Sunday, November 9, 2014

Reminder: New Site!

our new and improved website is at WWW.DKREGGAE.COM !!!


Saturday, March 1, 2014

UNTAMED: The history of The Fashioneers, The Mighty Abidjans, the Swing Bird label, and Mr. Jaiq Sterling!

To go along with the DKR February 2014 release of Part 1 of 7" reissues from the SWING BIRD label, we've put together a history of the two awesome and related groups who will be reissued, THE FASHIONEERS and their later incarnation, THE MIGHTY ABIDJANS. These groups self-produced all their music on their own SWING BIRD label from approx. 1975 thru 1982. Read on and learn the details of these until now mysterious reggae groups. Following the story is a discography and some great photos of both groups' one-time lead singer and song writer, Mr. Jaiq Sterling. Jaiq has a fantastic history in reggae music dating back to 1968, having been involved in but a couple of those many and too-often speculated-about and unknown groups of the era when pre-release blanks were the order of the day. We as latter-day listeners can often only play detective to try and know the story of these groups, but here's one instance where we've cracked the case. All that is recalled is below, so read on and enjoy!

*To see & hear the first set of SWING BIRD 45's, click here to check them out on our new website!*

The Fashioneers and the Mighty Abidjans are two related groups who until now have remained obscure and known mainly only to record collectors. However these groups made a handful of the best roots harmony records of the late 1970's and early 1980's. Much like the Fox Fire label who produced a small but deadly output of music during the same era, the relative commercial non-success of the Fashioneers/Abidjans does not at all correlate to their quality. Over the years, a handful of their tunes have bubbled up from the thousands of singles released at the time, to be recognized by those in the know as tip-top shelf material. These songs were crying out for availability and a light being cast on the details of their story. We tracked down one-time lead vocalist and song writer for both groups, Jaiq Sterling, and subsequently the other surviving members of the group, to get the story and get these rightful classic tunes back on the road.

Both groups began with Leonard Billings, who is unfortunately and sadly no longer with us. Leonard was a tailor by trade, but had begun singing in the late 1960's with the group The Selectors. By 1975 that group had dissolved, and Leonard recruited Jaiq Sterling and Pixley Brown to form the Fashioneers. Jaiq Sterling too was by then an experienced musician, having also been recording since the 1960's with his previous group The Destroyers/Soulites for both Lloyd 'Matador' Daley and Coxsone Dodd at Studio 1, as well as more recently in 1975 as an interim member of the Black Traps (see photos and the full details of Jaiq's very interesting discography below!). The Fashioneers would be different though, as from the outset it was determined that the new group would be independent, and produce and release all their own music. So the group went to Channel 1 and cut their first tune, "Guiding Light." With Jaiq writing the song and singing lead, backing by the Revolutionaries, and equipped with a hard dub mixed by Ernest Hookim, the single is a masterpiece of militant '70s roots harmony. It was released shortly there after on the revived and updated Swing Bird label, which Leonard had first used back in the early '70s and would from now on serve as the label for all of both groups eventual releases. When "Guiding Light" failed to make a real mark and the group's progress stalled a bit, Jaiq left the group. Afterwards, Leonard sang lead on two more songs under the Fashioneers moniker, again releasing both on 45's. These are the equally great "Give a Helping Hand" (coming soon!), and the softer and less memorable "Give Me Right Now."

By 1980, none of the three singles by the Fashioneers had garnered much attention, and Leonard dissolved the group and was seeking members for a new group, to be dubbed The Mighty Abidjans. In this group Leonard was joined by new members Glenford McLeggan and Kingsley Irons. Glenford played some instruments but had never previously recorded, while Kingsley had been a member of The Shockers in the late 1960's (anyone know about them?). It was this trio that cut the Abidjans' first tune "Whip Them Jah Jah", which in addition to its Jamaican release, was licensed to April Records in America. The New Jersey label is now best known for releasing the classic albums by the Mighty Threes. Shortly after this, Leonard again approached Jaiq about joining his group. Jaiq agreed, and the new four man Mighty Abidjans group returned to Channel One in 1980, this time to cut one of Jaiq's new compositions, "Untamed." To our ears one of the fiercest songs of self-determination ever to come from Jamaica, the boldness of the lyrics had a rhythm to match, a very tough one from the emergent Roots Radics Band, who were now resident at Channel 1. A while later in 1981, the group decided to try their hand at an updated version of The Fashoineers' "Guiding Light." Remixing and revoicing the original 1975 rhythm track, and adding percussion overdubs by Bongo Herman, the tune came out arguably harder and better than before. Both songs were again released on Swing Bird 45's, with "Untamed" catching the attention of the fledgling No. 1 Rock label in the UK, who after hearing the 45, wrote the band a letter asking to release a discomix version for them in the UK. The group agreed, and returned to Channel 1 studio to voice a deejay piece to be added to the vocal cut. Though uncredited on the subsequent twelve inch, the deejay on the record was actually group member Kingsley Irons. It would seem even with the disco release in the UK, "Untamed" also failed to bust the group out further, despite them also having a nearly full page write up with band photo in the Jamaica Star newspaper appearing shortly after the song's release. A scan of this article can be seen below. Differing opinions within the group and slow progress again made Jaiq look elsewhere, and by later in 1982 he had left the group. Sometime shortly after, the remaining members managed one last attempt, cutting and releasing two more 45's, "Oh No Girl", another soft lovers number, and "Don't Change the System", which re-uses the rhythm from "Untamed" but with a much more straight mix. And it seems as though the story ends there, as quietly as they made this handful of now-classics, they were done, the group finished and the members going their separate ways. But we're thankful for the perseverance they showed in the tough JA music business, because it left us with these gems to discover years later, to finally be recognized worldwide as among the high water marks of their moment in Jamaican music.

Jaiq Sterling Discography

The Soul Might > The Destroyers > The Soulites - 1969-1971
Jaiq Sterling, Darvel Weir, Carlton Paterson (later producer of the Black & White label)

The group's first ever recording was for Lloyd 'Matador' Daley in 1969.
The Soul Might aka The Destroyers aka The Scorchers - Dengue Fever (Matador FLD 7759 FRM)
Note: The name 'The Scorchers' is a posthumous mis-crediting by the producer Lloyd 'Matador' Daley, as the Soul Might/Destroyers are NOT the group who did the song 'Ugly Man.' Their original name was the Soul Might which at the time of the recording, the producer asked they change to 'The Destroyers.'

Their next recordings were for Coxsone Dodd/Studio 1, several songs were recorded, beginning in 1969. Arriving at Studio 1 as 'The Destroyers', the group changed their name to 'The Soulites' after realizing their was now another group called 'The Destroyers.' Please note that this 'Soulites' is not the group who recorded 'Rise & Shine' on the Gemini label, that is yet another group. The Soulites also did harmonies for other (solo) artists at Studio 1. Jaiq recalls one such song as "Wednesday's Child" by one Frank Diamond. This artist and song is unknown to me, possibly unreleased, any further info is appreciated. All day rehearsals and sessions at Studio 1 are also recalled, with other artists such as The Cables and The Royals also alternately rehearsing and recording throughout the day.

The Destroyers aka The Soulites - Burning a Pagan aka On That Day (blank - DYNA CS 337-1 LGA) Note: The group gave this song the title 'Burning a Pagan', as evidenced by handwriting on some original copies, but it came to alternately/posthumously be known as 'On That Day.' Please note the song on the other side of this blank, known as "The Good You Do" is NOT by the Soulites.
The Destroyers aka The Soulites - Spirit Down Here Below (Studio 1 blank - DYNA CS 1076-1)
also released on Bamboo (UK) as BAM34B, incorrectly credited as "Feeling Good" by Brentford Rd. All Stars.
The Soulites - Love Me Tonight (Studio 1 blank - C&N 2-IV / Bamboo UK BAM 27-A)
Note: The tune 'Botheration' on the flip side of the Bamboo UK issue of 'Love Me Tonight' is mis-credited, it is NOT by the Soulites.
According to Jaiq, unreleased songs include: "I Was Lonely", "Pick Me Up" (the rhythm for this tune was later re-used by John Holt for 'Anywhere'), and approximately two more songs for which the titles cannot be recalled.

After the break up of the Soulites circa 1971, Jaiq moved on to -

The Black Hunters (1975)
Denson Brown, Fil Callendar (of In Crowd Band, Studio 1 band, etc.), Jaiq Sterling

Don't Be Afraid (Leo - Leo 001 - DB 2375 A/B)
Bril Creme (Leo Leo - 002 - DB 7852 A/B)
Notes: Both recorded at Black Ark Studio, rhythms by the In Crowd Band. The Black Hunters did one more recording called 'Trod' later on, which Jaiq did not participate in.

and then on to -

The Fashioneers (1975-1980)

Jaiq Sterling, Pixley Brown, Leonard Billings
Guiding Light (Swing Bird - LB 3238 A/B) 1975
Notes: "Guiding Light" was recorded and mixed at Channel 1 and backed by the Revolutionaries, on this session recalled as: Sly Dunbar - drums, Ansel Collins - keyboard, Radcliffe 'Dougie' Bryan - lead guitar, Ranchie McLean - bass, Robbie Shakespeare - rhythm guitar (?). Jaiq left the group after 'Guiding Light' and does not appear on The Fashioneers two other released recordings, 'Give a Helping Hand' or 'Give Me Right Now.' Leonard Billings sings lead vocals on those songs.

By 1980, The Fashioneers had broken up, and Jaiq rejoined Leonard Billings to form the Mighty Abidjans, along with two others.

The Mighty Abidjans (1980-1982)

Jaiq Sterling, Leonard Billings, Kingsley Irons, Glenford McLeggan
Untamed (Swing Bird - DSR 0913-AS / DSR 0914) 1980
Guiding Light (Swing Bird - DSR 2796 A DT G MCLEGGAN / DSR 2797 B DT G MCLEGGAN) 1981
Notes: "Guiding Light" is a new mix and voicing of the original 1975 Fashioneers rhythm, with added percussion overdubs by Bongo Herman. "Untamed" is backed by the Roots Radics Band. Both songs recorded & mixed at Channel 1. Jaiq does not appear on 'Whip Them Jah Jah', which was done before he joined the group, or 'Oh No Girl' and 'Don't Change the System', as those were done after he left the group. 'Don't Change the System' re-uses the rhythm from 'Untamed.' 'Untamed' was also released on the No. 1 Rock label in the UK, with a deejay part added after the vocal, and a dub on the flip side. The label owner wrote a letter to the group in Jamaica, asking to release it in UK after hearing the JA single on Swing Bird. The deejay piece was cut specifically for release on this 12". The (uncredited) deejay part was done by Kingsley Irons, member of the group.

and lastly in Jamaica -

Furnace (1982)
Jaiq Sterling, Kingsley Irons, Ras Harper
After leaving the Mighty Abidjans in 1982, but before migrating to Canada in 1984, Jaiq formed a group named Furnace, who recorded two songs at Channel 1, backed by the Roots Radics, and produced by Niney the Observer.
songs titles were:
Keep Cool in a Dancehall
Cool Natty
As far as we know, neither song was ever released.

In 1984 Jaiq migrated to Canada, where he has continued to sporadically perform and record over the years, producing himself but also having done songs for Canadian-based producer Oswald Miller. Anyone seeking to contact Jaiq can contact us and we will put you in touch.



Tuesday, February 25, 2014


In case you haven't already noticed, we have a new website! Our domain, will now take you straight there. But in case you have our blogspot URL bookmarked and haven't seen it, hit that hyperlink above and check it out! This blog will still remain as-is and potentially have posts added to it, but *NEW RELEASES WILL NOT BE ANNOUNCED HERE ANYMORE!* All new releases will appear on our new website, which features a whole heap of improvements over the blogspot template. The new site has a shopping cart for retail ordering and is fully searchable and indexed by artist and label. We've also cross-linked all tunes on same rhythms. Please check it out! We're still adding some of the sound samples but they'll all be up there eventually. Feedback and suggestions are welcome, so hit that contact page. Thanks!

Friday, January 3, 2014





Killer and rare late '70s dub LP, which is in fact the dub companion to I Roy's "Musical Shark Attack" LP. If you know Channel 1 albums, then you know that LP is loaded with the hardest late '70s Channel 1 roots rhythms. What most people don't know however, is that I Roy's album was actually voiced over this dub LP, as it was completed and ready before Channel set about making a new I Roy album. This is one fantastic dub LP, now properly issued, direct from master tape, in a newly designed jacket made to match the I Roy album, a companion piece in design and music. Eleven killer slices of Revolutionaries dub from 29 Maxfield Avenue, this is a Musical Dub Attack!

NOTE ABOUT SOUND SAMPLES: This is an 11 song LP. Track A6, "Jamboree Dub" cannot be previewed in the player below due to mis-detection by the copyright robots at Soundcloud. It's a killer dub to the rhythm used for I Roy's "Jamboree" and Earth & Stone's "Give Me." Check it out separately in the divshare player below!

A6 - Jamboree Dub



Flick Wilson is one of our favorite artists, one of the many unsung greats of the fertile early 1980's dancehall period, his awesome falsetto making him stand out amongst his contemporaries. His fantastic album produced by Jah Life & Junjo Lawes was reissued as part of our Jah Life reissue program (still available, see here!). Overall, Flick didn't do much recording though, and cut only a handful of singles outside of that album. Talking with him after we re-released the album, we solved a mystery, something we had a hunch about for a little while...that Flick Wilson is in fact Dandy Lion, of "Vives" ("Vibes") fame, the awesome tune released in 1984 on the Kulumi label! The story goes like part of his payment for voicing the "School Days" album, Flick received some rhythms on tape from Junjo, to use for some self-productions. Not quite having the funds to pay for recording, mixing and pressing, Flick partnered up with some "area man" who wanted to do some producing themselves (in the role of financiers), those being 'Shadow' Paul Sutherland and Oliver 'Kulumi' Miller. Flick went into the studio and did three tunes using two of the rhythms. These were of course, 'Last Night' (originally released on Sonic Sounds' Gorgon label, with no credits!), "Vibes" (typo'd on all copies as "Vives"!), and "Two Youths Have a Quarrel." The latter two came on the Kulumi label, with "Two Youths..." coming out in 1988, four years after the release of the other two, which were met with very little sales in 1984. But why was he called Dandy Lion when he already had an album and other singles to his name as Flick Wilson? We were eager to know, and that's a story too. Despite the album (which was only released in NYC!) and a couple of JA singles, Flick was still a relatively unknown singer trying for some acclaim in 1984. So he went to audition for Errol "ET" Thompson at Joe Gibbs' studio. ET liked Flick's voice and decided to do some recording with him, as he was voicing some young singers at the time, for some of their new labels, like E.T. and Rocky 1. Flick voiced a handful of songs for ET, two of which were released, "Haul and Pull Mi Selector" on ET, and "Lyrics Doctor" on the Rocky 1 label, named after Joe Gibbs' son Rocky. But ET wouldn't abide the stage name Flick Wilson being on the tunes, as that name had already been used by Ruddy Thomas (an associate and also sometimes engineer at Gibbs' studio) since the mid '70s. So ET gave Flick another stage name, Dandy Lion! And so the tunes were released as such. So when it came time to release the first Kulumi tune, Flick and Oliver gave that one the name Dandy Lion as well, hoping it would get recognized on the strength of his tunes for the big producers ET & Gibbs, which had also just hit the market. Unfortunately, none of these tunes met with much commercial success. But like so many other great tunes that fell thru the cracks, over the years, astute collectors and listeners latched on to them and gave them the credit they deserve. DKR re-presents all 3 tunes on Flick Wilson's new label named Things I've Been Through, these tunes of his past representing his struggle to make it in the tough JA music business. "Last Night" is backed with the same tough dub cut as "Vibes", as unfortunately its original dub, which was only ever available on dubplate, is now lost. A couple final notes, due to a manufacturing error, "Two Youths Have a Quarrel" was not ready for release this month, but trust us, it's a total missile, one of the heaviest tunes of the early '80s, with an extremely wild and raw dubplate-style dub from Scientist on the B-side. All going well, it will be released next month. So hold tight, and for now enjoy these two cuts! Lastly, even if you have bought the previously available bootleg issue of "Vibes", we ask you to consider buying this issue (yes, it's that good of a tune!), fully authorized by Flick Wilson aka Dandy Lion. Thanks!



By special request and popular demand, here's the other two cuts to Black Oney's "Jah Jah Send the Parson (Rasta Move)." Since we reissued that single a couple years ago, it's been one of the most popular tunes in our catalog (still available, see here!). By now releasing the other two cuts on the rhythm seemed overdue, so here they are. Prince Far I's cut appeared on his "Psalms For I" LP on the Carib Gems label, while Black Oney's other cut on the rhythm was made specifically for entry in the 1975 Jamaican Festival Song contest, and only ever released on a tiny blank label pressing. Prince Far I recites Psalm 87 over a more spare dub-style mix of the rhythm, while Oney sings on a more straight mix. All three tunes were made in 1975.

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Monday, November 18, 2013





Part 2 of our Sir Collins reissue program is now here! Five more shots of monumental early roots reggae on three singles, all ultra-rare on original pressings, now on crisp 7-inch vinyl, straight from master tapes. The mysterious Elijah cut this mellow and heartfelt 2-part single for Sir Collins, then apparently disappeared from the recording scene. But the tune made quite a mark in New York, where it was released on the very rare Bronx-based WARICKA label, enough to have been covered a few years later by KC White (we also reissued his cut, still available, see here!) The tune is also remembered fondly as a New York sound system favorite in the 1970s by those active back then. It was also released on the Ackee label in the UK, memorable roots reggae for sure. Back to The Invaders, as you might now know, one of our favorite artists (see here ... and here for other available Invaders tunes!). These two songs were released on a frighteningly rare single in JA on the Invader label, while "After a Storm" was also released as a pre-release blank in the UK. The Invaders sublime and soulful harmonizing wins again, these tunes are as catchy as ever forty plus years later. Lastly, the mighty Delroy Wilson, one of Jamaica's biggest artists. "Give Me Your Love" was released on a Delroy LP again on the WARICKA label, which was mostly sold as a blank label pre-release with no cover, although copies with labels and/or a silk-screened cover also exist. This is a phenomenal cut on the mournful and heavy 'Artibella' rhythm, with a killer organ sound that we just love. This tune is backed by a dub cut with horns and bongos, lifted from an extremely rare blank-label Sir Collins compilation LP. We've heard tell that the vocal cut also comes on blank label pre-release 7-inch, but haven't seen it. Can anyone confirm? In any case this tune is one of our favorite of its era, essential to any Delroy Wilson selection. Sir Collins is still going strong in 2013 and beyond, so look out for more from the vaults!

Sound Clips:

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Saturday, October 5, 2013



CHANNEL 1 10" 45 RPM


Channel 1's lost and found series continues with two big ten-inches. Our first one features Channel 1's heavy update of the classic 'skylarking' rhythm. Barry Brown's "Forward On" originally appeared only on his classic "Far East" album. The vocal here is followed by an unreleased dub cut. The flip side is an unreleased vocal cut by Clarence Parks. This cut is followed by a different skylarking dub, which we believe to be also unreleased. While it's a bit more lo-fi and not quite as Channel 1 sounding, this was sourced from a collection of tunes originally played as dubplates by the Channel 1 sound system, another piece of Channel history. One bad ten-inch with four killer cuts. Our second ten-inch also features Barry Brown, with another unreleased vocal & dub, called "Praise Him", this time riding the same rhythm as Al Campbell's "Jah Army." The Al Campbell cut of course, is on the flip side, reissued for the first time since its original release on 12-inch on the Jedi label in the early '80s. "Jah Army" is presented as originally issued, in discomix format, vocal running into dub.



Presenting one of our favorite early '80s roots tunes by one of our favorite artists of the era. "Cool Down Sufferer" is probably Icho Candy's best tune, and it's back now on the Tesfa label, one of the main imprints of artist/producer Tesfa McDonald. Tesfa has now been active as a producer in five decades, so we pulled this gem from his back catalog, a heavy tune with cool synth sounds. It was originally released on the Tesfa label in JA on 7-inch, and on 12-inch in the UK on the Selah label.



Big Youth's "Political Confusion" is a killer deejay version to the Jewels' "Love & Livity", which has been available from DKR for a few years now. Long overdue for re-release, a second cut to this heavy '70s roots rhythm is most welcome.

Monday, August 12, 2013





DIGIKILLER returns after a brief hiatus, true to the name. It's been a while since we issued any '80s digital tunes, but here are two of the rarest and best. Natural Vibes tune is a holy grail, plain and simple. In several years of watching the internet and digging records in New York, Canada and Jamaica, we know of only two copies. No small feat in this day and age! But more importantly, this rare beast is a hell of a tune, a wicked sparse and heavy variation on the 'tempo' rhythm, with a stark message of reality to match and killer synth/keyboard sounds. Sixy Morris' tune is a bit more well known, having been released on 7" in JA and on 12" in the UK. A great digital tune which combines elements of the classic late '80s digital sound with a bit of early '90s flavor, it's got a killer rolling bassline, great singing, and of course, the famous "scratching" fx!

Sound Clips:

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