Reggae Anthology ~ Eek-Ology
17 North Parade
November 18, 2013
from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)|
|Vocals : 4/5||Backing : 4/5||Production : 5||Sound quality : 4/5||Sleeve : 5|
Over the years VP Records has become the major player in reggae music, and boasts what is reputedly reggae's largest back catalogue. In recent times the company has issued several interesting releases from that huge catalogue. One of their most interesting series has to be "Reggae Anthology". The series featured excellent packages from Barrington Levy, Cocoa Tea, Garnett Silk, Sugar Minott and recently The Mighty Diamonds. But also labels were featured in that series. The latest shines its light on Eek-A-Mouse, one of reggae's oddest and funniest artists, who is responsible for creating a new genre in reggae music, the sing-jay style.
Ripton Joseph Hylton aka Eek-A-Mouse began his music career when he was in college, releasing two roots reggae singles (Creation and My Father's Land) under his own name, which were produced by his mathematics tutor, Mr. Dehaney. These early works were influenced by the music of Pablo Moses. He then went on to work for various sound systems over the next few years and also released a few more singles. He adopted the stage name Eek-A-Mouse in 1979, taking the name of a racehorse he always bet on; it was a nickname his friends had used for some time. He began recording for Joe Gibbs in 1979, having a hit straight away with Once A Virgin, a tune that gave hints of all that was to follow, but Virgin Girl still favours a more traditional approach, underpinned by an uptempo 'Shank I Sheck' riddim. This was soon followed with the initial cut of "Wa-Do-Dem" (produced by Douglas Boothe), and Modelling Queen, which began an association with Linval Thompson, who produced his debut album "Bubble Up Yu Hip".
He also cut two fine slices with producer Carlton Patterson on his Black & White label. The excellent Falling Heroes was followed by Tell Them which was the basis for the later Ganja Smuggling. By the end of 1980, he had linked up with top producer Henry "Junjo" Lawes, with whom he had big hits in 1981 with remakes of Virgin Girl and Wa-Do-Dem. The following year he was the star of the Reggae Sunsplash Festival, cheering audiences still mourning over the death of reggae icon Bob Marley. His association with Lawes led to a string of successful singles and albums, and in 1982 his hits included the slow paced tune Wild Like A Tiger, For Hire and Removal and Do You Remember. One of the biggest scorchers was Ganja Smuggling, the tale of the black poverty, the struggle and the rewards of the illicit ganja trade. The same year he released his second album, "Wa Do Dem". The single Operation Eradication, inspired by the death of his friend and fellow deejay Errol Shorter, showed his serious side. The follow up album "Skidip" was released before the year was out.
Further albums followed with 1983's "Mouse And The Man", produced by Linval Thompson, and 1984's "Mouseketeer", again produced by Lawes. He also featured on several of the live dancehall albums from the era, including the "Aces International" and "Live At Skateland" collections. He was a regular at Sunsplash and often teamed up with reggae duo Michigan & Smiley. An album was issued of his performance in 1983. In the second half of the decade his popularity began to wane slightly, and he targeted the United States with the "Assassinator" album in 1985 (his first US release), produced by Anthony and Ronald Welch. He also travelled to the United Kingdom to record "The King And I" the same year, the album targeted at the rock crossover audience to which he had begun to appeal.
His 1988 album "Eek-A-Nomics" saw him begin to establish himself with an international audience, spawning a club hit with 'The Freak', and he was signed by Island Records in 1989. He returned to prominence with 1991's "U-Neek" album, which continued the rock-oriented style, including a cover version of Led Zeppelin's 'D'yer Mak'er' and from which the hit single 'You're The One I Need' was taken. He went through a period of relative quietness before returning in 1996 with the "Black Cowboy" album. He also had a performance in the 1991 gangster movie New Jack City playing a drug-dealing Rastafarian named Fat Smitty. He was also featured on nu metal group P.O.D.'s album "Satellite", lending his vocals to the rock-reggae track 'Ridiculous.' He can also be heard on OPM's album, "ForThemAsses", on the track 'Perfect Day.' Eek-A-Mouse recorded a song with hip-hop recording artist Ditch, called 'Smoke It Up' (2007, released in 2009), which is featured on Ditch's CD "Public Intoxication". He has as well teamed up with Bounty Killer and Damian Marley in 'Khaki Suit'.
The bulk of material here is well known and loved. But as always VP Records' subsidiary has managed to add some interesting pieces of music. A four song John Peel session for the BBC from 1983 and several 12" mixes are added for extended listening pleasure. The two Carlton Patterson produced sides appear for the first time on cd. The bonus DVD features a live stage performance from Jamaica Sunfest 1982 plus additional bonus material. Jamaica Sunfest track listing: 1. Ganja Smuggling, 2. For Hire And Removal, 3. Neutron Bomb, 4. Assassinator, 5. Wa-Do-Dem.