The Seal of General Smiley’s Soul
The Kingston 13 zip code in Jamaica is arguably the most productive music region in Jamaica. That’s where you find Maxfield Avenue, home to Channel One; and Greenwich Farm, where producer Bunny Lee held court for many years.
It’s also the former stomping ground for Errol Bennett, better known as General Smiley, half of the deejay duo Papa Michigan and General Smiley.
That duo had several hit singles during the 1970s and 1980s including ‘Rub A Dub Style’, ‘Nice up The Dance’ and ‘Diseases’. General Smiley is a longtime Southern California resident, from where he produces songs for various artistes.
In recent months, however, the veteran toaster has been plugging ‘The Seal of My Soul’, his book of poems published by, and released one year ago by Xlibris, a Chicago company.
“I’ve been working hard trying to promote ‘The Seal of My Soul’, also writing new material for the publisher, writing and recording new songs and working on a couple of albums for a few producers and also my label RuffCompany Entertainment,” said General Smiley.
He disclosed that most of the 100 poems in the book were written during the Covid-19 scourge of 2020-21. They have themes consistent with his roots-reggae preferences.
Come December 1, his independent company is scheduled to release American singer Maia The Tode’s ‘Fever’, a cover of the Little Willie John original made famous by Peggy Lee.
Maia The Tode is the daughter of a session musician General Smiley has known for years. He recorded her version of ‘Fever’ on a rhythm done at Studio One where he and Papa Michigan began their careers.
They met in the late 1970s when both were associated with a sound system called Third World. They officially became a duo at the legendary Studio One and had a massive hit with ‘Rub A Dub Style’ in 1979.
‘Nice up The Dance’, their follow-up hit for Studio One, was released the following year. In 1982, Papa Michigan and General Smiley rocked the charts with ‘Diseases’, produced by Henry “Junjo” Lawes.
They are also known for the songs, ‘Uptown Downtown’ and ‘Sugar Daddy’. They stopped recording together over 20 years ago.
Since 1996 when he established RuffCompany Entertainment, General Smiley has produced songs by Andrew Bees, Mabrak, Horace Martin, General Jah Mikey and Ken Serious.
(Photos courtesy of General Smiley)