(Summer/Burning Bush/Ikoro)

Researching this tune was hard. Only a smattering of information on the net, some of it only accessible with dodgy old Google translate. What is certain is Noel Ellis – son of the great Studio One singer Alton Ellis – recorded this tune around 1983 in Toronto, Canada.

Influenced by Willie Williams, Johnny Osbourne and the maestro Jackie Mittoo who were also in Canada at the time, Ellis released a self-titled 7-track album through Summer Records. Ellis grins at the listener from the cover, resplendent in the knowledge the three reggae luminaries had a hand in its work.

To Hail Selassie is the highlight of the record, and was reissued by a French outtfit with a Light in the Attic connection in 2000. This is reggae at its absolute finest: the bassline throbs sensationally through any half-decent set and Ellis’ lyrics powerfully invoke Selassie’s influence over other world leaders during his reign – Queen Elizabeth II and the Pope two named as bowing to the Ethiopian emperor.

Although Ellis’ verses are sparse but perfectly timed, it’s the riddim that is the standout – a pulsating and deep 1980s-style reminiscent of the Roots Radics or Soul Syndicate. The reissue 12” is beautifully pressed to maximise the impact of a tune that stretches out to more than 6 minutes and always draws the attention of sound system and proper roots and dub aficionados. If you see this for sale, buy it – an exceptional piece of music.

More info:
Hail Selassie on Discogs
Light in the Attic Records

Jeff Neems
A Hamilton-based “collector first, selector second”, Jeff Neems began accumulating vinyl in his early teens. He is the long-term resident DJ at Wonder Horse, acknowledged as one of the country’s leading cocktail bars and easily the funkiest and coolest spot in the Tron – tucked as it is down an alleyway most folks walk past. He is known for serving up an eclectic mix of tunes over the course of a set, ranging from hip hop and reggae to Krautrock, indie rock and jazz.

Jeff was previously a music and entertainment journalist, interviewing (among others) Lee “Scratch” Perry, Aston “Family Man” Barrett, Burning Spear, Junior Reid, Third World’s Cat Coore and noted reggae writer Steve Barrow of Blood and Fire.

Instagram: @jeffchoosestunes