Satta Massa Gana Riddim

by Oct 24, 2018

Abyssinians - Satta LP

“Satta Massa Gana” is one of the most remarkable pieces of music ever to come out of Jamaica, and it had enormous influence over the subsequent development of Reggae music. “Satta” was an independently financed recording made in March 1969 at Studio One with the Sound Dimension band. Leroy Sibbles arranged the music and wrote the bass line part, and the musicians included Leroy on bass, Richard Ace on piano, Eric Frater on guitar and Don D Junior on trombone.


The origin of the melody of “Satta” is without doubt a tune by arranger Neal Hefti called “The Mafista”, taken from the  “Batman” soundtrack album called “Batman Theme and 19 Hefti Bat Songs”, which was released by RCA in 1966 in the USA. (It’s added to the YT playlist for your convenience.)

The Abyssinians

The spiritual content of the lyrics, the other worldly harmonies, and the deeply anchored bass line add up to a unique recording. The song was an enormous success, and was so popular at dances that six different instrumental cuts were recorded for exclusive play from plates to satisfy people’s thirst for the riddim. The Abyssinians voiced a second version called “Mabrak”, which features them talking and exhorting proverbs, and they then recorded Big Youth on the riddim performing the brilliant “I Pray Thee” and “Dreader Than Dread”. Around the same time Bernard Collins recorded his “Satta Me No Born Yah”, which includes lyrics from “Satta” and “Declaration Of Rights”.

Studio One

Studio One re-recorded the riddim for excellent versions from Cedric Brooks, Jah Scotchie, and Jackie Mittoo. Joe Gibbs also recorded a cut for Peter Tosh, “Here Comes The Judge”, which is brilliant despite Peter Tosh’s shaky grasp of history. Augustus Pablo recorded a memorable melodica cut, “Pablo Satta”, which was later remixed by Lee Perry for a terrific discomix version, “Silent Satta”.

Augustus Pablo

The Pablo version of the riddim was also used by Scratch for a further DJ cut, Prince Jazzbo’s “Prophet Live”, after which Scratch re-cut the riddim again for a further DJ version – Jah Lion’s “Sata”. And mention must be made of Cedric Brooks who recorded a brilliantly arranged version featuring a large horn section that has a power and majesty all of its own, and includes excellent solos from Cedric and Ernest Ranglin. It is a pity that there have been few other attempts to explore the possibilities of this style within Reggae.

(Source: Ray Hurford & Jean Scrivener’s “Rhythm Wise One & Two”)

Selected tunes from the ’60s, ’70s & ’80s :

The Abyssinians – Satta Massagana
The Abyssinians – Mabrak
Cedric ‘Im Brooks & Sound Dimension – Satta
Richard Ace – Charming Version
Big Youth – Dreader Than Dread
Big Youth – Give Praises
Big Youth – I Pray Thee
Defenders – Ah So
Dillinger – I Saw E Saw
Jah Satta – Satta Me No Born Yah
Jah Scotchie – Man Of Creation
Keith Hudson – Satta
Peter Tosh – Here Comes The Judge
Prince Buster – Satta Massa Ganna
Prince Far I – Psalm 2
Winston Wright – Rebelution
Augustus Pablo – Pablo Satta
Augustus Pablo – Satta Dub
Augustus Pablo – Silent Satta
Beverley Bailey – I Was In Love
Big Joe – In The Ghetto
Big Joe – Satta In The Palace

Freddie McGregor – Rasta Have Faith
I Roy – Satta Massaganna
Jah Lloyd – Sata
Johnny Clarke – Satta-Amasa-Gana
Leroy Smart – Jah Is My Light
Leroy Smart – Life Is A Funny Thing
Prince Far I – 354 Skank
Prince Far I – Commandment Of Drugs
Prince Far I – Deck Of Cards
Prince Far I & Black Skin – Armageddon
Prince Jazzbo – Prophet Live
Prince Mohammed – Money Man The Gal Want
Tappa Zukie – Satta
Third World – Satta Massa Ganna
Tommy McCook – Mandela Version
Al Campbell – Jah Army
Jackie Mittoo – Night In Ethiopia
Michael Palmer – Hold Me
Nitty Gritty – Down In The Ghetto
Peter Ranking & General Lucky – Black I Am
Rod Taylor – True History
Norris Reid – Give Jah Praise
Bongo Herman – Thunderstorm
Ranking Trevor – Chanting Home