REGGAE HISTORY, page 4
JAH T, bassman
LLOYD BARNES is certainly one of the most briliant personas
in Dub and Reggae history
- and one of the most forgotten. In the numerous publications on Jamaican music he is
seldom mentioned, maybe due to the fact that he didn't operate from Jamaica but from
the Bronx, New York / USA. Only recently many great records from the immense WACKIEs
catalogue are re-released - here in Germany by the HARDWAX crew - and became
available again. To me Wackies music and sound was the key listening experience that
got me interested in Reggae and Dub at first and many of their records remain among
my favourite releases of all time.
After hanging around at Duke Reid's 'Treasure Isle'-label a
lot Lloyd Barnes started
as a background singer in some of the releases there. In 1967 he left Jamaica and
came via England to New York, where he soon grouped up with other Jamaican
emmigrants. He and some friends rode the transit trains of New York with an own
soundsystem and played a lot of dances. But the overall situation was quite violent
at that time, gangs were around and after picking some bullets out of a speaker after
a party he decided to give up the soundsystem bussiness. But the name 'BULLWACKIE',
Lloyd's name in the gang, stuck.
In 1973 the basement studio in the Bronx was built, a studio
band called the
Wreckless Breed was formed (later a band named 'ITOPIA', part of the well-known
CONGOS who stuck in America, followed), and the first 7"-releases on several
labels came out in 1974 (Johnny Osbourne or Munchie And The Corner Crew among them).
Another important step was the opening of the 'WACKIES HOUSE OF MUSIC' record shop at
White Plains Road in 1977. Like Lee Perry's Upsetters Record Shop this shop was far
more than just an outlet to sell music, it worked as a constant meeting point for
Jamaican artists living in New York or just passing by. Via this shop the contact
with lots of talented people was established and the upcoming output of many
brilliant records made possible.
1977 is the year WACKIEs really started out. With Dub-LPs
like 'CREATION DUB',
'AFRICAN ROOTS ACT. 1' (as Bullwackie's Allstars) or 'TRIBESMAN ASSAULT' by Roots
Underground the typical Wackies sound finally took on it's unique shape and
The Dub produced by Lloyd Barnes is actually the purest form
of Dub imaginable, all
the important elements sound perfect and are used to perfection. The riddims are
extremely hypnotic and tearing, the echos and reverbs create wide space and
soundscapes, the dramaturgy always holds the tension high throughout the tracks and
is full of surprises - and the drum and bass sound is in a league of its own. A
special drum booth with aluminium foil in the inside to reflect the sound better was
constructed and special paddings were used. The bass is not EQed and often sent
through delays - highly unusual for a bass. Barnes was also one of the first guys to
use a sampler (due to good connections in Japan he had one available quite early),
and also a MOOG synthesizer can be heard often. The sound itself is 100% analogue and
organic, the dubs seem to live on their own thus accomplishing one of the main goals
dub set to music.
In the early 80ies WACKIEs reached it's prime time. Many
artists were drawn to the
Bronx for recording then, the sound of the already released records promising them to
reach a new level of production, and many of them recorded their alltime best records
then. Here timeless classics like HORACE ANDYs 'DANCEHALL STYLE', WAYNE JARRETs
'BUBBLE UP', the LOVE JOYS' 'LOVERS ROCK' or the 'JAMAICA SUPER DUB SESSIONS' were
created. The number of outputs was immense (see the Wackies Discography for an
overview) and the quality mostly absolutely great so it's hard to understand how such
incredible music alomst remained unknown to many people after its release and I thank
God for bringing me these records now as re-releases and getting me into Dub.
Though the Wackies sound somehow couldn't keep up its high
quality after the Digital
Revolution (being the manifestation of analogue production itself) the unnumberable
LPs and 12-inches from their best period remain a treasure that slowly will be
unlocked in the next time via the re-pressings and much nice music - though actually
20 years old - is still waiting for perception, still sounding fresh and still having
all the power it had then.
Many, many, many! For a summary of available records check www.wackies.de!
Additional to the above mentioned classics are these highly recommended: LOVE JOYS
'Reggae Vibes' (LP) and 'Gimme Back' (12"), JUNIOR DELAHAYs classic 'Working Hard For
The Rent Man' (12", don't miss this one!) and his LP titled 'Reggae', the selftitled
'RECKLESS ROOTS ROCKERS' Dub-LP, the great DJ-style (!) releases 'Poor House Rockers'
by CLIVE FIELD MARSHALL and JAH BATTAs 'Argument', PRINCE DOUGLAS 'Dub Roots'-LP and
SUGAR MINOTTs best-ever 'Wicked A Go Feel It'.
Also a MUST HAVE are all BURIAL MIX-releases on the RHYTHM &
SOUND label from Berlin,
with many Wackies artists like The Love Joys, Jah Batta and Lloyd Barnes himself
singing over the timeless soundscape-riddims R&S is famous for. To me the one and
only electronic reggae of today, that will have a place in my heart forever! And that
is not exaggerated! Check it out for yourself.