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Artist Hall of Fame

Junior MurvinText by Harry Hawks

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.
Date Added: Jan 30, 2014, Date Updated: Mar 14, 2018 Copyright (C) 2018 Dub Store Sound Inc.
Real Name: Murvin Junior Smith
1946 - Dec 2, 2013
Place of Birth: Swift River
Portland
Jamaica
Related Artist(s):
Lee Perry
Congos
Derrick Harriott
Junior Byles
Heptones
Max Romeo
Dennis Brown
Mikey Dread
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.
Jan 30, 2014 (Mar 14, 2018 Update) Text by Harry Hawks
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Hit titles
Junior Murvin - Inna De Yard
CD Junior Murvin - Inna De Yard Makasound EU/Inna De Yard
  
¥2280 ¥1780 (US$15.78)
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Junior Murvin - Police & Thieves
LP Junior Murvin - Police & Thieves Upsetter
  
¥2680 (US$23.75)
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Junior Murvin - Bad Weed
12" Junior Murvin - Bad Weed Trojan UK/Upsetter Police & Thieves
  
¥1780 (US$15.78)
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Junior Soul - Super Love; Super Cool
10" Junior Soul - Super Love; Super Cool / Lloyd Charmers - Darker Then Blue; Inst. Ver. PK Records UK Info: Adapted, Curtis Mayfield
  
¥1580 (US$14.00)
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Junior Soul - Glendevon Special
7" Junior Soul - Glendevon Special Crystal/Dub Store Records JPN
   As Junior Soul, Junior Murvin recorded definitely the greatest Rocksteady tune,「Glendevon Special」 on early days of his recording career. This tune is also unique among Derrick Harriott's catalog and it proves how wide varieties his production was. This song is rare that many collectors have been looking for years.
¥1380 (US$12.23)
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Junior Soul - Hustler
7" Junior Soul - Hustler / Bongo Herman, Les - Home Sweet Home Crystal/Dub Store Records JPN
   The Hustler' is one of Junior Murvin's, who gained international success later in his career, earliest works and is a rare tune that collectors have been after for many years. Made in 1969, this is also one of most popular up-tempo early Reggae tunes and undoubtedly the masterpiece. The flip side is the version to the A-side that featured keyboard and percussion.
¥1380 (US$12.23)
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Junior Murvin (Junior Soul) - Rescue The Children
7" Junior Murvin (Junior Soul) - Rescue The Children Move & Groove/Dub Store Records JPN
   Recorded in 1974, this is Junior Murvin's first Roots tune ever. Having always been sought after by collectors, this song is possibly the ultimate classic. This is a completely different take from the one Junior Murvin recorded for Lee Perry in 1977 for the “Police and Thieves” LP distributed by Island. Undoubtedly this is one of Murvin’s best tunes, which should be in every collector’s record box.
¥1380 (US$12.23)
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Junior Murvin - Police & Thieves
7" Junior Murvin - Police & Thieves Upsetter Police & Thieves
  
¥1280 (US$11.34)
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Junior Murvin - Philistines On The Land
7" Junior Murvin - Philistines On The Land / Earl 'Chinna' Smith - Bingo Kid Black Art UK Police & Thieves
  
¥1380 (US$12.23)
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Junior Murvin - Rescue Jah Children
7" Junior Murvin - Rescue Jah Children Wild Flower/Dub Store Records JPN
   This tune was the second Roots tune recorded by Junior Murvin after his first 1974 masterpiece. With different dynamics, this great track was also highly sought after, and considering this tune as one of his few recordings during the period, it should be recognized as an important record and a true masterpiece.
¥1380 (US$12.23)
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Junior Murvin - Cool Out Son
7" Junior Murvin - Cool Out Son Joe Gibbs Real Rock
  
¥700 (US$6.20)
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Junior Murvin - Jack Slick
7" Junior Murvin - Jack Slick / Anthony Johnson - Dancehall Vibes Jammys/Dub Store Records JPN Jack Slick
   Junior Marvin is apparently more known for his 70's work but he continued his career while dancehall period and released album 'Apartheid' at Jammys. This heavy weight dancehall song 'Jack Slick' was on the album and released on 12" single vinyl. On side B, 'Dancehall Vibes' by Anthony Johnson on the same rhythm with different arrangements was only released on 12" single vinyl.
¥1280 (US$11.34)
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Junior Murvin - Clinging To The Memories
7" Junior Murvin - Clinging To The Memories Studio One Queen Majesty
  
¥850 ¥799 (US$7.08)
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Recent arrival(s)
Junior Murvin; Bongo Herman; Ras Monk All Stars - Super Love; Super Cool; Super Flute Dubplate Style
12" Junior Murvin;Bongo Herman;Ras Monk All Stars - Super Love; Super Cool; Super Flute Dubplate Style / I Roy;Ras Monk All Stars - Flying High; Super Cool Pt. 2; Pt. 3 Sounds By Monk/Digikiller/Deeper Knowledge US
  
¥2380 (US$21.09)
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Best selling CD(s)
Junior Murvin - Police & Thieves (5 Bonus Tracks)
CD Junior Murvin - Police & Thieves (5 Bonus Tracks) Island US
  
¥2380 ¥2180 (US$19.32)
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Best selling LP(s)
Junior Murvin - Muggers In The Street
LP Junior Murvin - Muggers In The Street Greensleeves UK
  
¥2980 (US$26.41)
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Best selling 10/12"(s)
Junior Murvin - Wise Man; Be Wise
10" Junior Murvin - Wise Man; Be Wise / Winston Fergus - Praise Him; Jamboree Dub Dubwise UK
  
¥1680 ¥1180 (US$10.46)
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Junior Murvin; Bongo Herman; Ras Monk All Stars - Super Love; Super Cool; Super Flute Dubplate Style
12" Junior Murvin;Bongo Herman;Ras Monk All Stars - Super Love; Super Cool; Super Flute Dubplate Style / I Roy;Ras Monk All Stars - Flying High; Super Cool Pt. 2; Pt. 3 Sounds By Monk/Digikiller/Deeper Knowledge US
  
¥2380 (US$21.09)
BUY
>>more
Best selling 7"(s)
Junior Murvin - Jack Slick
7" Junior Murvin - Jack Slick / Anthony Johnson - Dancehall Vibes Jammys/Dub Store Records JPN Jack Slick
   Junior Marvin is apparently more known for his 70's work but he continued his career while dancehall period and released album 'Apartheid' at Jammys. This heavy weight dancehall song 'Jack Slick' was on the album and released on 12" single vinyl. On side B, 'Dancehall Vibes' by Anthony Johnson on the same rhythm with different arrangements was only released on 12" single vinyl.
¥1280 (US$11.34)
BUY
Junior Murvin - Philistines On The Land
7" Junior Murvin - Philistines On The Land / Earl 'Chinna' Smith - Bingo Kid Black Art UK Police & Thieves
  
¥1380 (US$12.23)
BUY
Junior Murvin - Africa
7" Junior Murvin - Africa / Delroy Smart - Johnny King Tubby's Dub Plate/Dub Store Records JPN
   Recorded on the very same day as People Music (DSR-LT7-01-A), here comes Junior Murvin cut crying for his brothers in the homeland. On flip side a Delroy Smart vocal on the same rhythm.
¥1480 (US$13.12)
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Junior Murvin - Bad Man Posse
7" Junior Murvin - Bad Man Posse / Mikey Dread, Roots Radics - Brixton Possee Dread At The Controls UK
  
¥1080 (US$9.57)
BUY
Hempress Sativa, Junior Murvin - No Retreat (Picture Sleeve)
7" Hempress Sativa, Junior Murvin - No Retreat (Picture Sleeve) Conquering Lion EU
  
¥1880 (US$16.66)
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