Earth & Stone: All Through The Years (The Interview) – Part 1

by Jan 3, 2024Articles, Interview

Interview with Earth & Stone

Where: Somewhere in the US
When: About 2009
Reporter: Peter I
Photos: Courtesy of Albert Bailey & Clifton Howell, Pekka Vuorinen, and the respective record companies (labels/sleeves)
Copyright:  2024 – Peter I

The question is, even today, if that ‘sound’ isn’t unequalled and unchallenged by any Jamaican recording studio with the exception of Mr. Dodd’s headquarters at the former Brentford Road. The sound of Channel One. Channel One was boss in the mid seventies, and their artists blossomed with the excellent in-house band the Channel owners, Jo Jo and Ernest Hookim, had assembled – the Revolutionaries. One of the most prominent of Channel One acts was named Earth & Stone. A duo, highly regarded, celebrated, but still overlooked mainly due to their ‘mysterious’ disappearance from the scene in the early 1980s, Earth & Stone, consisting of lead singer Clifton Howell and second lead/harmony Albert Bailey, take it all in from their American base.

They are aware of what the music caused at the time, and what should have happened for them. But it didn’t. Perhaps with a degree of bitterness, but mostly joy, they reveal their story in a lengthy discussion which you can read below. My thanks to: Albert Bailey & Clifton Howell for a most enjoyable conversation, Kevin Bailey, Carlton Hines, Kalcidis, Erwin, Tim P, Laurent Pfeiffer, Teacher & Mr T, and Steve Barrow.

Go back to your early days, please, your family background and so on. You are both born in Kingston?
Clifton: No. I was born in St. Catherine. Glengoffe, St. Catherine.

Albert: And I, Albert, was born in Kingston, in the heart of Jamaica (chuckles).

Both sang from an early age?
Clifton: Well, I used to do some singin’ in the choir at the age of maybe seventeen, eighteen. For actually maybe about two years or so we used to go to churches all over the place, y’know, with the choir. I do some maybe… what you call it, group thing. But otherwise from that, I always be singin’.

Albert: Well, as for me, singin’ to me just came naturally. I didn’t have any opportunity to sing in a choir or to sing in a church group or, y’know, to affiliate myself to sing with any church, so far. You know, as a kid we go (to) Sunday school, but never really affiliated to a point where we were called upon to do things so I could say I used to sing in church. I didn’t even know that was a choirman (laughs)!

Clifton: (Laughs) Yeah! Back in the days, Bert!

Albert: (Laughs) You understan’, so… Me, I didn’t really have a formal training in the early days.

Would you both say that, looking back from the early times in Jamaica up to even now in a sense, from all the musical talents we got from Jamaica, it seems like most of you are nurtured and shaped from an early stage, musically, from a churchical aspect. That’s the central place, learning the rudiments and getting a start in singing, or it generally came from somewhere else?
Albert: I can respond to that in the sense of now that the knowledge that I have, y’know, I have seen and realised that many of the early talented artists, many of them had their roots in churches. That was really where they started, started singin’ and playing instruments. So I would confirm that. And just as Clifton said, he used to sing in the choir, I didn’t even know that (laughs)!

Clifton: Right!

Albert: So them do, that’s where Clifton got a start. Yeah.

Ten Years Ago
So how did you meet up, what was the circumstances how you both met and got to know each other?
Clifton: Well, I was like walking one day and singin’, a guy heard me and said “Oh man, you sound good! I’m interested in forming a group” an’ t’ing like that, and I said “Oh, yeah? Well, all right, meet me…”. We meet up one day, so one evening we get together, started a lickle singin’ t’ing without music or any t’ing like that. Then he told me he know this guy that can sing, which is Albert he was talkin’. So he introduced me to him, and that’s where we started.

What year are we talking about, neighborhood? Where did you live at the time, both?
Albert: OK, both of us were living in Kingston. He was living, I think, in the eastern part while I was living in the west. So we were able to… I contac’ him through a female friend of mine, who knew that I loved singin’, and she was the one that Clifton spoke about. And she said she would introduce me to him, which she did. From there the link was made, there we started. Yeah.

Did you start to write your own material from the beginning there, or it was mainly covers, chart music, popular songs you rehearsed?
Albert: I could interject here that we started with original songs. We had written a song ‘If love was like ice cream I would be the ice cream man’…

Clifton: (Laughs)

Albert: ‘If your heart was like stone I would be the hammer…’. It was our original song.

Clifton: Yeah, you remember that song, Bert (lots of laughter)!

Albert: A lickle bit, yeah (chuckles).

So that was the earliest effort…
Albert: It was Clifton lyrics, y’know!

Clifton: Right, right (laughs)! Yeah, that was an early attempt.

Albert: But we started out with original songs, not adoptions.

What would you both point to as your early influences, because naturally you have to start from somewhere before you find your own voice, your own pattern and expression?
Clifton: Yeah. My idol was like Delroy Wilson, that was my guy. I used to love his music at that time.

But your vocal style doesn’t remind me much of Delroy’s…
Clifton: No, I don’t really pattern him really, y’know, we come with our what you say original style, really.
Albert: Well, my personal group in my early days that I used to love to sing the songs, it was the Impressions. The Impressions was my group, I used to sing a lotta those songs. That’s how people used to recognise my talent by hearing me singin’ these songs and realise ‘this guy have talent’. So it’s obvious that we sing Delroy Wilson songs, we all have our lickle artist that we love and we choose to sing their song more than any other song.

But considering the first name there, The Officials, was that actually the first name you came up with?
Albert: Oh, you know that name too (laughs)?! OK.

Clifton: Must’ve been listening to us for a long time then, Bertie (laughs)?

Albert: Yeah, yeah.

Clifton: Yeah (laughs)! Yes! Who came up with that name again? Bertie, you was the one who created that name, right?

Albert: I was the one who created the name, y’know, The Officials. I don’t know how I come up with or completed that name though! Yeah, The Officials.

Clifton: (Laughs) Right. And we did… how many songs we did under that name, really?

Albert: Well, we did ‘Ten Years Ago’ was the first song, and we did another song with Coxson that never released, the song that we did, ‘Babylonian’ for Dynamics…

Clifton: Oh, OK. Yeah, yeah.

Albert: ‘Irie Irie’, ‘Irie irie, you got to be irie’, you remember that song?

Clifton: Yes! Mmm.

Albert: Yes, those songs was released as The Officials. I can remember those songs were released.

Johnny Clarke - Strickly Reggae Music
Did it take long before you felt ready to approach the companies, a producer? Was Coxson actually the first one you went to?
Albert: Let me come in here. You know, the first person we went to – we were very delous, with the song called ‘Your Love Is Like Ice Cream’, and we went to Duke Reid, Treasure Isle.

Clifton: Oh yeah, right!

Albert: And in those days, y’know, a hundred people would be there! You thought a hundred men would be there, groups, for an audition.

That was a regular Sunday gathering for the Duke.
Albert: Right, yeah. And we went there with that song. When we started we didn’t have any musical background, I mean knowledge in the sense of playing music and singing with music, so we were just doing our t’ing from a arbitrary state without any real knowledge. And we just started singin’ and Duke Reid just turn we out, y’know. We were so disappointed that Sunday, because they par us (laughs).

Clifton: (Chuckles) Right!

Albert: And so from there we went back to the drawing board. We never make another move. We started rehearsing and made some friends teach us the guitar and started to learning, to play some rhythm. We were never making another move again ’til we were more developed on a higher level before we went back.

Did you have any friends inside the business at the time who could assist you in any way?
Albert: Well, to be truthful, we didn’t have no connections. We didn’t have no connection, but we eventually met a little group that was a little bit advanced in their playing of the guitar. But apart from that, we had no connections.

Clifton: We started with a beginner book, remember?

Albert: You know… Yes! Right. When we bought that guitar we bought it with a beginner book. And that’s how we start out. Nobody never taught us anything. We just started from that, with our feel and enthusiasm into the music. We make special effort to learn as much as we could.

You had both left home and went out to earn a living at this point?
Clifton: I learned plumbing. So, during doing the music I was doing plumbing also. I went to a school, went two years there, graduated and then came out as an advance apprentice and was doing plumbing all the way. So the music only come on, like, evening time and weekends.

As a hobby at first, then it turned, became serious business.
Clifton: Right.

Albert: As for me, when I know Clifton (chuckles)… when I met Clifton I was, like, about eighteen plus, I don’t think I had reached nineteen yet. So we were young and we were green.

Clifton: Yeah. I am what, I am a year older than you?

Albert: Right, yeah. So we were fresh, young men, y’know. So we had the same enthusiasm, the same feel and hunger for the music. And we did work hard, we had no trainers to say well, then we had the opportunity where we had certain people to train us and helped us develop. We didn’t have that. Everything was just done naturally. We just worked hard and create our own style and developed our own t’ing.

Right. So the Officials now, did you ever feel that ‘we need a third voice, more harmony here’, like? A third voice to add something to the sound.
Albert: (Silence) Well, me answer that, Clifton (chuckles)?

Clifton: Yeah, yeah, you can answer that.

Albert: All right. You see, originally we started out with a third man, and that third man… his talent was very poor. When we started, we continued with the both of us until we did this first song ‘Ten Years Ago’, we did carry a third person on it. You understan’, we had a third person who sing the harmony…

Who was that?
Albert: A friend of us named… lets call him ‘Todd’, y’know (chuckles). He did a couple of songs for himself after a while, right. So he did harmony on that song. But then after that we just decided ‘lets keep it as a duo’, because we had a good vibes. We had a good vibe. We make other effort, I remember once we took in two other guys in the group, and we started trying a t’ing. But we didn’t feel that vibes with them, so we just keep the original vibes. He understand my voice, I understand his voice. We had that kinda bond and understanding. But we didn’t really strive for a third person.

Now, Clifton’s voice at the forefront, lead singing on most of the songs, that was how it was from the start, it came up early?
Clifton: Just happened naturally.

Albert: (Chuckles) It happened naturally. It was the start of the Officials, that’s how we just… it’s that sound we create. We created a sound, we just stick to that sound. It wasn’t nothing to say well, then… we never had a problem! We never had a problem, nobody start a revolution.

image host
Studio One, 13 Brentford Road, Kingston 5, Jamaica (Photo: Pekka Vuorinen)

What brought you over to Coxson, same thing as with Duke Reid, basically?
Clifton: Well, I think Coxson – he used to have his audition on Sundays, which I think was more easier for us to really go to. So the first time we went to him, then he accepted us. And from there on we did a few songs for him, but he only released one.

‘Ten Years Ago’.
Clifton: Mmm, and from there we started – we had a break in that period, we had a break and didn’t do anything for a while after that one song. But we used to harmonize for a guy by the name of Ronnie Davis. So he took us to this studio, which is Channel One, and he told the guy Jo Jo (Hookim) that we were good singers. Then he said OK, he want to hear us. And that’s how we started singing for… We did the first song and he got interested, and that’s how we started out.

Before we move too fast now, who backed you up on ‘Ten Years Ago’? Albert, you mentioned it last week, I think Gladdy (Anderson) was in the band at Studio One?
Albert: Well, I was the one who made the riddim track. Clifton was there when they laid the riddim track, so he would be able to tell you the musicians (chuckles). Those days Leroy Sibbles was playing bass, right. Leroy play bass on that song, and the same guy you reminded me of, ‘Horsemouth’ (Leroy Wallace), I remember clearly now that he was the drummer. I remember this guy, I think it’s Gladdy Wilson, that he was the piano player. Those are the guys I can remember keenly. I’m trying to remember if one of those Heptones guys used to play, the other one named Barry (Llewellyn). Because all three guys used to be in the studio working, yunno. All three, the guys in the Heptones. In those days they were employed by Studio One. Studio One had a band that was employed. Every day they came to work and just lay riddim tracks. So I can remember those guys clearly when we laid that track, I may not remember the rest. If I’m not mistaken Barry was the one who played rhythm gits, he was the rhythm guitar player.

How do you remember the atmosphere at Studio One?
Albert: Well, we were still green, we were at the early stage. Because I tell you, when we went there Coxson liked the song and right away he required us to come and record it. But then going inside there to sing among these guys, it was nice to finally lay a riddim track, yunno (chuckles). I spent six long weeks at the studio just to lay that track, to lay it and mix. I gave up everything… I was learning electrical work and I gave it up just to get to the studio every day to get that riddim laid, the riddim track. And so I was there so often till some of the guys sent me to shop, sent me to buy things out of the store till someone said ‘let go da yout’ ya’ (laughs). Yeah man, and I was glad to be working alongside these guys and get that riddim done.

Clifton: And that was a joy (laughs)!

Albert: Yeah man, to know that the riddim was done and make that record.

But you said that Coxson didn’t do anything more than that 45? You didn’t hear anything more so it was no point in staying there.
Albert: Coxson… Right now, we didn’t feel that he gave us any justice.

Clifton: Right.

Albert: We didn’t get justice, brethren (chuckles). No justice, so there was no desire to continue with this guy. ‘Cause this guy… Let me tell you, Peter. That guy, in those days, yunno, as a producer, those men sling them big .38 done, y’know.

Clifton: (Chuckles)

Albert: And if an artist would come around and act like him war against…

Clifton: Rude boy style.

Albert:… he would beat up a guy, yunno!

Clifton: Yeah (laughs)!

Albert: And gun-butt him, y’know what I mean? So it wasn’t a nice-nice man when you hear someone talk about Clement Dodd. Dodd was a very hostile guy, yunno.

He knocked out Joe Higgs one time when he asked for money.
Clifton: Oh, yeah (chuckles)?

Albert: So you know what I’m talking about then. You know, those guys are bad-bad. Dodd wasn’t popular. And when a man have a .38 in his waist, he was a very powerful man.

Clifton: Yep.

Albert: (Laughs)

Clifton: (Chuckles)

Albert: So with knowing that we didn’t have any interest, to stick around a guy like that.

The Officials – Ten Years Ago

The Officials – Distant Drums

The Officials – Babylonian

Pretty much the same story with the Duke, the ex-policeman, walking around with guns in his waist.
Clifton: Yeah.

Albert: He used to walk with a gun in his holster just like a cowboy, with bullets right around his waist. And he travelled with a shotgun. So every morning when he reached his store and stepped out of that vehicle – he used to drive a Buick, a Buick Skylark… You remember that car?

Albert: When he stepped out of that car morning-time, he step out with a gun in his holster with bullets right around his waist, like a cowboy, with a shotgun over his shoulder. I can remember, because that area I grew up in. And his ten fingers have rings.

Clifton: (Chuckles)

Albert: Ten fingers with gold! That was a man whe punch up, beat up artists big time. Beat them up. Yeah, ’cause those guys were gunmen.

What inspired that song by the way, ‘Ten years ago I was suffering by the hands of those wicked men…’?
Albert: Go ahead, Clifton.

Clifton: Aaahhhh…

Albert: (Chuckles)

Clifton: You know, I think it’s the politics.

Albert: (Laughs)

Clifton: To be frank with you, even though we were young, never been associated with it, but I think that’s the influence.

It was cut back in 1972, the year of the Jamaican elections which the PNP won, maybe that was one influence of its ‘political’ nature? You had a story about that too, Albert?
Albert: Yeah, yeah. You see, the Jamaica Labour Party that was in power all the years, and this guy came on the scene, Michael Joshua Manley. We felt he was a better leader. We saw a glimpse of hope in Michael Manley. And so we did the song, ‘Ten years ago I was suffering under the hands of these wicked men…’. You know, ‘now I am free, man and man a go live life now…’ (laughs).

Clifton: (Chuckles)

Albert: (Laughs) ‘It was sufferation, gotta have decision, man and man a go live life now…’ – it was the politics whe really influence da lyrics deh. Yes, definitely.

But nothing became of it, it just died out?
Clifton: No, I heard it on the radio quite a few times when it just released, but nothing much came of it.

OK. So from there, as you said earlier, you had a break for a while until you linked up with Ronnie Davis then. Ronnie used to sing with the Tennors at that time, still, didn’t he, or he was solo?
Clifton: Yeah, he was solo at that time.

Ronnie Davis
Albert: After we take that rest, after that ‘pause’ at Coxson’s, we didn’t put aside The Officials, we still – we did a big song within that period between Coxson and Channel One. We did ‘Ire Ire’, ‘Bunch of Babylonians’ (aka ‘Babylonians’) – you remember that song?

Clifton: Yeah!

Albert: And we also did a song for Lee Perry, when he changed our name from the Officials to The Ark (chuckles). We still did something in-between that period of Coxson and…

Clifton: Yeah. Right, I forgot about that.

What was the title for the song for Scratch?
Albert: Man…? I have no… I cyaan remember, I don’t remember it.

Clifton: Me neither.

Albert: But it was a nice song, y’know. He changed our name because his studio, it was the (Black) Ark. (Chuckles) And so he didn’t like the name The Officials, so him say ‘lets call it with the name ‘The Ark’. So that felt like we were worthy of his studio name, so he must have felt we had some talent, you understan’, fe really name us offa the studio. Yeah.

Albert: But our original name was ‘Jailhouse Set Me Free’, because that song was born out of a horrific experience that Clifton had. And I don’t know if Clifton could share the experience right now…

Clifton: No, but I tell you what, Bert! No, my experience was after the song, remember?

Albert: Oh, it was after the song?!

Clifton: Yeah!

Albert: So it was like a prophecy…

Clifton: Exactly! (both laughing out loudly) Yes!

Albert: It was a prophecy, brethren!

Clifton: Mmm.

Albert: Tell him what you went through.

Clifton: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was living at Rose Lane at that time, just a block from Albert, and one evening I was at the gate and some cops came up, put me and another guy to lay down and tried to get us to lay on the asphalt with a gun in our back an’ t’ing like that. I refused to lay down so they start to… they tried to beat me up an’ t’ing like that. But there was a lot of people, a lot of people was there so they couldn’t do much. But anyway, they took us down to the station, locked me up for a night. Then I told him who I was and they sort of didn’t believe me but I said all right, call such and such people, they did and then they realised I was telling the truth so the next day they set me free. So they realised seh ‘oh man, I was locking up the wrong person’. So that was my experience. But it was just like the song said, believe me.

And that song, ‘Babylonian’ for Dynamic, came out produced by Niney.
Albert: (Much laughter between the two) Niney was a guy… Niney was like a middle-man, yunno.

So back to the move to Channel One now. You mentioned Ronnie Davis being instrumental in bringing you there originally. What became of the first meeting with Jo Jo?
Albert: Well, after we met Jo Jo and Jo Jo listened to us, y’know, we had an audition first and they listen to us, he didn’t allow us to finish the song. As we started the song and reached a part of it, he stopped us and said, “Well all right then, come and record”. And we went into the studio, laid the riddim track… the same week we went there we laid the riddim track, the same week we went and voiced it. And when we voiced the song, man, the song was a bomb!

What was the…?
Albert: (Laughs) You know, ‘Jailhouse Set Me Free’.

Albert: Yeah! He release it as ‘Jah Will Cut You Down’, that’s the name he put on it, right?

Clifton: Right! That’s the title.

Jah Will Cut Us Down
Why did they change the title to ‘Jah Will Cut You Down’, I think that’s the most common name of the song?
Clifton: You think you have any idea of that, Bert?

Albert: It was done by the producer, yunno, ca’ we didn’t even know that this song release until we see it on the record, ‘Jah Will Cut You Down’. So that was the producer who did it deliberately. I believe there was this song ‘Jailhouse’, people decide to call it ‘Jailhouse Rock’ too, yunno. You remember?

Clifton: Right.

Albert: Everyone want to call it ‘Jailhouse Rock’, but then I didn’t even know that you did have a whole other hit song name ‘Jailhouse Rock’…

Clifton: Elvis Presley, yeah.

Albert: So I guess that’s why they really change the name to ‘Jah Will Cut You Down’. ‘Cause we used a part that – the lyrics we had in the song was ‘Jah Jah will soon cut you down, and the more you’ll be around, you a gone a’ready…’. That’s why even that song is so hot for that time.

Maybe they felt it was more power, or powerful, to use that title instead to make an impact on the people, ‘Jah Will C U T You Down’.
Clifton: Yeah, maybe so.

So this is actually the first release by the group for the Hookims, ‘Jah Will Cut You Down’, circa 1975?
Albert: For Channel One.

Clifton: Yeah, for Channel One, yes.

It was a smash.
Clifton: Yeah. Well, it was number one. On the local market it was number one. For foreign, I think it did pretty good too. And that’s our biggest hit for Channel One.

I mean, at this time, you weren’t even called The Officials. What brought about the change to ‘Earth & Stone’ (chuckles)? Was that something Jo Jo had a say about?
Clifton: Yeah, he was the one who created that name, yunno, Earth & Stone. He was the one who gave us the name.

Albert: I remember when we went to Channel One we were known as The Ark.

Clifton: Right, OK.

Albert: As for ‘The Officials’, it was changed now by Lee Perry to The Ark. And so when we did that song we were named The Ark, and the night after we rehearsed that song and we recorded that song, Jo Jo was taking us home. And he had a girlfriend in his car, and so he was contemplating a name. And she said, “Why not call them Earth & Fire?” So that night while we were driving in the car, we essentially said ‘Yeah! Earth & Fire’. So we eventually come to an agreement that Earth & Fire would be a good name, and we really settled for Earth & Fire. But then now, when the song was released, we see that they change it to Earth & Stone, unknown to us. He said he was talking to some people and they said “Why not seh Earth & Stone?”

Clifton: Right (chuckles).

Albert: And he said that that sounded better and he changed it to Earth & Stone. Well, when we saw it we accepted it, ’cause it was a good name, Earth & Stone. So that’s how the name came about, at Channel One.

It’s a memorable name.
Albert: Yeah.

The Ark – Forgive I

Earth & Stone – Jailhouse Set Me Free

And you used some of the best, if not t h e best, studio musicians on the island at the time, the Revolutionaries. Who was in the band at this time, circa ’75?
Albert: Well, I can tell you this. Sly Dunbar was the drummer at the time. This guy… whe him name…? God, he was the…

Clifton: Dougie (Bryan)?

Albert: Dougie was the bass player…

No, probably guitar.
Clifton: Was the guitarist.

Albert: Dougie was the guitarist.

Maybe Ranchie (McLean)?
Albert: Ranchie was the bass guitar player, man. Ranchie was bass player. This guy now…?

Clifton: Ansel Collins?

Albert: Ansel Collins was the keyboards, man, and… Who again…?

Clifton: Sticky (Thompson) was the percussionist.

Albert: Ansel Collins, Sly Dunbar, percussionist was my guy deh, man… whe used to sing, him and Alton Ellis when he started early as a group deh… Whe dem name again, man…?

Clifton: Flames (Winston Jarrett)?

Albert: No, I don’t remember him name, man. But it was a very good guy, the guy who used to play the percussion.

Albert: I can remember those four guys though. I can remember the keyboard man, Ansel Collins. I remember… You know, Gladdy (Anderson) is the guy, Gladdy was with them too? Yea, Gladdy was playing piano, Ansel Collins on the keyboard, Ranchie on the bass, Sly Dunbar on the drum, Dougie playing guitar. Yea, those were the guys, and the guy playing percussion. Robbie (Shakespeare) didn’t hook up as yet. In those times Sly and Robbie didn’t link up as yet. It wasn’t long after that before Sly and Robbie linked up.

Sly used to play at a club on Red Hills Road called Tit For Tat.
Albert: Yeah, they used to have a band, ’cause all those guys played together in a band. At that time Ranchie was the lead guitarist in that band. When I went to Channel One I saw him playing bass. ‘Cause when I saw Ranchie he was a very crucial lead guitar player, y’know.

Would you even stretch it to call Ranchie the band leader at the studio at this time?
Albert: Well, all those guys were good musicians, and I don’t know, to be truthful, who I could say would be the leader. Because they were all – they all played the major part. All those guys were professional guys in their own right.

Channel One
Maxfield Avenue where the studio was located, later on it was noted as being one of the heaviest areas in Kingston for heavy violence, and it was pretty heavy to get into that area even then? I believe that’s where the violence escalated.
Albert: All those areas was crucial areas, man (chuckles). Violence was regular. But as young men we didn’t really have that fear, no.

Clifton: It didn’t bother us at all.

Albert: No. (Chuckles) It’s music and a lot of people know us as singers, so we never really fear. Every man know us as singers, so we know seh well, we weren’t involved in any crime an’ violence. We’re just singers, man, so we no really worry ’bout the violence. But we were living like – I and Clifton were living in Rose Lane, and Rose Lane was more like a borderline between, like, anything from up to where Clifton was living was seen as, y’know, from a certain party. And from below my area go down would be seen as the other political party. But the point is that, we had never been involved with any political thing whereby anybody could say ‘Earth & Stone is this’ or ‘Earth & Stone is that’. We were just men who would be seen as – just music! So even as that, we didn’t allow the division and the political borders to really – ’cause we used to rehearse all up in a the Concrete Jungle too, yunno, it’s a dominant JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) area. We used to enter there an’ rehearse, man, ’cause we had love for the music. We used to go all Tivoli Gardens an’ listen music, man, dance an’ everyt’ing. So we didn’t really have a fear of the political divide.

When you worked at Channel One, was there talk immediately after ‘Jailhouse’/’Jah Will Cut You Down’ hit the charts that they wanted to do an album, or did that come up much later, like some years after that they wanted to compile an album?
Clifton: I think I heard after another song or two the idea of doing the album, that it came up. Yeah, I think that’s what it was, Bert, right?

Albert: Yeah, about that time, maybe that or the next year or so. I remember that time.

But that first and only album for Channel One came out in ’79 and you began to record in like ’75, so it took some time before the album was ‘realised’ so to speak.
Clifton: Mmm.

Albert: Looking back, it was like about… yeah, like maybe about two years after we did ‘Jailhouse Set Me Free’ that they decide to come out with a LP release after that. And at that period they released this song ‘Run Home’, remember? He release ‘Run Home’ 45 again, and after ‘Run Home’ then we did ‘Three Wise Men’ on 45 again. And it was from there now we were told about this guy, Jo Jo said that this guy want an album of Earth & Stone. We came to some agreement and we started to work on the album. All of those songs I mentioned was released on 45. Even though, Peter, we still feel that Jo Jo didn’t give us justice. We feel that we were going to prove that we were held back. Why? I don’t know, but we were proven that we didn’t get justice from Jo Jo, Channel One’s owner. It was always that he was having us on hold. I don’t know why. And I believe we had gotten… All of the days with the Diamonds were having a whole heap a songs he released. Jo Jo sit on our songs, only God knows why, man.

Maybe because he got a major deal for the (Mighty) Diamonds on Virgin in England for the ‘Right Time’ album, to focus on them at the time. But who can say?
Clifton: Yes.

Albert: Maybe at the time Jo Jo had a contrac’ with Virgin Record with the Diamonds, so more emphasis was placed on them. But I’m looking at it from a point of view where Diamonds were Diamonds, Earth & Stone was Earth & Stone.

Clifton: Right, right.

Albert: So there should be nutten whe Earth & Stone is holding down the Diamonds, ’cause is two different groups. You know, we were different from Diamonds – Diamonds had their own style, we had our own style. Our lyrics were different from Diamonds lyrics. We were a group that believe that we should stick to the original stuff and we created that. Most of our songs are original stuff. You understan’, original, because we believe in being creative, not just come on the bandwagon half-born an’ sing a guy’s song. Even though we had done a few songs in the later part, like ‘Satta Massa Gana’, ‘Ain’t That Loving You’ and ‘Black Magic Woman’, those three songs are the songs we can think about that we did. Oh, we did two songs with Mrs Pottinger, right?

Clifton: Right, right.

Albert: It was a rendition again. But apart from that, Earth & Stone was a group that believed in being original. We’re creative, we don’t believe in jumping on a guy’s song and sing.

(Continue reading Part 2)