Sunday, January 11, 2015


I'm not even going to mess around with this one. If you dig vintage reggae and don't have Horace Andy's Skylarking LP, don't sleep on this. It's his first LP, released in 1969 when he was eighteen, his voice super smooth, before age did its work (minor as it was). It is post rocksteady, pre-roots, golden era, and all of that, recorded at Studio One, at a time when label owner Coxsone Dodd had everything dialed in. The studio and label of the same name were unstoppable, dominant enough that Dodd made up other labels so radio DJs wouldn't have to shy away fearing claims of favoritism. In short, Studio One was the most important record label in the history of the genre; the archetype, both in sound and riddims (rhythms). To put it in non-reggae perspective, the studio and label belong in the ranks of other legendary labels like Stax, Motown, Sun or Chess. And like those studios, a big part of it was the house band, in this case the Sound Dimension, whose riddims are still being used in reggae today. 

The LP has been posted here before, but the link went dead and it was a few years ago, so you probably missed it anyway. A heads up here, if you go looking to buy it, beware. There are Horace Andy compilations with the same title. Make sure it's the Studio One version, otherwise you'll be hearing a re-recorded version of the song, and other songs not on this LP. The album may be out of print, at least on CD. I haven't been able to find it anyways, and I've looked. (I have the vinyl, so no idea there.) The download linked below is fast, maybe a minute or two. Sleep on it at your peril.

Horace Andy - Skylarking mp3 at ATumblr (?)
The full LP:
Horace Andy - Skylarking (streaming)
at YouTube
Horace Andy - Skylarking (download)
at Global Grooves Click on the green download button, fill in the captcha, and you're gold baby.
Other Studio One posts
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espen e. said...

Went to see Horace Andy at a local dive last night. My expectations were rather low, based on a similar event last year with Johnny Clarke. No band, just Andy and a DJ, so it was practically like watching a karaoke performance. Not the worlds most rehearsed/seamless set, but the sound was OK, voice passable, backing riddims were old-skool, and the French DJ's audience pandering antics at a minimum. Sufficiently satisfied by a long string of great songs, we left after "Skylarking".


Tom G. said...

Yo E! How's it going? I've got mixed feelings about a Horace Andy/DJ combo. Seeing Horace Andy live is a fantasy bucket list type event for me, but without a band? Uuhhh, that's a tough one. I'm almost hopeful that I never have to make the decision, but in reality, I'd probably go see him even if it was just him singing acapella. Hearing "Skylarking" live? Hell yeah!

espen e said...

(Goin' good Tom :). My (teacher's) holidays over and back at work. Those eight weeks sure flew fast. Kids are growin'. Kirill in fifth grade and Isak's just started high school; life sure flies fast too.)

An informed source tells me the DJ/singer type gig is an established aesthetic for the genre, so I guess that's just how it's done... Anyway, a band could potentially be a lot worse, Tom. Who knows what kind of guys they'd be recruiting.


Tom G. said...

Wait, Isak's in high school!?! Holy shit! I guess they do grow up fast! It seems like the Moondog report was just a year or two ago!