Willie Williams

Messenger Man

Song Review by

As far back as the rocksteady age, Willie Williams had attempted to deliver songs with a message, but it was only in the roots era that he finally succeeded. Returning to Jamaica after several years in Canada, the singer, with his session band in tow, entered the Channel One studio and laid down this fabulous riddim adapted from the Bee Gees' chart-topper "I've Gotta Get a Message to You." Driven by Carlton "Santa" Davis and Lloyd Parks' roots rockers rhythm, the backing beautifully blends a militant aura with a funk-tinged, bluesy atmosphere that's shredded by organist Bobby Kalphat's extraordinary solos, which imitate searing rock guitar leads to perfection. Williams took the finished riddim down to King Tubby's studio for mixing, where he also recorded his vocals. The singer retained the lyrics from the Bee Gees' original chorus, but put them in a cultural context with powerful new religiously themed verses. Although the self-produced "Messenger Man" was released only in Canada, it received considerable play in the States as well, which is where Coxsone Dodd heard it. So impressed was the Studio One head that he invited Williams to record an album for his label, eventually resulting in the Armagideon Time set. In the interim, the singer continued recording independently, and "Messenger" would entitle his own self-produced 1980 album.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Messenger Man 2005 Blood And Fire 5:05