Various – Still Beating Down Babylon (Junior Byles Tribute)
01. Inner Circle feat. Freddie McGregor & Mykal Rose – Beat Down Babylon
02. Kai Wakeling – I Don’t Know
03. Matrujah – Heart And Soul
04. Delphine – Chant Down Babylon
05. Chiney KiKi – Fade Away
06. Marlon Brown – Long Way
07. Color Red – King Of Babylon
08. Donovan Joseph feat. Tappa Zukie & Qudia Lewis – Fever
09. Likkle Nate – Curly Locks
10. Itral Ites – A Place Called Africa
11. Inner Circle, Don Camel feat. Freddie McGregor & Mykal Rose – Beat Dub Babylon (Don Camel Dub)
Earl “Chinna” Smith, a renowned guitarist in the reggae genre, has taken on the role of producer for this tribute album dedicated to the iconic reggae singer Junior Byles, also known as Chubby or King Chubby. Following the successful format of the acclaimed Inna De Yard sessions, “Chinna” Smith has assembled a talented group of artists who bring a fresh interpretation to some of Junior Byles’ most famous and beloved tracks. This project has been in the making for approximately two years, with Smith determined to honor the original versions of the songs. To achieve this, he has incorporated the Nyahbinghi style of his Binghistra band, ensuring a vibrant and authentic sound.
Byles started his music career in 1967 as a member of a vocal trio called The Versatiles, while also working as a firefighter. During their audition for the 1967 Festival Song Contest with their song The Time Has Come, they caught the attention of Lee Perry, who was a talent scout for Joe Gibbs at that time. Perry signed them to Gibbs’ newly established Amalgamated label. After spending two years with Gibbs, The Versatiles decided to join forces with Perry and Duke Reid. However, in 1970, the group decided to go their separate ways. Despite the split, Byles continued to work with Lee “Scratch” Perry as a solo artist. Their collaboration over the next five years resulted in some of Perry’s most highly acclaimed work. Byles’ Rastafarian beliefs were prominently expressed in songs like Beat Down Babylon, King Of Babylon, and the plea for repatriation, Place Called Africa.
In the mid-1970s, Byles parted ways with Perry but went on to achieve great success with the chart-topping hit Fade Away, produced by Joseph Hoo Kim and written by “Chinna” Smith. Nevertheless, the artist’s professional journey suffered setbacks as a result of ongoing psychological and health issues that first arose in 1975. However, the past 25 years have witnessed renewed interest in his music, fueled by regular playing of Beat Down Babylon and Fade Away at dances and on radio in Jamaica and around the world.
The 11-track album takes off with reggae greats Inner Circle, Mykal Rose, and Freddie McGregor, who deliver a compelling rendition of Beat Down Babylon. Later on, the same song appears again at the end of this compilation in a dub version remixed by Don Camel. In between, listeners can indulge in several heartfelt renditions performed by both renowned and lesser known artists. Heart And Soul by Matrujah (formerly known as Malijah) and French songstress/songwriter Delphine’s Chant Down Babylon are both incredibly impressive interpretations that leave a lasting impact. Chiney Kiki takes the timeless piece Fade Away to new heights with her version. Marlon Brown’s rendition of Long Way is nothing short of amazing, and Likkle Nate from Israel convincingly performs Curly Locks. Additionally, A Place Called Africa by Itral Ites is a noteworthy track that is worth repeated listenings.
Earl “Chinna” Smith has consistently supported Junior Byles during his battles with mental illness. This album aims to raise funds for the legendary reggae figure and his family, providing much-needed assistance during these challenging periods.
Matrujah – Heart And Soul
Delphine – Chant Down Babylon
Chiney KiKi – Fade Away
Marlon Brown – Long Way