THE Turntable Club along the Red Hills Road strip in St Andrew was one of the hippest spots in Jamaica in the 1970s. It seemed the perfect place to do a live reggae album, the first one recorded in Jamaica.
That historic evening in 1974 is revisited on Live At The Turntable Club which was recently released by VP Records as part of its 17 North Parade series.
Dennis Brown, the 17-year-old singing sensation, was headline act with a solid supporting cast of Delroy Wilson, Big Youth and instrumentalist Alexander Portious. The set contains 12 songs, including three by the prodigious Brown, who was scorching local charts with hits produced by Winston ‘Niney’ Holness, backed by the Soul Syndicate Band.
Brown is captured performing Cassandra, Rock With Me Baby and Give A Helping Hand while Wilson, himself a former child star, does I’m A Happy Man, It’s A Shame, Have Some Mercy and You Keep On Running.
Big Youth, another member of Holness’ Observer camp, performs Satta Masa Gana Ye (I Pray Thee) and Dread In a Babylon. Portious covers Everything I Own and Love Overdue, big hits for Ken Boothe and Gregory Isaacs, respectively.
The producers have also included an interview with Winston ‘Merritone’ Blake, one of four brothers who operated the Turntable Club.
Wilson had been singing since the 1960s at Studio One for producer Clement ‘Coxson’ Dodd, before switching to Bunny Lee for whom he cut several powerful sides such as Have Some Mercy and Better Must Come.
It’s A Shame was the first hit for the fledgling Channel One label in 1972.
Many at the Turntable that evening came to see Brown, the boy wonder of reggae who had recorded for Derrick Harriott and Dodd in the late 1960s.
He struck up a fruitful partnership with Holness and the Soul Syndicate that yielded hits like Cassandra, Westbound Train, No More Shall I Roam and Africa.
A press release from VP Records says a vinyl edition of Live At The Turntable Club will be released later this year.
Live albums were the rage in the 1970s. Bob Marley’s Live!, recorded at the Lyceum in London in 1975, was the most acclaimed of the handful of in-concert reggae albums released in that decade.
The Turntable Club was one of many party spots along Red Hills Road during the 1970s. It continued to draw lovers of reggae and soul music up until the early 2000s when the Blake brothers ceased playing there.
Three engineers manned the Turntable live concert: Osbourne ‘King Tubby’ Ruddock, Errol Thompson and Dennis Thompson. Errol Thompson, nephew of legendary producer Arthur ‘Duke’ Reid, will be honoured this evening by the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association during its awards ceremony at Emancipation Park in St Andrew.