by Howard Campbell
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Before Jamaicans got caught up with cable television from the United States, youths there savored the country’s colorful pop culture.
Today, not many of them know about trailblazers like Eric Donaldson and Tenor Saw.
Producer Colin “Bulby” York has an appreciation for those artists. He covers Donaldson’s Cherry Oh Baby and Lots of Sign by Tenor Saw on Master Blaster, his second album, which was released on August 28 by VPAL Music.
Busy Signal and soca singer Patrice Roberts put new life into Cherry Oh Baby, which won Jamaica’s Festival Song Contest in 1971. It has been covered by the Rolling Stones and UB40.
Christopher Martin and Beenie Man team up on Lots of Sign, a massive hit for Tenor Saw in the mid-1980s. It is the lead song from Master Blaster, which according to York, is timely.
“I think it’s very critical right now more than ever because we need to remind the older folks and the younger generation the root of it all, and keep the authenticity of it going for generations,” he said.
The 11-track set contains Freedom by Beres Hammond (on Freedom), with whom York has worked a lot in the past. Marcia Griffiths, roots singer Lutan Fyah and Hawaiian singer J Boog are also on this song. Dance With Me is a collaboration between Manas Itiene and Cherine Anderson, while Joseph Hill of Culture fame is revived for Never Bow alongside Raging Fyah and Leego. Hill died in 2006.
York tapped into the EDM craze on Epic & Ting, his 2016 debut album. He continues to experiment on Master Blaster which is produced by his Bulby York Music.
“Master Blaster is a representation of me. When I mix or produce music, I’ve always wanted it to have a blasting but subtle vibe sonically at the same time. So by doing that, it has become the Bulby York sound,” he said.
Since his days as a resident engineer at Mixing Lab recording studio in Kingston, York has worked extensively on several Hammond albums, including his last release One Love, One Life, in 2012.
He and Lynford “Fatta” Marshall were principals of the Fateyes label that produced hit songs like Jah Works by Terror Fabulous, and Beenie Man’s Memories.