Eric smiles as he recounts : "I remember I did some tunes for the man, so I went down to Duke Reid's studio to get paid -- He owed me something like $ 300 -- You know what? Duke Reid did indeed pay me that day-- but he paid me every cent, every penny for my work, in coins! Not notes, but bags and bags and bags of little coins -- so yes, he was a strange man, sure! I cut some specials for his sound system. I also cut specials for Coxsonne too, which he just used to play out on his sound system. He didn't release them, but keep them for specials for his sound. I did tunes like "Watch What You Are Doing To Me." At that time Coxsonne was working closely with Scratch as his engineer."
Do you only listen to reggae music these days, I ask. Eric replies : "Now I listen to all types of music. All kinds. Not only reggae music. Junglist I hear, and I have certain sympathy with -- it's all just music and the youth know what they are doing. I don't particularly like slackness or lyrics which lack a certain consciousness. But really, music and life isn't so simple -- to divide music up into 'conscious' and 'unconscious' music or 'bad' music -- We have to look at reality. We have to work with the world the way it is. This world is made up of good and bad elements, light and dark, the positive and the negative. Yet, we have to accept we will never get rid of badness from this world totally. So what are we going to do? How to respond and live our life? Well, in a sense we have to live amongst the badness for we can't totally kill out the bad, whatever we may do. But what we can do, however, is we can be aware -- aware of what company we keep, who we work with, what music we deal with, how we operate ourselves, on a daily level. Even the Good Book tells you this -- "good" and "bad" were created by the Almighty, so we have to work our way around them, weave our own way around the badness. This is what we have to do."
I know Eric has been visiting UK regularly since the 60's so I am keen to hear his opinion of UK sound system culture, and how it differs from Jamaican sound system culture. Drawing deeply on his spliff, he leans forward in his chair. He speaks in a deep, slow tone : "I used to check out Quaker City in the old days. UK sound systems have a massive , powerful sound, but in Jamaica I would say we have a better awareness of what makes good sound quality. In UK it is this big, heavy sound -- maybe it's too much at points! Boom boom boom, force and power, a big heavy sound. Yeah! However, I am not against heavy sound, not at all -- it's necessary at times, especially if you are playing in a big venue. But for a smaller venue, you don't need that steppers banging banging banging, wall to wall sound. But of course, I do not condemn heavy sounds on a sound system -- it does depend on the venue."