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Updated: 2016-12-12T12:40:56+01:00

 



Gregory Isaacs: Temporary Lover

2016-12-06T12:00:00+01:00

Masterful Gregory from 1997, sounding spooked and hunted over a juddering, propulsive Music Works rhythm, fulgent and full-on, with deep, pounding bass, clattering percussion, parping horns, classy backing vocals and harp starbursts… top-notch Gussies.
Two extended vocal versions, and two dubs, all quite different.
Bimmety bim bim.

Honest Jon’sHard Wax

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Augustus Pablo: The Sun Dubplate Mix

2016-12-05T12:00:00+01:00

First time out for this wildly raw dubplate, sister-recording to the Pablo master-rhythm, shot through with other-worldly, illusively allusive incantation. Surely that’s Family Man stalking a sunken cavern, and his bro battering all seven shades out of his drum-kit, like Meters on fire; and Chinna on guitar, glazed and violent. The mixing rears up right in your face.
Producer Gussie Clarke says Theophilus ‘Easy Snappin’ Beckford is playing piano, with the front removed so he can strum the strings (like he finally snapped) — but he credits the work overall to Augustus Pablo.
Transferred from acetate — fuss-pots don’t grumble, just be humble — though the flip brings a clutch of criss, unmissable alternates, direct from Gussie’s tape-room (where the files are entitled ‘Classical Illusion / The Sun’).
Heavy, heavy funk. Simplicity People dug in. Stunning.

Honest Jon’sHard Wax

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Gregory Isaacs: Nobody Knows

2016-12-01T12:00:00+01:00

Just like cream-of-the-crop digi Tubbys. From the New Dance album sessions in 1988, with the Firehouse Crew. Mixed by Leroy ‘Fatman’ Thompson — formerly apprenticed to the King, en route to Jammys — and produced by Bunny Gemini and Tristan Palma. Gregory is desolate and compelling… and the dub is murder.

Honest Jon’sHard Wax

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Dennis Creary: Ghetto Life

2016-12-01T11:00:00+01:00

Tearaway sufferers anthem, roaring out of the blocks in 1989. Piercing, unforgettable song-writing by the Tetrack spar — jam-packed with anecdote, observation and warning — over a sick, breakneck, apocalyptic rhythm, with an ace dub. A digi classic.

Honest Jon’sHard Wax

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Ras Michael & The Sons Of Negus: Promised Land Sounds

2016-07-18T12:00:00+02:00

‘Rockin live ruff and tuff’, this is the untrammelled counterpart to Dadawah, six years later in 1980, fresh from the Black Ark: free, rawly spiritual trance-music; a full-force nyabinghi freak-out. The drummers are headlong and rollicking, thunderous and explosive. Even more so than Dadawah, the mix is ecstatically echoey; giddily dubwise without let-up. Ras Michael himself sings from the mountain-top, like he just don’t care — at the top of his lungs, in voices, screeching like a bird — with the delirious abandonment otherwise owned in reggae by Lee Perry. Amongst the uncredited performances swirled into proceedings, there are squiggles of flute straight from the Upsetters song-book, the minor-key organ stabs and abstraction of electric space-jazz, and sax-playing more attuned to the Headhunters than the Blazing Horns. (I Ya I in particular is a stunning fifteen minutes.) This is the real thing, music without affectation. Pure reggae. Sun Ra fans should love it; anyone with ears to hear.
Prepared and manufactured at Abbey Road, D&M and Pallas; beautifully presented in rigid, old-school, tip-on sleeves, with matt-coated fronts and untreated-paper backs; 180g vinyl. ‘These sounds are sounds of inspiration and love and culture to the universal benefit of mankind… So therefore meditate and stop hate.’
Very hotly recommended.

Honest Jon’sHard Wax

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Ras Michael & The Sons Of Negus: Numbered Days

2016-07-11T12:00:00+02:00

Magnificent nyabinghi roots warning.
The one-and-only Eric Frater is drafted in from Studio One, playing killer rhythm guitar (with Chinna on lead); and likewise Dennis Ferron — Jah D — who leads the way with his spiritualized keyboard-work, keening between jazz and soul. You can hear Puma from Black Uhuru, singing with the Sons. Geoffrey Chung at Dynamic expertly pulls in the bass drum and doubled-up fundas and repetas, keeping the mix raw and alive.
The dub in particular is stunning — thumping, trenchant and brooding, so steeply dread and haunted it almost trips over its sense of yawning silence and doom.

Honest Jon’sHard Wax

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Mabrak: Drum Talk

2015-11-13T12:00:00+01:00

Leroy Mattis’ first drum was a plastic butter container. ‘My mother wouldn’t buy me a drum because back then the situation in Jamaica was very tense… In 1960 Jamaica was still an English colony, and the drum is a roots instrument.’ Tommy McCook was living two doors down; during the first years of The Skatalites, Mattis would practise there. In 1970 he was National Junior Drumming Champion, with Count Ossie winning overall; four years later his ensemble battled in the Senior finals with the drummers of the Light Of Saba.
‘Our group was initially called Genesis, it was a 7-piece drum group, but I changed the name to Mabrak, which means Thunder in Amharic. We knew that we were coming with a heavy sound.’ Experiments in percussion, in the middle of the night at Harry J’s — funky versions of rhythms like Curly Locks, Too Late To Turn Back Now and Fattie Fattie, led by talking drums — beautifully mixed by King Tubby, who couldn’t believe his ears.
Originally released in 1976, in paper inners only. Smartly sleeved in quintessential Dug Out style this time around — with an insert, including a recent interview with Mabrak.

Honest Jon’sHard Wax

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Genesis: Drum Talk

2015-11-13T10:00:00+01:00

In the early seventies Leroy ‘Mabrak’ Mattis studied at Howard University in Washington DC, where he joined a drum and dance group named Contact Africa. Instructor Kojo Fosu introduced him to the talking drum.
‘I had only seen it in magazines. He started showing me, and taught me the history of it. Talking drum is the highest level of drum music…
‘Going back home in 1973, I knew I was now ready to record. That’s when I bumped into an old friend, Bim Sherman. He knew I was a musician, and he was going to King Tubby’s studio that day. I tagged along. I recorded rasta repeater drum overdubs on his first hit, 100 Years. This allowed me to re-connect with Tubby…’
With brilliant guitar instead of horns, here is a different version of the rhythm Bim used for Love Forever. The same as on Mabrak’s Drum Talk LP — but a little brighter and more dynamic, and bringing a deep, unmissable Tubbys dub.

Honest Jon’sHard Wax

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Archie McLean: The Ruler

2015-06-19T15:00:00+02:00

Legendary, killer roots. An austere, implacable, heavier-than-lead one-away, with a severe dub. Even their bass bins shall tremble and be in anguish.

Honest Jon’sHard Wax

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Tiger: Rap Pon Rydim

2013-12-16T15:00:00+01:00

A previously-unreleased rocksteady version of Ding Dong Merrily On High. Or rather the one-of-a-kind, head-on, 1988 mashing of harder-than-hard-core dancehall and ultra-raw Detroit techno. Utterly inspired, gale-force ranting pon a flashin’ TR-909. Soundboy will choke on his Horlicks and soil his winceyette onesie.
Jaw-dropping.

Honest Jon’sHard Wax

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Tenor Saw: Victory Train

2011-04-11T14:20:00+02:00

‘Special thanks to Freddie McGregor and the Studio One band’, it says on the cover, as the up and coming Saw gets full superstar treatment from the best in the business (not to mention a full-colour sleeve).

Honest Jon’sHard Wax

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Willi Williams: Sweet Home

2011-04-10T19:50:00+02:00

Driving Shaka murder, fury and yearning mixed into a perfect marriage of digital and old-school music-making. Bagga Walker and a drum-machine tear up the dub. Complete with rare, ebullient Colarman toast.

Honest Jon’sHard Wax

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Nitty Gritty: General Penitentiary

2011-04-10T19:30:00+02:00

‘Nitty Gritty. Just reading the name alone tells you that he is rough and tough. Having survived many a hard time in the ghetto, he’s come forward now in his own original style, to let everyone know that he’s arrived with a force.’ Another Black Victory classic missing in action, with superb rhythms and killer dubs, a dream combination of Studio One and Bullwackies musicians, and the young sing-jay already at the top of his game.

Honest Jon’sHard Wax

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Sugar Minott: Sheriff John Brown

2011-02-16T20:00:00+01:00

Co-architect of Black Victory, Sugar himself takes the mic for its last release, a driving sufferers cliffhanger about bent cops and going on the run, with Bagga Walker, the great Studio One bassist, in full effect…

Honest Jon’sHard Wax

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Tempo Explosion

2011-02-16T19:50:00+01:00

Moving between New York and Kingston, Jamaica, in the mid-to-late-1980s, the revered Black Victory label is a perfect storm, crossing the sainted ranks and deep lineages of Studio One and Bullwackies, together with the first, most celebrated strikes of the digital revolution in reggae.

Here is its key album: a devastating, chilled, dread run on King Tubby’s Tempo rhythm, and surely the greatest one-rhythm LP of all time, with the very greatest versions of the Red Rose classic. (Wackies artist Leslie Moore’s sleeve design compares its intensity with nuclear testing in Nevada, so you know you’re in trouble even before the needle drops.)

Honest Jon’sHard Wax

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Little John: What You Want To Be

2010-08-26T18:31:00+02:00

Bim! Rougher than rough Roots Radics cut of Every Tongue from 1982, fired up with wild effects, murderous dubbing, and live, jostling microphone interplay; and with an excoriating version.

Honest Jon’sHard Wax

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Naphtali: Hole Up Your Hand

2010-07-03T19:42:00+02:00

Brilliant, icy, rude-boy minimalism, ticking and clopping out of the Vibes Sounds studio in Mayville Road, Leytonstone, East London, in 1987. Blacka at the controls, Jah Warrior the apprentice dentist.

Honest Jon’sHard Wax

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Foxy Brown: Love Is Where You Find It

2010-06-04T04:37:00+02:00

Careening from the Black Sublime of Dadawah to the, er, Foxy Brown of Jennifer Hylton, Dug Out lets off this early-nineties r’n’b-tipped torpedo, recorded by Lloyd Pickout Dennis at Dynamic, with the Firehouse Crew — George programming drums, Danny the bass, and Wrong Move the other keys.

Honest Jon’sHard Wax

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Dadawah: Peace And Love

2010-05-05T09:27:00+02:00

Dark, hypnotic, tripping nyabinghi from 1974. Led by Ras Michael over four extended excursions, the music is organic, sublime and expansive, grounation-drums and bass heavy (with no rhythm guitar, rather Willie Lindo brilliantly improvising a kind of dazed, harmolodic blues). Lloyd Charmers and Federal engineer George Raymond stayed up all night after the session, to mix the recording, opening out the enraptured mood into echoing space, adding sparse, startling effects to the keyboards. At no cost to its deep spirituality, this is the closest reggae comes to psychedelia. Lovingly returned to its original, singular glory, restored at Abbey Road, with superfly vinyl in old-school, hand-assembled sleeves.

Honest Jon’sHard Wax

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Jah Warrior: Dub From The Heart

2010-04-10T17:40:00+02:00

With one eye on the past, this captures UK roots sound-system vibes, like magic in a bottle; the other on the future, it’s a prophesy of dubstep. The music is live and direct, in-session; grooving and intense, dense and massive; swirling, sizzling and echoing, with writhing Junglist bass. A collaboration between Steve Mosco and Dougie Conscious, this was originally released in 1996, in the early days of Steve’s London-based Jah Warrior label.

Honest Jon’sHard Wax

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