Reggae music has so many artists that never really achieved mainstream success, but whose output is mighty enthralling. As noted above (see BB 27), Winston Jones is one such artist, having a long involvement in Jamaican music. Indeed, he made his first recording in the ska years, cutting ‘You Make Me Cry’ for Studio One, backed by the Tonettes, which were comprised of Cynthia and Merlene Webber, who would later form the Webber Sisters. The group also recorded ‘Stop That Train’ for Prince Buster, which Jones wrote and led, but the release mis-credited the Spanishtownians leading to all kinds of confusion once Keith and Tex enjoyed their hit version for Derrick Harriott. By then, Jones had joined his father in New York, leading to a long hiatus from recording, but his career was concretely revived in 1973 when he re-cut ‘You Make Me Cry’ in Jamaica, which he licensed to Sonia Pottinger; a few sparse singles followed, which were issued overseas on Impact and Faith. Jones launched more fully into self-production in 1975, again with some soft numbers recorded in Jamaica, which were channelled through Ossie Hibbert’s Flames label; Jones says he met Hibbert in Jamaica, and convinced him to travel to New York. A new direction came when Jones cut ‘Can’t Fight Against Jah’ at Channel One with Sly and Robbie (which was given its final mix-down at Philip Smart’s studio in Long Island), a fearsome roots track that speaks of the Almighty’s unconquerable powers, ideas which were furthered on subsequent collaborative singles such as ‘Open Zion Gate’ and ‘My Special Prayer.’ In 1978, a further song appeared from the Jones/Hibbert partnership, finding issue on Flames and Boss Disco in New York, and on the Jah Lion label in the UK, this time an alternate reading of ‘Roman Soldiers Of Babylon,’ which Inner Circle had recorded a couple of years earlier for their Reggae Thing LP; Jones says he and Jacob Miller, who he had come to know in New York, discussed the concept of the track and collaborated on it prior to its initial recording, with the understanding that Miller would aim his version at the Jamaican market, while Jones would aim for Jamaican expatriates abroad. As revealed in the dub portion, Jones’ take has thunderous drum-rolls, subtle percussion, and a keen synth line that parallels the Inner Circle original.
David Katz ©
LABEL: IROKO RECORDS