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Artist Profile
Junior Murvin
1946 ~ Dec 2, 2013
Also known as Junior Soul and Junior Mervin an under-recorded singer whose indubitable, indisputably classic song ‘Police & Thieves’ transcended its origins in downtown Kingston’s internecine political violence to become a worldwide anthem for the fight against oppression both from below and from those at the very top.
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Real name:
Murvin Junior Smith
Place of birth:
Jamaica
Portland
Swift River
Also known as Junior Soul and Junior Murvin an under-recorded singer whose indubitable, indisputably classic song 'Police & Thieves' transcended its origins in downtown Kingston's internecine political violence to become a worldwide anthem for the fight against oppression both from below and from those at the very top.

Born in 1946 in Swift River in the rural parish of Portland Murvin Junior Smith was taken aged one week old to Port Antonio to live with his maternal great grandmother who died when Junior was thirteen. Young Junior relocated to Glendevon, not far from the resort town of Montego Bay on Jamaica's North Coast, where he resided with his grandmother. A shy, retiring youth Junior preferred to stay in the background and work the organ pump at his local Methodist church rather than sing in the choir. He studied car mechanics at Montego Bay Technical High School and his precocious gifts were recognised at talent contests held at MoBay's Palladium Theatre. When an aunt in America sent him a guitar Junior began to play and sing with local youths and write his own songs and became known as Junior Soul. He "mostly used the treble voice they call falsetto" and his biggest influences were smooth, sophisticated American singers such as Billy Eckstine, Nat 'King' Cole (Nat Cole) and Sam Cooke and the Jamaican vocalist Wilfred 'Jackie' Edwards (Jackie Edwards).

In the early sixties he travelled to Kingston where he auditioned for Leslie Kong at Beverleys Records and Lee 'Scratch' Perry (Lee Perry) at Studio One but Junior was unsuccessful and returned to the North Coast. However the lure of the capital's burgeoning musical scene proved too strong and Junior returned to Kingston in 1967 where he lodged with an aunt in Trench Town. His early recordings for the legendary Derrick Harriott followed the transition of rock steady to the faster reggae rhythms and Derrick enjoyed one of his biggest and most enduring rock steady hits with a song that Junior had written 'Solomon'. It was through this song that Derrick would later link up and record with Dennis Brown.

"Dennis used to sing 'Solomon' on Byron Lee's shows. He was a little youth talking about he's a big man and the vibe just went around and we became friends." Derrick Harriott

Junior Soul's releases for Derrick Harriott's Crystal and Move & Groove labels included 'Big Boy', 'Glendevon Special' and 'Rescue the Children' but none were major hits although a number of his releases for Derrick would later become highly prized, highly priced items on the reggae record collectors circuit. He also recorded for Sonia Pottinger's High Note organisation and 'Jennifer'/'Slipping' was released in both Kingston and London on Mrs Pottinger's Gay Feet label. Junior then joined The Falcons; other notable luminaries of the group included a young Dennis Brown. In 1975 Junior returned to Port Antonio where he sang with trumpet player Bobby Ellis' group Young Experience. This highly professional outfit toured Cuba and sang for Beverley Manley, wife of Prime Minister Norman Manley, at her birthday party.

But the group disbanded and Junior returned to Kingston where he again auditioned for Scratch. Now at the height of his powers and at the controls of his own recording studio Scratch's 1976 production of Junior's 'Police & Thieves' was one of the finest records to emerge from the Black Ark. Junior's impassioned falsetto floated over the Washington Gardens wall of sound stating that the downtrodden were actually in as much danger from the forces of authority as they were from the criminals. Scratch licensed the record to Federal in Jamaica, who released it on their Wild Flower subsidiary entitled 'Police And Thief' backed by a haunting version 'Grumbling Dub', and to Island in the UK where it was a huge hit on the reggae market. The record played throughout that summer's civil disturbances at London's Notting Hill Carnival where the Metropolitan Police fought pitched battles with Afro-Caribbean youths and gained further infamy when it was covered by The Clash on their debut album released the following year on CBS.

Scratch versioned the rhythm with deejay Jah Lloyd as 'Soldier & Police War' and also released a beautiful instrumental version, 'Magic Touch', from saxophonist Glen Da Costa. Junior returned to the rhythm track on the twelve inch release of 'Bad Weed' and the seven inch 'Philistines On The Land' and the 'Police & Thieves' album proved very popular in the UK. 'Tedious' and 'Roots Train' were released as singles but, unfortunately, failed to scale the heights of 'Police & Thieves'. The record finally crossed over into the UK National Charts reaching Number 23 in May 1980 when 'Police & Thieves' was re-released and re-promoted by Island Records after featuring in Theodoros Bafaloukos' film 'Rockers'. Ten years later Luciano's version to 'Police & Thieves' featured on the soundtrack of 1990's 'Third World Cop' film directed by Chris Blackwell.

Junior went on to record for a number of other producers notably on his interpretation of the 'Real Rock' rhythm for Joe Gibbs in 1980 entitled 'Cool Out Son' and 'Bad Man Posse' long player for Mikey Dread's Dread At The Controls label in 1982. Two years later Junior released 'Muggers In The Street' a further album update of the 'Police & Thieves' argument produced by Henry 'Junjo' Lawes. Both of these albums were big sellers on the reggae market and Junior's digital album for King Jammy, 'Apartheid', was another respectable seller in 1986. However, Junior never repeated the incredible success of 'Police & Thieves' but the lasting effect of this roots rock reggae anthem has proved far reaching and it is one of the handful of instantly recognisable Jamaican classics still played internationally.

Junior Murvin died on 2nd December 2013 after suffering from diabetes related hypertension. He is survived by five children and eight grandchildren and our sincere condolences are extended to Junior's family and friends at this sad time.
 
Related artist(s):
Lee Perry
Congos
Derrick Harriott
Junior Byles
Heptones
Max Romeo
Dennis Brown
Mikey Dread
Label Profile
Island
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Hit title(s)
CD Police & Thieves (5 Bonus Tracks) - Island US
¥2380
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¥2480
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CD Arkology (3 CD + 52 Pages Book) - Island Jamaica UK
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CD Rockers Original Soundtrack: Definitive Remasters - Island UK
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CD Night Nurse: Remastered - Island US
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CD Dub Factor (Remastered, 3 Bonus Tracks) - Island UK
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CD Til Shiloh (2 Bonus Tracks) - Island US
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CD Africa Unite: The Singles Collection - Island US/Tuff Gong US
¥2680
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CD Songs Of Freedom (4 CD) - Island UK
¥7980
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LP Catch A Fire - Tuff Gong
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LP Anthem - Island
¥1880
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¥1480
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LP Red - Island
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LP Harder They Come: Original Soundtrack - Island
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LP Natty Dread - Tuff Gong
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LP War Ina Babylon (Ltd. Edition 180 Gram Vinyl) - Simply Vinyl UK/Island
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LP Harder They Come: Original Soundtrack - Island UK/Universal Music
¥3080
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LP Catch A Fire: Zippo Cover - Island UK
¥4280
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¥1580
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vinyl 7" Harder They Come - Island
¥700
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vinyl 7" Bogle - Island Jamaica
¥570
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vinyl 7" Ninja Man Mega Mix - Island Jamaica
¥570
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vinyl 7" What We Need Is Love - Island Jamaica
¥700
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vinyl 7" I Shot The Sheriff (Picture Sleeve) - Island UK
¥1180
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vinyl 7" Slogans (Picture Sleeve) - Island UK
¥1280
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vinyl 7" Sun Is Shining (Picture Sleeve) - Island UK
¥1180
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vinyl 7" Africa Unite (Will. I. Am Remix) (Picture Sleeve) - Island UK
¥1280
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vinyl 7" Stand Up Jamrock (Picture Sleeve) - Island UK
¥1280
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Related label(s):
Mango
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Description of item
[All Items] → [CD] → [Roots Reggae] → [Lee Perry & The Upsetters] → [Junior Murvin]
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CD CD
Junior Murvin
Police & Thieves (5 Bonus Tracks)
Island US
¥2380 (US$22.73)
Rating: 1234
Genre: Roots Reggae
Sub Genre: Lee Perry & The Upsetters
Approx. year: 1977
Date added: Oct 22, 1998
Date re-stocked: Mar 16, 2010
Country: USA
Catalog number: ISCD 63078
Music type: Roots & Culture
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15 TRACKS :
1) listen Roots Train
2) listen Police And Thieves
3) listen Solomon
4) listen Rescue Jah Children
5) listen Tedious

6) listen False Teachin
7) listen Easy Task
8) listen Lucifer
9) listen Workin'in The Cornfield
10) listen I Was Appointed

11) listen Childhood Sweetheart
12) listen Bad Weed [Disco Mix]
13) listen Roots Train [Extended Mix] - with Dillinger
14) listen Roots Train [Extended Mix] - Memories
15) listen Roots Train [Extended Mix] - Rasta Get Ready
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