I had the pleasure of speaking with one of my all-time favorite artists yesterday. Carlton “Tetrack” Hines, founding member of the vocal trio Tetrack, has to be one of the finest, most most gracious and knowledgeable artists I’ve ever spoken with.
Tetrack consists of the childhood friends Carlton “Tetrack” Hines, Dave Harvey and Paul Mangaroo. They started singing together in the early 70’s and in 1972 the set officially as a vocal trio. In 1974 they were introduced to Augustus Pablo by a friend of Pablo’s, Densie, who one afternoon heard them practicing. They gave Pablo a demo tape and the rest is history. Their first LP titled Let’s Get Started was released in 1980 on the Message label and is generally considered a classic of the roots genre. It is one of my top 5 favorite reggae albums ever.
For their sophomore album they worked with Gussie Clarke and released a Showcase by the name of Trouble. In 2012, Tetrack reformed the group with founding member Dave Harvey along with Pablo protojé and Viceroys singer Norris Reid (although Harvey left prior to recording the record). They released the album Unfinished Business about which our good friend Angus Taylor wrote:
“The harmonies between Carlton and Norris are sublime. Hines’ cherubic voice has matured to almost Bim Sherman-esque level of portent and mystery while Reid is his perfect foil. As you’d expect from the man who wrote for Gregory Isaacs, Hine’s songcraft is faultless: there are no off the cuff improvisations or couplets thrown together under studio time pressure. Deep cultural topics like Dem Can’t Get You Out (atop the Declaration of Rights rhythm) rub shoulders with rootsy lovers material such I Need You (on a bouncy semi-relick of Unchained)…This is a well penned, beautifully sung return which deserves to find an audience so a completely live album can follow. “
Currently, the group, who is back as a trio with Dave Harvey rejoining, is preparing to re-mix the Unfinished Business album, adding a live drum track. They are also looking to play some shows this summer.
Over the next few weeks and months we will be conducting a series of interviews with Tetrack and other Rockers era artists and there will be plenty history and news to share here as a result. For the time being, let me introduce you to Carlton “Tetrack” Hines.
FIVE THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT CARLTON HINES:
1. The nickname “Tetrack” was taken from the most popular sound system around when Carlton was a young boy growing up in Mountain View – Tetrack Hi-Fi, run by a man named Owen Archer.
2. Unlike many young artists at the time, the members of Tetrack were university-educated and held down “day-jobs.” During the time the group was recording for Pablo, Manga was working as a lab technician in a large factory that made soap and edible oil, Dave was working as a mechanical engineer at an industrial plant, and Tetrack was working in the Central Bank.
3. Carlton “Tetrack” Hines is a prolific songwriter who, in addition to writing the Tetrack material, has written some of the most memorable tunes to emerge from Jamaica in the past 40 years including: “Rumours” by Gregory Isaacs; “Let Off Sup’m” by Gregory Isaacs and Dennis Brown (in fact, he wrote all but one song on Gregory’s Private Beach Party LP); J.C. Lodge’s massive hit “Telephone Love”; tunes from the Dennis Brown LP Limited Edition and Judge Not (w/ Gregory Isaacs) and countless others. In all, he is credited as an arranger/songwriter on more than 50 records!
“Let Off Supm”
4. Although he is a multi-talented musician who can sing and write with the best of them, Tetrack held down a “nine-to five” job working in community development.
5. Tetrack had a huge hit with one of their early singles recorded for Pablo “Let’s Get Together” which charted in the UK. Since Pablo did not concern himself with the business side of things, the group had no idea that their single was charting week-after-week in the UK until they happened to see it in Black Echoes magazine.