Aston “Family Man” Barrett & The Wailers Band – Soul Constitution: Instrumentals & Dubs 1971-1982

by Apr 13, 2018Artist, Reviews

Aston "Family Man" Barrett - Soul Constitution: Instrumentals & Dubs 1971-1982
Soul Constitution: Instrumentals and Dubs 1971-1982

Release Info

Aston “Family Man” Barrett & The Wailers Band – Soul Constitution: Instrumentals & Dubs 1971-1982

Label:  Dub Store Records | Format: CD-LP-DR | Street date: April 13, 2018 | Website label | Bandcamp |


  1. Aston “Family Man” Barrett – Soul Constitution
  2. Aston “Family Man” Barrett & Knotty Roots – Distant Drums
  3. Aston “Family Man” Barrett & The Rebel Arms – Eastern Memphis
  4. Max Edwards – Gideons High
  5. Aston “Family Man” Barrett & Dizzy
  6. The Wailers – Guided Missile
  7. The Wailers feat. Ian Winter – Work
  8. Aston “Family Man” Barrett & The Rebel Arms – Family Man Skank
  9. Aston “Family Man” Barrett & The Rebel Arms – Dub Combination
  10. Aston “Family Man” Barrett – Cobra Style (Disco Mix)
  11. Aston “Family Man” Barrett – Well Pleased (Disco Mix)
  12. Aston “Family Man” Barrett & The Rebel Arms – Tribute To Y Mas Gan
  13. The Wailers – Rebel Am I
  14. Aston “Family Man” Barrett & Knotty Roots – Distant Drums Version
  15. Gideon All Stars – Ixes
  16. Aston “Family Man” Barrett & The Rebel Arms – Steppers Rock
Family Man

Aston Francis Barrett, often called “Family Man” or “Fams” for short, is internationally famous as Bob Marley’s bass player, band leader, arranger, and the foundation writer of much of the group’s music. But even if Familyman hadn’t played with Bob Marley & The Wailers his importance to Jamaican music would have been acknowledged. Each period in Jamaica’s popular music had its bass giants: think Cluet Johnson & Lloyd Brevett (Ska), Jackie Jackson & Leroy Sibbles (Rocksteady), Fully Fullwood, Ranchie McLean, Lloyd Parks, Boris Gardiner, and Robbie Shakespeare (Reggae). Clearly the birth of Reggae owed much to Family Man.

The Upsetters

Family Man toured and recorded with the legendary Wailers from 1969 until Bob Marley’s untimely death in 1981. Furthermore he played on tracks produced by the likes of Duke Reid, Joe Gibbs, Sonia Pottinger, Lloyd “Matador” Daley, Lee Perry, Winston “Niney” Holness and Clement Dodd. He played on the first true international reggae hits “Liquidator” and “Return Of Django” and his band, the Upsetters (actually the Hippy Boys but renamed the Upsetters by Lee Perry), was one of the first to tour the UK and Europe. The drum & bass section – so very important in reggae music – was formed by Aston “Familyman” Barrett and his brother the late Carlton Barrett. Both were responsible for literally thousands of reggae songs and they would have graced many more if they had not spent so many years endlessly touring with the Wailers. So, it’s obvious that Aston “Family Man” Barrett is one of the cornerstones of reggae music, emulated by other musicians and vernerated by the Wailers.


What is less known, but equally important, is that Family Man produced some of the most challenging and experimental reggae of the 1970s and 80s, issuing unique works in small quantity in Jamaica on a range of short-lived record labels. About twenty years ago the defunct Heartbeat Records released two Aston “Family Man” Barrett albums: “Cobra Style: Productions From The Wailers’ Musical Director” and its dub instrumental companion “Familyman In Dub”. And now Dub Store Records has put out a compilation set entitled “Soul Constitution: Instrumentals & Dubs 1971-1982”. Most of tracks featured here were included on the aforementioned Heartbeat Records releases. Only four weren’t – “Soul Constitution”, “Gideons High”, “Cell Block” and “Ixes”.

Far East Sound

Aston “Familyman” Barrett’s undisputable skills and talent as musician as well as producer can be fulljoyed while listening to this very fine and interesting compilation of instrumentals and dubs. The Upsetters’ “Soul Constitution”, the great opener and title track of this album, sets the pace for what turns out to be an interesting document of timeless reggae music. It’s followed by one of the earliest tracks of this collection, “Distant Drums”, which happens to be a great instrumental take on Yabby You’s song “Love Thy Neighbour”. This great piece recorded at Randy’s is a special one as it is one of the first examples of the so-called “Far East” sound, later brought to prominence by Augustus Pablo. Besides that it features the Rasta hand drumming of the Original Wailers – Bob, Peter & Bunny. “Eastern Memphis” – just like “Distant Drums” recorded around the time of the Wailers’ “Natty Dread” sessions – is a standout effort. “Gideons High”, an experimental and repetitive minimalistic early dub instrumental, features the late Max Edwards, who was a drummer for Zappow and Soul Syndicate in the 1970s and then also got noticed as a singer with his 1982 album “Rockers Arena”.

The Rhythm King

Great horns on “Cell Block” make this instrumental candy for the ears. Next comes “Guided Missile” and “Work”, which both feature ‘The Rhythm King’, Family Man’s secret rhythm box and the earliest drum machine made. These two tunes were recorded during the “Rastaman Vibration” period, when Jamaica was gripped by a State of Emergency. Ian Winter’s voice on the weird sounding “Work” is heavily processed through a chorus and a phaser, turning his deejaying into more of an instrument, but it still makes it effective nonetheless. Both “Family Man Skank” and “Dub Combination” are solid offerings that were recorded at the Wailers Rehearsal Studio, located at 56 Hope Road in Kingston, Jamaica.


Then it’s time for the great sounding discomixes of “Cobra Style” and “Well Pleased”, with the former being a minor key horn vamp that Family Man has brought to perfection. Both songs fit in the tradition of staples from Family Man’s recording catalogue such as the internation hit “Return Of Django”, and classics like “Clint Eastwood” and “Y Mas Gan” (with vocals by The Abyssinians). With “Rebel Am I” and “Distant Drums Version” the listener is treated to two awesome bass heavy dub versions of “East Memphis” and “Distant Drums” respectively. The compilation is rounded off with the next bass heavy track “Ixes” and the stripped-down “Steppers Rock”.

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