JOHN HOLT (b. 1942 - )
2000 VOLTS OF HOLT
* * *1976 - Trojan - studio - discs: 1
John Holt (1942) reinvented himself through the different periods of the jamaican music. After "The Paragons" late 60's material he ventured to new musical territories. This collection is made of his typical strings accompaniments tracks: some sort of Motown sound mix with a Lovers Rock attitude. The general sound is not jamaican at all and the album will be appreciated by the lovers of the black american 70's pop. Disappointing for the Roots Reggae fans but very interesting for those that know that the 70's were not only Bob Marley. Note: Please see my comments of "1000 Volts Of Holt" for more details on Holt's career.
POLICE IN HELICOPTER
* * * /1982 - Greensleeves - studio - discs: 1
In 1982 the veteran John Holt was back again with this set produced and heavily influenced by the mainly Dancehall producer Henry "Junjo" Lawes. Employing as usual the Roots Radics to provide the right touch, Lawes made the former Paragon member a new sensation thanks to his tough early 80's musical approach. After listening to this set it is understandable how the audience was impressed and astounded when listening to the former love tunes crooner delivering some late Roots atmospheres. Through ten tracks Holt delivers a Roots sounding mood that reaches the high points in songs like the title track "Police In Helicopter", "Last Train From The Ghetto", the easy lyrics of "Beach Party" and "Chanting". The great title track is a political song, with Holt expressing his opposition against the anti-ganja measures of the Prime Mininster Edward Seaga (in conjunction with at that time U.S. President Ronald Regan). The set was engineered by Soljie and recorded and mixed at Channel One.
1000 VOLTS OF HOLT
* * * /
1967-1973 - Trojan - studio - discs: 2
John Holt was born in Kingston on July 11th 1942 (some say 1945 or 1947). In 1960 he attended his first talent show, and two years later he won the first price in the "Opportunity Hour" show. He soon started to sing in the hotels circuit. Soon the producer Leslie Kong noticed this young talent and brought him to Federal Studios where a couple of singles were cut with the Vagabonds backing. Those singles didn't get the right response. John joyned briefly Alton Ellis hitting with a single called "Rum Bumper". In 1964 he went back on stage, since the studio career was practically reduced to nothing. John joyned Keith Anderson's The Binders. With the additon of Howard Barrett and Garth "Tyrone" they became The Paragons. Backed by the group Mighty Kings they toured the hotel circuit and soon cut for Clement "Sir Coxson" Dodd. In 1965 he released a hit called "Love At Last". In 1966 Anderson went solo under the name Bob Andy! At the end of the year the remaining Paragons started to record for Arthur "Duke" Reid. "Happy Go Lucky Girl", a Rocksteady single, was a success that lead to their debut full length album. The set also contained hit of those days as "The Tide Is High", "On The Beach", "Only A Smile" and "Wear You To The Ball". During the same days (1967 - 1968) they cut the great hit "Talking Love" for Federal Records. Further hits (as "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy", "My Best Girl" and "Silver Bird") followed all for The Duke. In 1968 they tried to manage their own material with the creation of the Supertone label, but the project soon failed. By the beginning of 1969 the group spelt. Holt continued solo, cutting for producers as Rupie Edwards, Keith Hudson, Harry Johnson, Coxsone Dodd, Phil Pratt, Harry Mudie and Bunny Lee. The latter was responsible for an extensive working relationship throughout the 70's. By the beginning of the decade he also toured extensively North America, Caribbean and the UK. In London John met the producer Tony Ashfield, who arranged a Jamaican recording session with the support of Bunny Lee. The musicians employed were Gladstone "Gladdy" Anderson, Lynford "Hux" Brown, Earl "Chinna" Smith, Aston "Family Man" Barrett, Lloyd "T'in Leg" Adams, Noel "Skully" Simms and Winston Wright. A dozen of tracks were recorded at Dynamic Sounds. At this point Ashfield met Trojan's Lee Gopthal with the intention to release an album. The latter decided to make Holt re-voice the tracks and add some new arrangements on the instrumentals. Market business, so to speak. Holt came to London were the tracks were basecally rendered for a mainstream audience. In early 1973 the "The Further You Look" (aka "Sings For I") set was released. In the meantime the Trojan project was put on hold and John and Ashfield went back to Dynamic. The instrumentals were brought to London were no less than the London Philarmonic Orchestra added some strings. The heavily Pop and Soul oriented "1000 Volts Of Holt" was released in November 1973. The result will be commented later. Some couples of wrongly managed Lps from Trojan followed, all grabbing here and there some early recordings re-arranged. In 1975 Holt and Ashfield relationship was history and the original Trojan was almost gone. In 1976 the poor and unimpressive "2000 Volts of Holt" was released. The present set is not astonishing at all. The arangements are fake Reggae, but at the end Reggae was maybe the last thought while managing this material. Strings, horns, and whatever could downgrade the originals was put on work. The final result is boring. Unessential when discovering the Jamaican music. But thanks to this re-release, eight of the original songs are present as bonus tracks. They are far far better and listening to them is a better experience than the released album. The second disc presents nineteen tracks that were delivered to Trojan in 1975. As with the originals of the first disc, most of these tracks are quite interesting. Considering only the original "1000 Volts Of Holt", the rating is no more than three and a half stars.