Pull it up from father and son
As Jimmy Riley’s life is being celebrated later this week, there will naturally be a lot of focus on the man who sang Black Mother Pray and of course his ‘singy singy’ son Tarrus.
One of the outstanding songs they recorded together was, Pull Up Selector. The title comes at the start when female voices sing, “pull up pull up selector lif’ it from the top” and there is the sound of a recording being whirled backwards.
There are other performers who have the actual pull up in the song title.
The very popular Beres/Buju combination, Beres Hammond says, “da dance ya buss” at the beginning, which may be a comment on the session being sung about or a correct prediction of the reaction to the track. He also asks of the selector, “pull up the vibes, can you play some more/lif’ it up, jack it up, come again now, can you play some more” - which is the intention of the pull up.
Carl Meeks’ Haul and Pull Up Selector, is a command to the person playing the music in what seems to be a live performance dancehall setting. He sings, “haul and pull up selector, now come down entertainers.” Meeks announces that “tonight will be a rub a dub night.”
It is a foreign based dance scenario, as the singer identifies cities like Brixton, Washington and Brooklyn (with the entire country of Canada tossed in) as the places where they put on dances.
Perhaps the most famed instruction to a selector to restart the riddim track, is also in a song which reflects the live performance dancehall scene. Barrington Levy’s Broader Than Broadway, begins with the story of a man being caught in the demands of a lover who uses the leverage of their son to dictate his behaviour. The dance scene - and the ‘pull up’ command to the selector - is not to be left out, though, as Levy sings about a sound system he was affiliated with:
“When you go to Volcano it’s like a stage show
You have man that sing, deejay and blow
Pull it Danny Dready oh”
Danny Dread is not the only selector’s name to make it on record in a ‘pull up’ moment. The late Red Dragon asks for a moment at a dance in St Thomas to locate the sound of a mysterious noise in Ku Kum Kum. Dancing with a lady named Pat, he hears knocking, “so me feel say a de music scratch/me shout Financial wheel up dat/Financial selector wheel up dat.” It is not the music, though, but her bones.
Johnny Osbourne has a pair of ‘pull up’ moments. One is in Buddy Bye (which should have actually been named Put it By, as that is what he sings), where there is a turntable rewind sound after the first call and response of “whoa” and “yeah.”
In Rewind it is the crowd which demands the restart:
“If you happy and you love it say rewind
Jack it operator fling it one more time we say rewind”
Then there is a pull up sound effect and he duly starts over.