Derrick Morgan is definitly a legend. One of the very first Jamaican superstars, recording since the mid-50's, there is now, finally a great cd which represents Derrick Morgan from his very early days in the late 1950's un through the reggae years, and ending with a live rendition of his skinhead classic recorded in San Francisco.
Heartbeat has done a great job with this album and it contains top notch liner notes with a song by song history and who played on which particular record and so on. My only main complaint is that I think there should be more Pama era skinhead reggae style songs in the reggae section. But this one little complaint dosent take anything away fromt his disc at all.
It starts with the first 6 sings put together as the "ska years". This section of the cd is really great especially since it avoids the more obvious choices like "Housewives Choice" and "Blazing Fire" and focuses more on the lesser reissued tracks like "Time Marches On", the original cut to "Fatman". My favorite of the ska years though is a duet called "Love Not To Brag" where Derricks mom tells him not to brag or boast about how many girls he's had and so on and to always be a gentleman. My other favorite is "Love Boy" which is a real nice dancing ska song recorded in 1959.
Although the ska songs are great, I think its rocksteady where Derrick really shines on this disc. "Do the Beng Beng" is definitive Rock Steady rhythm and Derricks "Tears On My Pillow" is miles better than the original. "Bad Luck On Me", "Ain't That Crazy" and "Conquering Ruler" are definitly my favorite from this era though. The sisnging is very well over some strong rocksteady rhythms on the first two tracks and then the last song is dripping with the arrogant swagger of a man who knows how great he is, where he sings "Coming from the north with my face to the south, I'm quite sure I could knock you out". All with a confident little giggle during the chorus. Classic song.
The reggae years start off with Derrick using the "Pop A Top" rhythm (which used his "Fatman" rhythm)to recreate "Fatman" yet again as "Top The Pop". "Top The Pop" is a pretty fun song but it runs its course after a while. "Searching So Long" and "Rudies Don't Fear" are the best of the reggae songs with "Searching" featuring a real nice sounding organ and "Rudies" being one of the best rude boy songs to be released in Jamaica at the time. Unfortunantly though "Reggae Train" and "I Shot The Deputy" aren't very good songs in my opinion. "Reggae Train" is just your standard 'insert style of music here' Train songs. The final track though is the live versionof Derricks classic skinhead record "Moon Hop". The crowds ovation was awsome and they cheered right on after he was done and the MC was about to introduce the next act. It just goes to show how great he is even now.
This record in my opinion is one of the best of Derrick Morgan (coupled with "I Am The Ruler" released by Trojan, you will have pretty much all the essentials from the ska and rocksteady eras. Im still waiting however for his many Pama/Crab records to be reissued on CD) and Heartbeat definitly did a great job with this. Unfortunantly the company couldnt repeat the greatness of this record with the "Derrick Morgan - "Ska Man Classics" album which is horrible. But anyways, pick this up if you haven't already.
Rock Steady Years
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