The Abyssinians' "Satta Massagana" is one of the great albums of Jamaican music. It is now out in a deluxe edition.
Although Jamaican music has always been singles driven, there have been a couple dozen unforgettable LPs and "Satta Massagana," released in the late '70s is one of them. With its strong, but soft bed of rhythm provided by some of the music's best players, the veteran vocal trio led by Bernard Collins sang its heart out.
Songs like the title track, the opener "Declaration of Rights" and "Y Mas Gan" weren't unfamiliar to Jamaican audiences, which had previously heard all three a decade previous. But these versions became iconic, as did other album tracks like "African Race" and "I and I."
Fourteen years ago Heartbeat reissued the disc with four bonus tracks and now revisits it again with four more tracks: "Jerusalem," "Leggo Beast Dub," "Abendigo (extended mix)" and "Poor Jason Whyte (extended mix)."
With its plaintive vocals, velvety roots sound and message of positive protest, "Satta Massagana" feels ageless. Find out for yourself with this new deluxe edition.
Also from Heartbeat are some new reissues of great Studio One material.
Decades ago, Coxsone Dodd stuck it to the bootleggers by issuing legal copies of bootlegs of his productions, even using the bootleggers' artwork and album titles.
Now, Heartbeat continues the tradition with The Gladiators' "Studio One Singles," originally issued as a French bootleg.
The Gladiators disc has a bit of overlap with 1998's "Bongo Red" compilation, but not much and there are great tracks here among the 23 cuts. Most exciting is the first appearance, to my knowledge, of the lovely "Sonia" and its b-side version on CD.
"When Rhythm Was King" is an 18-track various artists compilation with some landmark rock steady cuts like Basil Daley's "Hold Me Baby" and The Heptones' "Fattie Fattie." There are also '70s tunes by Johnny Osbourne, Wailing Souls, Dillinger, Sugar Minott, Al Campbell and Michigan & Smiley. The LP version has two bonus cuts, reversing the gimmick used to sell CDs 20 years ago when bonus cuts were put on the CD instead of on the vinyl.
Top of the heap? Alexander Henry's "Please Be True," which has a killer rhythm that was later much versioned, and a rare early mix of Bob Andy's signature "Unchained."
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.