23 tracks new to CD are included in this collection along with various unreleased material. By the end of the 1960s Lloyd ‘Tyrell’ Charmers was firmly established as one of Jamaica’s top talents, after he was a member of The Charmers and The Uniques. In 1968, Charmers moved into the production side of Jamaican music and had numerous hits. Charmers attracted the attention of London-based Trojan Records and quickly signed a licencing deal in 1969. The two albums featured in this collection were released by Trojan Records and both feature Charmers keyboard-playing talents. On the second album we have The Dragonaires providing the backing tracks on a dozen instrumental recordings of early Reggae favourites. Also included are the remainder of his instrumental output and one ends up listening to recordings from the early age of Boss Reggae sounds. With bonus tracks on both discs one takes a look at a selection of these.
DISC ONE: REGGAE IS TIGHT
1. 5 TO 5. This starts with a spoken intro before moving into a mid-tempo chug-along instrumental. Some weird vocal sounds can be heard on the backing track and this is a pleasing way to start off disc one. Released in Jamaica on the Tramp label and UK on the Duke label in 1969. 2. FOLLOW THIS SOUND. On the original Jamaican release the credits go to Lloyd Charmers & The Hippy Boys. This comes dominated by the piano sound and has another mid-tempo chug-along rhythm. Released in Jamaica on the Tramp label, not released in the UK. 3. GOLDEN MOON. Again The Hippy Boys are present on an organ version of the well-known ‘Blue Moon’, and good it is. The rhythm track is not as heavy as on previous track. Release information unknown. 4. HIGHER HEIGHTS. This is faster than previous tracks and a foot-tapping sound. As one would expect this is organ dominated and has a more chug-along rhythm track, overall a catchy recording. Release information unknown. 5. PSYCHEDELIC REGGAE. Not really what one would call Psychedelic but none-the-less a fast sound that gets into one’s head. Organ playing at its best and 2mins 35secs of top Boss Reggae. This was mixed by Sid Bucknor and features Carlton Barrett on drums and Aston Barrett on bass guitar. Released in the UK on a Trojan album in 1968. 6. SUMMER FACE. This is nothing more than a version of ‘Theme From A Summer Place’ from way back. As usual with Charmers recordings it features The Hippy Boys and this track can be found on the Trojan Presents Box Set ‘The Producers-40 Jamaican Classics’ from 1969. 7. CRIMSON AND CLOVER. This comes with Charmers at the piano and is a version of a Tommy James & The Shondells release back in 1969. This was originally a b side, released in the US on the Randy’s Records label 9. EVERYBODY NEEDS LOVE. This is a fast-moving sound on which Charmers not only plays organ but also piano. It is not surprising that this was released out of Pama Records as this company’s distinctive production work is in evidence. This was released as an album track, the album being ‘House In Session’ on the Economy label. Catchy number this is and a toe-tapper. 10. SAFARI. This has a rough, tough and hard rhythm and is mid-tempo. The piano work is infectious with the tune again getting the feet tapping. Released in Jamaica on the Tramp label and in the UK on the Duke label in 1969. 11. REGGAE IS TIGHT. This is a version of the Booker T & The MG’s UK hit and it lends itself well to the Reggae genre. Punchy rhythm track and top-notch organ from Charmers giving the listener a slice of classic cover Reggae. This was an album track in 1969 (Trojan Records label). 12. STRONGER aka STRONGLER. Starts off with some horn-blowing and has a punchy rhythm track. Again this appeared on a Pama Records album, hence the production work that has Pama written all over it. Pleasant toe tapping sound even though it does not really go anywhere, this finishes the original album tracks.
13. FREEDOM SOUNDS. This track is mid-tempo and features the classic Lloyd Charmers organ sound. It does not really go anywhere but is a catchy slice of the best in Jamaican instrumental Reggae. This track also appears on the Doctor Bird collection ‘Absolutely The Uniques’. 16. (GET) IN THE SPIRIT. This has a chug-along rhythm track with Lloyd featuring on organ. A semi-vocal is in place, not sure if it is Lloyd but it lends itself well to the overall sound. Catchy number and it can be found titled ‘In The Spirit’. Released on Randy’s (7″) in the US and Song Bird (Trojan) in the UK in 1969. 17. SOUND OF SILENCE. We remember the original pop release of this song by Simon & Garfunkel and this organ dominated version comes over well. It has a chug along rhythm track and as versions go it is a winner. 20. SOUL OF ENGLAND aka BRIXTON. Mid-tempo sound with another chug-along rhythm track. This again comes with a semi-vocal and the backing goes around and around but still makes for a catchy recording. Released on the Escort label (Pama) in the UK in 1970. 23. SHANG HAI aka SHANG I. This is a slower number that fails to go anywhere with the rhythm track going around and around. Not very inspiring and the weakest track on this collection. Released on the Randy’s label (7″) in 1970. 27. WALK ON BY. A version of the Dione Warwick hit from the ’60s and a good one at that. Organ dominated with a classic Reggae rhythm and a top-notch instrumental version of a classic song. 28. MEMPHIS UNDERGROUND. This is the final track on the collection and is another organ dominated instrumental. As with some other tracks it does not go anywhere, nevertheless it is a catchy tune. For the record this was also recorded by the JJ All Stars on the Trojan label.
DISC TWO: REGGAE CHARM
2. DR NO GO. Starting off with a spoken intro it moves into a fast-slice of cool Boss Reggae. More spoken vocal is heard throughout and this comes with a pleasant tune. The credits on this recording go to The Hippy Boys who also put the tune together. Released in the UK on the High Note label out of Trojan Records in 1969. 4. HONEY. You may remember the vocal version by Bobby Goldsborough and here we have a piano dominated version. This has a chug-along rhythm track with this version complimenting the original. On this Charmers is joined by Byron Lee/Dragonaires and it was released on the Tiger label in Jamaica in 1970. 7. IF I ONLY HAD TIME. Piano dominated chug-along sound that is not a version of the pop hit from way back. The organ sound does come in from time-to-time and the track is pleasant enough. Released in Jamaica on the Dynamic label via album in 1970. 9. MAMA LOOK. This comes mid-tempo and has a longish spoken into. Spoken vocals can be heard at various times throughout and again this is piano dominated. A Reggae vocal version was recorded by The Pioneers on the Amalgamated label. 10. HOW LONG. Mid-tempo sound dominated by piano and comes with a chug-along rhythm track. Original release had added to the title ‘Will It Take’ and has been recorded by various artists as a vocal track. Charmers is joined by Byron Lee/Dragonaires and this can be found on the album ‘Reggae Charm’ from 1970. 11. LOVE CAN MAKE YOU HAPPY. Again mid-tempo sound dominated by piano. The rhythm track is straight Reggae in another chug-along mode. This is a feel-good sound overall and foot-tapping material. Many artists have recorded this song in a vocal style. This can be found on the album ‘Psychedelic Reggae’ on the Trybute label from 1998, amongst others. 12. SOUL AT LARGE. A mid-tempo number with organ dominating the rhythm track. This foot-tapping recording has The Hippy Boys providing the backing and the track was included on the ‘House In Session’ album released out of Pama Records in 1968. The final track from the original vinyl LP.
13. WHO DONE IT. An organ dominated sound on which we hear a one word vocal at times. Not particularly inventive this, it was compiled by Jackie Mittoo. Released on the Slash label in Jamaica in 1970. 15. DOLLARS AND BONDS. This track starts with a James Bond spoken intro before having a ‘Fistful Of Dollars’ backing track. More of the same James Bond spoken vocal comes in at times throughout. Released on the Splash label in Jamaica and in the UK on the Bullet label (Pama) in 1970. 17. BIG FIVE. On the original release the credits go to The Charmers and it is a catchy slice of top instrumental Reggae with organ dominating. Compiled by Charmers it was the A side to the previous reviewed track. Released on the Splash label in Jamaica and the Explosion label (Trojan) in the UK in 1970. 20. CLOUD BURST. Starting off with a spoken intro which is in evidence throughout. This comes with percussion and the credits go to The Hippy Boys. This makes a change from previous tracks, not being dominated by organ or piano. This was the B side to ‘Hanover Street’ in Jamaica on the Straker’s label and the Duke label (Trojan) in UK in 1970. 26. BLUE MOON. This track is different, having a vocal and it is a version of the well-known tune, recorded by numerous artists over the years. The song lends itself well to the Reggae genre. Released on the Trojan label in the UK in 1969. 27. ISHAN CUP aka HI SHAN. Strange title and is a version of the song ‘Me Oh My’ recorded by numerous artists over the years, including a vocal version by Lloyd Charmers. Piano dominates the backing and has a chug-along rhythm and as versions go this is good. Released in Jamaica on the Splash label 1970.
In summing up, these two hugely popular LPs that feature on this double CD feature Lloyd Charmers as both artist and producer. 55 tracks make up this collection with 23 of them on CD for the first time. In 1968 Lloyd Charmers signed a licensing deal with Trojan Record and from this the two featured albums were released. This, as with all Doctor Bird label collections, comes with an eight-page booklet and various bonus tracks highlighting further work from one of Jamaica’s multi-talented artists/producers. If you like your Reggae in instrumental vein, at £14 99p this could be for you.