Strange Things – John Holt (Irie Ites)
Another great shot stinksclusively bought to you by Jason Burgess. This may well have been Sunsplash 94 at Portmore, or possibly a year or two before.
Strange Things – John Holt (Irie Ites)
Here’s a bit of a vintage Penthouse power punch. I’m looking forward to getting some order amongst the 45’s and hauling out some more obscure cuts in the next couple of months or so, but for now it’s a case of strictly dealing with what I have digitally.
Once more there’s a couple of Jason excellent shots taken up at the Slipe Road compound and I’ve wanged in the Cocoa Tea at Portmore Sunsplash in 93 live pictures too that were taken down as well.
Above is Donovan Germain, the big daddy of Penthouse, around this time (early-mid 90s) it’s pretty fair to say that they were running things (alongside the likes of perennial Jammy’s and the less established Digital B, Xterminator and other come-uppers). Getting inside the fortified gates at Slipe Road wasn’t a given (as a clueless, arrogant American bunch of journos who seemed to be everywhere, but able to get into nowhere, found out) and grabbing anything more than a snap interview with an artist on his way up or down the stairs was tricky. However, after chewing the fat with Donovan for a good while, we were granted access to most of the Penthouse crew (Buju excepted) and on subsequent visits, in the next couple of years, he personally made sure I was promo’d up to the eyeballs, and looked after right. With a solid and colourful history that stretches back aways to the early 70’s he was a fascinating subject, mentioning a number of records he’d been involved with in NYC and JA years that I owned, but had never sussed as being connected to him.
The depth of talent in his studio at the time was ridonkulous including the Kelly brothers (Dave and Tony, who were still getting on then, and seemed like very switched-on gregarious geezers) and Andre ‘Rookie Productions’ Tyrell at the core, with Lenky beginning to come through particularly for his live and studio keys work. Donavan freely confessed that his role as producer those days was frequently little more than providing the finance and infrastructure, and often suggesting which rhythm would be good to do over, and who might work in combination etc. Looking at some of the inspired pairings that Penthouse came with at that time like Buju and Beres, Marcia Griffiths and Cutty Ranks, Buju and Wayne Wonder and endless other permutations, it was no small thing. Nor were the rhythm choices, with Penthouse frequently leading the charge on recuts of greats like ‘Nanny Goat’, ‘Movie Star’, ‘Heavy Rock’ and ‘General’, usually their licks sounded the toughest too with the Firehouse Crew and the likes of Danny Brownie, Sly and Mafia & Fluxy amongst the players of instruments. I suspect that many other producers we spoke to on that trip (and I’ll be posting about later) liked to overrate their role in things, but Mr Germain impressed as someone who had no need to do that, coming with a sharp outlook and onto-it disposition, Penthouse was a very professional place. He was also smart enough to encourage his young studio charges to come up with fresh rhythms to suit the bogling times, and we’ll be getting into some of them at a later date fer sure.
Penthouse is still running tunes (now in Ballater Av, Kingston 10) though its been a good while since they released anything apart from the odd tune, that truly floated my boat. I would have expected Germain to be one of the forward thinking guys who might have forseen the digital damage that was inevitable with JA music, but it doesn’t appear so. There will be more on StinkInc from Penthouse for sure, if and when the 7” overhaul gets done over Xmas I know there’s some less celebrated cuts due for a dusting off, in the meantime cop a little bit of the evergreen General rhythm (which ran for about a year) and a picked-out and pruned slice of Penthouse in session biz over ‘Norwegian Wood/Darker Shade Of Black’.
TERROR FABULOUS – ORDER
Always felt that Terror Fabulous never reached where he could and should have, we’ll have more on him later.
(Buy) ‘Celebration Vol 5’, ‘5 Star General’ is no longer available, though I’m sure it’s not hard to track down if so inclined.
EXCERPT FROM PENTHOUSE CELEBRATION VOL 5
Meantime here’s them Cocoa Tea shots again that got got by the web fascistas.
CASSETTEBOY – SLADE SHIT
Not that it’s any real bad thing but this is starting to feel like a dubstep blog, so lets switch up the proverbial program.
Here’s some original drum and bass business, the real dub you can step to. Vital Dub emerged from Channel One in 1976 accompanying the ultimate Mighty Diamonds album ‘Right Time’. Every single cut is essential, on both vocal and version, but I’ve swung up ‘Merciful Dub’ which is a sublime rub on the sufferers lament ‘Have Mercy’. This is the sound of the Revolutionaries at their prime, when Channel One was churning ’em out, Ossie Hibbert (who also engineered) and the great Ansell Collins played keys which get flung around the mix delightfully. Like many of an age and development at that time, I suspect I was encouraged into buying this, partially as a result of the stonedest geezer in the world on the album cover (and great design), Virgin Records sure knew how to work those easy targets.If only every album with a gratuitous red-eyed Jamaican on the cover was as good as this slab of melodic majesty. I never got to see the Mighty Diamonds at their prime though I was fortunate enough to catch them at Junior Reid’s ‘Visa’ album release, in a New Kingston car-park in 1993 (probably, though it may have been ’94). Reid was still in fine voice then (unlike his visit to NZ) and the Diamond’s Tabby even more so. I seem to remember (actually I dont remember nearly enough of those trips, just as well Jason Burgess was snapping pics like a man possessed) breathlessly telling a lot of foundation artists how bleeding wonderful they are/were on that trip, and I’m pretty sure Tabby got a simpering dose of that appreciation from me.
REVOLUTIONARIES – MERCIFUL DUB
And I guess it would be churlish not to include the original.
MIGHTY DIAMONDS – HAVE MERCY
Reid, despite being a renowned reggae curmudgeon (a man who could give me a run in a moaning contest!) was hospitality incarnate when we had interviewed him and spent some time at his camp. The set up at his yard involved an office, mix room, voicing booth and record pressing machine all in a normal house, quite stunning. In all honesty, the 45’s he loaded us up with were on the unplayable side of rough, but I wouldn’t trade em for the world.
Ok now I’ve rahed on about Reid I’d best include a track of his too. First up from ‘Visa’ and a cut that was running hot at that time (we even pinched the title for a Unitone HiFi tune) is ‘All Fruits Ripe’ . Following is a more recent track with rapper Benisour, it’s a pretty standard tune but theres something about this one that gets me every time.
JUNIOR REID – ALL FRUITS RIPE JUNIOR REID & BENISOUR – SHINING
And some pictures from the day at Jnr Reid’s yard, with the man himself and Jah Paul resplendent in ‘Stinky Grooves’ T-shirts, bless them! courtesy of Jason Burgess who took em and owns em, so dont be pinching em!