With club owner and producer Harry Mudie picking up almost all songwriting credits and adding "overdub percussion and sound effects," it seems like something fairly fishy could be going on here. But here's the big warning: this music is way far removed from any early preview of the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari grounantion chants that would make Count Ossie a rasta reggae legend. Call it proto-ska if you like, with Ossie as the lead drummer on roughly recorded, 2 1/2-3-minute songs that include 13 unreleased tracks. They were probably cut in the pre-Skatalites late-'50s or early-'60s, since the copyright is 1961, and recognizable '50s R&B touches pop up in some vocal tracks. It wouldn't be surprising if Count Ossie was just part of the backing band on many songs, since the drums don't dominate the set, and Rico Rodriguez's trombone and Big Bra Gaynair's tenor sax are the chief solo voices. It is pretty fascinating, though, to hear proto-Rasta lyrics so early in the Jamaican music game on "So Long (The Negus Call You)" and "One Bright Morning." "Leaving This Land" hits the religious theme again with percussion driving, and "Swinging for Joy" is actually "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" done Rasta/JAH-style done with a very strong Rodriguez solo and nice responses from Gaynair. You can almost hear the Mystic Revelation stage coming in the ragged vocal celebration and repeated chorus of "Going Home to Zion Land" or the devotional lyric to "Serve Him and Live" with its '50s R&B melody quote.
"Hello Sharon" continues in that vein (someone even shouts out "Do it, Dadd-i-o!" before the solos) but it's teen romance all the way, and "I Would Give My Life" doo wops on out JAH-style with smooth Gaynair and brassy Rodriguez. (You gotta wonder what Count Ossie would think of these songs being released now under his name). Mudie's maneuvers on the effects' front don't really damage "Fire Engine" or "Gun Fever (Remix)," but they do cheapen "Herb I Feel" in its obvious quest for the ganja anthem audience. On balance, Remembering Count Ossie is no lost treasure trove for casual listeners or seekers of early Nyabinghi percussion chants. The music has some historical value, and it's a pleasant enough listen, but is probably best left to historians of Jamaican music.