Underrated vocalist Milton Henry was never the most prolific of singers, but nearly everything he recorded is worth hearing. Having grown up near Slim Smith, Carl Dawkins and Jackie Opel in Allman Town, attending school with Horace Andy and Augustus Pablo, Henry began playing guitar at an early age and formed the Leaders with Prince Allah while barely into his teens. The duo recorded ‘Hope Someday,’ ‘Some Day Some Way’ and ‘Sometimes I Sit And Cry’ for Joe Gibbs in 1968, but Henry then replaced Max Romeo in the Emotions, and briefly played guitar in the Hippy Boys; in fact, the Emotions’ ‘You Can’t Stop Me,’ cut for Sonia Pottinger in 1969, featured Henry’s vocals, and went on to become the huge hit ‘Dr No Go,’ after being turned into an instrumental. Henry then joined the Progressions for the album Reggae To UK With Love, which also featured Emotions material, but went solo immediately after, recording the forlorn ‘No Bread And Butter’ for Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry (a song written by Progressions member, Tony Russell), after passing an audition at Perry’s record shop, at which Bob Marley and Junior Byles were present; the song was credited to Milton Morris on release. A few years down the line, after sparring with the Tartans, Henry returned to Perry with the chilling ‘This World’ (written by Devon Russell); the same rhythm was used for Junior Byles’ ‘Fever,’ but Henry insists ‘This World’ was recorded first. The song was credited to King Medious, an alias Henry says he adopted upon discovering it in the cryptic Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses. Despite the quality of such work, nothing really hit until Henry produced a version of the Impressions’ ‘Gypsy Woman,’ which he gave to Rupie Edwards to distribute. Henry began travelling to New York shortly thereafter, in an effort to find a broader market for his work, but was back in Jamaica in 1978 to record ‘Rastaman In Zion,’ a supreme meditation on the Rastafari way of life, which first surfaced in minute number as a 12-inch on his King Medious label, and later issued as a seven-inch by his friend Bertram Brown’s Freedom Sounds (credited to Mill Henry).
David Katz ©
LABEL: IROKO RECORDS