Lost roots reggae from singer Willi Williams | Bleader

Lost roots reggae from singer Willi Williams

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To the extent that reggae singer Willi Williams is known beyond Jamaican music cognoscenti, it's generally for his classic 1977 track "Armagideon Time," a song covered by the Clash as the B side to their 1979 single "London Calling" and used prominently in the soundtrack to the Jim Jarmusch film Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. In the early 70s Williams joined a vibrant expat community of Jamaicans in Toronto—including Jackie Mitoo and Leroy Sibbles—but he continued traveling home to Kingston to make records. A couple of weeks ago Shanachie Records released one such session from 1979, a previously unissued recording cut at the two famed studios referenced in its title: Unification: From Channel One to King Tubby's. The sessions were produced by the great producer Yabby You—like Williams, a hard-core Rastafarian more in tune with spirituality than commerce—using a top-flight cast of musicians that included Sly & Robbie, the Gladiators, Cedric "Im" Brooks, and the Revolutionaries. It's kind of shocking that such a collection sat unheard for so long; it's potent stuff, as you can hear for yourself on today's 12 O'Clock Track, "Natty Natty." The album also serves as a nice warm-up for a forthcoming three-CD collection of Yabby You's production work, Dread Prophecy: The Strange and Wonderful Story of Yabby You, due from Shanachie early next year.

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