Keble “Cables” Drummond: What Kind Of World (The Interview) – Part 2

by Feb 5, 2024Articles, Interview

Keble Drummond Interview Pt 2

 


Where: Somewhere in the US
When: 2004
Reporter: Peter I
Photos: Courtesy of Keble Drummond, and the respective record companies (labels/sleeves)
Copyright:  2024 – Peter I


In part two of the interview, Keble Drummond talks about The Cables’ classic song ‘Baby Why’ and lyrical inspiration, working for producers Harry J and Buster Riley, his solo tracks, the obscure ‘Baby Why’ album, and much more.

You’ve been biding your time over the years. You’ve had other incomes, nowadays you’re working at the airport, and back then you earned your living in a shoe-factory I think.
I was working in a shoe-factory in Jamaica, I spent seventeen years of my job-life there. I mean, I think I started on that job when I was about thirteen. Somewhere there along the line, I was young. Thirteen, yeah, I was about thirteen. Yep. Wasting seventeen years and then after a while the factory goes down and I didn’t even get a second job. I have to just fly out. And y’know, I left Jamaica and came to America. I tried to create a new life. I came to New York and haffe just drive the cab, just like that. I had the odd jobs. Then I got to work at American Airlines in ’87, y’know, that was only the best thing that could happen to me.

Because, as you’ve said, you can’t depend on music alone. That would be too hard, it’s too competetive. Only the lucky few lasts, on a regular level.
No, I always think so. I’m always a working man. Because I’m a very independent person, and as I said I love the music but I don’t like to do it if we can’t do better. I don’t like that. So I always try to find out the best way. That’s why Downbeat – for all those that want to work with him, I wish them all the best. I would like to make it, like Beres Hammond. Look how many people carry themselves. Beres Hammond make million sellers, million seller, and didn’t make no money. But he’s hangin’ in there, and who can stop him? Maybe he’s too smart for some a them guys that carry him down earlier, you know what I mean? So I would say ‘The race is not for the swift but those that can endure’. I’ve endured so long now that I’ve decided to make some off it, that’s the way I feel.

Did you do session work for others during the Harry J period for instance, like Lloyd Robinson, Winston Hines, or for his band – what was the band Harry mainly used at this time?
Harry mostly had In Crowd. No, no, no – Harry mostly had… is Duke who had In Crowd…? I don’t remember who Harry had. Harry had a lot of bands, I think it’s the In Crowd guys. Yeah, I think it’s In Crowd guys. Or some of the popular guys, what were some of the… oh, man! I’ve forgotten. But sometime too it’s like he had a pick up band, stuff like that. ‘Cos you had studio musicians that was different from a lot of the regular musicians. You had some guys that just was good at shows and stuff, like the Tit For Tat. I wasn’t doing a lot of harmony work for others, no. I’d do harmony for Lloyd Parks.

How did you come to write ‘Baby Why’ now?
Well, let me tell you what happened in writing the song. It’s a thing about writing songs, you have to think about things that can happen and things that are happening, everyday life around you. You know, everything relates back to what you know, what you see. You know, that’s how it goes in writing. I mean, ‘Baby Why’ definitely has a little truth in it what it spoke about. But a part of it also is the reaction when people broke up relationships. But in those days they wrote a love song because a lot of people do stuff and that tell what they’ve been through. And ‘Baby Why’ has a little touch of a girlfriend of mine. I remember this girlfriend, she was from the countryside and she decided to come live with me and we tried start a life, stuff like that. Something happened and it didn’t work, and then after a while when she realised that she had been playing around, she came back and begging, y’know, say ‘Oh…’. You know, I should forgive her and it started… At that time I was a type of guy that would switch girl, and it doesn’t matter how much you say, whatever. You know, that kind won’t break me, that one… them days. So, is little things people do and stuff I just saw right there what inspire me to write the song. And then that was when I said: ‘Baby baby why, oh why, why did you leave me for another guy…?’ It wasn’t exactly for another guy but I just put in that ‘for another guy’ somehow.

Cables - Baby Why
And it became a classic.
Yeah, it became a classic. I got a lot of feedback through that song, because for every word it is something there which people could relate to. That song helped so many people’s relationships. You know, this man got – I remember I was at the studio down here, I think Tinga (Stewart) and his wife walked in, and Tinga introduced me to his wife. And Tinga said, “You know who is this?” And she shook her head and said no. “Is the Cables”, and he said: “You ever hear that song’Baby Why’, the one weh Amy recorded?”, ‘cos it’s when they used to have problems. And that somehow used to heal, that song. He said, “Keble, that song used to tell what we had”, because they had problems. And that song was saying everything that they needed to hear, and it gave them so much comfort. I remember Peter Austin again, Clarendonians, he and his girlfriend broke up, and that song was something again that meant so much for them. And I mean, people all over always have something to say about that song. Those are the facts there – it happens to everybody. It happens to everybody. So when people hear that it’s like – it’s just so expressive for them that can’t really express it for themselves. You know, I try to write songs that express these things in a simple way, saying the everyday things in different ways. Not just, y’know, the negative stuff or whatever, but say some positive things that people can relate to, every day in life. That’s how I write songs. You have some people, they just listen to the riddim, and you have some people who listen to the lyrics, you have some people who listen to both. I have a song which tells: ‘I have to give you all of my love, for so many years after wasted most of my time, just to prove how much I care, and now you’ve left me and gone your way, the good times we had together is gone, all is gone away…’. You know, the lyrics is coming from that down that line. When you listen to it, when you play those songs it’ll let you understand where I’m coming from, songs from when it hurts. Those songs can be classics too. I think that’s one of the songs Harry had runnin’ off and sent it to England and had it printed. And we had some good harmonies on it also.

For lyrical inspiration, who did you take the most impressions from in those days?
Various stuff. No, I listen to artists and then after a while I decide I wanna do singin’, y’know, I hear them say ‘You know, you can sing, you could do singin”, and stuff like that. And, I decide I would love to write songs, and that’s when I get a course about writing, then I get a little input how to go about it. You know, how to form the words to write it with music, writing the lyrics. And that’s where I started. At first I didn’t know how to get it together, how to do it, but then it’s motivating that way. But wherein, it’s a lot of man I get inspiration from. Music is something I wanted to do, because as a kid I used to play the harmonica. So, it’s something I just wanted to do, and I knew that I wanted to write and I did it and it became like a hobby. I wouldn’t say I was really inspired by other artists. I was inspired in many ways like… You know, in music you listen to a song, it’s like Aretha Franklin? I mean, I would lay in my bed in the morning when they used to play Aretha Franklin, when I listen to her, man, she goes through your body! You know, it’s just the song I loved. It’s many things that inspire me about life, what I know is what you’re gonna hear.

But you pretty much stuck to the same course even when returning to work for Harry J in the mid seventies, Rasta was the happening thing but you kept the love torch burning, by sticking to the same romantic type of lyrics. Not much had changed.
No, I had one song… Yeah, because Rasta lyrics is for just a few, y’know, not the majority, I found out. And Rasta, I liked the Rasta-ism because I grew up amongst some true Rastaman, whose words were real. Those were real Rastaman, I mean spiritual Rastaman. I used to even dance Nyabinghi music because we used to go to those type of things and bang the drums and singin’ Nyabinghi songs and stuff like that. When I was there growing up in Ghost Town I was hangin’ out amongst those people. So, after a while when the Rasta-ism came in, it’s like people would just start adapting themselves to the Rasta cause like some macho-ism. Now with Bob Marley, Bob Marley was a true Rastaman, I can tell anybody that. Because that time, he’s just a quiet, full-time musician, and so inspired. And his thoughts and stuff was all good, we appreciated him. He’s a guy, the little I know about him and seen of him, is that he never turned his back on anybody. If Bob’s driving his car down the street, so many would stop to say something, somebody’s asking him for something, he’s gonna listen, man. It pays to be humble, y’know, and he was a humble guy. So, I didn’t go into the Rasta thing. I wrote one Rasta tune though, and it’s ‘Praise Jah’.

A solo track, yes.
And I wrote it, because if you listen to the words of it wherein you see a lot of the people thought it was about me, and that’s why I put that in where it says: ‘See all them kids starting praise Rasta, hail o Jah, but we know them a wolf in a sheep clothing…’. You know, because a lot of people they locks up their hair but they’re not a Rasta, they’re only a dreadlocks.

Just projecting an image without any sign of, well, any substance behind it.
Yeah! Yes, just an image. They’re just adapting that, and after a while that’s all you could see. And people they used the dreadlocks for many things, you see, a macho, and people think they are badman. Some use it for cover up, to do crime and all a them stuff. So, because I have an understanding of what true Rasta is and what it’s about, is like people are using it, and is all doing anolgy. Because if I was to locks my hair and stuff it would’ve been in the days when the true Rastaman them I used to move ‘mongst. At one time Harry J wanted us to locks our hair…

(Laughs)
Because that was the in-thing, and I said, “No Harry”. I say, “Hey, if I’m makin’ it I’m makin’ it as Cables, to let the people know who I am”. I said, “I wanna be who I am!” I said, “Everybody can’t be a Bob Marley, because Bob Marley is Bob Marley”, and it doesn’t matter how you try. There are some that would locks up their hair, yes, and they make a little fame. But what is happening now? Are they still in fame as them was then? At the time, you had people who does that, but now Rasta – Rasta isn’t now. Is a form of fashion. You understan’ what I’m saying? Because, you find that they are folly players, they have their dreadlocks, you have all different type of… it’s just a fashion, it’s a style, y’know. How many true Rastaman out there, how many of them you can look at and say they are dedicated, true Rastas? You can’t tell. You know, everybody are doing all them stuff, you can’t even get big in a dreadlocks way. So, I didn’t go into it because I know it won’t pay, it won’t pay.

Praise Jah
Right, you even felt that at the time.
Oh yes, I felt it because you see I knew the root of it all, what it’s all about. And it was disgusting, and hurtful, to see this. I know what is true Rastas. So I knew and so I didn’t want to go into this. You know, it’s like a form of religion, and you don’t use a religion. And when people start using Rasta-ism and start act like macho, y’know, I didn’t like it. Because, it’s like I said when those people start using religion and mess up all kinda stuff, you know, from abuse, I mean you name it! You know what I mean? So, like I said I’m different in that way.

So what was the link-up between yourself and Buster Riley, Winston Riley’s brother, for that recording, ‘Praise Jah’?
Winston said he had some riddim and he want me to write something on it, and I wrote it on that riddim. I just wrote that and he had the song ‘Pressure & Slide’, and I did ‘If Only Love Could Last’. I did that and I did another song, I did another song on another label…? ‘Cos on that day I did three songs for him. I did…

‘Keep On Dancing’?
‘Keep On Dancing’! Ahh, you have all the music (laughs)! You’re good! Yes… Yeah, (sings) ‘Keeep on daancing…’, and I…

That was on the Mummy label.
Yeah, I know I did those. I don’t know what becomes of it, ‘cos I didn’t get no money. I did harmony on this music with this guy here… (sings): ‘Run for your life, he’s behind you with a knife, run, run, ruuunnn…’. It was me and him and Ernest, Clarendonian Ernest? Me and him and this guy – I forgot the name of that guy who laid that song…? You remember that music? That was a Winston Riley production (sings the verse). It was a popular music. I mean, when you don’t remember that, somet’ing’s wrong… he he…

(Laughs) I just can’t place it right now, but it’s possible I’ve heard it (it’s actually Jackie Parris on the Mummy label with ‘Run For Your Life’, circa ’79).
I did harmonies on it – and I try to remember that guy, I haven’t seen him, I don’t know what happened to him. He was a good singer too. Yeah, Winston you know – I mean, Buster Riley – my niece has some kids for Buster Riley, Winston’s brother. But Buster Riley just disappeared off the face of the earth. Nobody knows what happened. Like when they know whatever, but nobody knows what happened to him. Nobody, not even my niece who has kids for him! Nobody know what happened to Buster Riley… Not family, nobody knows. He just disappeared off the face of the earth.

When could this have been?
It’s a while, yunno, it’s a while now. What time did I come here…? I came here ’79, and I think it’s in the later seventies, he just disappeared. Nobody know, just disappeared. But he used to pirate too many peoples music.

Maybe that’s why he’s ‘gone’, y’know.
Yeah. He used to pirate music. I was in New York here and some people’s music he just come by in New Jersey and put it out. He didn’t have to do stuff like that, and then he disappeared, man (laughs)! Trust me, nobody heard or knows anything. I know he had houses and all a them stuff, and his houses them just – I remember I asked around ‘What happened to Buster?’ But nobody knows.

Speaking about solo tracks, you didn’t do many, but what about ‘Your Pretty Face’? That was for Bunny Lee’s Jackpot label, early seventies.
‘Your Pretty Face’? I did that for a friend of mine, Harvey – what’s his name… Harvey…? He used to work at RJR radio station. Oh man… That’s his first name. I remember when he was a kid, y’know, the whole family he used to satisfy. We used to laugh at him. You know, his brother cursed him and all that. Yeah, so that was Harvey, his name was. Anyhow, I did it for him, y’know, I did that song for him.

Did it take off?
Yeah, it did a little thing, y’know. It did a little thing, because he used to work at the radio station and we used to get a lot of plays. It takes off to an extent.

‘Imagine Now’ on the Starlight label, remember that one?
‘Imagine Now’? Which one is that…? You know I told you sometime you had music that I don’t even remember what I did (laughs)!

I haven’t heard it though, just know about it through the singles discography.
I don’t remember that one. Maybe if I hear it I would figure it out, because some music… And, I did this one ‘The Twinkle Is Gone’. Which label I did that…? It was Harry J, but I did that one as Eric Fater.

You mean Eric Frater?
Eric Fater. I just created a name basically. And that did good too, I believe it was Harry J’s label. It went good as far as I know.

And ‘Dangerous’ on the Mud label, or Pama in the UK.
‘Dangerous’? Oh yeah, ‘Dangerous’ is a… “Mud” that was my label. That was my label that Pama distribute in England. Yeah.

When did it come out?
Oh, that was in the seventies sometime. I wanna fetch all those tapes, it was eight track I did them on after going on two track and stuff. But I did the ‘Dangerous’ on the ‘Baby Why’ LP, the one I’m supposed to send you. I had ‘Dangerous’ on it and I did it over. I wanna do over ‘Poor People’ and I wanna do over ‘Dangerous’. I might do over a few of those music, because when I’m gonna create a Cables CD, maybe a ‘Best Of The Cables’, or stuff like that, I’m gonna put out music and all Cables music that I possess. And what I don’t have, I’m gonna do over them.

Of your own productions at that time, was there a lot that was never put on 45? You still have most of the master tapes for this stuff?
No, I don’t have much, what I did I put them out. But I have songs written ready to go into the studio, and those songs are pretty good songs. I have a lot of songs written from way back wherein I have the ideas so I can put them together. I have songs written from them time up to now.

And ‘Don’t Play That Song’ on Esbonnie?
OK, that was a do-over. You have that, you’ve heard it?

No, no. It’s listed in a discography though.
You never heard it? OK, I’ll see if I can get it. That’s a Ben E. King song.

Oh, would that be the ‘Don’t Play That Song No More’?
Yeah, but I sang it in a different way, yunno. And you’ve never heard it, right?

Yeah, I think I´ve heard Ben E. King’s version several years back now, but not yours.
OK, my version is good, I arranged it in a different kind of way. I did that song because they did it – we did that and the other music there, what was the other one there you said again…? The Otis Redding song, ‘My Girl’?

Right, with True Experience.
Yeah. Esbonnie, he did those two riddims and those songs wasn’t for me, it was somebody else he wanted to sing that, and I was at the studio the night we met and doing it. Because they didn’t sing it, for some reason I don’t know of. And ‘Don’t Play That Song’, that’s the only way I could sing it the way I did it, because I don’t know why the riddim played was too soft with anybody trying to figure out how to do it the Ben E. King way. So I had to change it up, and sing it on a high pitch. And make it a little kinda versatile, y’know. You will hear it, very versatile music.

What about this Trojan 45 ‘Everybody’s Got A Song To Sing’, a Harry J production from 1975. I haven’t heard the ‘Baby Why’ album that came out two years later, but was this tune included?
No, it’s a do-over song. And I don’t remember which artist it was that Harry J got that record from. It’s a very nice song.

Yes, it is. Who played on it?
I don’t remember the backing players on it, maybe it’s In Crowd or someone like that.

The drum patterns sounds a lot like Carlton Barrett to me. But I think you mentioned the other day that it could be the drummer from Third World – Willie Stewart.
From Third World, yes. Third World – right, that’s the group I was trying to remember, because sometimes you get those kind of blackouts!

(Laughs)
Third World, they played on some of our music, Harry J’s music in particular, yes. Yep, Third World, wow… Some of those songs, some of those guys played on it too. That song is a very nice song. It was a song about (sings): ‘If you think you’ve lost your face in this big ol’ world, and the dreams gone too far away…’. You know, that’s how it starts, the chorus is (sings): ‘Everybody’s got a song to sing…’, and I think it’s Trevor on that – it’s True Experience, right?

Baby Why LP
No, it came out as by the Cables.
OK. That time Trevor – and was me as Cables, yeah, and Bobby. And we did over this music ‘The Salt of the Earth’. You remember ‘The Salt of the Earth’? (sings the verse). And that music, man! You see always the war people bringin’ up the song ‘Do over that song, man! You do over that song now, it’s a sure hit!’ It’s about the soldiers and stuff like that, and I think that was selling good in England too. Because it has the English style.

What about Hugh Madden, you mentioned him before. You did ‘A Sometime Girl’ for him on his Electro imprint.
Yeah, we did a few songs that I don’t even remember all of them. But, I’m gonna aks him to give me that tape, ’cause you know… he will. He even suggested to me a long time ago in Jamaica that “Why don’t you take the tapes and put it out?”

Absolutely. ‘Happy End’ was another one on the SEP label, remember that one?
‘Happy End’? I don’t remember that one, we did so many songs I don’t remember them. And I don’t have the record. People always come and want the record and you give them a record and you never get it back.

‘Baby I Love You’ on the World Wide label was another title, produced by Errol & Hylton. I think this was a guy who used to work for Joe Gibbs, the guy Errol?
‘Baby I Love You’, that was Carl Dawkins music, right? Yeah, Carl Dawkins (sings): ‘Baby I love you, but you’ve gone away, I’m gonna get you one of these days, oh I love you…’ – that one? Something like that, that’s Carl Dawkins. Because Carl did those music for Harry, we did over some of those for Harry J. Yeah, he did an LP with some of those music for Harry J, but it didn’t go out. And I think Harry was giving away that music. Harry was giving me a tape with this music all the time, and for some reason I didn’t end up taking it. You know, them time you didn’t figure that was important, but after a while it started to be. Now I would have the master tapes for those, all my music them. ‘Cos we didn’t think it was important at this time.

Tell me about the sessions for that ‘Baby Why’ album.
Well, we were just doing music as part of Cables comeback, y’know, for the album, and he wanted to make the album ‘What Kind of World’. And he had the artwork, man, that was the artwork for ‘What Kind of World’ and he claimed he didn’t like that because the artwork was, like, the guy create such a unique thing because it was shown like them time in South Africa with people suffering, and all kinds of stuff and he created that with those type of things that it looked so great. Just the artwork alone, people would go wild when seeing that album. And then he said, “Oh, now we put ‘Baby Why'” – because ‘Baby Why’ was a hit. And he did that.

Who did you work with on the album?
On the ‘Baby Why’ album? The same In Crowd guys them, and different, different guys. Maybe some of Third World guys. It’s all a mixture of different bands, not just one band.

And this album wasn’t completed during a short period of time, it was recorded on and off for a longer period? Not like one or two sessions, it’s consisting of singles you cut for Harry over a period of years, along with a few newer tracks?
No, no. We go with two music here. You know, I used to just go when I feel like, because always, like, they didn’t wanna do it, it have to work for everybody. I don’t want them to have… So, after a while I just say, y’know, ‘Let’s do it’, and I just go and do it over a period of time. We do it over a period of time, I don’t remember how much time but we did it to get it over with.

(Laughs) I see.
Because it has more original songs, y’know. It wasn’t exactly different from the – these songs are more like rock steady than the dancehall sound.

How did you find the sound at Harry J’s studio? It was set up in the early seventies, I think Island was involved in it as well, invested in it, so it was one of the best studios in terms of modern equipment.
Yeah, Harry’s studio was good. Most of Bob Marley’s music was laid at Harry’s studio. He had one of the best studios in Jamaica. Oh yeah, everybody used to come down at his studio, he used to make money. Although it was one a the time it was Harry J studio, and everybody hire Harry J’s studio. Yep. I don’t know what is happening now. He might run it again, but I can’t find him.

So what was the downfall of Harry’s studio? I think it closed down in the early eighties, even before the digital wave took over.
After a while he became – you know when people trying to get too smart, when you get too smart and you wanna override people and dirty things, y’know, people make you and they break you. So you come in the business and you make money and you wanna be too much, like, you can do anything and get away with it. That’s not how it goes. Then the guy carry me down. Trust me, they don’t make you (laughs)! ‘Cos I’m a type of person who has this spirit, a good spirit around. You know, I’ve got a job, so y’know I don’t starve. I don’t wish nobody nothing bad, it doesn’t matter what anybody does now, I wish them all good. ‘Cos you know somet’ing? I believe in God. I can’t afford to wish anything bad to anybody, ‘cos He’s always there for me. So, I have to just wish people good. I can’t have a bitter heart for anybody, ‘cos one man rules my life. So whatever happens, where I am concerned, I just look at it in a positive way that He knows all the reasons why. And when I talk to Him about it, then just turn it around a different way, y’know. Only one t’ing He don’t do, is to cuss Downbeat to pay me all my money that he owes me (laughs)! I’ll get it back in different ways though. Maybe not from him, but you know ‘The race is not for the swift but for he who can endure’.

I haven’t found a tracklist for the album ‘Baby Why’ as yet, but did you cut songs like ‘Didn’t I’, ‘El Condor’, ‘Equal Rights’ and ‘Feel Alright’ on it?
‘Feel Alright’? Oh no, ‘Feel Alright’ was a Festival song, yeah, it was a Festival song. That was Harry J we did that for. It’s not on the album.

When did you enter the Festival Song Competition?
‘Feel Alright’, festival song… I don’t remember the year, but I remember it was the same year Eric Donaldson did…

‘Cherry Oh Baby’?
‘Cherry Oh Baby’, yeah.

So ’72 probably.
OK, because ‘(Everybody) Feel Alright’ was runnin’ hot with Eric Donaldson, if it hasn’t been Eric Donaldson it would be us. Hey, you had ‘Blame Myself’, ‘Baby Why’, you had ‘Brotherly Love’ – ‘Brotherly Love’ was written by Bobby Dockery. And ‘Happy Time’ is on it, ‘Sometime Girl’ – we did that over on it, ‘Dangerous’, ‘Keep A Secret’, and ‘So Long’. This album only have ten songs on it, that’s how we try to keep it down, yunno. Yeah.

So what became of this album? I’ve learned that Harry J had big plans for both you and Carl Dawkins in ’77 and went to New York to set up his business, but what became of it?
Yeah, he did! I don’t know what happened with this. I don’t know what happened, but he had big plans at the time, he even picked up some guy that came in rehearsin’, some musicians came in rehearsin’ and we in the studio we rehearsin’ like songs for shows and stuff, like he was arranging a tour and t’ing like that. And that’s about it. That’s about it, we didn’t hear nothing afterwards. Things just start going down from that moment.

Cables - Jamaica
And some two years after that album you decided to leave Jamaica for the States?
Yeah. I came to New York from like early ’79. ’79 I remember it was.

What about ‘Be Wise’ for the Panther label, that’s a Dynamic subsidiary.
I kinda remember that one, I think we did some music for Dynamic too. We did some music for Dynamic, yeah. Because we used to hang around Bunny Lee, and he took us to Dynamic and stuff. We did some music for them, but we did so many songs all over the place and some of them I don’t remember. This guy in Holland, he said he had all of them music, every music that we did, he’s got them. And he said he would put them together. He never contacted me and I think Harry gave him this ‘Baby Why’ album to put out.

You remember his name? But that album was all done in New York, pressed and manufactured over there?
It was pressed in New York by VP Records – at that time it was Randy’s, but I have that guy’s card in Holland, somewhere. I’m gonna look for it and one a the time – I think his name is Lloyd… ? I don’t remember, some white guy (Jamaican Gold?). I remember I have to find the card, I had put it in some place. When I will go abroad, I will have to learn more about this.

Then you had ‘Fast Mouth’ and ‘How Do You Think I Feel’ for Gaydisc, that’s Sonia Pottinger’s label. I better run through those while we’re going (chuckles).
Sonia Pottinger, yeah. Oh, I remember those two (sings): ‘Fast mouth dead an’ gooone…’ (laughs)! Those songs sounds so stupid to me (laughs)! Those sounds so stupid (chuckles), but those are the ska days, y’know.

Who did the original for that tune, ‘Fast Mouth’? (Sings the chorus.)
And ‘bitter belly’, someone had a ‘bitter belly deh ya fi cool them…’. Oh, those were songs, man!

You did more for Sonia Pottinger like ‘Good Luck To You’?
OK, I think I can try to remember ‘Good Luck To You’, aha. (Sings) ‘But all I can say is good luck to youuu…’, I dunno if I remember that one. Let me see if I can remember that one (sings): ‘If you found another that you will love better…’. You know I don’t have any – I do remember that song now! I mean, I remember the song now, but I don’t have a record for it. And ‘How Do You Think I Feel’, I try to remember that one…

Can you recall ‘Jamaica’ for Dynamic?
Oh, you remember that song, ‘Jamaica’? (Sings) ‘J A M A I C A…’ – you have that one too?

No, I don’t.
OK, that was another Festival tune, that was another Festival tune I did. I did another tune – it start off with a talking, I don’t remember. I have music out there, people have them and I don’t even remember them (chuckles)!

You did ‘Rich Man Poor Man’ for Dynamic too. There’s a lot to collect, if you can lay your hands on them that is.
I will have to try and get those music, somehow. Somehow I’m gonna try and get those. People has this music, y’know.

Yeah. Can you recall a song titled ‘Too Much Talking’ for the Bright Star imprint? And ‘You Betrayed Me’ – which seem to be ‘You Lied’ basically, for SEP.
Who did that? Us?

Yeah, I suppose so.
I don’t know anything about Bright Star. Maybe the music just died and we forget about it. Dunno ‘ bout SEP either.

What about ‘Poor People’ that we touched on before, this was released as by the Cables, but it is basically a solo track for High Note, isn’t it? Give me the inspiration for it.
Yeah. Because the way life was in Jamaica at the time, everything was just getting jumble (?). The only thing left to happen at one time is that people just start fighting and killing one another and just… you know? And you look at life and you see what it’s coming to, and it’s just like they give up now. You know, what poor people has become, when you look at it and you see how some of them who are working right – I don’t know if you have the record, where it said (sings) ‘Some of we a workin’ an’ cyaan buy a shirt…’ – a ‘shu’t’ you know is a shirt, ‘but the little we a get now cyaan even full we cup, wooyy oy oooyy, lord o lord, wha’ poor people a go do now…’. And there is a part in it where I said beca’ Jamaica you know is where the politics – people go in politics to fight one another, I put that in there, y’know: ‘If you turn a politician and you go out there to fight, you either going to win or a next man take your life’. You know? I have another part in it that said: ‘Some of us have children going to school they can’t even learn, while the hungry that they bearing it blights their brain…’, yunno, ‘… wha’ poor people a go do’. Then I have another part in it that said: ‘If it makes sense being a Christian, or if it’s too much temptation, and with this depression, lord we’ve soon commit suicide, lord o God, wha’ poor people a go do…’. You know, you just put the basic in it, y’know, what is happening. It’s a very good song. I’m gonna do it over because it’s still happening. Even in America here now, y’know, America has – things are getting bad, man. I ‘ave a good job, fine. You know, so far I can’t complain. I am in a good job, but what they’re trying to do now, they’re trying to do everything to get our people who is in a job long, y’know, get you out so you don’t get no pension, end up with nothing. They’re trying to do all a them stuff. So, what a go happen, man? It’s like that.

Tough times. What about ‘I’ve Got To Go Back Home’ for Harry J?
Oh, that’s a Bob Andy music. Yeah, it’s a recut there, we just did over that song (sings the chorus). You know that song? It’s a recut, yeah.

If we switch to your role as producer, you recorded someone called ‘Jah Fish’ with the track ‘Vampire Rock’. Who was Jah Fish?
OK, ‘Vampire Rock’. I didn’t produce people, I just tried to produce one or two for myself, y’know. And ‘Vampire Rock’ – which other song I did before him…? Then I just did that since I knew Jah Fish, ‘cos he liked the deejaying thing, and we just do a thing.

And who was this guy, Jah Fish?
Is a guy that – we used to work together at the shoe factory, and he’s just a guy who liked the deejay thing. Yeah, but you know them music didn’t even make no push. I didn’t have no money after I produced them. Even though I produced them myself I didn’t make no portion of money. Now, the most money that maybe we will make is now if we go out to do shows and stuff. Like, even recording now, it’s hard to make money. Because you know what happen? People who put down the same money to produce, they just – every CD is a master. You know that, right? Every CD is like a master, because you can get everything clear like the master from it, and people just take your label and put it in a scanner and you can copy it now so it look like a natural thing. They just make CD’s and sell it, they don’t put nothing in it and they’re making more money than the producers, that’s what is happening. Sometime the producers are scared too, because you’re not making nothing – too much bootlegs out there.

The Cables – Baby Why

Keble Drummond & The Cables – What Kind Of World

Jah Fish – Vampire Rock

Right, they burn them at home quite easily now, devastating to the independents.
Yeah, they burn CD’s and you have my CD too that people can burn how many CD’s at one time and stuff. You know what? When tapes was going, I went in somebody’s distribution, and they had a system set up in the back where they could run off a hundred tapes at one time – or fifty, or twenty-five. Whichever they want. They just put in one tape, and the rest of the things set up and they just balanced it out and stuff, and just pressed it ‘wup!’, and tapes just ready. And they had the labels them and stuff, and they put them in and – just like that! That was when tapes was in, and people was selling those too. I mean, every music – we’re not talking about just, y’know, local music. I went to a fair in New York and that’s what I saw, that was years now when tapes, y’know, when cassettes just came out, when cassette was going, yeah. So, y’know, it’s not fair! It’s not fair, man.

Perhaps it’s better to stick to the good ol’ vinyl again.
That’s what I think. I think it’s the best thing to ever happen – start press on vinyl. Get back to vinyl.

What was this controversy about regarding the beat, the invention of reggae, between yourself and Larry Marshall on ‘Nanny Goat’ and ‘Baby Why’, you had some dispute. Or what was that about?
Between ‘Nanny Goat’ and ‘Baby Why’, yeah, he always want to say that. But, to me it doesn’t make a difference. ‘Baby Why’ was a hit, ‘Nanny Goat’ was – I don’t remember if it was a hit, but it was popular. So, what I know when ‘Baby Why’ come up was the first change, I didn’t even know ‘Nanny Goat’ wasn’t rock steady. You know what I mean? So y’know, he was trying to make a big deal out of it. At one a the time I said to Mr Dodd to clarify it for us, and he said we were right about our stand, even Mr Dodd say it. So me say, well, the first change of rhythm was ‘Baby Why’, then it just went on with reggae now. But Larry say ‘It’s ‘Nanny Goat’!’ He always say that. To me it’s not a controversy, we’re not makin’ nothing off it.

Right, it doesn’t make much of a difference anyway.
It doesn’t make a difference. I don’t depend on singin’. Singin’ is my hobby, and as I say right now, I wanna really do something right now, because now is the time. I want to do something now.

cables & friends
How did that ‘Baby Why’ project with Lloyd Campbell come about for VP, about last year I think (’03)?
Oh, he did the ‘What Kind of World’ project and he did put me on it.

That’s another great, great classic from your pen at the time too – tell me more about that song.
Oh, with ‘What Kind of World’? You see, in ‘What Kind of World’ you look at it in this world. Right now that music relates to everything – it relates to foreign place, it relates to the island, it relates to life. I mean, what kind of world are we living in? You have to tell. Is it a world without love? You know? What kind of life are we living, is it a life without love? I mean, you can’t be happy, you can’t be free. Because look at it this way: everything one tries, there is always negative and positive – there is always someone who want to counteract you in some way. Some people make it to the top, they wanna hurt you. Look at my culture. I mean, even though the good that he is doing and he has done, they still wanna hurt him. They try to find every way, y’know, to hurt him. They would do anything to hurt him, and he’s doing so much good. And nobody talk about the good, they just talk about stuff he didn’t even create to be bad, y’know. I mean, you can’t be happy! You can’t be free, because everything you try there’s always someone who want to hurt you. Now look at it the other way – why can’t we love one another? Why can’t we love one another, why can’t we help each other? You know? You look at these things – it is a fact! That, I mean, maybe the other person want better in life, so that doesn’t take to hurt your brother. Because these people who is creating all of these things against people – they does it with Michael Jackson, they does it with Mike Tyson. You know? Because somebody wants to get rich of it. They does it with so many people around the world, local and foreign. Because the other person who is trying to crucify the other person, they’re just doing that because it’s helping them to achieve, to get rich of others. So, it’s a logic of this stuff, y’know, ‘what kind of world are we living in?’ It’s just simple when you look at it that way, like how you have it in life – you just see it when everyday you read the paper, somewhere along the line or you might walk in the street and you may know somebody or stuff like that, there’s always somebody acting. Sometime your own family, your friend. You know? People who don’t even know much about you but they might be drivin’ a nice car but they may be livin’, y’know, they even start from pass them up. ‘Oh, maybe he’s this, oh maybe he’s that’. People just take you away, instead of trying to think something positive, they think negative. You know? And from the negative thing you build up hatred. Then sometimes it leads to folly, it goes into all kinda, y’know (chuckles)… ‘what kind of world?’ But we just say ‘What kind of world am I living in…?’, y’know. It is simple, because it is everyday life. Everyday. And that song was created when me and Roy was sittin’ at Downbeat and reason about what was the situation, what is going on. I think something happen, and so we wrote ‘What kind of world are we living in…?’ We start with that and then come up with the melody, and it just start right there. So, that song was by me and Roy.

And the recent Lloyd Campbell production?
Oh, the project with him and the ‘Baby Why’ stuff? As I said he did the ‘What Kind of World’ riddim and put me on it with everybody. But somehow he hunted me down with the ‘Baby Why’, and for some reason he wanted me to do a thing and bring in the Cables on it. He just made the riddim and wants me to do something on it.

By the way, the Coxson album, ‘What Kind of World’, this wasn’t released until your Harry J project came out. So, your debut album was in fact the second album in the history of the Cables! A shame he put that on hold for so long, why do you think that was? Even though that’s typically Coxson somehow.
Right. Maybe because Harry J put that out, and you know what happened?

He just rode on the wave from your success with Harry, I suppose.
Maybe. He always does stuff like that, because when I did this ‘Baby Why’ over for Lloydie, he went and he did some stuff to the other ‘Baby Why’ and put it out and had a deejay on it. It was sounding good but, y’know, it never go anywhere because it was out already. It was more original what we already did with it. He’s just trying to get into level, y’know. That’s him, really.

How did you react when you found out that Coxson had released the original album, the first one, almost ten years after it was recorded?
We heard about… how I react?

Yeah.
I didn’t react in any way because I felt there was some money there for me. At the time when he put it out I figure, well, at least people want an album with the originals. And trust me, that album sold, y’know. That album sold a lot! Both on LP and tapes.

The LP came out in ’77 and got a first issue on CD in 1991 with some extended versions to, I think, two of the songs, this was out on the Heartbeat label. And you didn’t hear from Heartbeat at all about this?
No. I dealt with him when he told me that it’s going good, it sold a lot and stuff, and he would get me some money. But he never got me some. Never.

But you should have some kind of…
I went to lawyers, I paid my money and stuff to lawyers, trying to get money from the Coxson album, and it didn’t have no effect. He didn’t have nothing to show. I mean, with Heartbeat, I don’t know what he had said, but when I called Heartbeat they never did anything. At one time they said oh, well, they don’t know much about the groups and left that to him to deal with. But I know that it sold a lot.

Well, that’s just bullshit, isn’t it…
I said: ‘Yeah, right!’ Yeah, that’s what one of them told me. Because I met the guy when I was on Sunsplash in Jamaica in ’94, and that’s what the guy told me. Even Downbeat told me that it sold a lot. So I said OK.

But in any case, when the CD came out it boosted the Cables out there again, perhaps that’s how you got that slot on the ’94 Sunsplash festival.
No, we just know that guy and he said, “Oh man, you guys supposed to be on the Sunsplash”, and we checked out who else was on the bill and decided to do it.

Who backed you?
Sunsplash? It was supposed to be Lloyd Parks, but then it never work out. So it was another band, don’t really recall their name but they were Jamaican.

How was the concert?
It was great, trust me. People from all over the world were there, man. It was a good show, man. We put our best into that. I didn’t know that people really knew our stuff, but they did, trust me. Yep, it was great. Even the Heineken Startime we did, and even though it wasn’t the full original line-up, it was good. I did shows here alone and people, man, people would go wild, man.

Again, now is the right time to get something going, like a second coming for the group. A lot of things has opened up for veterans in the past few years, that’s for sure.
Yep.

What’s ahead for you now? There’s a new album in the works, and a possible reissue of the Harry J album.
As I was thinkin’ about, like, maybe doing a little upgrading the rhythms, lay some new things for these songs, y’know, and upgrade the rhythms. But, I think, the other day when we spoke and you said you think it would be better to clean them up and put them out as they were. Because there’s a whole vibes there, one can’t get that again. You remember we spoke about that?

Yes, yes. Because I think it doesn’t really match that well, to put modern overdubs to seventies recordings. It just doesn’t work when two different eras ‘clash’ like that, in my ears at least.
Right.

But we can expect a new album, and some shows coming up? Perhaps even a visit to Europe if that works out as it should.
Yeah, we have some new songs. Whatever I’m doing with any producing or such, I’m gonna do it alone. You understand what I’m saying? I’m gonna do that alone, produced by me.

Since we spoke in March, ’04, Keble went over to New York the same year to do a show with the original Cables in a star-studded line-up of vintage singers and groups like the Melodians, Leroy Brown, Pat Kelly and the Techniques, and Jackie Brown. It didn’t do more than create some waves in the business but the show was well-received according to reports. Unfortunately, the original line-up is no more – at least for the time being, it seems. Whatever the case, at least I am so glad to have Keble and the group back in action, it’s about time they receive the true recognition due to them, something which should be manifested by appearing out there for the public on a wider scale as well as getting a combination of the new material and the older recordings to a new audience; I strongly believe that a lot of them are welcoming the fact that this group is on its way out there again. There’s the obscure ‘Baby Why’ album which deserved more than being a footnote in the music press at the time due to poor promotion on its initial release, this will now come out again in some form – untouched, I hope. VP’s rhythm album at least gave a small taste of what Keble sounds like today, and it is not much that has been lost, obviously. Hopefully his self-produced stuff is even better. Not to forget all the uncollected singles that needs to be found and cleaned up. There’s definitely some treasures among them. Yes, the question remains: what kind of world are we living in? It could be a lot nicer, that’s for sure, but even better with the Cables back on track – ‘trust me’, as the man Keble would say.