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Jah Thomas - Stop Yu Loafin

Jah Thomas - Stop Yu Loafin

Jah Thomas - Stop Yu Loafin

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The uncomplicated sincere quality to Thomas' tones is entirely his own.

Sampler

The late-70s-to-early-80s wave of Jamaican toasters who became producers have been back in the public ear lately. This year has seen new albums from Captain Sinbad and U-Brown (the latter featuring Ranking Joe).

Jah Thomas - Stop Yu LoafinAnd now another of their number is gets a CD reissue by Greensleeves. Nukruma “Jah” Thomas’ 1978 set 'Stop Yu Loafin’ was his debut and the first Greensleeves record to feature the iconic artwork of Tony McDermott.

Thomas was named after Kwame Nukruma - independent Ghana’s “African Lenin”. He blew up in ’76 with the 45 Midnight Rock for producer Alvin GG Ranglin on the Things and Times rhythm – later taking the song’s title for his own label. Following a ripple of success cutting albums at Channel One and King Tubbys he would produce hits for others including Greensleeves compilation staple Tristan Palma’s 'Joker Smoker'. Some key productions were reissued by Greensleeves in 2008 as part three of their '12 inch Rulers series'.

In recent years he has also been very active in facilitating the recordings of dub specials by Jamaican artists for foreign sounds. His son is the singer D’Aville who readers may remember got herbal himself with My Grade adapting Bell Biv DeVoe’s 1990 new jack swing hit Poison over on Frenchie’s excellent World A Music backing.

Re-listening to Thomas’ first and most widely renowned LP it’s easy to hear why it was so popular at the time. Thomas locks into strong, serene “Revolutionaries at Channel One” rhythms (mostly re-dos of older classics), ably delivering stream of consciousness and social comment.

The title track paraphrases the idler-correction message of Creole’s Channel One cut of Horace Andy’s Skylarking (referencing a “Prince Joker” who may have inspired the scrounging character in Joker Smoker). Love and Happiness rides Leroy Smart’s retread of Bob Marley’s Waiting in Vain with Thomas throwing in a little of Bunny Wailer’s Pass It On. You can hear Big Youth in the way he rhymes “Polyester” with Uncle Lester (the deejay version to Andy’s Girl I Love You). But there is an uncomplicated, sincere quality to Thomas’ tones that’s entirely his own.

These wild, dreamy, tail-end-of-the-rockers-era rhythms are produced by Jo Jo Hookim and engineered by his brother Ernest and Stanley “Barnabas” Bryan at the famous Channel One studio on Maxfield Avenue. They are motored by drummer Sly Dunbar whose persistent hi-hat whirrs like the chain to Thomas’ youth-hood mode of transport during Bicycle Skank. Sly’s militant lattices are spliced with percussion décor from “Sticky” Thompson and “Skully” Simms; anchored by the bass of Robbie Shakespeare and Ranchie McLean; and garnished by Rod “Dougie” Bryan on guitar and Ansell Collins and Bernard “Touter” Harvey on keys.

Some liner notes would have shed a nice further light on this album’s creation. Those who favour vinyl will prefer to wait for an LP issue scheduled for an as yet un-named date.

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