DREAD MOOD – Reggae Singles of 1975

Celebrate Good Times not only microscopically inspects the chart positions of thousands of reggae and soul albums and singles over a period of 24 years, it also retrospectively salutes the great soul and reggae music from bygone eras – from the 50s right through to the mid 70s. For me, 1975 was a very special year for a variety of reasons. 1) My baby sister was born ; 2) I left school (YAY!) ; 3) I went nuts about reggae music. These three things were pivotal events in my life. Reggae music pretty much took over my very being that year – it was like a drug and I was seriously hooked. I read everything I could about it in magazines, newspapers, fanzines. I spent all my spare time in reggae record shops. I bought as much as I could afford. I picked up mainly UK releases but also started to buy pre-release Jamaican imports. I avidly listened to Capital Radio’s TV On Reggae radio show every Saturday night. Tommy Vance even read a request out for me!

Even through ’76 and ’77 I was still tracking down tunes I’d heard and wanted in ’75. I created my very first Wants List. Trust me, it was extensive! Of course, I wasn’t to realise at the time how fortunate I was to get switched on to reggae music when it was coming into its golden era. As for the kind of reggae music that appealed to me at the time – I got into roots, dub, toasting, UK vibes, the works! It was all so exciting and new and fresh and different. I was still as much into soul and pop as ever – but this reggae bug bit me bad. Subsequently, the reggae music of 1975 still holds a big place in my heart, my soul and my mind. At the tail end of 1975, I wrote a letter to the New Musical Express about reggae which they printed as their letter of the week in the Gasbag column. The letter was post-scripted with a request for me to contact their features editor Neil Spencer. I did so and the upshot was that I got to write a few reggae album reviews for the NME whilst still only 16. Through Neil I met the reggae writer Penny Reel (whom I had already read in the Pressure Drop fanzine and the NME) who became my friend and mentor. He introduced me to the editor of Black Echoes who invited me to write for them. Things just kind of blew up from there. I was a totally inexperienced writer and really learned as I went along. Subsequently, my writing style was er…individual. And certainly not to everyone’s taste – the paper’s own letters page were chocka with diatribes about me! But for all my detractors – who maybe didn’t know I was just a teenage lad doing his best – I also had my supporters who enjoyed my insane scribblings and forgave my journalistic mumbo-jumbo.What I lacked in literary prowess I hopefully made up for in enthusiasm and a deep love of the music I was writing about.

As with the flashback to 1962 a few weeks ago, the records listed were all issued in the UK on British labels – mostly through independent reggae record companies based in London. The inclusions are indicative of the original year of release in their country of origin. In the book, catalogue numbers and information on the original Jamaican labels are listed – but for the sake of blogspace are not listed here. During 1975 there were literally hundreds of reggae records released – the majority of which are listed in my research database. Slimming it down to a mere 100 has been an epic task for me, especially since I love so many records from that year. Consequently, great records by Leo Graham, Max Romeo, Bob Andy, Keith Hudson, Dennis Alcapone, Brent Dowe, Delroy Wilson, George Grossett, Jimmy Riley, Hortense Ellis, B.B. Seaton, The Morwells, Tinga Stewart, Derrick Morgan, Freddie McKay, Junior English, Sir Lee, Ili P., The Twinkle Brothers, David & Jahson, Jacob Miller, The Heptones, John Holt, Keith Poppin, The Starlites and Lambert Douglas, among many others, are not included in the list. But what is included are what I consider to be the very best of the best reggae records released in the UK during that fateful year of 1975.

The DJ ‘toasters’ (as we called them) were among my favourite kinds of artists. I loved I. Roy best of all and was also particularly excited about a new DJ called U. Brown. The latter’s ‘Jamaica Tobacco’ was produced by Winston Edwards – a man who would, a few years later, arrange for me to go to Jamaica. The track used a ridim also included on the dub album ‘King Tubby Meets The Upsetter At The Grass Roots Of Dub’ – in addition to another 45 on the list, Euslin Gregory’s ‘You Are So Real’. I. Roy had well over 20 records issued during the year, less than half of which were issued in the UK. Six are included in my list – two in the Top 25: his thrilling take on Junior Byles’ Channel One hit ‘Fade Away’ (also listed) called ‘Rootes Man‘ and his great version of George Dekker’s 1974 hit ‘Nosey Parker’ entitledOutformer Parker‘.

The late Jah Woosh (1952-2011) was another DJ making waves in 1975. He also had over 20 records released in Jamaica during that year – but ony a handful of them were released in the UK. Of those, his amazing version of Carl Malcolm’s ‘Miss Wire Waist’ (also listed) called ‘Shine Eye Gal’ remains of one of my favourite records. His cut to Levi Williams’ Peaceful Rasta’ called ‘Don’t Do That’ was another highlight.

After a few years making better and better tunes, it was in 1975 that Big Youth’s popularity escalated in the UK – with many excellent singles and the classic album ‘Dread Locks Dread’. Two of his hits make the Top 25 – ‘Big Youth Dread’ (called ‘Yabby Youth’ in Jamaica), a fantastic DJ cut to Vivian Jackson & The Prophets’ roots classic ‘Conquering Lion’; plus his fun version of Carl Malcolm’s 1974 smash ‘No Jestering’ called ‘Notty No Jester’. His ‘Hit The Road Jack’ was a massive No.1 smash in the UK the following year. The UK issue of ‘Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing’ (a cut to Desmond Young’s firin’ tune ‘Warning’) was an alternative cut to the one released in Jamaica. Being the completist I am, I had to have both versions.

Prince Jazzbo (born Linval Carter) made my favourite DJ tune of 1975 – ‘Every Nigger Is A Winner’, his own production originally released in Jamaica on his label Count 1,2,3. The mix on the record is phenomenal and was just the kind of dubbed-up echo-wrecking tune I loved at the time – Jazzbo’s dark and dread delivery is absolutely spot-on. One of the thrills of ’75 was popping into the Third World record-shop in Stoke Newington to find him toasting on a mic’ to dub behind the record-counter. It was a great moment.

A special mention must go to Dr. Alimantado for his incredible and unique ‘Best Dress Chicken’ – using a ridim previously made for a reggae version of ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’. It is a masterpiece of total music madness – with sped-up vocals, wild dub effects, random singing and bonkers lyrics. A few years after the record’s release I got to meet ‘Tado and even do some work for him. He was one of the sweetest guys on the reggae scene – and certainly the only one to ever call me Spooky! The song eventually reached an international audience when featured in the Will Smith film Hancock.

Other treats of the year were some great Jamaican soul and pop covers – including Claudette Miller’s brilliant ‘Tonight Is The Night’ (Betty Wright) and ‘I Must Be Dreaming’ (Neil Sedaka), Derrick Harriott’s ‘Eighteen With A Bullet’ (Pete Wingfield), Jimmy London’s ‘I’m Your Puppet’ (James & Bobby Purify), The Unforgettables glorious take on Gene and Eunice’s 1956 smash ‘This Is My Story’, Susan Cadogan’s astonishing Upsetter production of Doris Duke’s ‘Congratulations’, Freddie McGregor’s dynamite reggae version of George Soule’s ‘Get Involved’, Ingram Macaba’s ire reworking of Sam Cooke’s ‘Sad Mood’ (called ‘Dread Mood’), the Mighty Diamonds’ hugely popular version of The Stylistics’ ‘Country Living’ and Lloyd Parks’ ‘Baby Hang Up The Phone’ (originally Carl Graves). The Godfather Pt.II film helped inspire a spate of tunes which included Lloyd’s magnificent ‘Mafia’ and the Mighty Diamonds’ ‘Back Weh (You No Mafia)’.

The Mighty Diamonds (known originally as The Diamonds but referred to – for consistency – throughout the book as the former) were my favourite group. Apart from the hits previously mentioned, they also feature another four times in the list – with ‘Right Time’ (also the name of their chart-topping album), ‘I Need A Roof’, the ravers classic ‘Just Can’t Figure Out’ and the fantastic ‘Carefree Girl’.

Home-grown reggae music was something I took to pretty much from the off – and was often surprised how dismissive some purists were of it. Admittedly, the productions were not the same as the powerful Jamaican ones – but many benefited from being much more focused on interesting musical arrangements. Classy UK reggae included in the list are some more great soul covers: Locks Lee’s lovely version of the 1957 Donnie Elbert smash ‘What Can I Do’ (with a nice ‘Cherry Pie’ introduction from the ’54 Marvin & Johnny hit); The Starr Bounds’ lick of The Temptations’ ‘Heavenly’; T.T.Ross’ proto-lovers version of the old Dick Lory/Skeeter Davis country song ‘Last Date’; and Jesse Green’s glorious take on The Chi-Lites ravers smash ‘Go Away Dream’. Record of the year was another soul cover – Louisa Mark’s awesome take on Robert Parker’s 1967 b-side smash ‘Caught You In A Lie’, produced by Dennis Bovell with Lloydie Coxson. It remains my favourite reggae record of all time. For the record.

Excellent original British music came from Buster Pearson (1941-2012), father of soul group Five Star, with his track ‘Take It Easy’, Strecker Decker’s great Mike Dorane production ‘Girl You Have Left Me’, The Meditations’ ‘Sympathy’, Honey Boy’s ‘In A Game’, Byron Otis (soon to join vocal trio The Blackstones) with ‘Sugar Bum’, ‘Freedom Train’ by Winston Curtis and John Brown’s revival of Roscoe Gordon’s ‘Let ‘Em Try

Reggae remakes include The Maroons’ (actually The Cimarons) version of Bob Marley’s ‘Talking Blues’ – which became the first British reggae record to top the Jamaican charts. Errol Dunkley did a wicked version of John Holt’s ‘I’m Your Man’.

There were plenty of rootsy one-off hits in ’75 – including Silford Walker’s almighty Joe Gibbs production ‘Burn Babylon’, Lizard’s ‘Satta I’, Fred Locks’ ‘Black Star Liners’ and the very popular ‘None A Jah Jah Children’ by Ras Michael & The Sons Of Negus.

The hot one hundred, right here…

1. CAUGHT YOU IN A LIE | Louisa Mark | Safari

2. TALKING BLUES | The Maroons | Horse

3. BACK WEH (YOU NO MAFIA) | Mighty Diamonds | Locks

4. TONIGHT IS THE NIGHT | Claudette Miller | Jama

5. EVERY NIGGER IS A WINNER | Prince Jazzbo | Live & Love

6. ROOTES MAN | I. Roy | Love

7. SINNERS WHERE ARE YOU GONNA HIDE | Justin Hinds & The Dominoes | Pama

8. MAFIA | Lloyd Parks | Cactus

9. MISS WIRE WAIST | Carl Malcolm | Black Wax

10. BIG YOUTH DREAD | Big Youth | Lucky

11. BEST DRESS CHICKEN | Dr. Alimantado | Sun & Stars

12. JAMAICA TOBACCO | U. Brown | Fay Music Inc.

13. MORE SLAVERY | Joe Higgs | Grounation

14. RIGHT TIME | Mighty Diamonds | Locks

15. TAKE IT EASY | Buster Pearson | K & B

16. SHINE EYE GAL | Jah Woosh | Locks

17. NATTY IN A GREENWICH FARM | Cornell Campbell | Action

18 .WHY SEEK MORE | Dennis Brown | Trojan

19. BURN BABYLON | Silford Walker | Locks

20. OUTFORMER PARKER | I. Roy | Attack

21. I’M YOUR PUPPET | Jimmy London | Horse/Jama

22. THIS IS MY STORY | The Unforgettables | Nationwide

23. CONGRATULATIONS | Susan Cadogan | Klik

24. NOTTY NO JESTER | Big Youth | Action

25. CHECK YOU DAUGHTER | Joy White | Love

And the best of the rest…

GIRL YOU HAVE LEFT ME | Strecker Decker | Mich

WHAT CAN I DO | Locks Lee | Kiss

LONG WAY | Junior Byles | Dip

KING TUBBY MEETS ROCKERS UPTOWN | Augustus Pablo | Island

WELDING | I. Roy | Love

JUST TELL ME | Leroy Smart | Ethnic Fight

I NEED A ROOF | Mighty Diamonds | Black Wax

SUGAR BUM  | Byron Otis | Love

GO AWAY DREAM | Jesse Green | Sunbeam

I’M YOUR MAN | Errol Dunkley | Third World

FADE AWAY | Junior Byles | Eagle

BONGO NATTY | Owen Gray | Horse

THE MIGHTY GORGON | Cornell Campbell | Klik

BLACK STAR LINERS | Fred Locks | Treble C/Grounation

JUST CAN’T FIGURE OUT | Mighty Diamonds | Attack

JESTERING | Shorty The President | Nationwide

ONCE IN MY LIFE | Jackie Parris | Reggae

CAN’T YOU UNDERSTAND | Larry Marshall | Ocean

SATTA I | Lizard | Black Wax

I WILL NEVER CHANGE | Cornell Campbell | Attack

ROCK AWAY | Gregory Isaacs | Horse

LET LOCKS GROW | Barrington Spence | Horse

EIGHTEEN WITH A BULLET | Derrick Harriott | Trojan

YOU ARE SO REAL | Euslin Gregory | Fay Music Inc.

PRAISE JAH ALL THE TIME | Errol Dunkley | Kiss

TEA POT | I. Roy | Nationwide

DREAD MOOD | Ingram Macaba | Ethnic Fight

IN A GAME | Honey Boy | Penguin

DAT | Pluto Shervington | Opal

WHAT GOOD AM I | Jimmy London | Jama

I MAN A GRASSHOPPER | Pablo Moses | Treble C

FREEDOM TRAIN | Winston Curtis | Penguin

GORGON WISE | U. Roy | Grounation

VILLAGE SOUL | Michael Chung | Black Wax

C.B. 200 | Dillinger | Lucky

DO YOU LOVE ME | Johnny Clarke | Horse

WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING | Big Youth | Trojan

SUNSHINE | Pat Kelly | Black Wax

MIDNIGHT RIDER | Paul Davidson | Tropical

LIVING IN THE SLUM | Well Pleased And Satisfied | Cactus

I MAN TIME | I. Roy | Lucky

GET INVOLVED | Freddie McGregor | Sol-Fa

BLOOD DUNZER | Pablo Moses | Treble C

LAUGH IT OFF | Phil Francis | Love

SYMPATHY | The Meditations | Love

THE ROAD IS ROUGH | Leroy Smart | Grounation

HEAVENLY | The Starr Bounds | Horse

LET HIM TRY | John Brown | Fat Man

LOVE I CAN DEPEND ON | Raymondo | Third World

BABY HANG UP THE PHONE | Lloyd Parks | Trojan

MY TIME | Dennis Brown | Morpheus

I MUST BE DREAMING | Claudette Miller & The Ebony Sisters | Jama

ON THE BEACH | Owen Gray | Horse

LAST DATE | T.T. Ross | Lucky

RUNAWAY GIRL | U. Roy | Virgin

POISONOUS STING | The Scorpio | Fay Music Inc.

LOVE MY LIFE | Susan Cadogan | Black Wax-

FORWARD YAH | I. Roy | Love

NONE A JAH JAH CHILDREN | Ras Michael & The Sons Of Negus | Grounation

CAREFREE GIRL | Mighty Diamonds | Grounation

RED, GOLD AND GREEN (IN MY GARDEN) | Delroy Williams | Treble C

MELTING POT | Dillinger | Carib Gems

BEGGARROUND TOWN | Gladstone & The Ducanes | Dip

NO WOMAN, NO CRY | Bob Marley & The Wailers | Island

HIT THE ROAD JACK | Big Youth | Trojan

ANOTHER LONELY NIGHT | Sidney Rogers | Ethnic Fight

DON’T CUT OFF YOUR DREADLOCKS | Linval Thompson | Attack

BUSHWEED CORNTRASH | Bunny & Ricky | Attack

COUNTRY LIVING | Mighty Diamonds | Black Wax

DON’T DO THAT | Jah Woosh | Lucky

SUNSHINE FOR ME | Gregory Isaacs | Black Wax

TENAYISTILLIN WANDIMAE | The Abyssinians | 2nd Tracs

BABYLON A FIGHT RASTA MAN | Ras Alla | Grounation

OLD MARCUS GARVEY | Burning Spear | Island

JUDGE I O’ LORD | Tapper Zukie | Locks

6 Replies to “DREAD MOOD – Reggae Singles of 1975”

  1. My personal favourites are Nos 1, 4, 14 and 18 plus ” What Can I Do “, ” Eighteen With A Bullet “, ” Sunsine ” No Woman No Cry “, ” Hit The Road Jack ” and one of the sweetest groups The Might Diamonds with ” Country Living “. I’m sure you must have seen The Mighty Diamonds, when they came to London.

  2. Yes Cheri – fantastic choices! And yes, I did see the Mighty Diamonds, they were with U. Roy at the Lyceum if I remember rightly. I love that group! Thanks for your feedback, I appreciate it! x

  3. Another brilliant and informative read on an era Snoops. Was a good year for music with some big Mikey favorites in the top 100 list.
    “I Man a Grasshopper” from the beautiful soul voice of Pablo Moses and his “Blood Dunzer” to wow tracks.
    “Melting Pot” from Dillinger is such a HEAVY RAW tune. Boom!! not sure if it was out in the same year but Big Youth’s “All Nation’s Bow” goes so well as a double header side by side tune.
    Good to see Jah Woosh in there, love his style.
    I think I over played “Don’t cut off your Dreadlocks” by Linval as all my hair fell out!!!!

    Other biggies for me on the list “Mafia” by Lloyd Parks was a monster for me non-stop rewinds, “Right Time” by the Diamonds a pure classic, Big Youth’s brilliant “Big Youth Dread” and I always have time for Fred Locks “Black Star Liner”

    And I had the flip side of Carl Malcolm’s “Wire Waist” on the deck only a few days ago. Wicked bassline. Brilliant tune/

    “Spooky” hahaha loved the Dr Tado story. Such an awesome lp. I love his lps that followed too on his Keyman and Ital labels. Very talented guy.

    Brilliant read Snoops. Thanks so much. Loads of information and cool storys which are just all adding to my impatience to get the book in my grubby hands :))

    Many thanks. All the best

    Mike

  4. WOW! What a fantastic (and funny!) response. Cheers Mike, much appreciated. Big Youth’s ALL NATIONS BOW is from 1974 – the question is, WILL it feature on the 100 list? That one’s coming soon so you can find that our sooner rather than later. That dub of MISS WIRE WAIST is amazing isn’t it – definitely one of my favourites. Glad you liked the Tado story – he always called me Spooky whenever he saw me. He’s the only man I have ever met who can carry off a shocking pink 3-piece suit! I really appreciate your feedback Mr. Mongos – I hope you keep enjoying the reads. More next Monday as usual!

  5. Hello,
    Just want to say how much i’m enjoying reading your works. It’s very interesting to find out the background to some of these cover tunes.
    Being in New Zealand you couldn’t really get any further away from the reggae world & i can remember as a teen in the 1980’s,finding copies of UK music mags & cutting out all the reggae articles & reviews (many by Penny Reel) – still have them taped into several scrapbooks.
    I look forward to your future writings.
    Best Regards
    j j

  6. Hi J J,

    Thank you very much for your message. It is great to know that you are enjoying reading my blog – and also amazing to know that you’re reading it in New Zealand! Yes, I would imagine reggae articles to be pretty hard to come by on your side of the world. I will tell Penny that you collected his articles next time I see him. There is so much more good stuff to come on the blog – I haven’t been able to skim the surface yet! Next week’s blog is a reggae one so look out for it!

    One love,

    Snoopy

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