Darker Shade Of Black Riddim

by Apr 20, 2020

Darker Shade Of Black
Ras Michael
Majestic Anthem

“Darker Shade Of Black” is a Rocksteady instrumental based on the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” melody. But this is not the rather twee recording that this statement might imply. Instead it is a majestic anthem with a deeply spiritual feeling. The recording features Jackie Mittoo on organ and probably Johnny Moore on trumpet, playing the melody in tandem. They are supported by an outstanding riddim track that is greatly enhanced by the repeater drumming of Ras Michael, who was playing on one of his earliest sessions. It is a brilliant recording and even though there have been many excellent cuts of the riddim, it has never been equalled.

Clap-trap Overdubs

Apart from dub cuts, the only other recording of the riddim that has appeared from Studio One is Devon Russell’s “Money Problems”. That is a good record that could have been a lot better, because regrettably the great percussion work on the original has been removed to make way for some rather uninspired clap-trap overdubs.

Jackie Mittoo

Jackie Mittoo (Photographer unknown)

 
Augustus Pablo

Outside of Studio One, one of the first cuts to appear was a Leonard Chin production featuring Augustus Pablo’s atmospheric clavinet playing. Herman Chin-Loy also recut the riddim for several instrumental cuts including a horns version by Sound Unlimited, a guitar version by James Eastwood and a melodica version by Pablo.

Lloyd Barnes

One of the best recuts of the riddim is by Lloyd Barnes, who issued two excellent versions on his Wackies label; Jezreel’s “Love Of My Life” and Jah Batta’s “Youthman School”. Lloyd Barnes’ productions have consistently been both strong and imaginative, and like all the great producers he has the knack of drawing the best performances from an artist. It’s a pity that his productions remain so under-rated.

Pass The Tu Sheng Peng

The riddim enjoyed its greatest popularity when Frankie Paul’s excellent “Pass The Tu Sheng Peng” became a massive hit. Version after version of the riddim followed including a whole album of the riddim. “Ram Jam Master”, a Conrad Greed production, featuring a number of imaginative performances over an early electro cut of the riddim. Furthermore Steely & Clevie released an album on the riddim, “Brainwave”, which includes Singing Melody’s excellent “Shower Me With Your Love”.

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

 

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

Jackie Mittoo – Darker Shade Of Black
Dub Specialist – Darker Black
Augustus Pablo – Harder Shade Of Black
Augustus Pablo – The Red Sea
Dennis Brown – Yagga Yagga
Dirty Harry & Santic Allstars – Better Shade Of Dub
James Eastwood – Darkest Night
Sounds Unlimited – Darker Shade Of Red
Willie Lindo – Darker Shade Of Black
Jackie Mittoo – Darker Shades
Revolutionaries – Angola
Trinity – King Of Kings
Val Bennett – Dark Shades Of Africa
Ashanti Waugh – I Love Jah So
Barry Brown – Promises

Charlie Chaplin – Face To Face
Charlie Chaplin – There Is A Green Hill
Early B – Gone Mexico
Frankie Paul – Pass The Tu Sheng Peng
Frankie Paul – Slave Driver
Jah Batta – Youthman School
Jezzreel – Love Of My Life
Jimmy Roots – Slave Driver
Leroy Sibbles – Dance Hall Style
Lone Ranger – Jennifer Lee
Roland Alphonso – Brighter Shade Of Roots
Sanchez – Sound Clash
Shinehead – Good Love Tonight
Sugar Minott – I Know Them Love It
Sugar Minott – Rockers Master
Willi Williams – The Elements
Devon Russell – Money Problem

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