Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
Two albums were presented in notably different formats on Tuesday night as The Essence hosted the launch of two CDs in this week's staging of its weekly live-music series. The size of the audience reflected the significance of the occasion, a crammed parking lot and several tables arranged in the section of the lot closest to The Essence testament to the launches' importance.
Songs from Yahba's Jus' Wicked were done on tracks, performers on the multi-artiste compilation coming forward to deliver the songs to an audience which, for the most part, gave a listening ear. The atmosphere for Willi Williams' presentation was understandably different, as he did a mini-concert to the music of the Inna De Yard Band. The band, a fusion of electronic instruments and the acoustic sound of hand drums (though without a horn section which would have contributed considerably to closing signature song Armagideon Time), delivered a full sound. However, the PA system was inadequate to do it full justice for those audience members further away from the stage.
Orville 'Bagga' Case, who was a strong presence at the launch, does most of the lead vocals on Jus' Wicked, produced by Tony Stines (who stood up and was acknowledged when singled out by the night's host, Lady Caroline Brown). The first song on the set, Everyday Sunshine, features late keyboardist Jackie Mittoo (who died in 1990). Other tracks on the CD are The First Dance (Jamaican Wedding Song), Moments With You, Always (featuring Robbie Lyn), Girls' Night Out and I Want to Hug You. Anne Marie closed off the first launch with Tomorrow Night.
Everyday Sunshine was recorded at RCA Studios in 1975 and, apart from Mittoo, Jus' Wicked features a number of noted Jamaican musicians such as guitarist Mikey Chung, saxophonist Dean Fraser, and bass player/vocalist Boris Gardiner.
Much more to offer
Willi Williams features on that album with Capitalist Society, but he had much more than a single to offer on Tuesday night. He mentioned another single in the early going, saying that many persons know him for the seminal Armagideon Time, but he has much more material.
And, in musically requesting the audience to "open up your mind to your roots and culture", and putting "one more step inna Babylon", Williams was given a solid bedrock of roots reggae rockers by Inna De Yard, upon which to lay his messages. Williams went back to "bangarang" days from Studio One (he invoked the famed 13 Brentford Road address in the process), touching on the Silvertones' Smile as he went into a medley.
The title track, Reggae Can't Done and Back Whe were given extended treatment, the hand drums and percussion given prime billing as drum and bass rolled while Williams skanked.
He thanked the audience for listening, noting that the songs from the album are new and he did not expect them to be known. That was not the case, of course, for Armagideon Time, the cheers rising from the first notes of the rhythm. Williams ended on this high, Lady Caroline putting an official close to the night's live music segment.