The Sound System has become part of todays musical/cultural heritage,playing the
peoples favourite hits or just as importantly, breaking some new tunes. But perhaps less
known are the roots of the Sound System, which began Wey Back When...in Kingston,
Jamaica. Around the late 1940’s The Sound System began to overtake the Big Bands
that usually played at the dances, in Kingston. The American Rhythm & Blues records
that were so popular at the time would find there way to Jamaica via the merchant sailors
and migrant workers returning from stints working in America. For economical reasons
alone it would pay to have a DJ on hand to play these hits rather than a full sometimes
up to 10 piece band that could easily eat and drink the promoter out of house and
curried goat!!!. The early Sound Systems were basic affairs built around a single
record deck, a valve amp and a speaker. But by the 1950's they had grown to purpose
built speakers the size of wardrobes that could be heard many blocks away.
The larger these systems the better. Record producer Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee would remember
from the time “Sound System was like our radio station..not many people on the island
would own a wireless, so it was the way for the people to here there music”. These ‘House
of Joys’ as they were affectionately known were run by the likes of Tom the Great Sebastian
who would have people like the legendary Duke Vin [who would go on to be the first system
operator in England when he emigrated there years later] spinning his tunes.
But by the mid 1950’s a new name would come on the scene that would change and add
something special to the dance, Clement Seymour Dodd [A.K.A. Coxsone]. Coxone Dodd
began playing tunes outside his parents Liquor store situated on Beeston street, in Kingston.
He noticed on subsequent record buying trips he made to the U.S.A., that the American
Deejays would talk and introduce the songs. Liking this effect he got his deejay Count Machuki
[b.Winston Cooper, 1939 Kingston, Jamaica] to drop lines over the introductions of the tunes,
making him the first DJ in Jamaica... and starting a new musical trend.
Coxsone’s Sound System called ‘Sir Coxsone Downbeat’ began to grow from playing small
venues like the Red Rooster on Tower street to larger affairs like Forresters Hall, that could
accommodate many hundreds at a time. Demand was big and Coxone would be running up
to four separate Systems on the same night spread around Kingston. Aided by some of his
other DJ’s like the great King Stitt [b. Winston, Sparkes].
The big three sound system operators of the time were Coxone, Arthur ‘Duke’ Reid, an expoliceman,
who ran his mighty ‘Trojan Sound’. Usually with a rod of iron and two guns, which he wore at all times.
And thirdly Vincent ‘King’ Edwards. Who ran the most powerful simply known as the ‘Giant’.

Supremacy was fought over on many levels, as Bunny Lee would say “You was as good as the
tunes you played” and there highly prized identity, would be kept secret. Even going to the lengths
of scratching out the names of the artists and songs, preventing others from purchasing the same
popular tunes. But also some unfriendly methods could be used. These were violent times and with
much money at stake [entrance to the dance, drinks etc..] turning over the opponents Sound System
by any means necessary, rousing the opponents crowds, fights and guns going off, was not an
unusual occurrence. With this in mind Vincent Edwards would move into the less violent
world ??? of politics. Joining the ‘Peoples National Party’ [PNP].
His place was soon to be filled in late 1959 by an up and coming young boxer by the name of
Prince Buster [b. Cecil Bustamante Campbell, 1938, Kingston, Jamaica] who started following
Coxsone’s system, and worked collecting entrance money to the dances for him. In those days
people tended to be affiliated with one never two sound systems. Already having gained the
respect from the Kingston fraternity he began his ‘Voice of the People’ sound system, soon to
be followed by his record shop and label run out of 36 Charles street.
The import of American R&B tunes was by this time beginning to dry up. Due mainly to the
American taste moving onto the new popular Rock & Roll sound.But this was not proving a
similar case with the Jamaican audience. So out of necessity the sound system operators,
began to cut there own tunes. Which were in there own way reworkings of the R&B sound
done in a Jamaican style. This would evolve through Jamaican musical history as Ska,
Rocksteady and slowing down in tempo to what would be known as Reggae.... As this musical
transition began to take place the two big producers Coxsone, with his ‘Studio 1’ label and
Duke Reid on his ‘Treasure Isle’ imprint, would rule the scene for many years. Before being
challenged by new up and coming producers. The aforementioned Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee [called
Striker due to the many hits he would produce during the 1970's] and Lee Perry would begin
they’re careers as pluggers and record scouts for Coxsone and Duke Reid respectively.
Around this time Bunny Lee began working closely with one Osbourne ‘Tubby’ Ruddock
[b.1941, Kingston]. He met King Tubby as he would be known, while Tubby was working as
a disc-cutter for Duke Reid. Bunny had taken Tubby to one of the dances run by another system
operator called Ruddie’s from Spanish Town, to show how the people loved the music. Tubby was
soon to begin his own sound system ‘King Tubby’s Home Town HI-Fi‘, which with his superior
knowledge of electronics would soon be rocking Kingston with such high quality speakers, the
sounds could be heard all around town.Bunny Lee was soon bringing all his productions to
Tubby’s home studio at 18 Drummlie Avenue, to let Tubby sprinkle some of his magic over them.
As Bunny would remember “Yes I would run off me tunes on two track tape. Vocal on one track,
music on the other, and let Tubby do his thing”. In these times,”We used the sound systems to
break a new track”. Then “Cut a dub plate first and if it popular, release it then on vinyl”. Bunny
continues to say “Tubby would never sell out a tune, just for the Sound System”. Which meant
unlike some other sound system operators Tubby would cut special versions just to play on his
system and not release/sell them on. Many of these tunes that we have picked for this selection
were songs that rocked Kingston from 1969-1979. Like the great Roots classic ‘Satta Masa Gana’
by the Abyssinians, voiced here by Mr Rocksteady himself Ken Boothe. This was always a crowd
pleaser, Bunny would say “No dance complete without Ken Boothe voicing out...” Other great
singers from the early days like Alton Ellis doing ‘Play it Cool’,Slim Smith’s ‘Everybody Needs
Love’ a massive Jamaican hit at the time,were always firm favourites. Another very popular singer
from the early days was Jackie Edwards represented here doing one of his big hits ‘In the Mood’.
John Holt a versatile singer who could cover most styles is here doing a version of ‘Riding for a Fall’.
Which he cut before Delroy Wilson made it a hit a few years later. Not to disappoint we have
Delroy Wilson’s ‘Once upon a time’, also to be found on this set. Some of King Tubby’s favourite
cuts at the time, like Linval Thompson’s ‘Whip them King’ dedicated to Tubby himself.
Johnny Clarke’s classic ‘Ride on Girl’, Dennis Brown’s very early version of ‘Stick by Me’,
Leroy ‘The Don’ Smart’s ‘Shame & Pride’ were all played out at Tubby’s sets. Cornell Campbell
one of Bunny Lee’s most popular singers is represented here with ‘Can’t get me Out’, alongside
Mr soulful himself Gregory Issac’s ‘The Village’.
Like Bunny Lee says “The dance was for all people”. This selection of Lovers, Ballads and
Roots classic’s made the Sound Systems of Kingston, Jamaica, the place to be. Without those
ground breaking times, where would our musical heads be today. So sit back and enjoy the
ride... SOUND SYSTEM ROCKERS ..one and all...


CD Track Listing

1. SATTA MASSA GANA - KEN BOOTH
(B.Manning/C.Colin)
2. GUIDING STAR - HORACE ANDY
(L.Sibles/Heptones)
3. SHAME & PRIDE - LEROY SMART
(L.Smart)
4. STICK BY ME - DENNIS BROWN
(Shep & Highlights)
5. CAN’T GET ME OUT - CORNELL CAMPBELL
(C.Campbell)
6. RIDING FOR A FALL - JOHN HOLT
(Walter/Townsend)
7. ONCE UPON A TIME - DELROY WILSON
(M.Gay/M.Wells)
8. THE VILLAGE - GREGORY ISSACS
(G.Issacs)
9. RIDE ON GIRL - JOHNNY CLARKE
(J.Clarke)
10. MIGHTY KING - FREDDY McGREGOR
(F. McGregor)
11. WHIP THEM KING - LINVAL THOMPSON
(L.Thompson)
12. LEAD US JAH JAH - BARRY BROWN
(B.Brown)
13. EVERYBODY NEEDS LOVE PAT KELLY
(G.Knight & the Pips)
14. PLAY IT COOL - ALTON ELLIS*
(A.Ellis)
15. MULE TRAIN - COUNT PRINCE MILLAR*
(C.P. Millar)
16. NATTY BONGO OWEN GREY*
(O.Grey)

•CD Bonus Track


Vinly Track Listing

Side 1
1. SATTA MASSA GANA - KEN BOOTH
2. GUIDING STAR - HORACE ANDY
3. SHAME & PRIDE - LEROY SMART
4. STICK BY ME - DENNIS BROWN
5. CAN’T GET ME OUT - CORNELL CAMPBELL
6. RIDING FOR A FALL - JOHN HOLT

Side 2
1. ONCE UPON A TIME - DELROY WILSON
2. THE VILLAGE - GREGORY ISSACS
3. RIDE ON GIRL - JOHNNY CLARKE
4. MIGHTY KING - FREDDY McGREGOR
5. WHIP THEM KING - LINVAL THOMPSON
6. LEAD US JAH JAH - BARRY BROWN
7. EVERYBODY NEEDS LOVE PAT KELLY


Musicians Include:
Carlton ‘Santa’ Davis, Sly Dunbar ,Carlton Barrett : Drums.
Robbie Shakespeare, Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett : Bass
Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith : Lead Guitar
Tony Chin : Rhythm Guitar
Winston Wright : Organ
Bobby Ellis : Trumpet
Vin Gordon : Trombone
Tommy McCook : Tenor Saxophone
Lennox Brown : Alto Saxophone

Recorded at : Harry J’s, Randy’s Studio 17 & Channel 1,Kingston Jamaica.
Produced by : Bunny Lee.
Design by : Paul Hignett @ Voodoo London.
Photography : Jah Floyd Archive.
All Titles Published : Greenwich Farm Music
Except * Copyright Control.
Manufactured under Licence from : E. Lee.
Made in England.