Q: The 'Natty Chase The Barber' album was out on Top Ranking in 1978.
A: Yeah, yeah. It was pressed in Miami, the first release was in Miami.
Q: Who stood behind the Top Ranking label again? This was run in conjunction with Tommy Cowan, or the Lewis brothers alone?
A: No, it's Lewis brothers but Tommy Cowan usually distribute things for them and if they're abroad and t'ing like that, Tommy Cowan look after business for them until they come back. Or Tommy Cowan would probably be the Jamaican distribution branch for them, ca' they 'ave other people abroad to do other stuff, y'know. When I went on tour, the album was finished, but it wasn't released. So while I was touring with the band, the album (was) released. 'Cause I went and I found it in '79, that's when the tour started in about mid '79. I went to Miami, and I saw the album in a record shop, just by chance I was passing the record shop and I look in there and I see my David Jahson and I say "What?! Somebody else named David Jahson?" But when I see it named 'Natty Chase The Barber' I say well, "No, that's me". But the picture they put of me, it was faded out. But I remember taking that picture. And I say, "Oh, shit man, these guys are puttin' out the album". I mean, I'm touring with them, the album's put out and nobody even tell me! You know? So I was like, I no feel good about that. So anyway, I said to the man "How long you have this album?" And him say, "Bwoy, well, from me get it them gone". Him said it was a wicked album but he didn't even know it was me, 'cause the picture not showing any justice about me. So I didn't say nothing to him, and I said yeah, I wanted to buy a copy but I didn't have any money on me at that time. So, I didn't worry. When they come back to go to Europe for the European tour and they pick me up in Miami and I fly back to England with them, we was stationed in Chelsea at the time and almost every day we went to somewhere different abroad to do a tv show or interview or somet'ing. So, I met this girl in London and, y'know, she was showin' me Brixton, and after I went up to Brixton market with her - 'cause I was also the chef in the Inner Circle group, and they like me to chef, that's how I was chef-cookin'. I went to buy a pot and some vegetables and some other stuff. I saw the record again in a shop in Brixton and I said to the girl I was walkin' with, sayin', "That's my song, y'know". And she say, "You too lyin'!" I said, "Yeah man, that's me!" And she say, "No, no". She don't know me as 'David Jahson' there, because Inner Circle they used to call me 'Spy', they used to call me the 'Black Spy'. So she know me only as the Black Spy.
Q: Where did they get that from, why did they call you 'Spy' (chuckles)?
A: 'Black Spy'? Oh, well, it's just that one time, accidentally, Jacob was talkin' to a girl on the phone, and in this other bedroom there was an extension phone and it was in a cubbard. So, I went in the cubbard and I pick up the phone, because the way how he was talkin' to the girl - like he was beggin', y'know, and (chuckles)... I was sneakin', pick up the phone and I could hear everything. I hear the girl tellin' him "no!", that he want to come and see her and she say no, and this and that, and he was beggin', beggin', beggin'. So, long after in the evening I was like saying to him, saying to Jacob some of the words them (laughs)... what the girl was sayin' to him, and he was beggin', and I was laughing offa that, and he was saying, "How yu know?! How did yu know dat! Yu mus' be a fuckin' spy!! A spy! How did you know that?" And he was tellin' Roger and everybody, "Yeah man, this is a black spy, man! This is a black spy!" And instantly that name just stuck. So when we go on stage, until they introduced me as David Jahson, they introduce me as 'Black Spy'! And the reason why they didn't make me do any song, when I went to Miami I used to have my locks, and when I went to Miami and stopped there with my auntie, she was like clean and proper, she was sayin', "Don't have your hair like that", and this and that and that, and she practically forced me to get my hair cut. So when they come to take me to England they was all vexed. Because one of the reasons why they like me to come on the tour is because I was locksed. So when they see me in Miami, they was all vex, 'cause I was like they didn't want to talk to me. They say, "Whe yu locks? Where the dreadlocks, a whe yu locks?!" And they say, "Look 'pon the Barber, is the Barberman sing 'Natty Chase The Barber'!" And, y'know, it's like a big problem. So they didn't make me sing any 'Natty Chase The Barber' songs on stage. Like, I was supposed to headline Inner Circle before they come out, be singin' this from they produced the record, so I would be singin' some of those songs. Which at the time, that LP was sellin' wicked in England. 'Cause Mr Palmer of Jet Star told me that because of this album come up as an import, he used to like pick and choose some of his people that come and buy records from him, he said he used to sell that album from one of the counters, he would give a man four and next man he would give a next man four with that, y'know.
He said that the album was like wanted in that time. And he couldn't put all of it on the shelf at the same time beca' one man would take up all of it. So he had to share it out and give one man four and give a next man three, or give next man two according to what he had in stock at the time. So they didn't let me sing the songs at that time, and when I was walkin' in the market the same day I told the girl that it was my album and she say "No, you too lie!" And I said "Yeah, that's my album!" And she said, "Buy a copy for me". So I say OK. At the time the album was sellin' in England for £4.50, and the top you could get it fe five pound. But when I went to buy my own the man tell me it was nine pound. And me say, "How come you could sell the other albums deh fe four fifty and five fifty, why yu sellin' this for nine pound?!" The man say, "If yu no want it jus' move and leave it, man! Just leave it". So I just took it, I buy it for the nine pound, and I give it to the girl. And when I went to the man dem and I say, "Boss, how come the man dem a release the song?" When I went back to the hotel where we was, then I say, "How come the album release and you never tell me? I jus' buy a copy in the market". And him say, "Wha'? Ahh, Jahson man, jus' cool man, yeah, yeah...". You know? I didn't like that. I bought that album round about two times, it coming down to I buy it the second time, so I bought that there and I give it to the girl. And we toured along with them until the group split up because Jacob died, and I was feelin' it for a certain while, and I was in England and the same girl asked me why don't we get married, and blah blah. So we just get married and we had a child and I was stuck in England for a little bit. And I did have some songs from Jamaica that I bring up while I used to work with Well Pleased & Satisfied, I used to sing harmony on it and stuff like that. I did have some of them riddim tracks and stuff, so I say well, I'm gonna try and see if I can get some stuff in the market. It never went well. I keep puttin' out one or two singles. One or two persons like Jim Dodd they put out a song like 'Raving' for me, it went well in the stable there. Just box and bow, box and bow, trying a thing here and there, which wasn't really moving fast. I had to get a job and support the family, got stuck in England for a lickle bit. Then after I went back to Jamaica and I did some more songs, and I did one named 'Formula' and that was voiced in England, original 'Formula'. It was three musician I get together and we lick that 'Formula', it was good. We put it out and it sell a bit, was good.
Q: Who played on that track?
A: 'Formula' was played by three guys from Jamaica and descendants, but they was living in England. Yeah. I can't remember their names now but that's one of my classic tunes, the first original 'Formula'. Just three a them play it. I can't remember their name. I put it out on a seven-inch, put it on a twelve-inch back-to-back with a song by Errol Dunkley when we did link up at the time now.
Q: This is when you formed the Spy label?
A: Yeah. Black Spider. Yah, I had one named Black Spider. I put out a few tunes on Spy label as well. That was in England. At the moment I can't remember them all, but I put out an album name 'Past & Present', that was on the Spy label. I sell round about five hundred copies of that and I didn't press it back. It stay like that.
Q: There's a duet on that album with a Wailing Souls tune, between you and Jerry from Well Pleased & Satisfied, 'Mr Fire Coal Man'.
A: Yeah, yeah!
Q: Must've been cut way back in the mid seventies or thereabouts.
A: Yeah, that was recorded way back now. I think that was like the original... it was played by some original man in Jamaica really. Different, different man play that like Horsemouth, you have Sly & Robbie on it, you have the other brethren we used to call the 'Baldhead Bassie'. Because nobody ever recognise that bassie, he was like a mason. It was only me and Jerry, when we do work in Well Pleased & Satisfied, we go and get that bassie, we look for the flyin'... well, my brethren we didn't like Lloyd Parks too much because he used to give us a kinda t'ing in his basslines "toom toom to to to toom toom", We didn't like that "toom toom" business too much, get the baldhead bassie instead. Nobody really used that bassman, ca' he wasn't established, or him name big up. And we had the man play some chord that was on the tune that people used to love by Well Pleased & Satisfied, ca' they have this different kinda riddim sound, the bass sound different. And is not any of the popular upmarket musicians was playing the bass, we just called him the 'Baldhead Bassie', and he was the man that played on some of them tunes. Sometimes we get Ranchie to play bass, ca' he could play guitar and he could play bass, and sometime we get Sly & Robbie, when we get Sly & Robbie together, yunno. But most of the early Well Pleased & Satisfied riddim tracks, on some of his riddims, was done by the bredda we called Baldhead Bassie. And even now Jerry has quite a few of them songs unreleased, because when I went to England and get mixed up in marriage an' t'ing, I just kind of lost touch, which I shouldn't have done. I had lost touch with Jerry and some other guys down there. Another problem was when I get over here I start to do other things, which is a different kettle of fish over here. So for a while I lose touch before I go back to Jamaica until probably about three or four years after, then I go back to Jamaica. So while I was in England here, Jerry them wasn't feeling pleased of me going away and not keeping in touch and all them lickle t'ings. So anyway, we still linked up back, and we still do some more tune again. When I went back Jerry had a studio in Jamaica, and I said ouch, that is what we want from long ago. I think I know that he had a studio, but I don't think that... if he actually was puttin' out any tune, ca' he wanted one or two hits out there again. And the area where he choose to put it - in Waterhouse, I mean Jammys did have a studio nearby, a couple of artists did have their studio nearby still. And the area was bad, you had some pure badman who try to do somet'ing, them wait, if they're not there they break your place and thief this and leave that, yunno. So I think Jerry was in the heart of that, so he kinda pull back down the studio. He pull back down the equipment that he put up and lock it away in a room for a while, because it was those t'ings happening, y'know. And then I was abroad, and he used to keep things going musically down there. So I think when I wasn't there he was still vex in my side for that kind of way, I don't know. But for me to just lose touch and get out of that concentration with this man, we was doing good together, just try to make it back for that still, yunno. I knew that I had to actually link up that knot with this man and tighten it up, because there's quite a few things that he got there in Jamaica. He didn't even leave Jamaica until he got all this stuff, and I went away and was gone everywhere, didn't achieve a studio. You know what I mean? But he did, and I was really feelin' pleased for him, y'know. There's quite a few songs that we did in the seventies there which was unreleased. And I was tellin' him at the time when I went back to Jerry that these songs would do good in Europe, 'cause it's the type of songs they like. They don't really like the computer stuff, they like the acoustic when people play an' t'ing, and these are some good tunes. He was saying, "Nah man, dem t'ing outdated now", and this and that. I didn't want to say 'OK, run off this and mek me try show yu somet'ing', because I just know how I can get mix up in foreign again, and maybe I haffe go do it myself and etcetera, etcetera, if I don't find the right company. So we still have quite a few of these songs which haven't been released that we have done on tape. And he probably want to do some update t'ing now, which I'm tellin' him that cyaan beat those t'ing we have done. Because I've seen what Europe is buying, and I know that they like the acoustic thing more than the computer. Maybe at the time he didn't travel that much so he was thinkin' that because certain tune was played in Jamaica in everybodys dance, I said no, no - maybe it's just the Jamaican crowd dance. They want to go through some other international people who listen to acoustic instrument and love it. But he didn't listen and I kinda see that we have a lickle difference in opinion and ideas there. He wasn't agreeing to certain t'ing what I'm showing him anymore, you understan'?
A: So I get downhearted, and so we lose touch again. And I come back and we have done some songs in Jamaica and I get some riddim tracks. I've still got a pile of myself, I've got quite a few tunes I can put out now, still acousticly. 'Cos I meet up with Mikey Brooks in England, Mikey Brooks have some Channel One stuff. Beca' he used to be the man who actually mek most a dem riddims, he sing songs for dem to play. And Roots Radics and those man play most of them riddim tracks. Some of them Mighty Diamonds sings, and other artists sings on them. Because he was the one who stay at night and sing for these man to play them riddim tracks, and he got some of these riddim tracks in his possession as well from Channel One, so... I got quite a few of that too, I revoicing some songs on them an' t'ing. So I got quite a few of them old riddims, which I want to put out on an album called 'Vintage Roots', y'know. And I'm actually in the process of doing it, with some of them seventies songs.
Q: But you did reissue the original 'Natty Chase The Barber' album on your own label?
A: Yeah, I reissued it. Because...
Q: What about this pirate, someone pirated the album way back, in France wasn't it?
A: Yeah, this guy named Enzo Hamilton, I think Enzo is in some kind of custody, or some kind of lawyer t'ing. 'Cos he has done almost every man in Jamaica. I dunno how he done it, but he done Bunny Lee productions, he done Lee Perry production, even Bob Marley, he do Beverley's. He just put every man!
Q: And Tommy Cowan, Jah Lloyd, Phil Pratt, Gaylads, some Inner Circle stuff, Jimmy Radway, Winston McAnuff. In the case of Pratt I think that deal was struck but the other releases are a bit dubious to say the least.
A: Yeah! He touch every man. I mean, when I found out that he done mine, I found out from a radio guy tell me, I was walkin' on the road and this radio guy say, "Oh man, I play your tunes on CD last night on the radio, man. It was sounding good. I like it, man! So why don't you put out more on CD, man?" I said, "Wha' yu talk? I haven't got no CD out yet! I'm tryin' to get a CD out, and I don't put no CD out". He say, "Yeah man, you have a CD out, man! I play some tune off it". Me say, "No man, you've mistaken me, man!" Him say, "A yu name Jahson?" Me say yeah, but I said I t'ink I hear about some other guy named Jahson, it might be him. Him say, "No man! Yu have a song name 'Jah Is Coming For His World One Day'?" And me say yeah. And then him say, "You have a tune named 'Clean Rasta Head'?" And me say yeah. So him said, "But is the CD me play!" So I say, "How come that's 'pon CD?" The last time it was on vinyl and the last time I hear they put it out in America. But him say "Yeah man!" So me say "Ahh, I want a copy", so me go up a Jet Star now fe go see, just to see it. 'Cos at the time the CD was out and I didn't have nothing on CD and I always wanted to have something on CD now, 'cos everything seems to be leaving me (chuckles), y'know. So, I'm saying I went to Jet Star, I went to every man that sell roots tune. I went to Daddy Kool (legendary shop, since deceased), I went to Supertone, I went to all this man, and I can't see it. So I phoned back the man, and me say, "How come you say - where did you get the CD to buy? 'Cos I look everywhere and can't find it". Him say, "Go down to Tower Records dung a Piccadilly, man". I say, "What!" I used to pass that shop and I say "I don't think I appear like big star inna dat". But when me go in there, lo and behold there's David Jahson - same record. So I buy a copy of that again, I buy a copy (chuckles) to find out the source where this is coming from, if it was Inner Circle re-release it there or Tommy Cowan. But then I see Tommy Cowan name on it and I see some other people name weh I don't see Inner Circle produce, I don't see me. 'Cos on the original LP it was produced by Ian Lewis and Everal Pickersgill, which is me. And on the CD I didn't see all a that information, so I'm saying 'what's happening here?' So I see some other peoples name I don't even know. But my brethren Denzil Dennis told me that he knows this other guy, there was a name that... I can't remember the guy now, but there was a name that Dennis say, "I know him, man! Him have a record shop dung a Shepherds Bush". So I went down there, and when I sight him I was very angry, and I was shoutin' at him: "Where the fuck did you get your name on my album!? I don't even fockin' know you! How is your name doing on my stuff!", and blah blah blah. It's like I comin' on to doing him something, and he start to cry and say: "No, is not me, is Enzo". I say, "Enzo? Who the fuck is name Enzo?! I don't even know him - phone him!" And he phoned Enzo, in France. He just spoke to me from France, and he's sayin' oh, well, he need to come over and speak to me because of so and so and so. About three days after Enzo came over from France to speak to me, and he say, well yes, he and Tommy Cowan was friends and he knew that actually Tommy had something to do with the record, the 'Natty Chase The Barber', and so and so. So he's seeing the album laying around and he was thinkin' because he and Tommy was friends it would be OK if he did it and, y'know, it would be OK with Tommy. So I said, "No! It's not to do with Tommy, it's my stuff". And the guy said OK, he would pay me some royalties and all sorts... I asked, "How long you've been puttin' it out?" He had it out for five years the time that I found him doing it.
Q: On the Lagoon or Esoldun label, wasn't it?
A: Yeah, then he have it on Crocodisc. When I check it out then he have some other songs from the same album, he had put them on other compilation albums. So he said he would sort me out for that, and the first amount of that he sent a statement and I get some Euros, I can't remember what Euro he sent. Then after that I think from that time 'til now, the time I have seen him was round about four years up to now, he only send me four statements, and the statements... I dunno where the money is going because it's not going into my bank! I was going to straight him up again, and then his phone is off-turned - is only ringing, ringing, and no answer. I see something in the paper that some solicitors or some people runnin' after him and he's going into some big trouble, and blah blah. So I don't know what's happening, but there - it stop there. So, off that CD, I took the CD and took my songs off it, the one I want, and mixed it up with some other ones, and put it to vinyl, and put the vinyl out. And so I put that album out, the original 'Natty Chase The Barber'. Which, actually, I put the 'Natty Chase The Barber' on that now, which wasn't on any of the firs' 'Natty Chase The Barber' album. So I put it on, and some other stuff, some other songs. I didn't put the riddim tracks this time, I didn't put it as a showcase, I just put six side of vocals an' put it on a vinyl, and it's doing OK. Not as well as it could have, because I don't think it's marketed properly, really. But it's still going well, it's some nice songs on it. And so that's how the album come to be. I need to also run it on a CD, but I didn't get round to that yet, because of lack of money, stuff like that. I have also got quite a few more albums which I want to put out, an album. Because I'm kinda scared of the CD thing, because I put out a CD named 'Child Of The King' and I am seeing it all 'bout on everybody's internet page, and I dunno how some of them even get it. Some of them is sellin' it for prices that I'm not even sellin' it for! So, I dunno what is happening there, so I am kinda scared of the internet t'ing with the CD.
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