Niney the Observer is well known for his great productions, collaborations, with the
likes of Dennis Brown and for some of the best rhythms to come out of Jamaica.
Maybe less known is that he began in the music business as a singer. Here for
the first time is a collection of songs culled from his career that feature the
outstanding voice of the Observer himself.
Niney the Observer (b.Winston Holness, 1951, Montego Bay, Jamaica) grew up
in Montego Bay, Jamaica and began singing in school bands in and around the
area and the nearby town of Lucea, where one of the bands he sang with, featured
future Studio One guitarist Eric Frater. Two other singers that Niney grew up with were
Derrick Morgan and Eric ‘Monty’ Morris. The Derrick Morgan connection brought
Niney to the attention of Beverly’s Records to whom he sold some of his songs.
Producer Coxonne Dodd of Studio One began noticing Niney’s talents and offered
him some studio time and a base to work out of on Charles Street in Kingston Town.

The year was 1957 and Coxonne Dodd released some of these early recordings
featuring the vocal talents of Niney on his Studio One label. Such songs as
‘You Should ’t Be The One’, ‘You Say You’re My Friend’ ‘Bad Man Grudgeful’.
The late 1960’s he worked as an engineer at KG records, where he first began
producing. His first release was one of his own songs, ‘Come On Baby’ issued
on his own Destroyer label a name he used for his
output at the time. He moved on in 1967 to work with producer Bunny Lee, a
short time working for producer Lynford Anderson’s studio saw him take the vacancy
at Joe Gibbs studio as chief engineer, when his friend Lee Perry left. His first
production here was Dennis Alcapone and Lizzy’s ‘Mr Brown’ and would also be
the place where he was to play a major role in launching Dennis Brown’s career.

Working closely with Dennis and pushing him towards writing his own material,
than covering other peoples songs. Niney gained his name after losing a thumb
in a workshop accident and adopted ‘The Observer’ name after being inspired
by Lee Perry’s use of his nickname ‘Upsetter’, and like Perry on leaving Joe Gibbs
used his moniker also as his label name for his future releases and so the ‘Observer’
imprint was born. Around this time Niney moved into accommodation with fellow
singer Max Romeo in the Washington Gardens area of Kingston town, where the
plan to go it alone and release his music on his own Observer label was hatched.
Christmas Eve 1970 saw the release of the now seminal Niney track ‘Blood and Fire’
recorded at Randy’s Studio 17, the backing vocals were provided by Lloyd Charmers,
Dobby Dobson, Densil Len and Busta Brown. The musicians were the Soul Syndicate
band, a collective group of musicians that Niney would use throughout his career of which
the nucleus would feature Carlton ‘Santa’ Davis, Carlton Barrett: Drums,
George ‘Fully’ Fullwood, Earl ‘Flabba’ Holt, Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett: Bass,
Earl‘Chinna’Smith, Tony Chin: Guitar, Keith Sterling, Gladstone ‘Gladdy’Anderson:
Keyboards, Noel ‘Skully’ Simms: Percussion, Bobby Ellis, Tommy McCook, Vin Gordon:
Horns. The tune would also feature what was to be Nineys signiture heavy / sparse sound.

‘Blood and Fire’ was originally a 200 copy release on his Destroyer label, but switched
to his Observer label,where it would go on to sell over 30,000 copies in Jamaica and be
named song of the year in 1971. Alongside this classic and our opening track on this
compilation, are other killer cuts by the Observer. ‘Message To The Ungodly’ cut at
Randy’s Studio 17 in 1972 featured not only Lloyd Charmers and Dobby Dobson on
harmonies but the great Ken Boothe. ‘Bring The Couchie Come’ had Mr Dennis Brown
on backing vocals. The classic ‘Keep On Pushing’ features the Heptones on harmonies
and ‘Mix Up’ the Morwells and the great Bingy Bunny on guitar.’ Jah Fire’ although having
the rhythm cut as Randy’s Studio 17, the harmony parts by the Heptones were to be put
down at Dynamic Studios, ‘Ital Correction’ had Mr ET Thompson working the feedback
and the next two cuts ‘Rasta No Pick Pocket’ and ‘Aily And Ailaloo’ were cut at Dynamic
and Aily features Lloyd Chambers and Max Romeo on backing vocals. ‘Hail I’,
‘Everybody Say I’m A Rasta’ and ‘Beg In The Gutter’ all carry trademark timeless rhythms
and ‘Observing The Avenue’ reworks a similar theme to Sly Stone’s ‘Everyday People’
with the added Niney magic. ‘Hiding By The Riverside’ takes a gospel/biblical route to
convey its message. CD bonus cuts for this release are ‘Mutiny (Confusion In A Babylon)’
Pum Pum’, the great ‘You Must Believe Me’ featuring Dennis Alcapone and ‘Honey No Money
featuring the soulful voice of Slim Smith on backing vocals. If Niney The Observers work
as a singer was ever in doubt or overshadowed by his many other talents, then we hope
that this album will put that to rest. Niney behind the microphone as compared to a mixing
desk is a great, great, thing…..

Hope you enjoy the set…

CD Track Listing

1 Blood and Fire
2 Message To The Ungodly
3 Bring The Couchie Come
4 Keep On Pushing
5 Mix Up
6 Jah Fire
7 Ital Correction
8 Rasta No Pick Pocket
9 Aily And Ailaloo
10 Hail I
11 Everyone Is A Rasta
12 Beg In The Gutter
13 Observing The Observer
14 Hiding By The Riverside
15 Mutiny (Confusion In A Babylon)*
16 Pum Pum*
17 You Must Believe Me*
18 Honey No Money*
•CD Bonus Track

Vinyl Track Listing

Side 1
1 Blood and Fire
2 Message To The Ungodly
3 Bring The Couchie Come
4 Keep On Pushing
5 Mix Up
6 Jah Fire
7 Ital Correction

Side 2

1 Rasta No Pick Pocket
2 Aily And Ailaloo
3 Hail I
4 Everyone Is A Rasta
5 Beg In The Gutter
6 Observing The Observer
7 Hiding By The Riverside

Musicians Include:
Niney The Observer: Vocals
Dennis Brown, Slim Smith,Max Romeo, Heptones, Denni Alcapone,Lloyd Charmers, Densil Len,
Busta Brown, Dobby Dobson: Harmonies, Backing Vocals
Carlton ‘Santa’ Davis, Carlton Barrett: Drums
George ‘Fully’ Fullwood, Earl ‘Flabba’ Holt, Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett: Bass
Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith, Tony Chin, Bingy Bunny: Guitar
Hux Brown: Lead Guitar
Keith Sterling, Gladstone ‘Gladdy’ Anderson: Keyboards
Noel ‘Skully’ Simms: Percussion
Bobby Ellis, Tommy McCook, Vin Gordon: Horns

Recorded at: Dynamic Sounds, Channel 1, Federal, Randy’s Studio 17,
Joe Gibbs Studio, Harry J’s and King Tubbys
Design by: Gary @ Voodoo London
Photography: Niney The Observer
Produced by: Niney the Observer
Manufactured under Licence from: Winston Holness