Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Horace Andy - Skylarking: The Best Of Horace Andy

Natty dread a weh she want....


Horace Andy first started recording in the late sixties/early seventies but it was as a roots artist that he had his biggest successes. His career had a renaissance in 1990 as he was used as a guest vocalist on all five of "trip hop" group Massive Attack's albums.

He was known for his light, melodic voice which is often a contrast to the heavy roots nature of some of the lyrics. He also dabbled in dancehall sounds in the early eighties. Although he was primarily a roots artist, the riddims are lighter and more airy than some similar artists of the time.


1. Spying Glass
2. Natty Dread A Weh She Want
3. Rock To Sleep
4. One Love
5. Don't Let Problems Get You Down
6. Fever
7. Children Of Israel
8. Money Money (Roots Of All Evil)
9. Girl I Love You
10. Elementary
11. Every Tongue Shall Tell
12. Skylarking
13. Do You Love My Music                             

Spying Glass is a Rastafarian consciousness thumper of a track bemoaning the fact that Rastafarians are regularly discriminated against. The bass line is as infectious as you would imagine and some Eastern-sounding strings swirl around Andy's tuneful falsetto. Natty Dread A Weh She Want is a really appealing, bubbly tale of how a girl wants a Rastaman. Rock To Sleep is a percussion-heavy slow groove, featuring that distinctive "flying cymbal" sound so beloved of the roots producers. Andy's stuff was produced by the legendary rootsman Bunny Lee. Lee in fact coined the term "flying cymbal".

One Love is not the Bob Marley song, it is a slow-paced, soulful groove with quite an unusual vibe to it, some odd keyboard sounds. Its sound is actually quite unique and more like the sort of thing he would do with Massive Attack. It is a really good track. Don't Let Problems Get You Down is a typical rootsy skank with a pious but seductive vocal. An early recording, the slowed-down rock steady Fever has Andy singing in a most unusual voice. Children Of Israel also dates from 1973 and is more slow rock steady than roots, despite its devotional lyric.

Money Money (Roots Of All Evil) is a more typical later seventies roots number - a mid-pace groove backed by horns. It has a nice dubby bass bit right near the end. Girl I Love You has Andy going romantic over a bassy, scratchy rhythm and a sort of stripped back dancehall-ish backing. It has some slightly mysterious, beguiling bass and percussion-driven atmosphere. Elementary is a staccato, but heavy number in a dancehall style with Andy singing in that stuttering, hiccupy fashion like Jacob Miller. Every Tongue Shall Tell is an early rudimentary roots number, still a bit raw and edgy.

Skylarking is a lively, exuberant skank. It dates from 1972 and was an early example of a roots reggae record, with a deep bass line and a saxophone backing driving it along but still retaining a bit of the lightness typical of early seventies classic reggae. It was a kind of bridging point between the two sub-genres. Do You Love My Music is a very mid-seventies rootsy groove. It is no surprise to learn that it dates from 1977. It goes without saying that there is a fine bass line on it.

There are more substantial Horace Andy compilations around, notably Trojan's The Best Of Horace Andy, but this is pretty comprehensive one, concentrating, as it should, on the roots material.