Q: So the first connection with recording back in Jamaica, that was 'Satta Dread'?
A: Well, yeah, I went to Jamaica. You know, I always wanted to do a Jamaican record, because I like the sound coming out of Jamaica. And then again, it's like you get much more respect when you a come out of Jamaica as an artist. And the sound of the music and the mixing of the music, it was so - so different from the mix in America. I don't know what it is, it's just like the food of Jamaica taste better than the food you have over here (chuckles).
Q: Stronger, spicy, more flavour to it.
A: Eh? Yeah! You know, it's a different vibes, because everyt'ing wha' you a sing is about to what's happening, and you see so much things happening around you. Not that you don't see it here, but you know Jamaica is a smaller, smaller place an' it's right up inna yu face. You know, in America you can spread yourself out an' run go hide from certain environment, yes? And in Jamaica, it's just right there, everywhere, every second! So, y'know, it's even like...
Q: Right, it's more 'alive' somehow.
A: Yeah, you a feel everyt'ing, it's a different vibes. I went to Jamaica, and just a pack up and go to Jamaica and seh, bwoy, go down there fe go try, meet somebody, a producer, anywhere in Jamaica and get myself... you know? I went to Jamaica, and I went down to - they called it 'Idler's Corner', that's down Parade there.
Q: Chancery Lane.
A: Right, and Idler's Corner them call it an' it was near and next-door to Randy's Records, right where Randy's is. And hang out, deal with a dealing t'ing, and I start get to meet one or two person, that's when I met this brethren named Jah Stitch. A brethren named Jah Stitch, have you ever heard of him?
Q: A deejay, yes. 'No Dread Can't Dead'.
A: Yeah, him end up deejaying, then him never get involved in no record business, him was mostly deejaying for sounds at the time, yunno. So, somebody tell me that, well, later on at Randy's they try to get me involved for something for Randy's, and it was kinda tight. So I said 'to hell with this', and I went around Orange Street, I think that's wha' the area named, and Bunny Lee had a record shop. And yeah, a brethren of mine in Jamaica tell me that him know Robbie Shakespeare, him seh fe go an' ask Robbie, an' Robbie used to play for Bunny Lee then.
Q: The Revolutionaries.
A: Right. And I see Robbie, and by the time I see Robbie a brethren give me a note, him tell me seh him can get me involved an' everyt'ing. Me seh alright, man. So him talk to Bunny Lee an' Bunny say, "Sing us a note, let me hear", with a note (chuckles). Him say, "Boss, yu sound like Horace Andy, man!" Never really like that still, yunno (laughs). But I get fe realise it was true, 'cause I had that slur, y'know. And to myself I know I had a stronger tone of voice, like I was trying to imitate Horace Andy - we even look alike, so I mean, it make no difference in this business, I guess is alright fe people sound alike, right, if people look alike (laughs). Anyway, I was like, I go there every day 'round them, an' Johnny Clarke an' Linval Thompson, them ones was the top artists an' Derrick Morgan and all them people him record. Night come down, it get late an' I was trying a way... I end up at the studio, where I was recording...? Dynamic studio, yeah, can't remember - between Dynamic studio and Tubbys at the time. Lay the riddim at Dynamic studio, and then woulda voice at Tubby's. So you know, I'm at Dynamic studio and Tubbys. And that's like travelling, and that's like using up money (laughs), lickle money that I take to Jamaica to try and get involved in the music an' t'ing. And every day I was on top of it trying to get involved, trying to do a song. Days passing, weeks passing, nutten gettin' done - money gotten short, y'know. It's like I wasn't doing anything to make any money.
Q: Like you lose more to do it.
A: Right (laughs)! So I kinda start get fed up, so a part of me a say, y'know, sometime you have to get kinda vile, and be on the phone, mek a man know seh, well, disrespec', y'know what I'm saying, wha' 'appen, wha' gwaan, you tek man fe idiot. So, them finally seh all right, 'cause it's like me seh me a go do it one more night and do wha' a gwaan an' me a go over there an' them say 'definitely, definitely' to me, Bunny Lee. And them see me a pack up, and me seh "Wha' yu a tek man for, man?", and me start get vile 'pon them. And Robbie say, "Yeah man, a true, man, yu deh all the time, man - can do a lickle one tune". Most of the musician them did end up leaving, leaving Santa I think it was playing drums then, and I can't remember... his last name is Santa? Santa, whe him called...?
Q: 'Santa' Davis, Soul Syndicate.
A: Yeah! Santa, and Robbie play the bass and I cyaan remember the brethren whe play the keyboard, him name...
Q: Ansel Collins perhaps?
A: A lickle short guy, whe him name...?
Q: Could be Ansel Collins, or maybe Winston Wright.
A: Right! Yeah, I think it was Ansel Collins, if I can remember right (laughs)! It's a sort of familiar face that guy, 'cause him used to live in Allman Town and I remember seeing him, we never really used to talk but that's a familiar face from Allman Town growing up. So there was a guy that end up playing 'Satta Dread', that riddim, y'know, it was like you sing out the songs an' them follow you.
Q: Had you written the lyrics to it before?
Q: Just wrote it on the spot.
A: Just start singin' it on the spot, it was no writing (laughs)! Them times deh you never have no time fe do nutten, 'cause them a rush you. It's like, I had a few lyrics that I'd write down, y'know what I'm saying, but it so happen that I didn't have it with me. I go back and forth so much time that this particular day I forget the lyrics them (laughs). I left the book, I left the notebook with all the lyrics in it. So when I really search an' look fe the lickle hook-up bag that I had, a carry-bag that I had, I realised that I didn't have the lyrics in it. I just start sing wha' I could remember.
A: One of the songs that I had (chuckles), scribble down some words an' it was a song that I start scribble down when I went to Jamaica. I never finish it up, so it wasn't too much lyrics to it. So I did that song now and finish that, that was very very late, I think we end up at Tubbys at night or also the same day, very late. I believe it took us about... one somet'ing. That was late in them days, man, end up at Tubbys to voice (laughs)! So, it's like end up at Tubbys at night, Linval Thompson and Johnny Clarke an' them do them lickle t'ing an' voice them voice. When I voice 'Satta Dread' I was like trying to tell them fe make us do it tomorrow, the next day. "Nah man, go ahead an' just do wha' yu can remember". That's what I did, 'Satta Dread' there. I guess a lot of people, a few people like it. My songs them, my song no really get the promotion that it should've got. I guess a few people kind of get fe know Wayne Jarrett.
Q: Yes. That tune came out on the Bar Bell label, so Robbie produced the whole thing, or who actually produced the session?
A: You know, at the time when I did that song it's like Bunny Lee start acting strange again, y'know, him start act like 'The tune no sound good, we haffe do it over back', and that's the runaround whe them give you when I saw them the next day. I say, "But I tell you seh, mek I do over that song, mek I do it over the same time next day". And the lyrics, I go ahead an' do what I can remember, so I did what I can remember although I tell you seh it don't have much lyrics. So him say, well, then "It's all right, yu voice sound all right an' t'ing an' the riddim alright - one more lick". So we say, "Mek we do it over then". And I go there couple more days an' I end up not doing over anyt'ing, you no see. And I had to come back to the States, so I end up flying out and not doing anything. So I figure that he couldn't put it out. I was surprised that I heard it, right (laughs).
A: As a matter of fact, before I left, the night before I leave Jamaica, I went to a dance 'pon Stadium with a brethren, an' them days when you do your tune, yunno, you talk 'bout 'special'. But you no eat no food offa that, them often say 'you're lucky'. 'Cause, them cyaan do a song an' go do it an' sing a special fe a dozen or thousand or two-thousand soundman, and eat a food outa it. When in them days you do a tune, a the producer them eat food, 'cause them eat to whoever the artist sound them time deh, y'understan' me, 'pon dubplate. And we just hear it an' I say: "Bwoy, a me that, yunno, a so them cyaan do it". And you don't get no money from that, ca' you don't get royalty from dubplates. That's how them used to do it in them days. So the artists in our days who do it today should really give thanks. And that's whe I heard the song, I say: "But wait, I think him say he was never going to put it out". But I just laugh, y'know, ca' I feel good fe hear your tune a playin' in the dance (laughs).
Q: So that was like the second recording ever, 'Satta Dread'?
A: Right. Yeah, the second record, the second song I did, I was like lookin' around and see 'Wha', the people a dance to me song, man', I feel good (laughs)!
Q: That was like the week after you cut it, when they played it at that dance?
A: No, it was like about - I think I did it almost like the weekend, like Thursday or so, so that was like the Friday night and I was supposed to fly out Sunday morning, and I said: "Make I jus' kill the weekend an' go some dance". And I went to the dance and I hear the tune an' I was like, "But wait, I think him say it's the song me come fe voice over, how come it a play?" (laughs). You know, it's like I said, I was so excited, I was so excited to hear my song in a dance and man a rock to it! Everyt'ing just black out! And I was jus' there smiling, saying "Wow, that's me!" I tell me brethren, "A me that". "Yeah man, that song wicked, man!" Ca' inna them days everybody a Rasta, yunno, an' for me a call Jah in a song it's like is the world's greatest that, y'know.
Q: Apart from it being released on Robbie's Bar Bell label, that song came out on Pete Weston's Micron label as well.
A: Was Micron?
Q: Yes, Micron, some claim it was Weston behind that one, but it was actually Robbie's production?
A: I guess so, because Robbie Shakespeare and Bunny Lee - you know somet'ing, if asked about who produced that at the time, I didn't have no idea. When I got it, I can't even remember which label it was'pon, if it was Micron. That label I saw it on, or if it was 'pon Robbie Shakespeare's label, he told me. That was when I actually saw the record, was when I came back to the States.
Q: Did you hear about the reissue of that song, 'Satta Dread', on the Micron label some ten years ago?
A: I saw it on the... it was on the CD, a CD couple of years ago when I moved to Florida.
Q: Yes, you mean the dub version to it?
A: Well, it had the vocal and I think the dub version on the CD also.
Q: I'm only aware of the dub version, it's available on a King Tubby compilation of dubs for Bunny Lee, 'Dub Gone Crazy' (Blood & Fire).
A: Right, right, it's on that. Well, my song was just all over the place, moving and I wasn't getting a penny from it, y'know. That's how it work for them, I was trying and like I said I was living in America...
Q: Difficult to check what's happening from there.
A: I had no control over it, and I wasn't hungry, so I jus' seh mek it gwaan run, yunno, and I didn't pay it any mind. Because you ask it around an' you don't get too much answer. That year it release it here in America that I was go to, like I was distributing the song itself, you're asking many things and don't get too much information. All of them is crooks, that's how it is.
Q: What about 'Jah Children Shall Be Free' for Prince Tony, that must've been cut at the same time?
Q: It was done at the same time?
A: No, no, when I went back to Jamaica, mid eighties (chuckles). Yep, that was in the mid eighties, like I said if I can remember I think it was in the mid eighties. I went back to Jamaica and...
Q: I have to question that though, sounds a lot more 'seventies' to my ears.
A: It probably was seventies, yunno, who knows (laughs)! It was the late seventies, man, trust me. Trust me, because I went to Jamaica '75. I come here '73 and went back down there '75, and I think that's when I went and did my lickle t'ing with Bunny Lee, but probably was still the seventies. And I met Prince Tony just from passing his record shop on Slipe Pen Road, and I just go inside there and end up seeing I Roy - or U Roy, ah! U Roy, yeah, the dread U Roy?
A: Ca' U Roy used to record for him, yunno. And me and U Roy start reason, and U Roy let me know that him is a producer, and I just start hang out at his record shop and I saw this brethren in front of the record shop with his big bellfoot pants and whe you put pantsfoot straight, y'know, ca' you a Rasta (chuckles). And me say, "A me soul brethren ya, OK". And me get fe understan' that him is the one that own the record shop, by the time I pass there I stopped. And me get a point of duty when I go a Jamaica and pass that record shop, ca' I used to pass there when I was younger in Jamaica and going to Carib Theatre, just pass and stop and settle, listen to the music. And the music was coming out loud, the record shop they had a box outside on the sidewalk (chuckles), so that's how I met I Roy - U Roy, the dread U Roy. 'Cause I meet him from them days when I used to follow Tubby's sound, I used to go up there an' talk to him as a dread, ca' me love when he used to deejay (laughs), "I don't know if you remember me quite well?" But I say to him, seh: "You remember me, brethren?" You know, and I went in a the record shop and recognise him an', y'know, I used to follow Tubbys and get beaten for Tubbys, and get locked out and sleep outside. And I always go up to him and a talk to him when he play the music. I asked him if he remember, 'cause I kinda broke now, yunno. So, me a tell him seh me can sing, and he introduce me to Tony (Robinson) and I end up - I was supposed to do a couple of songs, but I was like teasing them like with one-one song an' mek an excuse, 'cause I know them is robbers, yunno. And it so happened that it worked out alright, because I didn't get no money for that either. He wanted me to sing over that song, y'know, 'cause I mentioned to him that I had a couple original t'ings I wanted to do an' he want me to sing over that song firs', and I did it. Anyway, the time again run out, that I had to come back to the States. Ca' me not making no money, so you cyaan extend your time beca' them not giving you no money.
Q: 'Something On My Mind' for Prince Tony, he wanted you to do 'a good Horace' there?
A: Oh, 'Something On My Mind', right (chuckles). Yeah, I did that with Prince Mohammed - George Nooks. Yes, I remember - I almost forgot that song. Yeah, I haffe remember now, it was two songs I did for him, I did the Horace Andy. You know, these producers, them tell you what to do sometime, yunno. You have no control over that, ca' you a the one record a song, y'know. Then you walk with a book full of lyrics and them tell you seh them waan you fe sing over somebody's song, and you tell them seh, well, you have some original t'ing - them no really interested inna that, them waan you sing over whe them want you sing over. At the time you just say OK, bounce with it, you work with the program, y'know. So I did 'Something On My Mind', a Horace Andy sing-over. And George Nooks as Prince Mohammed, he also deejay on that. Was 'Catch A Fire', the deejay part, I think that was the name. So that was alright.
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