Paketo Wilson – Praise Him
After the reissue of Pluto Shervington’s 1990 album Rhythm Of The City in November 2022, Milan-based Arabusta Records now treats fans of classic reggae to the welcome restored and remastered re-release of Paketo Wilson’s 8-track LP Praise Him on black vinyl and CD. Although being longtime reggae fans it wasn’t until 2010 that we heard of Paketo Wilson when the defunct Makafresh label released a 7″ single titled Ina De Yaad, which he did in collaboration with Derajah. Because most reggae fans might not be very familiar with Paketo Wilson, a decent introduction to this cultural roots artist is a must. Luckily the good people of Arabusta Records have inserted a sheet with the story behind the album and lyrics in the LP jacket and an 8-page booklet in the CD’s jewel case which provides information about the artist that, in part, we here share with you.
Born on October 24th 1956 in Kingston, Jamaica, Paketo Wilson grew up right in the heart of it all. His father, one of the best singing artists of the island, introduced him to the top musicians of the time, opening the doors to the world of music. His mother, on the other hand, wanted him to learn a trade. She sent him to learn dentistry close to home, unaware that every day Paketo would sneak in a band’s room just a couple of steps from the dentist shop instead. That didn’t last long, and as soon as she realised it, she sent him uptown to learn auto mechanics. But no distance was too far to keep Paketo away from music, and with bus fare and lunch money in hand, he went straight back to the band’s room.
With no music teacher other than his own two eyes, Paketo would sit and watch. He soon came to understand each and every position. In 1972, at the age of 16, Paketo began his musical career with the New Vibration Band which had experienced members in trumpeter Bobby Ellis and guitarist Winston ‘Bo Pee’ Bowen and played all around the island. He then quickly established himself as a solo artist through Daddy U-Roy’s King Stur Gav Sound System. In 1981, Paketo finally recorded his first single, Cup A Tea, at Channel One. The single was produced by Winston Riley and released on the Techniques label. In September 1982, together with producer Trevor Davis, who used to teach him dentistry, Paketo Wilson recorded his debut album Praise Him, which came out on the Child of God Rockers label. In the late 1980s, Paketo Wilson had a three-year stint in Germany fronting a band called Soon Come, which also included Germans and Africans. Fifteen years after his debut album saw the light of day, his sophomore album Mi Nuh Care was released, which he co-produced with Harriet Gruber from the US.
The eight tracks for Paketo Wilson’s debut album were recorded at Harry J’s Recording Studio with players of instruments being Eric Samuels (drums), Bassie Star (bass), Daniel Ried (rhythm guitar), Lascelles Dunkley (lead guitar), Cedric Samuels (piano), Veron Sutherland (organ), Bobby Ellis (trumpet), and Headley Bennett (saxophone). These eight musicians have done a superb job by providing the singer with high-quality backdrops with basslines that unfold in a great way. Furthermore, the horns play of the two ace Jamaican hornsmen make a special blend and sound very nice to the ears. They certainly add an extra appealing feel and vibe to some of the tracks.
Throughout the album, the cultural roots singer mostly tackles the common roots reggae topics such as spirituality & religion; love, peace & unity; and poverty & struggles. Next to his distinctive voice, Paketo Wilson’s songwriting on 7 out of 8 tracks isn’t too bad either. (Only Jardan Dance wasn’t written by himself but by Trevor Davis). The title track, Praise Him, is one of the album’s best and an excellent way to get things going. Jardan Dance just catches a nice joy from inception which lasts throughout. Next comes One Love Foundation, a prime example of how effective and satisfying good roots reggae can be. This also goes for the matching sufferer’s tune My Daily Bread, which rounds off a totally satisfying first side of the vinyl platter. The other side opens with yet another huge tune. The heartfelt sung Lonely World is a very impressive offering that deserves full attention. The nice sounding Gracie and the last track, Come Shake With Me, are sweet sounding lovers pieces worth hearing. In between the listener is treated to a great tune called Jump For Joy. Although lyrically not going all the way, musically this one is a real scorcher. After having played for just under 21 minutes, this short but nevertheless worthwhile classic album of very good quality comes to an end.