10 Essential Carnival Sounds (courtesy of The Tighten Up Crew via the mighty Gladdy Wax Sound System)
1. Reggae Samba – The Mighty Falcons (Happy-Tone)
It‘s not all about obvious ‘big tunes’ and guaranteed rewinds at Carnival. This is a killer, horns-driven reworking of Carlos Santana’s classic Samba Pati and despite its relative obscurity, it’s instantly recognisable and helps build the right vibe for the musical mayhem to come.
2. The Meducia (sic) – Tommy McCook (Attack UK)
The title is most likely a misspelt homage to the snake-maned Medusa of Greek mythology. Either way, this is a superb instrumental cut to Johnny Clarke’s reworking of Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry”. Talk about version excursion! This probably shouldn’t be anywhere near as good as it is. But it is. Trust me.
3. Wisdom – The Wailers (Trojan)
Gladdy Wax plays this beautiful, lesser-known Wailers classic on an original Jamaican pressing that I‘ve been coveting for some years now. I own it on the cash-in UK press released via Trojan in ’81 just after we lost Bob. Simply gorgeous, thoughtful, uplifting Roots music – whatever label it’s played on.
4. Stop The Fighting – Culture (High Note)
Okay! Sometimes it IS all about big tunes and guaranteed rewinds! Here‘s a fine example courtesy of Joseph Hill‘s mighty Culture (or “The Cultures” as they’re called on the original High Note pressing!). Culture arguably did their best work for Joe Gibbs but this is one heck of an anthem and ALWAYS gets a massive singalong on the “SKABBA-YABBA-YE-BAMBA-YE-BAMBA-YAAAAAW” bit! Crucial!
5. Identity – The Mighty Diamonds (Belmont)
This is one of the best things the Diamonds didn’t do for Channel One. I actually watched my copy of this warp in direct sunlight as I played it at Carnival a few years ago! I was so concerned at what was happening to my vinyl right before my eyes, I was completely oblivious to the crowd demanding a rewind! Gladdy duly stepped in and obliged – thus subjecting my record to a further four minutes in the blazing sun! Cheers Gladdy!
6. Better Days – Carlton & The Shoes (Underground)
This stunning Roots anthem had long been a favourite of mine via an old Dave Hendley/ Trojan compilation. I finally picked up an original 7″ some years later from Gladdy’s much-missed Wax Unlimited Record Shop in Stoke Newington. It’s only right then that I’ve managed to work it into our set pretty much every year since we started guesting on Gladdy’s sound.
7. Dog War – The Maytals (Prince Buster)
The Maytals may well be my favourite vocal group of all time and this is quite possibly the fiercest three minutes of music ever
committed to vinyl! Furiously energetic and shot through with great spirit and humour, this is one of those tunes that’ll never grow old for me. Genuinely timeless.
8. Cuss Cuss – Lloyd Robinson (Harry J)
This comes off like classic Studio One but is most definitely a Harry-J sumting! A powerful lyrical attack on the negative ones underscored by one of the most relentless riddims ever! Good luck picking up an original. I‘m rocking the ’84 repress which comes with a heavy, HEAVY dub version that has every Deejay in a 10-mile radius reaching for the mic. BOOM!
9. Never Let Go – Slim Smith (Studio One)
Nuff said! The original Studio One classic and another one that gets every budding MC with two lyrics and a bit of bottle shocking out pon di mic. Best left to the professionals tho! Despite there probably being at least ‘1,500 versions of dis riddim’, Mr Smith‘s brilliant vocal performance means this stands proud in its own right. Superb stuff.
10. Give Me The Right – The Heptones (Coxsone)
With Little John‘s killer ’51 Storm’ currently on repress and DB‘s mighty ‚Children Of Israel‘ being a staple of pretty much every selector‘s box – this shines through as the all important missing link. The Heptones stand up for their love rights and sound as militant as they do on their classic freedom songs from the same era. That unstoppable, driving riddim section and those mighty horns seal the deal. An absolute MONSTER of a tune courtesy of Coxsone Dodd’s immortal Studio One!