Inner Circle to Re-Release the Jacob Miller Classic “Natty Christmas” Album

Natty Christmas
by Howard Campbell

[SOUTH FLORIDA] – In the context of Jamaica circa 1978, a Rastaman singing Christmas songs was unheard of. Yet, that is what Jacob Miller and Inner Circle did with the novel Natty Christmas album.After 42 years, the set remains popular. Miller died in March, 1980 at age 27 in an auto accident but his colleagues in Inner Circle, now known as the Miami-based Bad Boys of Reggae, have reissued Natty Christmas with a new look.

The 10-song set will be released this week with a special red, green and yellow vinyl package. According to Abebe Lewis, the band’s marketing manager, “We wanted to do something extra special.”

Miller, a flamboyant vocalist, was tailor-made to put a roots flavor to songs like Wish You A Merry Christmas and Silver Bells. He, Inner Circle and deejay Ray I also went to town on the humorous Natty no Santa Claus and All I Want For Ismas.

Sessions for Natty Christmas were done at Channel One in Kingston, then the hottest recording facility in Jamaica and reggae.

“The recording process was very quick maybe two to four days. At the time, this was another first for us (Inner Circle, Jacob Miller and Fatman Riddim Section) as it was the only Christmas album with a reggae beat. Ray I also added his distinctive style of deejaying which further cemented it with the Jamaican and Caribbean community in general,” said Bernard”Touter” Harvey, Inner Circle keyboardist.

Brothers Roger and Ian Lewis, who founded Inner Circle in 1968, played rhythm guitar and bass on Natty Christmas. Mikey Chung and Robbie Shakespeare also played guitar and bass.

Since the release of Natty Christmas, there have been a number of Yuletide reggae albums and songs. Mek The Christmas ketch yuh in A Good Mood by Home T and Carlene Davis’ Santa Claus (Do You Ever Come to The Ghetto) are favorites in Jamaica.

Natty Christmas is also available via streaming.

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