Tag Archives: reggae

RIP Mikey Chung (1950 – 2021)

 Mikey Chung (1950 – 2021) was a Jamaican musician who played keyboards, guitar and percussion instruments.

“Breezing” (1972) by Mike Chung & The Now Generation

Here with a cover of “Breezin'” (1970) by Bobby Womack.

“Breezin'” (1970) is a musical composition by Bobby Womack, originally released with Gabor Szabo on Blue Thumb Records as a seven inch single.

On the b-side was “Azure Blue”. The song was later released on Gabor’s album High Contrast.

RIP Robbie Shakespeare (1953 – 2021)

“Don’t Stop the Music” (1981) by Bits & Pieces

Robbie Shakespeare was a bass player who, with his partner Sly Dunbar, formed the most influential reggae rhythm section between the mid-1970s and the mid-1980s.

I found out about Robbie’s death in De Standaard in which Karel Michiels wrote a knowledgeable obituary. Michiels had struck me before when writing about the death of Bunny Wailer. When I came home I googled him. I found out he is a reggae musician in his own right and performs under the name Jah Shakespeare.

What is my history with Sly and Robbie?

I think a friend of mine had a tape of Taxi Gang (a Sly and Robbie moniker) with her when I traveled to Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand in the early 1990s.

When I collected records during the late 1990s and early 2000s, I found a copy of “Don’t Stop the Music”, a track which they recorded under the moniker Bits & Pieces, a cover of the disco song.

Boops (Here To Go)” (1987)

And then there is “Boops (Here To Go)” (1987) produced by Bill Laswell. This I first heard in Tom Tom Club in Antwerp. When I tried to find it in the internet era, it took me some time, thinking the lyrics were, “civil check, arms open wide” in stead of “Si boops deh. With arms open wide”.

Compass Point houseband

Besides all this, the duo are central to what is perhaps my favorite recording studio. I am referring to Compass Point, where Sly and Robbie were central to the house band Compass Point All Stars. Everybody played there, perhaps most central to my universe, Serge Gainsbourg.

 Padlock EP (1983) by Gwen Guthrie

The Padlock EP

And, to conclude: Robbie also did the bass line on that unforgettable record Padlock EP (1983) by Gwen Guthrie, produced by Larry Levan.

RIP Lee “Scratch” Perry (1936 – 2021)

Bucky Skank (1973)

Lee “Scratch” Perry was a Jamaican composer and producer known for such songs as “Bucky Skank” (1973).

He died and the last member of the holy trinity (Lee Perry, Sun Ra and Fela Kuti) of 20th century black musical “auteurs” is no more.

Perry was an Afro-futurist, Afro-humorist, Afro-dadaist and Afro-surrealist. He taught the world that a mixing desk could be used as a musical instrument.

There was a period in my life he was all I listened to. Album such as Blackboard Jungle Dub (1973), Super Ape (1976) and Return of the Super Ape (1978) were a on repeat and albums such as Cloak and Dagger (1973), Black Board Jungle Dub (1973), and Revolution Dub (1975), were, along with the work of King Tubby, the foundation of dub music.

My brother at one time owned nearly all of his albums.

An issue of Grand Royal by the Beastie Boys was dedicated to Lee.

His flying cymbal sound is as notorious as that of Bunny Lee.

He claims to have part in the authorship of many of the early Bob Marley and the Wailers songs.

What a loss. Not only for the reggae world but for the musical world at large. He was a visionary, the Sun Ra of reggae, saying stuff like:

“I see the studio must be like a living thing, a life itself. The machine must be live and intelligent. Then I put my mind into the machine and the machine perform reality. Invisible thought waves – you put them into the machine by sending them through the controls and the knobs or you jack it into the jack panel. The jack panel is the brain itself, so you got to patch up the brain and make the brain a living man, that the brain can take what you sending into it and live.”

He was a mad genius who wrote, how many songs? Many of them recorded on a four track system, but an incredibly spacious sound.

RIP mister Perry, this feels like a personal loss.

I wanted to do a more thorough write-up, but I only came up with this mixtape: Judge Dread (1967), People Funny Boy (1968), Pop Corn (1970), A Place Called Africa (1970), 400 Years (1970), African Herbman (1971), Mr. Brown (1971), Sun Is Shining (1971), Bucky Skank (1973), Justice to the People (1973), Kentucky Skank (1974), “Curly Locks” (1974), Doctor on the Go (1975), Woman’s Gotta Have It (1975), Chase the Devil (1976), Croaking Lizard (1976), Hurt So Good (1976), Super Ape (1976), White Belly Rat (1976), Zion’s Blood (1976), Big Muff (1977), City Too Hot (1977), Groovy Situation (1977), To Be a Lover (1977), Bafflin’ Smoke Signal (1978), Soul Fire (1978), Throw Some Water In (1978), Huzza a Hana (1978), I Am a Madman (1986).

RIP Bunny Lee (1941 – 2020)

Bunny Lee was a Jamaican record producer and one of the major forces in the Jamaican music industry, producing hits throughout his long career.

“Wet Dream”

His song “Wet Dream”, interpreted by Max Romeo, became popular in 1968 despite being banned on the BBC; and Eric Donaldson’s “Cherry Oh Baby” would be covered by the Rolling Stones.

“My Conversation”

Lee also produced the perennial riddim “My Conversation”.

‘If Deejay Was Your Trade’ (1994)

The compilation ‘If Deejay Was Your Trade’ (1994), which was the debut release of the reggae compilation label Blood and Fire, consists of a selection of his productions from the period 1974-1977.

The documentary ‘I Am The Gorgon – Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee and the Roots of Reggae’ is in full on YouTube.

RIP Toots ‘Maytal’ Hibbert (1942 – 2020)

“Funky Kingston” (1972)

Toots Hibbert was a Jamaican singer and songwriter, leader for the band Toots & the Maytals. He is best-known for such songs as “54-46 That’s My Number” (1968), “Pressure Drop” (1970) and “Funky Kingston” (1972).

Hibbert was one of the first artists to use the word “reggae” in 1968’s “Do the Reggay”.