Taken from the album. Please turn up the bass when listening.
This is reggae music after all!
Sister Fay - Chantells & Barnabas
A fine collection of some of the best material from Roy Francis’ Phase One label (JA) with the addition of two previously unreleased DJ cuts. Included are the massive ‘Waiting In The Park’, with which The Chantells scored one of 1977’s biggest non Marley reggae hits, Steve Boswell’s anthemic ‘I Am Getting Bad’, and the wonderful ‘Help Us Jah’ by The Untouchables. Also on the album are other excellent tracks from The Chantells, The Heptones, Jah Berry, Dean Fraser, U Brown and Prince Mohammed.
Fiercely independent in character, and wonderfully individual in product, the Phase One record label is among the more revered imprints to surface in Jamaica during the late 1970s. Though the company’s catalogue remained relatively small, what it lacked in quantity was more than made up for in quality, as the readily identifiable sound of Phase One has brought some of the most inspired platters of the roots era. The label was the brainchild of Roy Francis, the man who now runs the perpetually buzzing Mixing Lab, one of Kingston’s most respected and in-demand studios.
Many tracks feature those wonderfully echoing dubwise excursions that became the label’s hallmark; two of the numbers that have been taken from resurrected original master tapes are gaining release for the very first time. From the toasting delights voiced in praise of sisters Fay and Jacqueline to the particular harmonic blending of the Chantells and the original style of Steve Boswell, this is roots reggae music at its best—the unique and everlasting sound of Phase One.
Motion have done it again: After a string of some of the best roots reggae and dub releases available on the market, they have stepped forward with another collection of extremely rare roots reggae: "We are Getting Bad" is a formidable collection of 7" and 12" from the Phase one Label. You don't need to look any further. This is as good as it gets. This acts as a perfect complimentary companion to the astounding release on the Blood and Fire label, "Children Of Jah", which is one of the most beautiful and perfect collections of sufferer's roots collections you could possibly hear. Like the Motion release, these tracks on the Blood and Fire label were 12"s and 7's that in the late 70's and early 80's were sought after like buried treasure by the roots cognoscenti in London, treated with reverence and sold from one collector to another for significant figures.
The outstanding feature of the releases on the Phase One label was the distinctly personal and heartfelt nature of the lyrics, backed by the originality of the rhythms. (This is also in evidence on the equally extraordinary Blood and Fire release, "Children of Jah")These are songs of existential loneliness, the struggles implicit in simply being born in this physical form, and how to escape its constrictions, and ultimately, facing the often dangerous choices offered by life.
Check it, and don't miss it: The tracks offered on "We are Getting Bad" are deeply serious, dread tunes. This is not commercial music for the faint of heart. The best track on this collection of spiritual gems is the ominous sounding title track "We are Getting Bad", full of dread portent and ethereal rhythms. Lifting and focussing the consciousness of the listener, it's a song of pain and regret.
"I feel it inside I wanted to cry. Somebody told me that I'm getting bad Lord I've been working, working all day, yes I've been working like a slave. You know how I feel"
Unquestionably, this is music of deep contemplation, deep meditation and self reflection.
Then there is the unmissable "Deceivers" track from The awesome Heptones, with its truly inspired dub: Snare drums explode over the middle of a sparse and empty bass soundscape, with harsh percussion flying over the surface of the mix.
Prince Mohamed's "Lightning and Thunder" drops in with a roar of rolling thunder, and pounding tuned snares, ringing like timbales, kept in check by disciplined rimshots ricocheting around the mix, spinning into howling feedback and sound effects.
Then there are the rhythms: Pounding bass and drum, rockers style, soaring and dropping basslines and harsh snares and rimshot cracks, driving the sheer energy of the rhythms forward. Thankfully, these are not rhythms you will find elsewhere, except in the case of the "companion" Phase One cd out of the Blood and Fire stable. Whilst there is a lot of pleasure to be gained from collecting numerous versions of a rhythm, it can also be tiresome to hear a rhythm reworked ad finitum, again and again. This is not the case here: "We are getting Bad" features original, fresh, unique rhythms, not versions the serious reggae listener has heard again and again. As was often the case with Bim Sherman who chose to lay his ethereal vocals over unique rhythms restricted for his own exclusive and personal expression, these rhythms are for the most part, restricted to these Phase One releases. Strictly exclusive and firing dub music at its seismic best.
What the Blue Note and Impulse labels have achieved from their impeccable presenting, archiving and collecting of the absolute best in hard, serious and deeply dread bass heavy Jazz tunes, the likes of Motion, Pressure Sounds and Blood and Fire are now achieving in compiling the unrivalled best in committed and powerful roots reggae.
These Motion releases truly are as good as it gets. Don’t miss your chance to buy this music before it deletes a second time around. All these tracks have been long deleted and unavailable for at least twenty years. Give thanks to Motion for unearthing these musical and spiritual treasures.