King Jammy is perhaps best known for evolving reggae to the digital sound that ruled the 1980’s.But his roots stem back to the analogue age of the 1970’s working alongside King Tubby in those heady days when the King was still Prince Jammy, and the sounds made were Roots,Rock Reggae …..
[ Born, Lloyd James. 1947.Montego Bay,Jamaica ]Jammy’s family moved to the Waterhouse district of Kingston Jamaica in 1956.Like King Tubby who would become his mentor,his connection to music grew through the building of amplifiers and repairing of electrical equipment.He had his first sound system ‘Jammy’s Hi – Fi’, up and running by 1962 and in the years that followed would see his amps used on the up and coming local Sound Systems like ‘El Toro’,’Lord Kelly’ and ‘Emperor Faith’.
Word soon got around to King Tubby that Jammy had a talent with electronics and as they were nearly neighbours, Tubby would have him over to his yard repairing various pieces of equipment.The early 1970’s saw Jammy leave Jamaica for what initially was to be a few weeks trip to Canada,but this was to last 5 years.He continued his involvement in music and worked with various Sound Systems in Canada, and kept in regular correspondence with King Tubby over the musical happenings in Kingston, Jamaica.
His return in 1975 coincided with Phillip Smart,who was King Tubbys main engineer and his emigration to New York.Jammy was offered and then took the permanent job that at the time was being filled by the singer Pat Kelly.This would begin the many sessions that took place at Tubby’s 4 track studio at his house, 18 Dromilly Avenue, with Jammy at the desk.He learned his craft during those prolific times,working on the numerous sessions where Tubby trusting Jammys judgment ,would often leave him to run the desk.One of these first sessions was with Producer Bunny Lee,another great influence, who would give him his monicker, Prince Jammy.
During this time Jammy was also building a studio at his house, 38 St. Lucia, a stones throw from Dromilly Avenue, he started his own label in 1978,under the name Jammy’s.Its first release would be Black Uhuru’s,’Natural Mystic’. His knowledge of the Sound Systems in Kingston, meant that he was aware of new and upcoming music and would see him working with such local talent as Half Pint,Echo Minott,Junior Reid and Anthony Johnson to name but a few.Jammys star was rising with many hits under his musical belt.But it would explode in 1985 when he cut a track with another local called Wayne Smith.The track would be called ‘Under me Sleng Teng’.Built on a computerised rhythm, it would change the sound of reggae for the whole of the 1980’s.When digital tunes ruled the dance floor and Prince Jammy would be crowned King Jammy for the rest of the decade.
But on this release we are going to concentrate on Jammy’s recordings cut in the late 1970’s when analogue was still the dominant sound.Although his work at King Tubbys is where he cut his musical teeth.Tubbys studio was mainly used for voicing tracks over already recorded rhythms and cutting the dubs.So when Jammy wanted to cut a fresh rhythm with a band he mainly used the Channel 1 Studio, which was the studio of choice at the time. We have hand picked some of Jammy’s finest recordings focussing on work he carried out at the mighty Channel 1 studios.A fine selection of cuts that when listened to, show how so many hits from the time were from the great mans stable.Such roots classics as Anthony Johnson’s ‘More Love in the City’,King Everald’s heart felt ‘Life can be Easy’, and Junior Reid’s massive ‘No Darkness Tonight’, are featured here,alongside Dennis Browns ‘Them Fight I’. Which seem to work beside Echo Minott’s ‘Bad Company’, Half Pints ‘Money in the Bank’ and Puddy Roots ‘Went Down Town’. A wicked choice of tracks from one of Jamaica’s top producers long may he reign……