Monday, April 12, 2021

Rico's "Jama Rico" To Be Reissued on Vinyl for the First Time Since Its Release in 1982!

The album cover features a carved, wooden African mask.
As part of 2 Tone/Chrysalis's 40th Anniversary program, Rico's positively stellar Jama Rico LP is finally being reissued on 180 gram heavyweight vinyl on June 25, 2021 (pre-orders can be made through Dusty Groove in the USA or Juno Records in the UK, and elsewhere). This is the first time this relatively hard-to-find record has been reissued on vinyl since the album was originally released in 1982 (it was recently made available on CD via the Two Tone: The Albums CD box set, which I reviewed here). Rico's That Man is Forward is also being reissued by 2 Tone on the same day, though this great album has been easier to find, since Reggae Retro reissued it on CD and LP in 1998

Here's an excerpt of what I wrote about Jama Rico from my book The Duff Guide to 2 Tone:

"But on this day, the gods of vinyl were good to me. I snagged one of the rarest 2 Tone releases (at least, on this side of the pond)—a near mint copy of Rico Rodriguez's Jama Rico (1982), which is filled with phenomenally good vintage ska and reggae instrumental cuts. 2 Tone's parent label Chrysalis never opted to release this album in the US, and I wonder if any specialty shops here even bothered to import copies of it; in all my many years of digging through the crates, this is the first time I've ever seen it. There is also very little written about it, either online or in the reference books on ska and reggae in my bookshelves; even George Marshall's The Two Tone Story gives it short shrift. 2 Tone ska's flame-out in the UK, no doubt, had a lot to do with the album's scarcity and the dearth of info about it, but Rico and this brilliant album deserved much better.

Recorded both at Joe Gibbs Studio in Kingston, JA and in London, with various tracks produced by Dick Cuthell and Jerry Dammers, Jama Rico featured some of the finest Jamaican and British musicians around, including Tommy McCook (tenor sax), Felix "Deadly Headley" Bennett (alto sax), Ansell Collins (organ), Winston Wright (piano, guitar), Earl "Chinna" Smith (guitar), Jah Jerry (guitar), Sly Dunbar (drums), Robbie Shakespeare (bass), and other top performers—plus several members of The Special AKA: Jerry Dammers (organ, piano), John Bradbury (drums), Sir Horace Gentleman (bass), and Dick Cuthell (cornet, flugel horns, funda drums).

Ska fans who love Rico and The Special AKA's "Jungle Music" will immediately take to the stunningly evocative ska and reggae of "We Want Peace," "Jam Rock," "Love and Justice," "Some Day," "Do the Reload" (which is a cover of Rico's dear friend and mentor Don Drummond' awesome "Green Island"), and "Easter Island" (written by Japanese saxophonist Sado Wattanobe)—all of which follow the expected song structures for this genre of music. Those open to more musical paths less traveled will enjoy the jazzier, looser experimental takes on Jamaican music on "Destroy Them," "Distant Drums" (with Rico on vibraphone and funda drums!), and "Java."

According to Paul "Willo" Williams in his fantastic biography of The Specials (and 2 Tone Records) You're Wondering Now: The Specials from Conception to Reunion, Rico's "Jungle Music" single and the Jama Rico album failed to gain any traction and climb the charts due to the rise of the New Romantics in the UK (Ultravox, Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, etc.). It was all a matter of unfortunate pop-culture timing (one can't blame Rico's material or the performances, as they're brilliant). The UK record-buying public's massive infatuation with ska music was over by 1982."

2 Tone is also reissuing The Selecter's Too Much Pressure on April 23, 2021 (read all about that deluxe reissue here) and a half-speed remaster of The Specials' Ghost Town EP on June 4, 2021.

+ + + +

No comments: