Jeeni Blog

Helping the next generation of talent to build a global fanbase

Barrington Levy performing with 16 global acts. JAM Festival 10 April 2021.

/ By Shena Mitchell
Barrington Levy performing with 16 global acts.   JAM Festival 10 April 2021.

One of the great success stories of the 80’s, arrived on the dancehall scene and swiftly remodelled it in his own image. Although numerous DJ’s and vocalist would rise and fall during this decade, Levy was one of the few with staying power, and he continued releasing massive hits well into the 90’s. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, as a youngster, Barrington Levy formed the Mighty Multitude with his cousin Everton Dacres.


They started off playing the sound systems and cut their first single, “My Black Girl,” in 1977. All of 14, Levy broke out his own the next year and recorded his debut solo single, A Long Time Since We Don’t Have No Love.” It didn’t have much of an impact, however, the teen’s appearances in the dancehalls were eagerly awaited events. It was at one of these that Levy met former singer turned producer Junjo Lawes and New York-based producer Hyman “Jah Life” Wright. The pair took the youth into King Tubby’s studio, accompanied by the Roots Radics, and recorded a clutch of cuts. The first fruits of this union were “Ah Yah We Deh,” quickly followed by “Looking My Love”, and “ Wedding Ring Aside.” Success was immediate, but it was the mighty “Collie Weed” that really cemented the teen’s hold of dancehall.

“Shine Eye Girl”, was a smash follow up, and the young Levy was now in great demand. A stream of singles followed “Jumpy Girl”, a lovely version of Horace Andy’s “Skylarking”, “Reggae Music”, Levy joined forces with producer Alvin Ranglin for another sting of hits—“Never Tear My Love Apart,” “Jah”, “You Made Me So Happy,” and “When You’re Young and in Love.”Levy’s rich vocals were made for duets, both with other vocalists and DJ’s, and it wasn’t long before the young star was also recording collaborative singles. Toyan was a great foil on “Call You on the Phone”, he paired with Jah Thomas on “Moonlight Lover” and “Sister Debby”, and joined forces with Trinity for “Lose Respect” and a follow-up, “I Need a Girl” in 1980. That same year, Levy made a sensational appearance at Reggae Sunsplash, then returned in 1981. During these early years, the singer seemingly spent all of his time between the recording studios and the dancehalls. Amidst the deluge of singles, four albums arrived as well between 1979 and 1980. First up was Bounty Hunter, which boasted three smash singles—“Reggae Music”, “Shine Eye Girl”, and “Looking My Love” –and a clutch of other tracks that were just about as good. In Britain, the Burning Sounds label released Shine Eye Gal, also a hits heavy package which included the title track-track, “Collie Weed”, and “Ah Yah We Deh.” It was swiftly followed by the mighty Englishman, an absolutely fabulous record which was overseen by the unbeatable studio grouping of Junjo Lawes and two of King Tubby’s protégés—Scientist and Prince Jammy. A veteran of the clubs, he brought the spontaneity of the DJ to his records while returning vocals back to the sound system scene which had been purely the realm of the Djs.
Utilizing old roots rhythms revitalized by the Radics, and giving the songs a hard, but danceable edge, Lawes and Levy together helped establish a whole new dancehall sound.

1980’s Robin Hood merely affirmed that everyone in Jamaica already knew: That Levy was now the biggest star on the island, with a talent that was unbeatable. Or more accurately, he was king of the singers, because ruling beside him was DJ Yellowman, another Lawes’ discovery, that was brought to him by Barrington Levy. Robin Hood was as big as its predecessor and was beginning to have an impact in Britain as well, where both it and Englishman had been released by the Greensleeves label. Not surprisingly, both albums heavy rhythms would provide the building blocks for the Scientist V Prince Jammy dub clash album. Unfortunately, Levy’s very popularity was now beginning to have some serious drawbacks. Even before stardom arrived, the singer had noticed with delight fans taping his sets at the dancehalls, and these tapes were coming back to haunt him. Suddenly, the shelves were buckling under the weight of the bootlegged albums, featuring not just older pirated live material, but also unreleased outtakes and recycled older singles. In response, Levy didn’t release a new album for two years, but in the meantime, new singles more than made up for it. From 1980 came such hits as the haunting Lawes-produced “Mary Long Tongue” producer Linval Thompson’s “Too Poor,” and a string if hits cut with Karl Pitterson, including “ I Have a Problem” and “Even Tide Fire a Disaster”. And as the decade progressed, the flood hits continued. “I’m Not in Love”, “You Have It”, “Tomorrow Is Another Day”, “Robberman”, “BlackRose” “My Women”, and “Money Move” were just a small number of the hits released between 1981 and 1983, with the latter song the biggest smash of the batch. Levy even tried his hand at self-production, recording such excellent songs as “In the Dark” and “Love of Jah.” Amongst there were fabulous singles recorded for Joe Gibbs, “My Women” included.

1983 finally saw the release of Levy album “Money Move”. The latter was excellently overseen by George Phang and boasted a stupendous group of rhythms that Sly & Robbie had specifically made for the producer. In the U.K, the burning sounds label also released Hunter Man, a greatest-hits collection. But the hits were still coming on strong; in 1984 none were bigger than Levy and Jah Screw produced “Under Mi Sensi.” The pair would also record a new album that year, Here I Come, whose title track would the top 50 in the U.K The album itself took Britain by storm and ensured that Levy walked away with the Best Vocalist Award at Britain’s Reggae Awards. It was also these songs that secured his spot in the Guinness Book of World Records, as the first reggae artist to hold both 1st and 2nd place slots in the charts. The same year, the singer also joined forces with another young singer who was tearing up the dance floors, Frankie Paul, for the intriguing sound clash set Barrington Levy meets Frankie Paul. 1985 brought Prison Oval Rock (the Volcano Jamaican label release, and not to be confused with the RAS label’s U.S. compilation of the same title), which found the singer joining forces with Lawes again, for another roots-fired set equal to its predecessors. It had been six years since Levy burst onto the scene with all the force of a nuclear weapon. Now in his early twenties, the singer’s output significantly began to slow. He did return to Reggae Sunsplash in 1987 and would remain a top attraction at the festival until 1985. He also released “Love the Life you Live” in 1988, a rather patchy effort compared to previous releases. It was to be his last new album until 1991. But Levy wasn’t a spent force yet. Before the ’80s were over, he scored two more hits with “My Time” and “Too Experience”, both under the aegis of producer Jah Screw, and both covers of songs written by Bob Andy (ex-Paragons and also of Bob & Marcia fame).

Signing with MCA in the U.S., Levy attempted to cross over into the North American market with 1983’s Barrington. Produced by Lee Jaffe, the album featured a re-recorded “Under Mi Sensi”, and boasted strong songs as “Murderer” and “Vice Versa Love” and “Be Strong”, a major hit in the Caribbean and South America. However, the relationship with MCA was not a happy one and Levy quickly departed. Meanwhile, back in Britain, the singer was chalking up another hit with “Work”. In 1994, Levy was joined by Beenie man on the singles “Two Sounds” and “Murderer”. Both soon reappeared as fiery jungles remixes.

Barrington will also be performing in the JAM Festival, which is a collaboration between Jeeni, AmplifyX and MultiView Media and will be held at 12 noon Los Angeles time, 8 pm London time on Saturday, April 10th 2021. To find out more about the JAM Festival check out our events on Facebook. https://fb.me/e/1etPauFMV

23
Jun

The Majestic at The Queens Hotel Southsea

COMPETITION TIME WIN FREE ACCESS FOR A GROUP OF 6  The Queens Hotel Southsea Sunday 13th June 2021. The Majestic is a Roots Rock Reggae band hailing from London. Taking some of the liveliest parts of reggae, from an eclectic set of influences, and with a diversity of origin comes an infectious blend of British and Jamaican music. Formed in the early 1980s by band leader Baba Ras, with its initial success leading to a tour supporting Misty in Roots, and culminating in the Stonehenge Festival of ‘83 alongside Hawkwind. The band then went on hiatus until 2011, when they returned to the UK scene for a second time, racking up an impressive three hundred-plus shows in their first three years. Bit by bit, a gradual change in line up culminated in the six-piece performing today. With a traditional riddim section mixed with rocky guitar leads and saxophone hooks, the Majestic promise a wild spectacle. Whilst a regular at Boomtown and Falmouth Reggae Festival, the band are a familiar face on the wider UK festival circuit, and is intimate with venues such as Brixton’s Hootananny, Brixton Jamm and The Fox And Firkin, frequently playing reggae hotbeds in London and beyond. Currently, the final touches on the band’s second album, Roots and Reality, are being made, being released for summer 2020. The Majestic can now usually be found touring the length and breadth of the UK and further, sharing its own diverse brand of reggae and bringing party vibes everywhere they go. Love, peace and a message of compassion and unity is what The Majestic spread! Uniting their fellow humans through music is an absolute must! Additionally, The Majestic will be performing at the Summer Garden Party hosted at The Queens Hotel Southsea along with Emiliyah and the MightyZ Allstars, Sunday 13th June 2021. How to win: All you have to do is like and share this blog post and we will enter you into the draw to be announced Saturday Night 12 June 2021 at 8pm.  Full Details of event can be found at: https://book.events/queensgardenparty/2021-06-13/30015 #funky #upbeat #uplifting #themajestic #blogs #reggaemusic #band #livemusic #jamacianmusic #guitar #saxophone

17
Dec

Weekly Round-Up # 6

The latest news on all things Jeeni, music and entertainment.  BRITs Rising Star Award, 2022 Announced:  Last time on Weekly Round-Up, we spoke about the three female stars nominated for the ‘2022 Rising Star’. Lola Young, Bree Runway and Holly Humberstone were all up for the chance to earn the prestigious honour. Last Thursday, much to her disbelief, 2019 ‘BRIT Rising Star’ winner, Sam Fender personally handed Holly Humberstone her well-deserved trophy during a recording session together.  Humberstone couldn’t quite believe her achievement at first and had to be reassured several times by Fender, “That is yours, that is definitely yours, you’ve won it!” he clarified. Holly was still looking around to the surrounding BRITs crew, caught off-guard, “There’s loads of cameras on me, how am I supposed to react?” she laughed. “It just doesn’t feel real. This year has been a wild ride and a year of firsts, and I am so grateful and thankful for everyone who has helped make this happen!”  Holly is also the first confirmed performer for the 2022 BRITs awards, taking place at the O2 Arena on Tuesday, the 8th of February.  Rising Cases of the Omicron Cases not Currently Risking Future Plans for Live Music:  An overshadowing feeling has been hovering over the heads of live music fans lately, which feels all too alike to the same sensation from mid 2020 when our light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel plans were slowly but surely getting postponed one-by-one. Everyone however, not just music fans are keeping their ears to the ground for any information about the newest variant of concern, Omicron.   One or two gigs have been cancelled recently so if you're an artist, make sure you check that your gig can still go ahead and for music fans, keep your ears open for news around gigs you're going to. Some good news; The UK’s, Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid said that “A record 548,039 booster vaccines were administered yesterday as we ramp up our vaccination programme and bolster our defences against the virus.” (Referring to Tuesday, the 14th).  However, in the US, experts predict a ‘perfect storm’ this Winter as Omicron, Delta and seasonal flu will create a pandemic trifecta that will overwhelm hospitals.  Details are currently unconfirmed about the transmissibility, and severity of symptoms from the Omicron virus and so many are still holding their breath for their future plans such as gigs, festivals and holidays. So far, they are largely untouched, it’s just difficult to say for how long.  Top Albums of the Year Lists Released:  Each year, every major music publication curates their own summary of the past year of music with a carefully positioned list of the ‘best albums’ the year had to offer. December tends to be a good time to release such lists as this is when releases tend to dry up, slow down and recharge for the new year.  In the world of hip-hop, Grisleda’s Mach-Hommy appeared on lists like CRACK, Esquire, Pitchfork, Paste and Fader for his gritty, truth-telling record, ‘Pray For Haiti’. Tyler, The Creator featured on much of the same lists for his 'IGOR' follow-up ‘Call Me If You Get Lost’ as well as hitting number 4 on Rolling Stone’s list. Madlib’s Four Tet-arranged record, ‘Sound Ancestors’ also made a splash on the lists considering its nature as a hip-hop instrumental album. Perhaps unfairly but not surprisingly, Kanye’s ‘Donda’ was certainly a rare occurrence on the lists.  ‘Promises’, the mesmerising collaboration with Floating Points and John Coltrane partner, Pharoah Sanders justifyably made a lasting impression with the majority of publications for its ground-breaking achievements in structuring, genre-blurring and pure emotion provoking. Reaching number 1 on Paste and 4 on Pitchfork, the time-altering project certainly got the respect it deserved.  Jazmine Sullivan’s ‘Heaux Tales’ made a massive impression on publications, finding its way on the top ten list of Rolling Stone and Fader and becoming the champion top spot of Pitchfork and Vulture’s lists. The album was an RnB empowerment for women, everywhere and resonated with many a music critic this year.  These lists often conjoin to form very similar and topical elections for the best of what the year had to offer, however, the lists are such a great tool to pan for gold and find those precious, hidden gems that make their way on the lists. This year, amongst the gems hid albums like ‘Daddy’s Home’ by St. Vincent, Squid’s ‘Bright Green Field’ and ‘Cavalcade’ by black midi, however many more obscure features on these lists are still waiting to be explored fully.  Jeeni News:  New Artists Join Jeeni’s Mission:  This week, we introduced three new, exciting artists; Lennox Campbell (aka Biggz Manifest), Giack Bazz and Khole Baldeo. We can’t wait to see what they do next and what we can do for their blossoming careers!  New blogs on Jeeni’s newest artists:  Earlier this week, we featured four new Jeeni artists as a part of our Artist Focus blog series; the South-coast soulstress, Amba Tremain, pop-funk trio, Barbudo, indie experimentalist, Giack Bazz and Portsmouth rapper, Baby Panna.  We also released reviews of Amba Tremain’s ‘Baby You’re Gold’ single, Giack Bazz’s ‘Childhood Dream’ album and DarkStarGraver’s ‘Gohan’ single.  Check out the showcases of these excellent artists: DarkStarGraver: https://jeeni.com/showcase/darkstargraver Giack Bazz: https://jeeni.com/showcase/giack-bazz  Lennox Campbell: https://jeeni.com/?s=lennox+campbell Amba Tremain: https://jeeni.com/showcase/amba-tremain Barbudo: https://jeeni.com/showcase/barbudo  Baby Panna: https://jeeni.com/showcase/baby-panna Khole Baldeo: https://jeeni.com/?s=khole+baldeo

05
Jun

How to Stay Sane While Sheltering in Place

by Kelli Richards, Jeeni MD USA Many of us have been going a little stir crazy after several weeks of sheltering in place. But given it’s likely we’ll be in this situation for quite a while longer, it’s to our benefit to find ways to retain our sanity during these challenging times. Here are a few ideas to share that I’ve found have been working for me. Stick with a schedule and routine — what worked for you when things were ‘normal’? Keep doing those things now. For me, it includes getting up early, exercising, meditating, good nutrition, getting outdoors every day, sticking with my work routines (work bursts, scheduling calls and Zoom video chats), stretching, staying hydrated, and getting plenty of sleep. I’m getting an extra hour daily now to boost my immune system — and of course the additional rest has all kinds of extra benefits for your mind and body as well. Reading daily is also an anchor for me, so it’s paramount (at least for me) that I make time for that. Make time to connect with friends, family, colleagues and loved ones. Make sure you balance your time between work and play/rest. Move your body daily, however that works for you. Take time to make nutritious meals for yourself and keep your house clean and tidy. Watch something funny, educational, or inspiring on TV if it moves you. Minimize your exposure to news — limit your intake to maybe 2x/day. Listen to great music throughout the day. Have fresh flowers around and get your nature intake daily. Those are some of my tips — I’d love to know what some of yours are that are helping you in these times. Be sure to leave a comment! Click HERE to visit or return to jeeni.com