Creation Rebel – High Above Harlesden 1978 – 2023

by Apr 15, 2024Artist, Reviews

Creation Rebel - High Above Harlesden 1978-2023

Release Info

Label
On-U Sound
Format
6CD Box Set
Street date
March 20, 2024
Contact
Website Record Label
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Tracklist

CD 1 : Dub From Creation

1. Dub From Creation
2. Basic Principals
3. Rebel Rouser
4. Creation Vibration
5. Creation In A Iration
6. Dub Fusion
7. Mirage
8. Liberation
9. Rising Star
10. Vision Of Creation
11. Frontline Dub

CD 2 : Close Encounters Of The Third World

1. Know Yourself
2. Conspiring
3. Beware
4. Dangerous And Deadly
5. Shouldn’t Do That
6. Creation Fever
7. Natty Conscience Free
8. Joyful Noise

CD 3 : Rebel Vibrations

1. Rebel Vibration
2. Jungle Affair
3. Hunger And Strife
4. Ian Smith Rock (dub)
5. Diverse Doctor
6. Mountain Melody
7. Black Lion Dub
8. Doctor’s Remedy

CD 4 : Starship Africa

1. Starship Africa (section 1)
2. Starship Africa (section 2)
3. Starship Africa (section 3)
4. Starship Africa (section 4)
5. Starship Africa (section 5)
6. Space Movement (section 1)
7. Space Movement (section 2)
8. Space Movement (section 3)
9. Space Movement (section 4)
10. Creation Rock
11. Give Me Power
12. Original Power

CD 5 : Psychotic Junkaroo

1. The Dope
2. African Space
3. Chatti Mouth / Threat To Creation
4. Highest Degree
5. Mother Don’t Cry
6. Yuk Up
7. Drum Talk
8. Bim Sherman with Singers & Players – Independent Man
9. Bim Sherman with Singers & Players – Creation Rebel
10. Monkey Grinds The Organ

CD 6 : Hostile Environment

1. Swiftly (The Right One)
2. Stonebridge Warrior
3. Under Pressure
4. That’s More Like It
5. Jubilee Clock
6. This Thinking Feeling
7. Whatever It Takes
8. Salutation Gardens
9. Crown Hill Road
10. The People’s Sound (Tribute To Daddy Vego)
11. Off The Spectrum

Comprehensive Reissue Project

In October 2023, UK producer/sound engineer Adrian Sherwood released an album called Hostile Environment. It marked the return of Creation Rebel, the original On-U Sound house band, after a hiatus of over forty years. The band, featuring three original members, truly made an impressive comeback with the 11-track album which received widespread critical acclaim. The success of Hostile Environment might have sparked the idea of a comprehensive reissue project that features Creation Rebel’s key albums. Five albums are now available on black vinyl LP with replica artwork of the original sleeves, new inner sleeves featuring detailed liner notes, and archival photos. Additionally, a 6CD anthology box set titled High Above Harlesden 1978-2023 has been released, which includes the Hostile Environment album. This noteworthy release from On-U Sound continues the tradition of meticulously curated archival collections that the label has dedicated to African Head Charge, Dub Syndicate, and New Age Steppers, all of which have overlapping members with Creation Rebel. High Above Harlesden 1978-2023, which includes out of print and much in demand albums from the late ’70s and early ’80s is sure to delight fans of the band and reggae enthusiasts alike.

DUB FROM CREATION

The first disc, Dub From Creation, showcases Adrian Sherwood’s early work as a producer. Originally released in 1978 through the Hitrun record label, founded by Adrian Sherwood and Peter “Dr. Pablo” Stroud, the album features dubwise instrumentals by Creation Rebel. Originally, the band was a studio project consisting of initial members Eric “Fish” Clarke, “Crucial” Tony Phillips, Clinton Jack, Clifton “Bigga” Morrison, and Dr. Pablo. It actually was Prince Far I, who was involved in the start of the Hitrun label by means of providing some of his productions to release. He actually voiced a cut on the riddim of Dub from Creation, titled Frontline Speech, which he released in 1978 Jamaica on his own Cry Tuff label. Here its dub version from the flip side of the single appears as a very welcome bonus track, Frontline Dub. The talented drummer Eric “Fish” Clarke, brother of Johnny Clarke, whose skills often go unnoticed, particularly showcases his impressive abilities on upbeat tracks such as Rebel Rouser and Mirage. Dr. Pablo’s melodica playing brings a dreamy Augustus Pablo vibe to tracks like Dub From Creation and Basic Principles. The album features the engineering talents of UK dub master Dennis Bovell on the first five tracks. Then it’s Jamaica-born London-based sound engineer Sid Bucknor who takes the helm for the remaining five tracks. This allows listeners to compare and contrast the techniques of these two respected engineers on the Dub From Creation album. Bovell’s powerful dub mixes are vibrant and energetic and drowned in reverberation, whereas Bucknor’s dub workouts such as Dub Fusion and Liberation are characterized by their fragmented and chaotic nature.

Playlist Dub From Creation

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD WORLD

One of the most coveted albums in the Creation Rebel collection, Close Encounters Of The Third World, was partially recorded at Channel One studio in Jamaica and mixed in one day by Prince Jammy at Berry Street Studios in Islington, London. In 1978, instead of releasing Starship Africa, Sherwood chose to release Close Encounters Of The Third World. The recordings for Starship Africa were finished, but its unconventional sound led to the album being temporarily shelved. The release of Close Encounters Of The Third World brought a more accessible collection to the average reggae fan. The dub workouts were left behind, resulting in a selection of five vocal cuts and three instrumentals for the 8-track LP. At that point, Creation Rebel had undergone some lineup changes. Keith “Lizard The Wizard” Logan had taken over bass duties from Clinton Jack, Lincoln “Style” Scott had replaced Eric “Fish” Clarke on drums, and Desmond “Fatfingers” Coke now played the keyboard instead of Clifton “Bigga” Morrison. Vocals were provided by “Crucial” Tony Phillips (Beware) and Lizard The Wizard. The vocal cuts with its conscious lyrics are strongly influenced by popular Jamaican groups like Culture, Cultural Roots, and Wailing Souls, while Dr. Pablo evokes memories of Augustus Pablo with the solid instrumentals Creation Fever and Joyful Noise. The former’s riddim was used for the instrumental title track of the Rebel Vibration album. The third instrumental, Dangerous And Deadly, benefits from the captivating horns play of “Deadly” Headley Bennett and Johnny Moore. The extended discomix versions of Beware and Natty Conscience Free are featured here, although their lengths are not the same as the original 12″ versions.

Playlist Close Encounters Of The Third World

REBEL VIBRATIONS

Despite being the third album released by Creation Rebel, Sherwood remembered that it was the second set of tracks they recorded. Rebel Vibrations brings the listener eight dubwise instrumentals, making it the logical follow-up to Dub From Creation. Personnel includes core members “Crucial” Tony Phillips, Clifton “Bigga” Morrison, and Dr. Pablo, accompanied by Lincoln “Style” Scott from the Roots Radics and Keith “Lizard The Wizard” Logan. All tracks are mixed by Mark Angelo Lusardi, who honed his skills in London’s Gooseberry Sound Studios. Lusardi’s mixes, which seem a little more active and overdubbed compared to the Dub From Creation set, create a symmetrical effect by projecting mirror sounds through both the left and right speakers simultaneously. The deep, throbbing bass running up the middle in dub tracks like the mind-blowing Ian Smith Rock and the electrifying Diverse Doctor, featuring Dr. Pablo’s skilled melodica play, is truly fantastic to experience. From the hard-hitting opener, Rebel Vibration, to the solid album closer, Doctors Remedy, Creation Rebel showcases how incredibly powerful their instrumental music is.

Playlist Rebel Vibrations

STARSHIP AFRICA

The Starship Africa album, originally released in 1980 on the 4D Rhythms imprint, is widely regarded as one of Creation Rebel’s most notable accomplishments and a standout in Sherwood’s discography overall. Although credited to Creation Rebel, the band didn’t like the album because it didn’t have any resemblance to their music. It actually was a one-off project by Adrian Sherwood and his friend Chris Garland, who wanted to make records for their newly created label, 4D Rhythms. At Berry Street Studios, Sherwood and Garland, together with mixing engineer Nobby Turner, dusted off an old multi-track tape from Creation Rebel and started to work on the project. Style Scott played live over the drum tracks from Charlie “Eskimo” Fox, while Sherwood manipulated the sound with echo effects to create a distorted effect. Besides that, they did everything they could possible do with studio technology at the time. In the end, there was no trace or connection with what it once was. The music on Starship Africa blends dub with cosmic electronic sounds reminiscent of German-based electronic music from the likes of Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. Furthermore, it features vocals distorted to the point of being nearly unintelligible, intricate layers of abstract percussion, and an intentional sense of disorientation that borders on aggression. The original album tracks, presented as two cohesive groups, Starship Africa and Space Moment, take listeners on a mind-bending psychedelic dub journey through outerspace. The CD includes three bonus tracks that were originally included on the 2003 Japanese CD edition. Creation Rock includes the spoken vocal of Ranking Superstar, while Jah Woosh’s voice can be heard on Give Me Power. The CD also includes its dubbed out version, Original Power. When listening to the last two tracks, one will notice the riddim from Dub From Creation.

Playlist Starship Africa

PSYCHOTIC JONKANOO

After the highly rated Starship Africa project, the 1981 release of Psychotic Jonkanoo marked Creation Rebel’s ‘return to form’, albeit with some changes to their lineup. This 8-track LP brought back traditional reggae song structures and featured five vocal tracks, with lead vocals mostly performed by “Crucial” Tony Phillips. Supporting harmony vocals were provided by keyboardist Desmond “Fatfingers” Coke, percussionist Veral “Ranking Magoo” Rose (who took the lead on Yuk Up), and bassist Lizard The Wizard (who led Mother Don’t Cry). Additionally, there was a subtle guest appearance of John Lydon (aka Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten) from Public Image Limited, contributing backing vocals on Mother Don’t Cry. Originally released on the Statik label, the LP carried over some of the characteristics of the band’s earlier works. The album’s tracks are all extended versions with vocals that seamlessly transition into dub territory. Listeners can expect heavy dub, echoes, and skillful mixing of drum and bass. Things get started with a strong track that, similar to the other vocal tracks, evokes memories of the early works by Black Uhuru, consisting of Michael Rose, Puma Jones, and Duckie Simpson. The irresistable opening track, The Dope, features the captivating chants of Bonjo I, who formed African Head Charge in 1981, and showcases the saxophone playing of “Deadly” Headley Bennett. Other noteworthy moments are the dubbed out instrumental African Space, the impassioned Mother Don’t Cry and Highest Degree, where the dub section takes the track to new heights. Additional bonus tracks include Bim Sherman’s superb Independent Man, an interpretation of Bob Andy’s Unchained, and the matching Creation Rebel. These two tracks were originally released on a On-U Sound 10″ vinyl in 1982. The third bonus track, Creation Rebel’s Monkey Grinds The Organ, was featured on the 2005 Japanese CD edition.

Playlist Psychotic Jonkanoo

HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT

During the COVID-19 lockdown, original Creation Rebel members “Crucial” Tony Phillips, Charlie “Eskimo” Fox and Veral “Ranking Magoo” Rose, teamed up with Adrian Sherwoood, eventually culminating in the creation of an impressive comeback album. The album’s title is a nod to former British Prime Minister Theresa May’s controversial policies towards asylum seekers, the recent Windrush scandal, and the home secretaries’ intention to create a hostile environment to stop those seeking refuge. This is particularly significant for a group of UK-based Jamaican musicians who have lived in the shadow of a former colonial power that seems to have forgotten past injustices. In spite of these substantial themes, the music on the album is elevating and brimming with happiness and appreciation, all the while recognizing the daily challenges encountered. The musical arrangements are both precise and melodious, while they also bring in a catchy groove. At the same time, there’s no hesitation to venture into experimental and eclectic effects whenever inspiration urges to do so. The album successfully strikes a harmonious balance between thought-provoking lyrics, infectious backdrops, and deep dub influences. The haunting deep gruff voice of the late King Cry Cry aka Prince Far I can be heard on two tracks, starting with the compelling opening track, Swiftly (The Right One), on which also the vocal of Mr. Magoo is heard. The other one is the superb This Thinking Feeling, featuring Bristol-based Jamaican ragga vocalist Daddy Freddy next to Prince Far I. Both tracks are standouts and an utterly joy to listen to. But there are more deadly goods to fulljoy including the instrumental piece Stonebridge Warrior which beautifully highlights the horns played by the former Matic Horns (Henry & Patrick Tenyue) and Cyrus Richards’ melodica play. The soulful Whatever It Takes, with Isha Bell providing backing vocals, delves into the disparity between Windrush-era immigrants and their British-born children, highlighting the generation gap that emerged. Meanwhile, Under Pressure bemoans the repeated scrutiny and discrimination faced by the community from law enforcement. Additionally, The Peoples’ Sound (Tribute to Daddy Vego) is a lively tribute to the late promoter and sound system legend. The strong and striking dub tracks That’s More Like It and Jubilee Clock are truly hard-hitting offerings, while Salutation Gardens and Off the Spectrum are dreamy and atmospheric dubs.

Playlist Hostile Environment

High Above Harlesden 1978 – 2023 is a beautifully executed project that pays tribute to the outstanding work of Creation Rebel and Adrian Sherwood, highlighting their timeless excellence from the late ’70s and early ’80s with a sound that remains as lively and invigorating as ever. Reggae and dub enthusiasts simply can’t afford to overlook this valuable release.
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