Rupie Edwards

Ire Feelings: Chapter & Version

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It all began with a musing number by teen wannabe Johnny Clarke, and "Everyday Wondering" finally turned the young singer's daydreams of success into reality. The song launched Clarke to stardom, and its riddim would rocket producer Rupie Edwards to equal glory. Edwards would take the airy, dreamy backing of his studio band, Rupie's All Stars (bassist Jackie Jackson, drummer Carlton "Santa" Davis, guitarist Hux Brown, pianist Gladstone Anderson, and organist Winston Wright), and punch it up, strip it down, and dub it out. Then he added his own new romantic lyrics to the mix, backed by his insistent "skangas." That version, titled "Ire Feelings," stormed in the U.K. Top Ten in 1974, introducing the British masses to the wonders of dub. The cheery "Leggo Skanga" followed, taking Edwards back into the U.K. chart, with the producer unleashing a flood of new versions in its wake. In 1985, Trojan, responding to the new rage for one-riddim records sweeping the reggae scene, bundled up 11 versions of the "skanga" riddim and tossed it out to an appreciative public under the title Ire Feelings. Incidentally, the hit had also titled a compilation of Edwards in Jamaica a decade earlier, a set not dedicated to the riddim. Although "Leggo Skanga" was oddly omitted, Clarke's original hit was, along with "Ire Feelings," two more of Edwards' excellent vocal cuts ("Dubmaster Special" and "Spangy"), Jah Woosh's exciting DJ version, and a clutch of stellar instrumentals and dubs. The album was a stunner, but better was still to come. Five years later, in 1990, Trojan reissued the set on CD and packed it with a further 11 versions. Four new vocal cuts were featured, one from Edwards himself -- "Free the Weed," Joy White's cover of Clarke's original, Milton Henry's heart-aching "What Can I Do," and the Heaven Singers' (featuring a young Junior Delgado) nyahbinghi-styled "Rasta Dreadlocks." DJ Mr. Bojangles powerfully delivers "Ten Dread Commandments," and in contrast, Jah Woosh returns to "Tickle You." The rest of the set is filled with Edwards' ever innovative dubs, in many cases bettering the vocal tracks themselves. Today, one-riddim sets are merely a vehicle to pack in as many singers and DJs as physically possible. For Edwards it was the riddim itself that demanded showcasing, not the artists, and Ire Feelings demonstrates his priorities, with the singers and DJs almost an afterthought and his attention focused purely on the production. The result was one of the most magnificent one-riddim albums ever recorded, and a set that never bores, is never dated, and still sounds as phenomenal as the day Edwards first unleashed it.

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