Most of the world knows Carlton Coffie for the monster hits he achieved fronting Inner Circle between 1988-94, including the ‘Bad Boys’ cop show theme, and the worldwide smash, ‘Sweat.’ But reggae connoisseurs know that he also recorded some of the toughest roots tunes to surface in the USA during the late 1970s. Coffie was born in England, but brought to Jamaica as an infant. Settling in Trench Town, he was already making an impact at school concerts as a teenager, but following his mother’s untimely death, his father brought him up to New York, where he launched his singing career. During the mid-1970s, several singles produced by Harvey Francis surfaced on the Cosmonamic label, including ‘Freedom Gonna Come My Way,’ ‘World Festivity’ and ‘Musical Revolution,’ each of which are dramatic slices of deep roots that showcased his forceful voice and original song-writing abilities. The 1978 single ‘Chant Away’ was recorded at Eagle Sound studio in Brooklyn and produced by Winston Jones, a singer-turned-producer from Waterhouse who had migrated to New York a bit earlier than Coffie; the result is mighty spectacular, both the vocal and version sides sounding as tough as anything then emulating from Jamaica, despite the shades of rock in the lead guitar.
David Katz ©