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The Rupie Edwards Story

Rupie Edwards image
Rupie Edwards
Rupert Lloyd Edwards was the only child born on 4th July 1945 in Goshen, in the parish of St. Ann's ("The best parish in Jamaica" according to Rupie) to Lilian and Charles. Rupie Edwards has music in his blood: from an early age he can remember making a guitar out of bamboo or a pumpkin vine saxophone and being in school bands and choirs.

His foray into the music business began when he was 14 or 15 where he used to hang out with others future stars (who had yet to make their mark on the local scene) including John Holt and Pat Kelly. His first recording was "Guilty Convict" b/w "Just Because" recorded for L.S. "Little Wonder" Smith in 1962, released on Melodisc's famous Blue Beat label in the UK and was paid £15 for the session. The follow-up was a duo with future Technique Junior Menz entitled "Mother's Choice" b/w "Amen" recorded, he believes for producer Harry J. Harry J, who later became famous for his productions such The Beltones' "No More Heartaches", Lloyd Robinson's "Cuss Cuss" and The Harry J All Stars "Liquidator", was the manager of a 17 piece touring band call The Virtues (a name later adopted by a singing group put together by Rupie of ex-members of the main band). The line-up included singers Lloyd Robinson, Basil Gabbidon (famous during the Ska days), guitarist/singer Eric Frater and the loving pauper himself, Dobby Dobson.

Rupie began work as a producer in earnest during mid 1968, where Rock Steady was just turning into (early) Reggae and his earliest works such as The Mediators' (aka The Itals) "Look Who A Bust Style", The Concords' "I Need Your Loving" as well as many of the songs featured on this album are ground breaking for the time they were recorded. He also found time to play on other sessions including back up vocals and piano, and says that it is he who is playing organ on the bizarre Lee Perry produced Upsetters instrumental, "Clint Eastwood".

He worked extensively with two main studio engineers; Syd Bucknor and producer/engineer Linford "Andy Capp" Anderson both of whom can be heard on many of the featured tracks. In fact, it was Syd Bucknor who transferred this very compilation from the original master tapes to DAT. Linford Anderson's contribution to Jamaican music is enormous, engineering most of the recordings at Byron Lee's Dynamic Studios during the golden era of 1968-71, including the majority of Leslie Kong's most famous hits such as "Israelites". His engineering and mixing styles are distinctive as they often feature extra delay and effects that were 3 to 4 years ahead of their time. He can truly be hailed as one of the inspirators for the dub mixers.

Rupie Edwards' early rhythms were bubbly and upbeat, with a magical interplay of drum, bass, chopping rhythm guitar and rasp, backed up by organ and that picky-plucky sound of the dead string lead guitar. The music is clean and fresh even to this day and, like many other producers of the time, has a familiar feel yet a sound of it's own. Many of the songs on this album don't have solos, just a space for the rhythm to 'breathe'. Rupie wasn't conscious of this when asked, but just acknowledged that it sounded good at the time and went with it. This technique, a hang over from the Rock

Steady days, is sighted by some as the paving of the way for the advent of Dub music.

In 1966 he met Harry Palmer (of Pama Records) in Jamaica and in a separate meeting, another Graeme Goodall, who was setting up the Dr. Bird/Pyramid label group as an outlet for Jamaican music in Britain, who was at the time, the back-up engineer at Studio One, when Coxsone's cousin Sylvan Morris wasn't available. Both encounters led to his music being released in the UK, with the Pama label issuing his productions on their dedicated label, Success. The logo for this label was designed by Paul Khouri, the son of Ken Khouri, the owner of the Federal Studios, which he later sold to Bob Marley (who re-christened it Tuff Gong). When asked why none his work appeared on the early "Tighten Up" series volumes, he explained that his working relationship with Trojan didn't start until late 1969 / early 1970, thereby missing the opportunity.

 

RUPIE EDWARDS ALL STARS OF 1968-69:

The original line of the Rupie Edwards All Stars, formed in late 1968, featured a magical line-up of post-Skatalites house hold names, all of which were omnipresent on recordings at the time and who would go on to play pivotal roles in Jamaican music. The band play it fast and raucous and have a rounder, smoother sound than their main rivals, The Hippy Boys. Rupie's productions such as "Look Who A Bust Style", "Buttoo", "Love Is A Wonderful Wicked Thing" are typical of their style - the interplay of Gladdy Anderson's piano, Winston Wright's pumping organ on rhythm (or wailing during a riff), the upbeat drums, the broken bass lines, the loose guitar chops all come together to start Rupie off in the right direction. What follows is a brief summary of each of the main players :

GLADSTONE "GLADDY" ANDERSON (PIANO) was, with Jackie Mittoo, the first choice pianist for such sessions. He came to prominence as a vocalist working predominantly for producers Joe Gibbs including the massive hit "Just Like River" (a duet with Stranger Cole) and for Alvin "GG" Ranglin (usually as part of a duo or trio with the members of The Maytones, such as "Little Boy Blue", with Vernon Buckley) and with his band the Gladdy All Stars, as an early incarnation of Lee Perry's Upsetters (recording the organ parts on "Eight For Eight", "Return Of Django" and "Dollar In The Teeth") . He later went on to record enough tracks for two albums worth of his material for Spanish Town producer Harry Mudie over some older Mudie's rhythms.

WINSTON WRIGHT (ORGAN) was another premier session man who specialised in the Hammond Organ. He worked extensively during the Rock Steady/early Reggae period of 1967-71 recording for a variety of producers. He came to prominence with Duke Reid's Supersonics band, but worked with virtually every producer of note (save Studio One). However, his best known work "Liquidator" (for Harry J) doesn't even credit him (just as The Harry J All Stars). He went on to record on literally thousands of sides, sometimes playing most of the instruments on the session himself !) through the seventies and eighties until his untimely death in the mid 1990s.

HUGH MALCOLM (DRUMS) was a drummer during the Ska days - he was the one who would play the manic drum riffs as if bullets were flying off of his sticks. Singer, Producer and organ/piano player Lloyd Charmers once recounted that Hugh was the only man in Jamaica who could smoke ganja legally for medical reasons, and was once seen asking a policeman for a light for his spliff !! His style is rock solid and fast, and differed from one of the other great Jamaican drummers of the time, Carlton 'Carlie' Barrett, whose own style was more jazzy and who incorporated more fills and rolls in his work.

CLIFTON 'JACKIE' JACKSON (BASS). Another musician who came to prominence from his work in Duke Reid's Supersonics band. A Jamaican musical giant (literally too, as he is over 6' 4") who played on countless sessions of the time for producers Derrick Harriott, Clancy Eccles, Leslie Kong and "GG" Ranglin to name but a few. His picture adorns the front cover of the "Greater Jamaica - Moon Walk - Reggay" album showing him playing his Fender Jazz Bass. He, along with Winston Wright and others, eventually became part of Toots and The Maytals touring band in the seventies.

RANFOLD "RANNY BOP" WILLIAMS (LEAD GUITAR). Lead Guitarist and Producer, Ranny "Bop" played with The Hippy Boys as well as producing numerous songs in Jamaica and the UK during the late sixties and early seventies period, and was noted for his clean style of guitar playing. He currently plays lead guitar with the world touring Wailers Band.

BONGO HERMAN & LES DAVIES (HAND DRUMS / PERCUSSION) were brothers and overt Rastafarians and sessioned for many producers of the era including Derrick Harriott (for their tunes "We Are Praying" and "Know Far I"), Clive "Azul" Hunt ("Thunderstorm"), Harry J ("African Breakfast"), Harry Mudie, as well as with Lloyd 'The Matador' Daley, Jah Lloyd, Joe Gibbs, Niney and Rupie himself ("Dew Of Herman" on the "My Conversation" rhythm). They are pictured on the back of The Crystalites' 1970 "Undertaker" album jacket and sowed the seeds for the Roots & Culture era, in the 1970s, that was to come.

KARL "CANNONBALL" BRYAN (ALTO. SAX) A legend in his own right, playing in the dance bands of the 40s and 50s Jamaica. He recorded during the Ska era with the ultra rare vocal side, "Ska Is Here To Stay", but really came to be noticed on tracks like "Fireball" (Bunny Lee), "I'm So Proud" with guitarist Lynn Tait (for Charles Ross), "Black Up", "Everyday Skank" and "Bad Treatment" (C.S. Dodd), "Red Ash" (Duke Reid), "Wha-pen" and "Soul Scorcher" (Harry J), "Waking The Dead" and "Run For Your Life" (Harry Mudie), "Thunderstorm" (Linford 'Andy Capp'Anderson). His squeaky style lends itself to the ears and is prevalent on many of the tracks on this compilation.

LYNFORD "HUX" BROWN (RHYTHM & LEAD GUITAR). Yet again, a session man of note playing as part of The Dynamites, The Crystalites and is responsible for that twangy dead string sound which, along with Ansell Collins organ playing, made Leslie Kong's 1969-71 material so distinctive.

RUPIE EDWARDS ALL STARS 1970-72:

The later line-up of the All Stars featured Rupie's bredren Lee Perry's Upsetters (aka The Hippy Boys) with Aston 'Family Man' Barrett (Bass) and his brother Carlton 'Carlie' Barrett (Drums), Alva 'Reggie' Lewis (Guitar), Glen Adams (Organ) and Denzil 'Sticky' Laing (Percussion). This line-up was sometimes augmented by Ranny 'Bop'(lead guitar) and was to become the nucleus of The Wailers Band who continue to play to this day. Their sound was raw, but by this stage in the music's development, deep and heavy, with those menacing bass lines which would become the norm in Jamaican music for Roots Reggae.

 

Rupies Scorchers

Taken from "RUPIE'S SCORCHERS - CLASSIC EARLY SUCCESS PRODUCTIONS 1969-71 - VARIOUS ARTISTS" on TRYBUTE REGGAE RECORDS (TRRCD 05 / TRRLP 05).

 

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