dem, right. When dem people a come inShelly was a man whe ave ambition an’ start listen an’ put out the music, him was more in touch becahim was a sound system man. Shelly did come antek over from all a dem man, but through bad management anhim finance’ an’ t’ingYeah man, Shelly was with the music, him was a Count Shelly now with him sound system.

It was a massive amount of releases of your product on his Third World imprint between, say, 75 to ’79.
Yeah. It come in like fifty-fifty partner, but Shelly did pack up angone back to Jamaica.

I thought he left London for New York?
Yes, but him pack up de business inna New York. Them shot him up deh anhim jusfed up, Shelly kinda retire. Him do a few tings at him house inna Jamaica, but thats it.

What are your immediate plans, what are you working on to put out at present, if you could reveal some of it?
I ave new tings too, yunno, plenty tings. But at the moment I lookinwhe de business goin, I dont waan invest so much money fe put out a CD or someting, a man copy it anhave it inna de market a sell anall dat, so

Seems like a better idea to put out reissues on vinyl now.
Yeah, well, I ave a lotta vinyl a reissue from Jamaica, from said company, Cap. Lucas, a guy nameLucas a do it. Him jusreissue plenty o’ de t’ings dem.

What do you miss the most about the older days, things that dont really exist so much, if at all, in the business today?
Well, yu haffe juschange with the time, yunno. To me, me no miss nutten, yu juscarry on. You jusstrengthen yu fe better days, same way. Came no ave no complaints more than get me tings done. The ongle complaint me ave now is to get me tings back from Trojan andem guys.

You have been in touch with Universal about it?
Yeah man! Them no own my ting, my ting up now, me in a de process a gettinback all omy stuff anwaan dem delete. The ting dem whe dem ave pon different compilation, me want dem fe tek it off, cause dem no pay anybody. Trojan out oorder, dem send a man to Niney with a lickle contracfe ten years, fe MY catalogue, whe its supposeto be the biggesinna reggae business ya right now. Come like dem waan githirty thousand pound, dat bugging me, man! Me give them family that, came is not a lickle ungry man, whe dem tink. Yeah. Me ave my publisher a look out fe my tings with them

A living and now legendary encyclopedia of Jamaican music history, Edward OSullivan Lee. His catalogue of treasures has never stopped being put to good use over the years. But there is arguably not the most interesting productions currently being released through his own Striker Lee operation. What about things like the elusive 7² ‘Don’t Touch I Dreadby Barrington Spence or even the singer’s ‘Tears On My Pillowalbum? There are at least three albums on Third World by the great U Brown which Bunny has neglected up to now. His often overlooked early eighties output of Jackie Edwards’ ‘King of the Ghettoalbum, or Johnny Clarke’s ‘I Man Come Again’ – worthy of a reissue? Obscurities like the albums Satta & Praise Jahby the late (Jah) Frankie Jones, or the mysterious Prince Ras Murray’s ‘Militant Dread, what became of those? Theres Trinity’s ‘Uptown Girl, I Roy’s ‘Godfatherand ‘Can’t Conquer Rasta’, Dillinger’s ‘Talkin’ Blues’ and Ronnie Davis’ ‘Hard Times, solid albums from the late seventies which should and must come out again in its original shape and form. Striker had the good taste of finding Roy Shirleys great take on the immortal Drum Songrhythm a couple of years back, Israelites Leave Babylon, and putting it out on 7² once again. Even what sounds like guide vocals and outtakes has found its way to the seven-inch format over the past ten years, such as Johnny Clarke’s ‘Every Knee Shall Bow(circa 75, a couple of years before the more known version on Clocktower came out coupled with a great U Roy toast on 12²) and an improvised vocal take to Jah Stitch’s ‘Greedy Girl’, ‘A Man Like Me’. Whats more in the vaults? Creation of Dubwas the latest project through his association with the controversial Jamaican Recordings/Kingston Sounds imprint this year. The remixes hes put out on said label are perhaps the sad part of the story and I choose to leave them without further comment. Now, what we are waiting on are the biography of the man known affectionately as Striker, either in book form or perhaps in oral form, much in the same vein as Soul Jazz did to Coxson Dodd for the Studio One StoryDVD. Will this ever happen?

For those newcomers to Bunny Lees catalogue of releases I suggest an investigation of the defunct Blood & Fire labels high quality CD compilations such as If Deejay Was Your Trade, an excellent look at his productions of Big Joe (where is the reissue of the man’s ‘Keep Rocking & Swingingby the way?), I Roy, Prince Far I, Jah Stitch and Dillinger, among others. Lee and master engineer King Tubby worked closely together, check out ‘Dub Gone Crazy’, ‘Dub Like Dirt’ and ‘Dub Gone 2 Crazy’ for three superb examples of the art of dub arguably Strikers hottest rhythms in the hands and imagination of the late great dubmaster himself, King Tubby. These proved to be some of the biggest sellers for the label, proof if anything that Bunny Lees popularity hasnt died down over the years and that music produced, obviously, under limited circumstances to reach the market as quickly as possible, at the time; it hasnt done any harmto what is now looked upon as, in many cases, timeless productions. He had the ear for creativity, longevity, music for the excitement of the moment and for a longer stretch of time where it doesnt fear time at all. If anything, isnt that a great legacy of one of the most dominant forces in Jamaican music over the (soon) past forty-five years.