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Johnny Osbourne - Reggae Legend

Johnny Osbourne - Reggae Legend

Johnny Osbourne - Reggae Legend

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Superb CD box series from Greensleeves showcases Johnny Osbourne.


'Reggae Legends' the superb CD box series from Greensleeves, that takes classic artists and highlights 4 of their albums, have recently brought out this fine set from veteran singer Johnny Osbourne. He started off working for Studio One in the late ‘60s but it wasn’t until 1979 with the release of the iconic 'Truths And Rights', a must have for any reggae fan, that he really made it big. Indeed if this hugely popular album had been originally released on Greensleeves then I’m sure it would of featured on this Legends set, but as it wasn’t the time has come for 4 of his other great albums to have their chance to shine again.

Johnny Osbourne - Reggae LegendsThe first of these is the follow up to ‘Truths And Rights’, 1980s 'Fally Lover’. No second album syndrome here, ok technically it’s his third after having released ‘Come Back Darling’ with The Sensations but that was way back in 1970, for this is equally as good. It was produced by the legendary Henry 'Junjo' Lawes, with the Roots Radics supplying backing, a classic combination. The album in truth is more a collection of singles, but when those singles are titles like Fally LoverMan Of Jahoviah and Ice Cream Love, all recorded at Channel One Studios in Kingston you know its gonna be quality all the way..

'Never Stop Fighting' released in 1982 continues with more classy rootsy, dancehall fashioned songs, again produced by Henry 'Junjo' Lawes with the Roots Radics bringing the riddims. This time the album was recorded at two renowned Kingston studios, Channel One and King Tubby’s. The King Tubby connection doesn’t just end there as a young Scientist appears as mixing engineer and so subtle dubby tweaks and phrases give extra texture to the sound, which really comes through on songs like Never Stop Fighting, Over 31 Under 21 and the pleading Give A Little Love.

The third CD ‘Nightfall’ is one of those albums that seems to have been released in various guises as ‘In Nah Disco Style’ on VP records in the USA and Cha-Cha across Europe in the early ‘80s and then Majestic Records reprised the album as ‘Nightfall Showcase’ in the ‘90s, where it was revamped and extended. The version here though is the original Jamaican release from 1981, on the Jah Guidance label. It saw a break from Lawes on production as Osbourne teamed up with Linval Thompson and carries on with the early eighties dancehall style, with Scientist still twiddling knobs and dials on the mixing board. This makes for what is the heaviest album of the set with bass to the fore and Scientist really coming into his own as he plays with the instrumental parts of the extended versions on the latter 5 songs off the album, with the title tracks deep and dark drum and bass throb pick of the bunch.

The final CD is 1983s ‘Water Pumping’; Prince Jammy at the controls now with Scientist still on the mix. The High Times Band supplied the riddims with the prolific Sly and Robbie sharing drum and bass duties with Ben Bow (drums) and Christopher Meredith (Bass). This album unfortunately does not hit the highs of the previous trio, though this doesn’t mean it is not without merit. The title track, an adaptation of the Hopeton Lewis' hit Take It Easy was hugely successful and tunes like Fire Down Below, Dance With You, Na Look Nobody, Purify Your Heart and closer Angel In My Arms, on the Life Can Be Easy riddim, first utilized by King Everall and also by Wayne Smith for Cheating Woman, have plenty of solid roots charm.

This box set series is really shaping up to be a fantastic way to collect albums by some of reggae’s legends, with this one serving as a firm reminder of what a truly superb artist Johnny was in the early ‘80s when both he and reggae were most definitely at the top of their games.

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