Last year at a boot sale I came across a large dj case stuffed (and I do mean stuffed) full of singles. I got excited. I got even more excited when the woman on the stall told me they were all reggae and she estimated there were about 500 singles in the case. By the time she said she wanted to sell them as a lot and had been thinking of about £50 for them but was willing to listen to offers (I think £35 might have been mentioned) my heart was beating very fast. Trying to stop my hands from shaking, I bent down and started looking at what was in the box. My heartbeat soon reverted to a steady rate - I’m no expert but it seemed fairly clear to me that every as every record I pulled out was of the dancehall/ragga style of reggae. Not my cup of tea at all. 500ish singles is a lot to look through so I didn’t look go through them all, but I got the idea and decided to pass on the purchase. Since then though I have occasionally wondered whether I made the right decision – as I said I hadn’t looked through them all, there may have been some hidden treasure in amongst the numerous Capelton, Sizzla, and Beenie Man 45s.
Last week I returned to the same boot sale venue (it’s not one I make a habit of going to) and would you believe it – the same case of records was there again, with the same woman trying to sell them!
She had evidently stuck to her guns in wanting to sell them as a job lot as the case was still as stuffed as it had been the first time I clapped eyes on it! The fact that nobody else had taken them off her hands sort of reassured me that I had made the right decision first time around, but even so I couldn’t stop myself having another good rummage through the records - a more comprehensive one than before in fact. I found a two or three that were obviously not dancehall and pulled a few more out at random making about 10 singles in all. I’m sure the woman didn’t remember me and so there was another attempt to sell me the lot but she concurred when I said “you can only listen to so much dancehall”. In the end she accepted my offer of a £1 for the handful of 45s I had pulled out and I said would take them straight home and play them and be back for the rest if I liked what I heard (I kinda knew that wouldn’t happen – and yes, I know, I really ought to get a Soundburger). Most of my random picks, are as I guessed, not to my liking and I’m happy now that I didn’t buy the lot.
I knew I would be onto a winner though with The Mighty Diamonds. “Shame And Pride” was originally released on Pat Francis’ (Jah Lloyd) Teem Label imprint around 1974. My newly acquired copy is, I am sure, a more recent pressing being, as it is, on the subtly differently titled Teen Label. A great record nonetheless.
By way of contrast in a more dancehall vein here also is Lady Saw. I’m not mad on this song but it is at least half way listenable, unlike some of the others in the handful I grabbed! Lady Saw was born Marion Hall and took her name from an early influence – Tenor Saw. You can probably get the gist of the lyrics but if you are interested you can get a somewhat more detailed explanation/translation at this Youtube entry (you may prefer not to, of course!).
Lady Saw – Sycamore Tree 1997?