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HISTORY OF JAMAICAN MUSIC [Part 5 of 6]
As well as the upcoming talent behind the board, plenty of new artists were eager to shine in the studio. Since the established labels already had their house bands, the new boys had to find their own talent, musicians with something to prove - and they proved it playing reggae. Perry was the first of the new crop to hit big, in his case as a recording artist. "People Funny Boy," an obvious dig at Dodd, sold well, and gave Perry the impetus to start his own label, Upsetter Records, in 1969. In short order he made it a viable entity with two more hits - "Tighten Up," by the Untouchables and "Return of Django" from the upsetters, his house band, which included two brothers Carlton and Aston Barrett as the rhythm section.

The success helped Perry woo a group he'd worked with at Studio One - the Wailers. After some initial success, the Wailers had found life under Dodd difficult.
Dodd had befirend Bob Marley, even putting him in charge of pairing singers and songs for the label, but he'd kept his distance from the more volatile Peter Tosh and the Rastaman Bunny Wailer. In 1966, Marley moved to America, where he worked at the line in a Chrysler plant in Wilmington, Delaware. It was his chance to earn good, steady money, which he did until he lost his job. After discovering he wasn't eligibile for welfare, then receiving a draft notice, he returned to Jamaica and music, writing new material, some of which would appear on Wailers' albums in the 70s.

By late 1967 the Wailers had left Dodd, and the following year formed their own label, Wailin' Soul, which proved a failure, in part because all three members spent time in jail - Tosh for obstruction during a demonstration against the regime in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and Wailer and Marley for possession of marijuana. Even though the label collapsed, the Wailers weren't discouraged.

They began again with the Tuff Gong label. While it didn't make them rich, they made enbough to survive, and they also signed with Jad, the company run by singer Johnny Nash as songwriters, earning $50 JA each per week. That the band had ability was beyond doubt; the problem was that they were unable to put together the lucrative overseas deals which would catapult them to the next level. Their rebellious attitude scared off potential partners. So when Perry came along, they leaped at his chance. The Wailers and the Barrett brothers became friendly, and Aston Barrett became the Wailers' arranger. The success helped Perry woo a group he'd worked with at Studio One - the Wailers. After some initial success, the Wailers had found life under Dodd difficult.
The collaboration with Perry never brough chart success. However, in artistic terms, Perry helped them reach a place no reggae band had reached before, and very quickly. The bud was there - it would just take a little longer before it flowered.

While Perry was working his distinctive brand of magic, King Tubby was taking the young reggae in another direction. The DJ (a man who ?toasted' or rapped over instrumental tracks) had long been a staple of the sound systems, and Tubby had one of the best in
Ewart Beckford, known as U-Roy.

Tubby had discovered that acetates, known as dub plates, could be manipulated. The vocal track could be left off, creating a new version' of the song, something for U-Roy to toast over. When he put the two elements together in a studio, he came up with something new. "Wake The Town," record at Duke Reid's, was the first toasting record (although producer Keith hudson claimed to have recorded U-Roy a year earlier, on a version of Ken Boothe's hit "Old Fashion Way," retitled "Dynamic Fashion Way"). It went directly to the top of the charts, ushering in a new style that would be one of the parents of hip-hop.

Others followed the path. Big Youth, who began as a U-Roy imitator before finding his own style, broke through with "S.90 Skank" (named for a moped), and I-Roy (Roy Reid) followed with "Musical Pleasure." But it was U-Roy who led the pack for the first half of the 1970s. He was one of the most political toasters of the time, putting out records like "Sufferer's Psalm" (1974), which used the 23rd Psalm as a springboard to condemn capitalism. It sold 27,000 in the Caribbean; not earth-shattering but respectable for such an overtly political disc.

In the U.K. Trojan focused on the very commercial end of reggae, "music," noted writer Sebastian Clarke, "with a beat, a soft melody and strings behind it." It proved to be a potent combination. From 1970-75, Trojan registered 23 top 30 hits from the likes of
John Holt, Bob and Marcia, Ken Boothe, Desmond Dekker, and Dave and Ansell Collins.
There were also two subsidiary labels, Attack and Upsetter, for the work
of producers Bunny Lee and Lee Perry. It was an affirmation that the music could reach out beyond the Afro-Caribbean community, and the success helped lay the groundwork for a revitalized. Bob Marley and the Wailers, whose records would appear on Chris Blackwell's label, Island.

From concentrating on Jamaican music, Blackwell had ventured into white progressive rock in 1967, and quickly become one of the U.K.'s premier labels in the field. But he'd retained his love of Jamaican music, and held on to one artist he'd singed in 1965 - Jimmy Cliff.

He'd moved Cliff to England and carefully groomed him to become an international artist, getting rid of the patois speech. And Cliff did establish a strong following in France and Scandinavia. By 1967 he'd had a British hit, "Give And Take," and released Hard Road to Travel, which showed him as a soul balladeer. With the end of the decade he was established as a hitmaker ("Wonderful World, Beautiful People," "Many Rivers To Cross," and his cover of
Cat Stevens's "Wild World" all charted) and a songwriter, penning for Desmond Dekker ("You Can Get It If you Really Want"), the Pioneers ("Let You Yeah Be Yeah"), and even venturing into the political arena with "Vietnam," which Bob Dylan described as "the best protest song ever written."

Cliff decided to return to Jamaica, and change his image by making Another Cycle in Muscle Shoals, one of the homes of soul music, in 1971. However, the world wasn't ready for a reggae star going soul (that would have to wait for Toots in Memphis a few years later), and the record stiffed. Instead he turned to acting, starring in writer/director Perry Henzell's film The Harder They Come.

Go To: HISTORY OF JAMAICAN MUSIC Part 6



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