15 August 2005

Willie Lindo - Norwegian Wood


Willie was part of the Lindo dynasty, a Jamaican muso family who litter recordings from the country to this day. The full title is A Darker Shade of Black (Norwegian Wood). I presume it's some kind of reference to ethnicity, but even if that is the case it's still somewhat baffling.

It's from the 'rare and unreleased' disc of the Muzik City box set, a 4-CD retrospective of the mighty Trojan label.

It's one of those labels like Motown where you wonder how the hell they recorded so many complete masterpieces in such a short space of time.

The Motown Connoisseurs series shows that there's rare and unreleased stuff as good as the classics we all know, and the fact that the first two discs of Muzik City are killer no filler, yet only half of it is on the double CD greatest hits compilation Young Gifted & Black shows some powerful creative magic was at work with these people too.

Trojan's back catalogue has been bought up by an active reissue company, and they're doing a sterling job. Particularly laudable is the 3-CD Ganja Reggae Box Set, fifty reggae tracks about cannabis. There is surely only one genre of music that can generate a title like Babylon Don't Touch My Sensi (Dub version).

There's a great warmth, a wonderful organic texture to these recordings that is inimicable. Everyone thought Lee Mavers from The La's was a nutter for wanting to make their eponymous debut album strictly on vintage 1960s gear, but the fact is he was on to something.

Contemporary technology has brought us many wonders in music, yet we have actually lost the ability to make records that sound like they used to. The slightly muddy tinge to these productions blends the music so it doesn't sound polished or synthetic in any way, and that grants a certain kind of richness of atmosphere that can't be got now.

Coupled with this is, despite many sides being cut with the UK pop market somewhere in mind, the tremendous looseness of the musicians recording it. Used to working fast they didn't labour it, but there's an overall ease of approach, a bright warm vibe that just doesn't crop up anywhere in rock n roll or white music in general up to then.

These records were made with an attitude simply incomprehensible to those with the European obsession with melody, and it would've been impossible to capture in the boffin atmosphere of mainstream British recording studios of the time.

Reminiscing about his studio techniques of the era, Lee Scratch Perry said, 'It was only four tracks on the machine, but I was picking up twenty from the extra terrestrial squad.'

Which I think ably illustrates the fundamental difference between himself and Stock Aitken and Waterman.

[MP3 deleted to make way for new ones. Sorry!]

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