My tunes of the week usually follow a certain pattern, mid tempo and sweet. I think I have only reviewed one roots tune! Being more of a lovers kinda guy all my tunes have that smooth slant….until now!
A good friend’s father recently passed away and the family gave me some of his records. Amidst all the Studio One and Treasure Isle labels, there were some blanks. Some tunes I recognised, but this tune caught me off guard! I had to play the record down the phone-line to one of my specialist roots collecting friends to source it.
The track is ‘A Ju Ju Wah’ by Prince Roland Downer and Count Ossie with his band. The tune is supposedly a Gayfeet Production produced by Sonia Pottinger. It was released in England in 1968 on the Doctor Bird Label.
It is a powerful and haunting Nyabinghi song sung in an African tongue with a beautiful vibe led accompaniment which was probably played by Lennie Hibbert. Both Hibbert and Cedric Brooks where associated with the band. Count Ossie’s band eventually changed their name to ‘Mystic Revelation of Rastafari’ and were a leading light for Nyahbinghi drumming.
As for Prince Roland Downer, it seems like he is one of the many artists who slipped under the radar and nobody seems to know much about. What is known is that this song, which is a fusion of jazz and roots in its primary form, is definitely something to behold. Listen and enjoy!
Mark Professor, (Wreck It Up Crew/ Stereocity Sound/ Soca Saga Boys/ The Reference Library, London)