Eighties Dancehall in Excelsis: The “Lyric Maker (from England and Jamaica)” Mix

At last, it’s here: http://www.grievousangel.net/GAMixes/LyricMakerMix.mp3

Right-click, save file as, and decompress.

This mix came about after spending a couple of years staying at John’s house for a couple of nights a week, spending most evenings listening to his completely amazing collection of roots, dub, dancehall and digidub. I’ll remember these nights for the rest of my life because I was able not just to take refuge from working life away from my family, but was able to spend night after night listening to what is as far as I’m concerned THE GREATEST MUSIC EVER MADE. A natural evolution of these blissful nights was to start putting together mixes of some of the best bits of his collection. He supplied the sounds and a lot of the mixing, I supplied the editing and effects. The first result of this collaboration was this mix – recorded onto tape and dumped into my Mac for tarting up. The idea was, firstly, to showcase the difference between organic, warm, rocking JA dancehall and the somewhat different strain of British fast chat, and secondly, to completely blow away any listener even vaguely familiar with the musical frameworks and conventions of reggae.

Here’s the line up to whet your appetite…

1. Thriller U – Sweetest Sound (Digital B 1989)
Fade Away / Peanie Peanie Rhythm
This is a KILLER soundsystem tune. “When the first dub hit the turntable it like thunder.”

2. Chuck Turner – Run Around Girl (Live & Love)
3. Cultural Roots – Running Back To Me (Live & Love)
4. Version (Live & Love)
Unknown Rhythm
And now the thunder. Vast sinuous bass (occasionally massively overdriven) and swinging digital beats underpin achingly melancholic songs of love lost. Live and Love info: http://www.xs4all.nl/~tapirs/lovealb.htm

5. Admiral Tibet – Leave People’s Business Alone (Techniques)
6. Cutty Ranks – Gunman Lyrics (Techniques)
Tings n Time rhythm

Two classic examples of cyclic, infinitely funky JA dancehall in all their devastating glory. Tibet floods us with emotion while Cutty Ranks strafes anyone still standing with salvoes of monotone fast chat.

There’s some nice edits and effects in this bit.

7. Lui Lepke – Can’t Take Me Landlord (Joe Gibbs)
8. Gregory Isaacs – Storm (Penthouse 2002)
9. Warrior King – Education (Penthouse 2002)
10. Yellowman – Gregory Free (white label)
Storm Rhythm
Lepke winds the pace down a bit, adding a delicious narrative over a cavernous groove, which Isaacs reassembles into a clockwork-driven melodic pulse. Warrior King adds horn-driven weight and hand-raising refrains before Yellowman lowers the tone of proceedings considerably while broadcasting a message of support to the imprisoned Gregory Issacs.

Just one rhythm delivers a seemingly endless succession of different dynamics and flavours, attesting to Jamaica’s incredible inventiveness.

11. Gregory Isaacs – Raving Tonight (Virgin 1978)
And now the respite. This is just an absolutely glorious tune and makes a great reply to Yellowman. Gregory supplies a vocal that simply aches with feeling. Why the chorus isn’t on a million hardcore records I don’t know – maybe it is? Tell us if you know!

12. Cu Oonuh Version(Techniques)
13. Melting Pot Version (Techniques)
14. Dilinger – Melting Pot (Techniques)
15. Johnny Ringo – Dedicated to Jah (Fashion 1985)
16. Asher Senator – Senator No Skin Up (Fashion 1985)
17. Reggie Stepper – Cu Oonoh (Techniques)
Stalag Rhythm

We kick off with a couple of dubs of what must still be the most popular rhythm in reggae. These have been cut up a lot to bring you the maximum laidback grooves. Dillinger takes us even deeper into the alternate universe of funk that is Stalag, and Johnny Ringo Responds. “Now students, compare and contrast the JA style with that of their British counterparts….” The UK sound is more stipped down, slightly more clinical but soaked in vibe. Asher Senator, one of the fast chat originators, deploys his laidback flow to fine effect, before Reggie Stepper slays it: this tune just rocks . The horizontal funk of the original gets hyped right up with digi-bashment syndrums.

18. Top Cat – Push Up Your Lighter (9 Lives)
You’ll know this cos it’s been sampled to fuck, but this is high velocity dancehall at its finest. And it’s rock’n’roll! Just listen to those Duane Eddy riffs ricochet through the mix.

19. Peter Bouncer & The Offbeat Posse – Huff ‘n’ Puff (Y&D 1989)
But if JA was delivering house’s peak time energy with Top Cat, the UK was as ever speeding it up, stripping it down to hammer out ardkore’s blueprint – and being from 1989 it’s a direct antecedent. It’s a pounding 140bpm+ monster, with the vocal and dub versions spliced together.

20. Johnny Ringo – New Yorker (Fashion 1985)
21. Asher Senator – To Whom Respect is Due (Fashion 1985)
Unknown Rhythm
Winding it RIGHT back down to the beginning of the story, Johnny Ringo relates the differences between UK and US reggae cultures over a supertight backing. Asher bigs up of Danny LaRue.

22. Johnny Ringo – Nice and Easy (Fashion 1985)
23. Asher Senator – Asher in Court (Fashion 1985)
The Fashion crew loved to differentiate their productions from their Jamaican peers with stiffer, more weirdly syncopated rhythms that sound a lot like some current Grime rhythms.
Johnny Ringo bio: http://www.icebergradio.com/artist/30237/johnny_ringo.html

Asher in Court is probably THE signature Asher Senator tune. He spins a fantastic yarn about sharing a joint with the judge and turns the groove around completely.

24. Michigan & Smiley – Nice Up The Dance (Studio One/Soul Jazz)
25. Tippa Irie – All the Time the Lyric a Rhyme (UK Bubblers 1984)
Real Rock Rhythm

A solid gold classic. Michigan and Smiley’s iteration of Real Rock is an ecstatic, bouncy, rolling, JA dancehall apocalypse. In Brit hands it condenses into a series of hard, minimal pulses with Tippa Irie’s unbelievably intense monotone fast chat. It’s just amazing. Plus it includes the best fast chat line ever: “Well me and Mrs Irie well you know that we’re related”. Superb.

26. Papa Levi – Big ‘n’ Broad (Island 1984)
Papa Levi picks up the groove and pushes it up a gear. His delivery isn’t quite as sharp as Tippa’s but it still drops bombs and the rhythm’s devastating.

Intense siren action on this one.

27. Tippa Irie – Lyric Maker (UK Bubblers 1985)
Throw Me Corn rhythm
The rest of tunes in the mix are good, but this… this is something else. Lyric Maker is the signature tune of the mix, the place where it all comes together. Because it’s here that Brit dancehall showed how it could take reggae into places that the JA heartland couldn’t quite imagine, a universe of mechanoid dub beats and electronic pop noise. Obviously Tippa’s delivery is the apotheosis of fast chat brilliance, endlessly riding peaks of intensity without ever falling in on itself. This is one of the greatest records ever made.

28. Sleng Teng intro (Who’s Gonna Make the Dance Ram Dub) (Fashion 1985)
29. Andrew Paul – Who’s Gonna Make the Dance Ram (Fashion 1985)
30. Version (Who’s Gonna Make the Dance Ram Dub) (Fashion 1985)
31. Peter King – Step on the Gas (Fashion 1985)
32. Version (Fashion 1985)
Sleng Teng Rhythm

Sleng Teng is one of the ultimate JA rhythms but the two UK versions here are easily superior in my book. “Who Makes the Dance Ram” was a huge hit in the UK and I think it crossed over in Jamaica as well. Plus, it’s a monstrous acid house stormer and for my money shows just how much eighties dancehall created acid’s blueprint. We close with acid dub heaviosity from Peter King, the originator of the fast-chat sound. It’s yet another tune that reflects the automotive obsessions of the Fashion stable, and it’s a great car crash story. “Step on the gas, KICK down the accelerator…”

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Lyric Maker (from England and Jamaica): John Eden and paul.meme present a JA vs UK Soundclash.

I’ve closed comments boxes because of the spam problem. If you like this mix, PLEASE email me and / or John and let us know!