VA – Niney The Observer Presents Lightning And Thunder!

by Feb 15, 2024Reviews, Various

VA - Niney The Observer Presents Lightning And Thunder!

Release Info

Label
Doctor Bird/Cherry Red Records
Format
DBL CD
Street date
February 2024
Contact
Website Record Label

Tracklist

Disc One

1 Pepper Seed – Ranny Williams & The Spokes
2 Music Police – The Sound Dimension
3 Skankey – Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace
4 Twin Spin – Ranny Williams & The Spokes
5 Cocaine Doctor – Niney
6 Bawling For Mercy – Dennis Alcapone & Lizzy
7 Apollo Rocket – Lloyd Willis
8 Omega – Niney
9 Mr. Brown’s Coffin – Dennis Alcapone & Lizzy
10 Blood & Fire – Niney & The Observers
11 Lightning & Thunder – Niney
12 Mud & Water – Niney
13 Brimstone & Fire (Blood & Fire) – Niney
14 Message To The Ungodly – Niney
15 You Must Believe Me – Dennis Alcapone
16 Keep On Pushing – Niney & The Heptones
17 Strong Man Medley – Eric ‘Monty’ Morris
18 Psalms 9 To Keep In Mind – Tommy McCook
19 Chapter 10 – The Observers
20 Observing The Ave. – Niney
21 Everyday Music – Niney
22 Pick Your Choice – Niney
23 The Coming Of Jah – Max Romeo & Niney

Disc Two

1 The Road To Zion – Niney & The Observers
2 Hiding By The Riverside – Niney & The Observers
3 The Red Sea – The Observers
4 Rebel Ride – Dennis Alcapone
5 Aily & Ailaloo – Niney & Max Romeo
6 Episode II – Niney & The Observers
7 Bearded Men Feast – Max Romeo & Niney
8 International Pum Pum – Niney The Observer
9 Reggaematic – Niney The Observer
10 Big Hole – Niney The Observer
11 Another Pum – The Observers
12 Pop A Water – Captain Jack Morgan
13 Ital Buddy – The Virgins
14 The Woodpecker – Niney & The Observers
15 Wet Panty – Niney The Observer
16 Discharge No. 2 – Niney & The Observers
17 Rasta Band Wagon – Max Romeo
18 When Jah Speaks – Murt, Turt & Purt
19 Beg In The Gutter – Niney & The Observers
20 In The Gutter – Niney & The Observers
21 Time Hard aka Promises- Max Romeo
22 Time Hard Version – The Hardy Boys
23 Honey Baby – Niney The Observer
24 Forward Pipe – Niney & Ken Elliott

Winston “Niney The Observer” Holness

Winston Holness, widely recognized as Niney The Observer, has built a reputation not only as a remarkable performer but also as an exceptional engineer and producer. His proficiency in engineering was honed under the guidance of esteemed individuals like Lee Perry and Lynford Anderson (known as Andy Capp). He also oversaw numerous sessions for renowned producers such as Bunny “Striker” Lee and Joe Gibbs. These valuable experiences paved the way for him to establish himself as an independent producer by the end of the decade. In 1971, he achieved success as an artist with his first single, Blood And Fire, which he independently released on his Observer label. The single quickly gained widespread popularity, selling over 30,000 copies on the island alone. It was even honoured as the ‘Jamaican record of the Year’ for 1971. Throughout the years, Niney played a crucial role in overseeing recording sessions at various renowned studios including Dynamic, Randy’s, Channel One, and Joe Gibbs. Not only did he produce exceptional tracks for renowned artists such as Max Romeo, Dennis Brown, Delroy Wilson, and Ken Boothe, but he also showcased his own talent as an artist. His talent and expertise cemented his reputation as one of the most respected and sought-after producers in Jamaica throughout the 1970s. Niney maintained a significant and influential presence in the Jamaican music industry until the mid-1980s.

Niney the Observer Presents Lightning & THunder!

Cherry Red Records/Doctor Bird has recently released a double CD featuring 47 tracks, all produced by Niney between 1969 and 1972. The majority of these songs were originally released on Niney’s labels Destroyer and Observer. These tunes can be classified as ‘early reggae’ and bear similarities to Lee Perry’s productions from that era, which is not surprising considering the close collaboration between the two producers. The music is predominantly raw and catchy, with a prominent focus on the organ. Horns are sparingly used, and the collection includes a significant number of instrumental tracks. Thematically, the songs can be roughly divided into rootsy tunes such as Message To The Ungodly, Rasta Bandwagon, The Coming Of Jah, and When Jah Speaks, as well as more risqué tunes like Wet Panty and International Pum Pum. Furthermore, this album features many songs where Niney utilized the same riddim, resulting in a plethora of versions. Regrettably, Harry Hacks’ comprehensive liner notes do not provide any insights into the identities of the musicians. However, it is commonly presumed that the Soul Syndicate members were frequently enlisted for the sessions.

Version Galore

We begin with the track Blood & Fire by Niney & The Observers. The album features more than five versions of this riddim. Among them, Niney’s apocalyptic hit version stands out, while Tommy McCook’s horned version titled Psalms 9 To Keep In Mind showcases his brilliant talent. Released in 1971, this single featured the flipside titled Chapter 10, doing it all over again, but with just a few different touches. The version known as Mud & Water carries the same pessimistic tone as Blood & Fire. Another frequently versioned song is Niney and Max Romeo’s herbs anthem Aily & Ailaloo, with nine versions presented on this riddim. Max Romeo and Niney’s Bearded Men Feast portrays a feast where ganja is generously passed around, only to be raided by authorities. The version titled International Pum Pum by Niney The Observer adds a humorous and provocative twist, while the peculiar flipside, Reggae Matic, is also included. The song Big Hole is the same as the aforementioned International Pum Pum. Credited to Captain Jack Morgan, Pop A Water serves as the flipside of Bearded Man Feast. Although the name of the deejay is unfamiliar to us, some sources suggest it could be Niney himself or Dennis Alcapone. For even more slackness versions, this compilation features the 1972 single Wet Panty, and its flipside, Discharge No. 2. Surprisingly and resourcefully, Niney still manages to add enough variety in all these versions to keep the interest going.

Goodies

Peter Tosh, although uncredited, showcases his organ skills on the track Pepper Seed by Ranny Williams & The Spokes. Ranford “Rannie Bop” Williams, a highly sought-after session guitarist from Jamaica, was a member of various backing bands. The B-side of this song is Twin Spin. The Sound Dimension, Studio One’s house band, presents the lively and skanking Music Police, while Dennis Alcapone & Lizzy showcase their deejay talents on the riddim of The Melodians’ Everybody Bawling with the song Bawling For Mercy. On the flipside of this single is Mr Brown’s Coffin by Dennis and Lizzy. Lloyd Willis’s Apollo Rocket highlights the skills of the young guitarist and songwriter, who later became a producer and a significant member of the Taxi Gang. Niney gives a funky twist to Sly Stone’s hit Everyday People with his single Observing The Ave., which features Everyday People on the B-side. Pick Your Choice is a roots tune by Niney and serves as the flipside of the remarkable The Road To Zion, the opening track of CD 2. The closing track of CD 1, The Coming Of Jah, brings together Niney and Max Romeo in a rootical collaboration, delivering a timeless Rasta anthem.

More Goodies

Dennis Alcapone’s You Must Believe Me was released in Jamaica on Rupie Edwards’ Success label, with Edwards also credited as the producer. This song is a cover of the 1964 hit by The Impressions and features supporting vocals by Niney. Keep On Pushing by Niney & The Heptones is another cover of an Impressions song, with the organ playing a prominent role. Max Romeo’s Rasta Band Wagon is a well-known and superb rasta tune, showcasing Romeo’s recognizable vocal delivery and featuring a short intro by Lee Perry. Also on the same riddim we have When Jah Speaks, a track that features a small supporting role for Lee Perry, nicknamed Murt, Turt, and Purt. Time Hard, also known as Promises, is a roots tune by Max Romeo that is unfamiliar to us, followed by Time Hard Version by The Hardy Boys. Niney & The Observers’ roots tune Hiding By The Riverside is inspired by the gospel song Down By The Riverside. The instrumental version, known as The Red Sea, captivates listeners with its mesmerizing guitar playing. Honey Baby, aka Pass The Pipe, is a stomper of note by Niney The Observer, accompanied by the equally lively Forward Pipe, also known as Chalk Farm Special, by Niney and Ken Elliott. This track closes CD2. Both versions prominently feature the utilization of either an organ or a synthesizer.

Read more about:

Niney – Blood & Fire

Aily & Ailaloo – Niney & Max Romeo

Keep On Pushing – Niney & The Heptones

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