HENRY JUNJO LAWES (b. 1960 - † 1999)
* * * /Various - 17th North Parade - studio - discs: 2 + DVD
Talking about the foundation of Dancehall music, Henry "Junjo" Lawes, from Waterhouse, Kingston, is undoubtly one of the leading figures responsible for it. Working with The Roots Radics, he updated "old" Rocksteady and Reggae songs and rhythms to the new sound that, among with some other contemporaries and followers, he created. Bringing the so called "one drop" to a more basic beat, in 1979 he created something that changed everything. Introduced to the music business by his friend Linval Thompson, most of the recordings were cut at Channel One, the legendary studio Ernest and his brother Jo Jo Hookim opened at 29 Maxfield Avenue, Kingston in 1972. Junjo was not a musician but had a brief career as singer with the Grooving Locks and a sharp sensibility for what was in the air and the audience was searching. The sound at Channel One was shaped, among the others, by four engineers: Lancelot "Maxie" McKenzie, who cut materila with the Revolutionaries from 1978; drummer stanley "Barnabas" Bryan, who was in the business since 1977; and "Crucial" Bunny Graham (aka Bunny Tom Tom); and Anthony "Soljie" Hamilton. The rhythms were cut at the Hookim's but usually the voice was recorded at King Tubby's, with the young and great Overton H. Brown, aka Scientist. Junjo debut as producer came in 1979 with the seminal debut album from Barrington Levy. The album had three different releases that differ a bit one from the others. For the American market the album issued by the Jah Life label was called "Bounty Hunter". For the British market the album issued by the Burning Sounds label was called "Shine Eye Girl". "Shaolin Temple" was aimed to the Jamaican audience. The most interesting, indeed. From there he workd with new and young artist, singers and DJs, and older ones as well, refreshing well established rhythms for the Dancehall market. His productions in the Dub field gave new life to a disappearing genre. His efforts with Scientist are seminal productions of the era. Quoting the lecturer and Reggae super expert David Katz, this is what happened in the last part of his life. "By 1983, Junjo's sound system was among Jamaica's most popular, but questionable business practices were leading to problems for the producer in Kingston. In 1985, he moved to New York, but a prison sentence - due to his involvement with criminal fraternities - excluded him from production. In 1994, he briefly re-emerged, recording albums with deejays such as the gun-praising Ninjaman and more cultural Shaka Shamba. But he was unable to recreate his early success, nor to sever the unsavoury connections which led to his death (in 1999) in Harlesden, north London, where he had been based for two years, only to become another victim of the escalating violence between drug dealers." Respect to Junjo!
Disc 1 - Volcano Singers
This discs collecting twenty singles and 7" produced by Junjo opens with Frankie Paul's "Worries In The Dance", a version of Don Carlos' "I'm Not (Getting) Crazy" from 1981. Later it was also reprised by Yellowan with "Yellowman Getting Married", but Frankie's version established the rythm for the years to come. A classic of the period, indeed. Follows Barrington Levy's "Prison Oval Roc"k, cut in 1983 is another killer tune. From the same year comes a classic from Leroy Smart called "I Am The Don". Follows Michael Prophet Gunman, a powerful single from this too often overlooked artist. Best known for his work with Vivian "Yabby You" Jackson, it's this song from 1981 that gave him the deserved notoriety in Jamaica. The following track doesn't need any ppresentation: it's the ultra classic "Police In Helicopter" by John Holt. Actually it took around twenty years before this song reached the deserved success. Cut in 1983, it was one of the first pro-ganja songs ever. With its lyrics like "...if you continue to burn down the herbs, we are gonna to burn the cane field" it was received by the authorities as a dangerous anthem, too dangerous. As a result it was banned from the radios for twenty years. To get how glimpse of how is still super heavy I suggest you to check the version from Sizzla. Follows the deep "Hog & Goat" from Don Carlos recorded in 1982. "Give Israel Another Try" is a 1981 disco-mix by Barry Brown (musicians: The Roots Radics) based on the late Prince of Reggae Dennis Brown' "Give A Helping Hand". Follows "Chip In" by Wayne Jarrett based on the "Taxi" rhythm. Junior Reid's "Lover's Affair" (1984) is based on the 1982 hit "Janet Sinclair" produced by Ranking Toyan, that was based on Johnny Osbourne' "Love Is Universal" that was produced by Junjo. Circle closed. Follows the huge 1982 hit and classic Jacqueline by Hugh Mundell. "Ice Cream Love" by Johnny Osbourne is based on the "Joe Frasier" rhythm, which is based on Burning Spear's "He Prayed". Follows "21 Girls Salute" by Barrington Levy, based on the 1968 Studio One hit by The Cables. Follows the hyper-classic "Firehouse Rock" from one of the greatest harmony group: The Wailing Souls. "Come Fi Mash It" from Tony Tuff (former member of African Brothers) was released in 1983 and is based on Lee "Scratch" Perry's "Three Blind Mice". This track is followed by Little John's "Dancehall Style". Cut in 1981 it was among the first songs to feature the term Dancehall in it's title to define this new genre. Follows "Pass The Tu Sheng Peng" (aka "Pass The Kushenpeng") by Frankie Paul and recorded in 1984. A honoring ganja song, with a catchy rhyth. Follows John Holt's Love I Can Feel. A true classic from Holt released in 1983, reprising his own version from 1970 at Studio One. An updated version that keeps all the early Reggae feel of the original. "Lost My Sonia" is a track from Cocoa Tea. Follows "Look How Me Sexy" by the great Linval Thompson, cut in 1981 and based on the "I'm Not Crazy" rhythm. Disc one closes with "Last Dance" by Al Campbell, cut in 1983 and reprising his same titled song from around 1969 - 1970 cut with The Thrillers.
Disc 2 - Volcano Deejays
This discs collects twenty songs from DJs of the period. I must admit that I'm not particularly involved in this sub-genre. From a historical point of view there are a lot of great hit collected here. I live it up to you to find your gems.
Disc 1 - Volcano Singers 1 – Frankie Paul - Worries In The Dance 2 – Barrington Levy - Prison Oval Rock 3 – Leroy Smart - I Am The Don 4 – Michael Prophet - Gunman 5 – John Holt - Police In Helicopter 6 – Don Carlos - Hog & Goat 7 – Barry Brown - Give Israel Another Try 8 – Wayne Jarrett - Chip In 9 – Junior Reid - Lover's Affair 10 – Hugh Mundell - Jacqueline 11 – Johnny Osbourne - Ice Cream Love 12 – Barrington Levy - 21 Girls Salute 13 – The Wailing Souls - Firehouse Rock (aka Waterhouse Rock) 14 – Tony Tuff - Come Fi Mash It 15 – Little John - Dancehall Style 16 – Frankie Paul -Pass The Tu Sheng Peng (aka Pass The Kushenpeng) 17 – John Holt -Love I Can Feel 18 – Cocoa Tea - Lost My Sonia 19 – Linval Thompson - Look How Me Sexy 20 – Al Campbell - Last Dance
Disc 2 - Volcano Deejays 1 – Ringo - Flash It Inna E 2 – Nicodemus - Boneman Connection 3 – Yellowman - Nobody Move Nobody Get Hurt 4 – Josey Wales - Woola Woopa 5 – Early B - Bible Story 6 – Eek-A-Mouse -Anarexol 7 – Clint Eastwood & General Saint - Two Bad DJ 8 – Captain Sinbad - Fisherman Style 9 – Lee Van Cliff* - Bam Salute 10 – Charlie Chaplin - Bubbling Telephone (Chalice) 11 – Ranking Trevor - Some A Halla 12 – Eek-A-Mouse - Wa Do Dem 13 – Clint Eastwood & General Saint - Another One Bites The Dust 14 – Michigan & Smiley - Diseases 15 – Ranking Toyan - Spar With Me 16 – Josey Wales - Bobo Bread 17 – Yellowman - Zungguzungguguzungguzeng 18 – Billy Boyo - Wicked She Wicked 19 – Sister Nancy - Dance Pon The Corner 20 – Ranking Toyan - How The West Was Won