JJ's Down Jamaica Way

JJ's Down Jamaica Way
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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Album Review: Freddie McGregor - FM - High Times LP

    Freddie McGregor - FM - High Times LP (1979)*

Freddie has never been in my 'top' list of singers, as i've always felt that his voice was just to 'clean', to polished . On saying that, he's still a great singer, with a huge amount of great singles & albums and many many hits. Bobby Bobylon (Studio One 1979) is Freddies most famous album which includes the roots standards Rastaman Camp, I'm A Revolutionist, Bandulo, Wine Of Violence as well as the title track which was a big hit over the '60's riddim "One Step Beyond" .
FM is a compilation of tracks Freddie recorded for the High Times label during the late 70's & early 80's with 90 % of the album produced by famed guitarist Earl "Chinna" Smith & one track produced by Mr McGregor himself. The players of instruments are the Soul Syndicate band & the album was recorded at Channel One studios Jamaica.

Side One of FM kicks of with a lovers tune "Love Ballad" which is an ok song in a soul style, but not really what we want to hear!
 Much better is track 2 which is an adaption of John Holts 'Strange Things', i say adaption because Freddie only uses the chorus & rhythm of Holt's song, using new lyrics to tell the story of the biblical end of the world - armagideon. "What the hell is going on?!" A nice vocal performance from Freddie & some wicked electric lead guitar soloing by Chinna "Melchizedek".
Strange Things was also issued on 7" on the High Music label (1982).

Track 3 'Natural Collie' has a beautiful almost Al Green vibe to it, with a trippy sounding keyboard floating under the vocals. Although it's the softest sounding tune on the LP it could very well be the albums highlight track. It's got a mesmerizing, dreamy quality to it that cry's out for an extended work out.
Sergeant Brown brings us to the end of the first side & is a fast up beat tune bemoaning the removal of the weedfields by one 'Sergeant Brown'.

"What's to be done about the crime?,
Sergeant Brown Sergeant Brown last night you raid the herb fields,
Sergeant Brown Sergeant Brown you stole a bag of collie weed.
Bring it back Sergeant Brown...
Told the court it's your evidence, but i just saw you sell it across the fence"

Sergeant Brown was also released on 7" on the Priest Hood label (1979)


Side Two, begins with the heavy "Leave Yah" which is the track on this album that Freddie produced himself, it's a cracker too, with nice use of keyboards & hand drums. Lyricly it calls for all evil doers to stop their fussing & fighting  & for the righteous to  'leave yah' and

 "go to a place where there is happiness , whole lotta love & some conciousness,
 teach the children so they will learn,
 na skin up na grin up, play no ease up we haffe leave yah"

Track 2 has Freddie updating his own  I'm A Revolutionist here called simply Revolution. He's done a fantastic job too, featuring some very polished playing by the band, with Chinna trading guitar licks with the horn players & once again some very nice keyboards over the rootsy but relaxed riddim.

"I'm a revolutionist I dread no deal with critisim
We are go repatriate

Track 3 Mark Of The Beast is a warning to beware of Satan & his evilous plans.

"Satan is a sly old fox if i catch him i'll lock him in a box"......

Track 4 brings us to the end of this 8 track LP & is Freddies rendition of the reggae standard "Mission Impossible".

To sum up, it's an excellent album, if a little on the short side, and apart from the lightweight 'Love Ballad' the other seven tracks are superb with some exemplary musicianship by the Soul Syndicate with a very 'roots but polished' production from Chinna Smith. Now for the bad part - & it is BAD! The pressing of this LP is atrocious, giving new meaning to the description "frying bacon"! What should be a highly polished roots album is marred by a terribly crackly pressing. By the middle of Mission Imposible when you should be enjoying a cool organ influenced groove your having the music drowned out by a noisy "Ssscrrrrch" on every revolution!
I haven't heard an 'original press' of this LP, my LP is more likely a repress from the 1990's & it, like several other LP's on the High Times label are ruined by the terrible sound quality. 'FM' definately needs to be reissued because underneath all that noise there is a great album, but until there is a clean pressing on CD or LP of this album i'd not be tempted to buy it unless i could listen first.

j j

Side 1                                            Side 2
1.Love Ballad          3.47                 1.Leave Yah                  4.12
2.Strange Things      3.00                 2.Revolution                  4.20
3.Natural Collie       3.48                 3.Mark Of The Beast     3.58
4.Sergeant Brown   5.02                  4.Mission Impossible     4.40

2 comments:

  1. I think you will find "mared" is spelt marred.
    Precise speech leads to precise thought.
    In the interests of preserving what is left of the english language,not to mention my own sanity at the seemingly global disregard for accuracy and clarity over the infernal web,I will continue to provide my editorial services free of charge. Otherwise well done.
    Good day to you sir

    ReplyDelete
  2. Cheers, yes 'marred' is another word that isn't in my useless Collins English Dictionary. I have actually resorted to writing my own entries on the relevent pages so as to try & update it. Another word it didn't have is 'segue' (a smooth transition)which i've also added.

    ReplyDelete

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