For this review I thought I would pick a ‘memory tune’. Not a rare like hens teeth tune, not a ‘next cut tune’ or a blank or rare label number, but a tune that any self respecting rootsman (or woman!) should own. Are you sitting comfortably, then I will begin!
I started collecting records and going to dances in the 90s and living on the outskirts of london meant I was in the privileged position of being able to see a lot of the big sounds. Aba Shanti, Conscious Sounds, Jah Warrior, Boomshakalaka (Disciples), Jah Observer, Mount Zion I, and Entebbe all played regularly. At the same time there was a new style of roots and dub being produced and played (90s style I always called it!).
By the end of the 90s the scene had, in my opinion, got crowded and as a result quality suffered. It seemed like every Tom, Dick and Harry was releasing tunes, and although listening ‘out’ on a full system was good, they never really made you want to rush home, dig them out and listen to them – the mark of a good tune still!
I remember this particular session at the Dub Club, Tuffnell Park one Thursday night. I had got there early and a solid set of 90s roots had been played. I found myself getting bored. Everything was sounding the same. Same tempo, nice computer generated horns line, same bouncy springy dub, same vocal snatch…. You see where I am going with this!
I made the decision in my head that if the next song was pony then I would leave. Then the MC announced they were playing ‘revival till dance done’, and ‘Stone’ dropped. The place went bananas, rewinds were requested, sirens going off all over the gaff, but Lord have mercy when he played the flip side.
‘Great Stone’ has to be one of the greatest versions out there. As it played top volume on full system, it felt like you were getting beaten up, chucked all over the place! At the time I didn’t know what the tune was, but as many roots tunes tend to have their title in the song, it wasnt hard to identify! I remember that particular dance because no one left early and tune after tune was played. It certainly started my love for revival roots.</>
Having two kids, I dont pick up that many tunes any more, but as you do as you get older, I have rediscovered tunes, where I heard them, who played them and where I bought them from, and tunes like ‘Stone’ will always evoke happy memories.
The tune itself is a nice upbeat stepper tune, simple structure and sound, brisk pace with a great vocal from Prince Alla. The tunes of this time from the Greenwich Town area of JA that Freedom Sounds put out were all of the highest quality and all graced with superb dubs. They always seem to be readily available as well. If you don’t know, then get to know!