11. Jean Adebambo – Irie Feeling

June 22nd, 2013

Back after a period of not being able to record vinyl.

This is a lovers rock Sleng Teng. Jean Adebambo recorded a string of singles and two albums in the early ’80s, largely on her own label, Ade J. I have to say, I’m not a huge fan of lovers rock, despite it’s recent revival, but despite that I actually quite like this tune. Like Smiley Culture’s Try A Ting, this is clearly performed by a full band giving it a mellower sound than most versions. And Jean Adebambo has a great voice, with nicely layered vocals throughout the song. The song featured on the 1985 album Off Key Loving and later appeared as a B-side to the single All The Way in 1987.

Jean Adebambo - Irie Feeling (Ade J., 1987)

Interlude #1 – Mix

April 30th, 2013

So time for an interlude: here’s a 40 minute mix I put up on Mixcloud. The mixing isn’t perfect, but if I kept putting it off until I had a perfect mix it’d never happen …

Several of the versions have already been posted, others will no doubt be featured in due course.

 

Sleng Teng Extravaganza pt 1 by Lxsch on Mixcloud

10. Wayne Smith – Morning News

April 29th, 2013

For this tenth post we have one of my favourite versions, featuring the man who started it all – Wayne Smith. Smith returned to the riddim that made him famous to vocal an updated version of the riddim from King Jammy. Smith comes up with another killer vocal, this time in the form of a love song. He references his earlier hits for Jammy, Under Mi Sleng Teng, Ain’t No Meaning and Come Along, which are layered under his vocals to slick effect and cleverly interwoven with the lyrics (“Sing Ain’t No Meaning, yes me sing it for you / Sing Come Along,  you know me sing it for you / Sing Sleng Teng, you know me sing it for you “).  He also reuses his “Way in My Brain” lyric.

Wayne Smith - Morning News [Kingston 11, 1993]

Wayne Smith – Morning News (Kingston 11)

 

The playful reuse of earlier lyrics is a nice touch – I’m a real sucker for tracks which reference versioning and dancehall history.  But for the most part this track stands up superbly on its own as a fantastic version – Wayne rides the riddim effortlessly and approaches it from a completely different angle. It would have been easy for him to simply rehash his previous version or rest on his laurels, knowing that the riddim will always be associated with his name.  To his credit, and aided by some nifty production, he came up with another excellent version which does justice to him as a singer.

***

Come Along and Ain’t No Meaning, the other tracks referenced in the song:

9. Cobra – Mr. Pleasure

April 15th, 2013

Another John John version, this time vocalled by Cobra.  It’s got a singjay-y chorus which I’m a sucker for, and I think the trumpets on this version give a bit of spark to the vocals on it which it might lack on another track. As you might expect, it’s fairly slack  – “Mad dem with your fat pum pum under yu frock”.

Cobra - Mr. Pleasure [John John, 1993]

Cobra – Mr. Pleasure [John John]

 

8. Colour Man – Vengeance

April 15th, 2013

As far as I can tell this is the only release on this label, which I assume is named after Sir Garfield Sobers, captain of the West Indies cricket team from 1965-72.

I hadn’t heard of Colour Man either, but it seems he released a couple of albums and a few 7″s between 1982-87.

The vinyl has no date on it but given the dates of Colour Man’s other releases I think it’s safe to say it was around ’85-’87. He comes in with a biblical theme: “I’m back with a vengeance / Got to make mention of my intention / The only deejay go on stage with the bible in his right hand and mic in his left hand” but the song isn’t hugely religious, more a lyrical showcase.
Colour Man - Vengeance [Sir Garfield]

Colour Man – Vengeance [Sir Garfield]

Steely & Fluxy do a good job on the rhythm track with a strong digi feel. The track has a liberal dose of “yeah!” and “nice!” samples which always remind me of Dave Kelly productions. The producer is listed as G. White, who again I’ve not heard of.

Steely & Fluxy - Version [Sir Garfield]

Steely & Fluxy – Version [Sir Garfield]

7. Josey Wales – Cowboy Style

March 21st, 2013

Josey Wales named himself after Clint Eastwood’s character in the film of the same name, so it’s hardly surprising that a lot of his songs are about cowboys and the wild west, a popular theme in reggae and dancehall.

The_outlaw_josey_wales

This version of Sleng Teng was originally released in 1993 and re-issued in 2011 on King Jammy’s Kingston 11 label, and also featured on Josey’s 1994  album of the same name.

joseywales-cowboystyle

Josey picks up on the familiar cowboy theme on this track. The track opens with him quoting another of Eastwood’s characters in A Fistful of Dollars (“Senor, build me three coffins… My mistake, make it four”).

He then launches into some dubious advice his father gave him… “Josey, I’m dependent on you son / Don’t fight fist to fist go for the gun”. Among other things, he gives a shoutout to Jammy’s son, Baby G.

Another line I like just for a glimpse of everyday life is “Dem stop sell de radio that work with battery / Everybody using electricity”.

Josey Wales - Cowboy Style [Kingston 11]
Josey Wales – Cowboy Style [Kingston 11]

Despite being one of the more iconic versions of Sleng Teng I actually came across this track through hearing the sample of Josey’s opening line on the jungle track Jungle & Western Cowboy Style on Greensleeves.

6. Hugh Griffiths – Honey, Honey

March 7th, 2013

On this version Hugh Griffiths covers The Manhattans’ Honey, Honey, released in 1981 on Columbia Records and written by Earl King Jr.

manhattans-honeyhoney

Here Griffiths sings over the Top Rank Gang’s version of Sleng Teng, seemingly released in 1985 (neither the 7″ nor the riddim LP have a date, but a rerelease (?) is dated 1985). The vocal and dub both have a slightly mellow feel to them, as do most of the other vocals on this version.

Hugh Griffiths - Honey, Honey (Top Rank) - A

Hugh Griffiths – Honey, Honey [Top Rank, 1985]

Top Rank Gang - Honey Dub (Top Rank) - B

Top Rank Gang – Honey Dub [Top Rank]

5. Jigsy King – Skin To Skin Connection

February 10th, 2013

One of many versions of Sleng Teng on the 1993 version produced by King Jammy’s son, Lloyd James Junior, a.k.a. John John. John John is the eldest of Jammy’s three sons and became a highly successful producer in his own right, as did his younger brothers.  United Reggae has a nice article on the generations of the James family and their continuing role at the heart of dancehall music.

The John John version of Sleng Teng starts off with a distinctive trumpet riff which sets off the baseline nicely. As with a lot of 90s ragga there is a second line of drums with a more percussive feel to it. On vocals Jigsy King does his gruff voiced thing, with some fairly standard lyrics about  “Skin to skin connection, woman them cry for the loving and affection” which Jigsy is the one to provide…

Jigsy King - Skin To Skin Connection [John John]
Jigsy King – Skin To Skin Connection

Jigsy King - Skin To Skin Connection (Version) [John John]
Jigsy King – Skin To Skin Connection (Version) John John

4. Olive Ranks – 85 Shack

January 9th, 2013

Visiting Sounds of the Universe recently I came across 3 versions of Sleng Teng on Hi Power Music. The Olive Ranks version seems to be from 1985, with two new versions from 2012 on the riddim by Blackout JA and Mikey General.

I can’t find any information about Olive Ranks online, and as far as I can see this is the only release she appears on.

85 Shack

Olive Ranks – 85 Shack

I assume 85 Shack is actually 85 Shock, with 1985 being the year Sleng Teng was first released.
In the lyrics Olive references Sting Me A Sting, Shock Me A Shock by Patrick Andy, one of the versions on the original Jammys ’85  Sleng Teng.

85 Shack Version
85 Shack Version

The version is credited to The High Power Gang, with a slightly dubby mix from Peter Chemist.

 

3. Mitch ft. Arp – Rude Boy Reggae

December 14th, 2012

This version come from 2004 on the Powerstone Label and is produced by Noel Davy (I think the M. Davy credited on the label is  typo), the keyboardist from the original Sleng Teng riddim in 1985.

Noel Davy - Killing Thing (Powerstone)

Noel Davy – Killing Thing (Powerstone)

The Powerstone label, seemingly set up by Davy and consisting solely of 41 versions of Sleng Teng, seems to have been a way for Davy to capitalise on the huge success of his biggest tune, one which it is likely he only received a small musicians fee for at the original session at Jammy’s.

[EDIT: Tony Asher was the musician on the original Jammys Sleng Teng. Davey just discovered the riddim on the Casio. Even more reason for him to release his own version to capitalise on the success of the riddim]

In this 2011 article in Jamaica’s Daily Gleaner, the writer notes that:

There has not been much debate about the key figures in the moment in Waterhouse, St Andrew, keyboard player Noel Davey, singer Wayne Smith and producer Lloyd ‘King Jammy’ James. Of the three, however, Davey is the least known and acknowledged – although he tells a story of the Sleng Teng creation in which he was the major player, literally and figuratively.

Here, in a short video clip from 2001, Davy plays Sleng Teng on the Casio MT-40 keyboard which inspired the riddim originally:

As regards to the A-side, I quite like the singjay style but don’t know much about either of the singers…

Mitch ft. Arp - Rude Boy Reggae (Powerstone)

Mitch ft. Arp – Rude Boy Reggae (Powerstone) A-side