Just yesterday, I received in the mail a collection of 30 rare reggae 7″s from our good friend DocJah. Doc came to me with the idea that he had a bunch of these Wailers-related “shockers” (rarities that relate in some way to the band and the emergence of the sound of reggae in the late 1960s) records laying around and wouldn’t it be nice if we could clean them up a bit, digitize them, and share it with the people. Who am I to doubt the reggae doctor? So starting today, Doc Jah is a contributing member of the MIDNIGHT RAVER team and we will present DocJah’s Wailers Shockers from time to time going forward.
The story of “Lock Jaw”/”My Desire” is told in John Masouri’s excellent book about the Wailers’ musicians titled Wailing Blues: The Story of Bob Marley’s Wailers.
In 1969 the Barrett Brothers were recording with Lloyd Charmers’ Hippy Boys. Producer Bunny Lee took the pair around the island, introducing them to new producers, and championing them when the opportunity for extra sessions arose. Other, more experienced musicians would attempt to fight the Barrett’s down, but Bunny Lee always had their back.
One Sunday morning Lee takes Family Man over to Treasure Isle to record a track called “Lockjaw,” explaining to studio chief Duke Reid “Duke, you have to give my little wrong chord musicians some work y’know?” Reid obliged and got Fams and Carly to record some of the funkiest reggae on the island at that time. This is during a period when Treasure Isle, known for it’s tight rocksteady sound and vibes, began mixing it up a bit, experimenting with new sounds.
“Lockjaw” is a Hippy Boys recording by rights, although the contributions from guitarist Alva “Reggie” Lewis and organist Glen Adams were fairly minimal. Formed in 1968 by Lloyd Charmers, the Hippy Boys were Lewis and Adams along with the Barrett brothers. Upon the UK Singles Chart success of “Return of Django” in 1969, Lee “Scratch” Perry and The Upsetters were invited on a six-week tour of the UK. However, due to a clashing of schedules, the original Upsetters could not make the trip. The newly formed Hippy Boys became the new Upsetters for the tour; causing the band to be frequently confused with the original Upsetters in the future.
“Lockjaw” was the “sound of now.” A brand new funk for a studio known primarily for it’s classic rocksteady.
“From coast to coast, the sound of now, LOCKJAW!” announces Dave barker as Fams breaks in with that funkdafied bass line.
Fams couldn’t read or write music like those uptown boys who played for Byron Lee, but he had a vibe like no other and a brother who was murder on the drums…
1969 Treasure Isle PreRelease
A. Tommy McCook & Dave Barker & Supersonics, The – Lock Jaw
B Yard Brooms, The & Tommy McCook & The Supersonics – My Desire
Matrix / Runout: TIS-252
Matrix / Runout: TIS-267