Monday, July 30, 2007

Unconventional reggae


This is a desperate attempt to kick start the summer here in the UK. For two days running now there has been a strange orange ball in the sky – yes the sun is out! - so I’ve quickly thrown some reggae on the turntable and turned the volume UP. This act is akin to throwing some more kindling on the fire in an attempt to keep it going or, in the case of this damp squib of a UK summer, to get it to burst into life and WARM UP!

In their relatively brief existence The Royal Rasses served up their own brand of reggae. The Rasses were led by Prince Lincoln Thompson who had been active on the reggae scene since the 60s, including on and off collaborations with Cedric Myton of Congos fame, who was probably singing backing vocals on “Unconventional People”. Their sound was a sweetly unique blend of roots, lover’s rock, a hint of soul, and a dash of disco, and featured Prince Lincoln’s soaring and swooping falsetto voice. The arrangements, instrumentation, and lyrics appeared to make them more than just another reggae band and took them into crossover territory. This was the late 70s and the mighty Bob Marley had crossed over big time. Could Prince Lincoln Thompson and his Rasses be the next Marley? Signed to London based Ballistic Records their first album “Humanity” and the 12” singles they spawned - “Unconventional People” and “San Salvador”/”Old Time Friends” - received a fair amount of marketing push. But to no avail. The Rasses continued for a handful of albums in a somewhat unconventional reggae style, and also remained underground. Marley proved to by very much his own phenomenon. In the end, perhaps, The Rasses fell between two (even three) stools, too sweet for the roots audience, not sweet enough for the lover’s rock audience, and as for the previously traditional (staid?) pop/rock white audience after gorging on Marley and his Wailers that proved to be all they ever needed at the reggae table.

The B side of this 12” is an instrumental version (that’s a dub then? Well it’s called a rhythm not a dub, and in true Royal Rasses style it is in truth a bit sweeter than a dub). I will put this up instead of the A side in a while.

I think “Humanity” was issued on a CD in 2001 but can’t find it for sale anywhere at the moment. You can find some of the later albums on CD, for example “True Experience”.

The Royal Rasses – Unconventional People 1978
The Royal Rasses – Unconventional Rhythm 1978

7 comments:

Vincent said...

Greetings.

Here's hoping that you and yours are safe and sound during the severe rainfall that you have endured over the past few weeks.

Peace and blessings.

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Nico said...

Great great discovery by you. Thanks !

Stuart Palmer said...

This is a lovely cross-over tune. Interesting. I'd love to hear the B-side. Bring it on.

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