Lloyd "Bullwackie" Barnes

Jah Son Invasion

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The Wackies label released a plethora of scintillating compilations during the late '70s and early '80s, some dedicated to instrumentals and dubs, others to singers and DJs; 1982's Jah Son Invasion falls into the latter category. Although producer Lloyd "Bullwackie" Barnes had a highly distinctive style, the songs here showcase the diversity of his label's sound, which ranged from Bobby Sarkie's moody slab of heaving rockers "Over and Over" to Tyrone Evans' giddy "Whenever I'm Happy." The former Paragon is one of a trio of stars to be found on the set. Joining him are Sugar Minott, whose "Sometime Girl" is one of the most intriguing offerings, and Barrington Spence, who recorded extensively for Prince Tony Robinson in the mid-'70s, but hasn't lost any of his charm in the intervening years. His "Rockers Time" has so much bounce that it slips straight into steppers territory, a dancehall delight. Joy Card rides the same riddim, but into cultural territory, with her sweet but potent self-empowering "Black Girl." Jah Skerta, too, cut only a handful of numbers, all for Wackies, a pity considering the strength of his loving pauper-themed "I Who Have Nothing." Joe Axumite was a bigger name, and his uplifting "New Sensation" backed by classic vocal harmonies was indeed sensational. Jerry Harris, in contrast, was a member of the Wackies house band, a gifted bassist and guitarist, but a less than spectacular singer, albeit an emotive one. His true talents can be found on all of the tracks' backings, arguably best on "Jah Is My Only Guide." That number features the band's percussionist, Ras Makonnen, on vocals, and unlike Harris, he gives an impressive performance. "Pipe Piper" is credited to the band under the moniker Azul, and features Clive "Azul" Hunt as the Pipe Piper himself. Hunt created most of the Wackies' arrangements, as well as filling in on bass and keyboards, and this entire set is a tribute to his skills. At times, Barnes' productions, Hunt's inspired arrangements, and the musicians' phenomenal performances far outweighed the talents of the label's vocalists, but this compilation manages a more happy balance. A fabulous set from a truly legendary label.

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