Heavenless Riddim

by Jan 15, 2020

Don Drummond

Don Drummond’s “Heavenless” is one of only a few Reggae riddims that go back to the very origins of Reggae music – the Ska era. Why this should be so, shows the very dynamic changes that Jamaica’s popular music has undergone.

Don Drummond

The Ska bass lines, coming out of the R&B era of the U.S, could not be easily fitted into the slower Rock Steady riddim. So the bass playing in the music changed – the bass itself became the lead instrument. And in a short space of time it was quickly discovered that the simple bass lines were always the most popular – especially in the dance hall – which brings us back to “Heavenless”, one of the most simple but devastating bass lines known to mankind. Lloyd Brevett, if it was he who originated it, should be given some award for its creation! Likewise that great man Don Drummond who blew his trombone over it.

​Johnny Osbourne

Like some undiscovered treasure, “Heavenless” stayed in Coxsone’s tape store for some 15 years before he decided to version it. When he did dig it out, he overdubbed new percussion and drum parts and then turned it over to Johnny Osbourne, the Dance Hall master lyricist, who gave us two cuts, “Murderer” and the much more serious “Unity”. Both of them were very popular, yet it’s a shame that the likes of “Murderer” are not appreciated more. Also on the Studio One label are cuts from Prince Jazzbo and Jim Brown, a deejay duo, “Music Maker” from Willie Williams, and a great deejay cut from the Lone Ranger using the well-loved “Keep On Coming A The Dance” theme, for its title and inspiration.

Roots Radics

At the same time as Coxsone was releasing his cuts, other producers finally got around to cutting the riddim. An early big hit of the riddim came from Tristan Palma, who at the time was working very well with deejay/producer Jah Thomas. Their “Entertainment” was in fact very entertaining! Using a very well built Roots Radics riddim.

Wildest Cut

The wildest cut to date must be Sugar Minott and Charlie Chaplin’s “Four Wheel Wheelie”, produced by Tad Dawkins. Even though the style of singer of singer/deejay combinations is very popular at the moment, nothing has really been produced that betters their view of the transport crisis. Other cuts that cannot be ignored are the extremely rough and ragga “Elementary” from Horace Andy. And one of the very best of them all – Half Pint’s “Greetings” produced by George Phang using a powerful pounding riddim from Sly & Robbie. For more cuts in this style you just must check “Final Mission”, an LP also produced by George. Listen out for the still upcoming Conroy Smith singing about the “Indian Lady”, Al Campbell’s militant “One Away Soldier” and Junior Delgado’s “Hold Me Tight” to name just a few tracks.

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


Selected tunes from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s & ’90s :

Don Drummond – Heavenless
Asher Senator – To Whom Respect Is Due
Charlie Chaplin – Que Dem
Charlie Chaplin – What Kind Of Girl
Cocoa Tea – Can’t Stop Cocoa Tea
Cornell Campbell – Got To Tell The People
Dennis Brown – Your Loves Gotta Hold On Me
General Trees – Horseman Style
Horace Andy – Elementary
Horace Andy – Strictly Rub A Dub
Horace Ferguson – Great Stone
Hugh Griffiths – Chant Down Babylon
Johnny Osbourne – Check For You
Johnny Osbourne – Murderer
Johnny Osbourne – Unity
Johnny Ringo – New Yorker
Josey Wales – The World Is Like A Mirror
Leroy Sibbles – Only With You
Lone Ranger – Keep On Coming A The Dance
Big Youth – Survival Plan
Anthony Malvo – Nuh Sell Yu Self
Courtney Melody – Roots Man Corner
Danny Dread – Humane Mechanic
Dennis Brown – Love’s Gotta Hold On Me
Earl Cunningham – Get Ready
Frankie Jones – Niceness
Frankie Paul – 16 Lovers
Jimmy Riley – Try Again
Linval Thompson – Touch Up The Key
Pad Anthony – Love Just A Flow

Bobby Ellis – Mini Bus Rock
Luie Lepki – Jamaica A Fi Me Country
Maxi Priest – Sensi
Mikey Dread – Radix Revenge
Mikey Dread – River Nine Style
Phillip Levi – Mi God Mi King
Prince Jazzbo & Jim Brown – Kechi Shubi
Ranking Joe – Pink Eye
Ranking Joe & Jah Screw – Up Town Special
Smiley Culture – Entertainer Entertainer
Sugar Minott – Herbman Hustling
Sugar Minott & Charlie Chaplin – Four Wheel Wheelie
The Melodians – Warning
Tippa Irie – Complain Neighbour
Toyan – Joyce
Tristan Palma – Entertainment
Jah Thomas – Friday Night Jamboree
Willie Williams – Music Maker
Yellowman – Hunno Fi Move
Yellowman – Rub A Dub Play
Admiral Bailey – Can’t Fool The Woman Again
Robert Ffrench – Meet Me By The River
Lord Sassafras – Galloping Fross
Earl Sixteen – Poverty
Conroy Smith – Ain’t Nothing Going On But The Rent
Dirtsman – Why Threat
Early B – Owner Man
Johnny P – Dollar Drop
U Roy – Jah Jah Call You
Little John – Worries And Trouble
Neville Brown – Trod Along Natty Dreadlocks
Half Pint – Greetings

Check our friends @ Riddim-Id.com for more versions.
Click the image. A new browser window will open.