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Artist Profile
Barrington Levy
Apr 30, 1964 ~
Performing with the vibrant energy and spontaneity of a sound system deejay Barrington Levy was one of the first vocalists to transfer the live raw excitement of the dance hall direct to record…
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Place of birth:
Jamaica
West Kingston
Clarendon
Despite the major breakthroughs made in the seventies reggae once again had to fight for acceptance and to reassert itself as a dominant musical and cultural force in the following decade. Many observers considered that it had been allowed its allotted fifteen minutes of fame and was no longer 'fashionable' while others felt that it should remain locked forever in its mid seventies 'golden age'. After Bob Marley's tragic death in May 1981 these critics began to search in vain for the 'new' Bob Marley. Many promising artists were placed in this position and many careers were finished before they ever started under the pressure of these unrealistic expectations. As always reggae did it in its own way and, realising that it could not and would not survive this type of hype, the music returned to its roots in Kingston's dance halls. There, instead of producing another star, it produced a whole new style of music with many new stars. Barrington Levy was one of the very brightest.

Born 30th April 1964 in Western Kingston Barrington grew up in the rural Clarendon district before bursting onto the reggae scene as a young and precocious fifteen year old in early 1979. He had recorded unsuccessfully as one of The Mighty Multitudes and his first solo hit, 'Ah Yah We Deh', was for Henry 'Junjo' Lawes and New York based Hyman 'Jah Life' Wright. Junjo had been introduced to the music business by singer, soon to become a highly respected record producer, Linval Thompson. Further hits, including 'Collie Weed', 'Looking My Love' and 'Shine Eye Gal', followed in rapid succession. These records heralded the start of an incredible hit making career and the new partnership of Barrington, Junjo and The Roots Radics began to move reggae music in a completely different direction.

The originators of the 'dance hall' style rhythm, The Roots Radics, had initially worked as a session band for a number of producers. Formed by The Morwells' rhythm guitarist Eric 'Bingy Bunny' Lamont and bass guitarist Errol 'Flabba' Holt the pair then recruited Wycliffe 'Steely' Johnson on keyboards and Lincoln 'Style' Scott on drums. Style had learnt to play while serving in the Jamaican Army and his military training was evident in the disciplined Radics beat. Noel 'Sowell' Bailey and Dwight Pinkney on guitars alongside veteran keyboard king Gladstone 'Gladdy' Anderson(Gladstone Anderson) completed the heavyweight aggregation. Together they were responsible for the shift away from the roots based reggae of the seventies and their austere approach would pave the way for the digital assault of the mid eighties.

After building the rhythms with The Roots Radics at Channel One on Maxfield Avenue Junjo would then move on to King Tubby's Dromilly Avenue studio to voice and mix. At first he employed Prince Jammy(Lloyd James) at the controls but he soon developed a close working relationship with Tubby's young apprentice engineer, Overton Browne, who had recently begun working at Tubby's repairing television sets and amplifiers. His skills on the mixing board earned him the name of Scientist and it was obvious that this was a man who was going places.

That same year Junjo began a long and fruitful association with West London's Greensleeves Records which introduced his production skills, the music of Barrington Levy and The Roots Radics and the engineering prowess of Scientist to an international audience. Having conquered Jamaica and the UK with a string of seven and twelve inch hit releases they needed to consolidate that success and make it permanent and this close working relationship ensured that Barrington's hits were now readily available worldwide. Barrington's debut album 'Englishman' and the follow up 'Robin Hood' were important releases for the whole team:
"Then I go to London, come back down, made this LP called 'Englishman' in Channel One. Then I do 'Robin Hood' and so on... Dance hall style is really good vibes. The chance to create a new style every day. That's dance hall style." Barrington Levy

Barrington's career went from strength to strength and, while he continued to work with Junjo on smashes such as 'Prison Oval Rock', he also recorded for many other producers including George Phang whose Power House release, 'Money Move', proved to be one of the biggest hits of Barrington's career. The thrilling Hit Bound seven inch 'Dances Are Changing' for Jo Jo Hookim(Joseph Hookim)at Channel One was a skilful summation of the situation although Barrington's slow, brooding records such as 'Hammer' for Junjo and 'The Winner' for Jo Jo showed a more introspective side to the dance hall style. After being voted Best Male Vocalist at the 1984 UK Reggae Awards he relocated to London where the 'Mellow Canary', as he was now known, began to work with Paul 'Jah Screw' Love the former selector for U Roy's Sturgav Sound. Screw helped Barrington to move in another direction and 'Under Mi Sensi' and 'Here I Come', released on Screw's Time One label in the UK and Thunder Bolt in Jamaica, were massive crossover hits that placed Barrington Levy's music firmly in the mainstream.

Continuing to record in a solo capacity or in combination with deejays (his duet with the fearsome Bounty Killer, 'Living Dangerously', was the biggest selling record of 1996 in Jamaica) Barrington Levy has never stopped making hit records. Once again living in Clarendon he is closely involved with the community working quietly behind the scenes with local projects such as setting up a cricket team and various charitable ventures. He continues to tour and record for his countless fans all over the world and is in the enviable position of being in complete control of his career.

One of the few dance hall vocalists to have enjoyed lasting success Barrington Levy's long career echoes the achievements of the legendary Jamaican vocalists of the sixties and seventies and he stands proud as a man whose popularity has always been rooted in talent and substance. His music has always continued to grow and mature and the former 'teen Reggae star' has more than earned his place in the roll call of Jamaica's classic vocalists. "Broader than Broadway" indeed...
 
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Related artist(s):
Bob Andy
Little John
Al Campbell
Label Profile
Roots Tradition
1976 ~
>>Show additional info
 
Hit title(s)
vinyl 7" Never Let Go - Roots Tradition
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vinyl 7" Pain - Roots Tradition
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Description of item
[All Items] → [12"] → [Roots Reggae] → [Roots Reggae 1970s] → [Barrington Levy;Roots Radics]
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vinyl 12" 12"
Barrington Levy;Roots Radics / Ranking Toyan;Roots Radics
Revelation; Revelation Dub / Better Your Life; Better Your Dub
Roots UK
¥1780 (US$14.94)
Rating: 1234
Genre: Roots Reggae
Sub Genre: Roots Reggae 1970s
Produced by: Lloyd Dennis
Approx. year: 1978
Date added: Jul 22, 2010
Date re-stocked: Dec 20, 2013
Country: England
Catalog number: ROOTS01
Music type: Vocal, Dub B: Deejay, Dub
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SIDE A:
1) listen Revelation
2) listen Revelation Dub
SIDE B:
1) listen Better Your Life
2) listen Better Your Dub
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