Monday, December 2, 2013

Junior Murvin, RIP

Junior Murvin (photo by Adrian Boot)
According to the Jamaica Observer, Junior Murvin (AKA Murvin Junior Smith) died today at the age of 67 at the Port Antonio Hospital in Portland, Jamaica. While no cause of death has been determined as of yet, according to his son Kevin Smith, Murvin had entered the hospital last week seeking treatment for both diabetes and hypertension.

Punk fans worldwide were introduced to Murvin's music through The Clash's punky reggae cover of his "Police and Thieves," which was featured on their debut album in 1977. But many in the UK had first heard "Police and Thieves"--with Murvin's incredible, other-worldly falsetto, on par with anything The Congo's did on their perfect Heart of the Congos--in 1976, as the single had been a minor hit in England (and was associated with that year's rioting at the Notting Hill Festival , since the lyrics concern police violence, corruption, and oppression--"All the peacemaker, turn war officer"). Murvin's excellent debut album of the same title, released in 1977, was co-written and produced by Lee "Scratch" Perry at his legendary Black Ark studio--and is considered by many to be amongst Perry's finest productions and an essential roots reggae album.

While Murvin continued to write and record music throughout the 1980s and 1990s and released gems like "Cool Out Son" (using the Soul Vendors' "Real Rock" riddim, which was appropriated for Willie Williams' "Armagideon Time"--also covered incredibly well by The Clash), he never quite reached the creative peak--and absolute perfection--of "Police and Thieves."

There are two good, comprehensive Junior Murvin bios to check out at Reggae Vibes and All Music; and his discography can be perused at Discogs.

Our deepest condolences go out to Junior Murvin's family and friends.


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