Sat | Dec 10, 2016

It is Miller time

Published:Sunday | January 4, 2015 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Contributed Bernard Harvey (left), Roger Lewis (seated), Lancelot Hall (front) and Ian Lewis of Inner Circle.
Jacob Miller
Jacob Miller
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In a little less than two weeks, it will be Miller time in St Ann at Rebel Salute 2014. And no, it is not a case (literally or figuratively) of the famed American brew making its presence felt at the festival which is well-known for its no meat (except fish) or alcohol (founder Tony Rebel is fond of saying not even onecohol) stipulation.

It will be Jacob Miller time, as Inner Circle Band comes to Plantation Cove to pay homage to their lead singer who died in a car crash more than 30 years ago.

While much has been said about Miller's effervescent and irrepressible performance style, and there has been a lot of attention paid to Tired Fi Lick Weed Inna Bush, because of its marijuana advocacy, there are two slower songs which show his superb vocal abilities. One is a song of praise, Chapter a Day, and the other is aching in its loneliness, Discipline Child.

Special live recording

For the latter, there is an exquisite live version on The Best of Inner Circle album, which is all of 7:46 long. Credited to Bernard 'Touter' Harvey and Ian Lewis, the song traces a male's development from boyhood to wayward manhood, finally cornered by the law. In the live version, Miller says who the song was written by and that Harvey knows what it is like to grow up without a father, so he knows what it is like (and then he starts to sing) lonely. The entire song goes:

I was born a discipline child

Never knew how I got so wild

When I used to go to school

They taught me the Golden Rule

They said 'Son you better know yourself

In time to come it's gonna be dread'

I didn't heed this advice

Now I got to pay the price

Now I'm on death row

Only one place to go

Oh Ma, I wish you were around

To see how they tracked me down

They had me cornered in a little alley

A thousand shotguns over me

I didn't stand a chance, I didn't want to die

I had to reach for the sky

Now I'm on death row

Only one place to go

Discipline Child is on the Shottas soundtrack.

True to its title (though not its Rastafari sentiments), Chapter a Day keeps its church feel with the organ at the beginning, Miller beginning, 'a chapter a day, keep the devil away'. There is a part, though, where he is as much a preacher as a singer, going into a spiel of praises before starting to sing again, reaffirming, 'the works of His Majesty, I doth proclaim.'