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Label Hall of Fame

ClandiscText by Harry Hawks

Clancy Eccles truly believed in the power of music to effect social change and he opened the door for countless others to come through and capitalise on his innovations…
Date Added: Feb 9, 2012 Copyright (C) 2019 Dub Store Sound Inc.
1967 ~
Place of Establishment
Jamaica
Kingston
122 Orange Street
Founder:
Clancy Eccles
Producer(s):
Clancy Eccles
Related Artist(s)
Dynamites
Clancy Eccles
King Stitt
Michael Joshua Manley
Related Label(s)
Clansone
New Beat
Dynamite
Born near Highgate in the parish of St. Mary 9th December 1940 Clancy Eccles' father was a tailor; Clancy originally trained as a tailor too and would later create and fashion his own highly individual stage costumes. He "went out on the road" at the age of fifteen working in the North Coast resort of Ocho Rios where he served drinks and sang "a few Belafonte songs" for the tourists but Clancy was far more interested in American rhythm & blues artists such as Ray Charles, Rosco Gordon and Lloyd Price.

He moved to Kingston in 1959 where he made his first recording for Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd(CS Dodd). 'Freedom' was a rhythm & blues based tune full of revivalist fervour that played extensively and exclusively on soft wax on Coxsone's Downbeat Sound System before it was released on his All Stars label. His next recording for Coxsone, 'River Jordan' where Clancy was backed by Herman Hersang & His City Slickers, was also released on All Stars and was another massive hit. He went on to record for a variety of different producers including Charlie Moo's Moo's label, Lindon O. Pottinger(Lyndon Pottinger)'s SEP set up and "a calypso for a lady with the Jamaican Military Band".

Clancy started his Clandisc, Clansone and New Beat labels in 1967 operating out of his tailors and record shop at 122 Orange Street and, like Clancy's clothes, his music was always made to measure. His winsome rock steady 'What Will Your Mama Say' proved to be his biggest ever hit in both Jamaica and England where it was one of the first releases on the Palmer Brothers' Pama label. 'What Will Your Mama Say' was a huge underground success in the UK and, despite repeated plays on the offshore 'pirate' ship Radio Caroline, narrowly missed entering the National Charts.

Clancy, together with Lee 'Scratch' Perry(Lee Perry) and Bunny Striker Lee, was instrumental in the all important transition to reggae in 1968 and Clancy worked with the multi talented Dynamites, the undisputed top session band of the time, on all his recording sessions. The same set of musicians, give or take one or two, also worked for all the top producers of the period but The Dynamites can be heard at their very best on Clancy's recordings.

"To me the group of musicians I worked with sounded like something was going to explode. Well to get a strong explosion you need dynamite! At that time it proved to be the number one recording group of Jamaica. Everybody wanted to work with them: Duke Reid, Leslie Kong and Dynamic Sounds." Clancy Eccles

Clancy's 'Feel The Rhythm' was comparable, both lyrically and rhythmically, to Lee Perry's infamous 'People Funny Boy' and was another huge hit in the UK where it was released on Graeme Goodall's Doctor Bird label.

"If you try to reach the top they will want to see you drop
And if you don't try at all, yeah, the people call you lazy bwoy..." 'Feel The Rhythm' 1968

After radically rearranging the rhythm from rock steady to reggae Clancy went on to produce a series of records in 1970 with King Stitt (pronounced Stitch) that were to take the Jamaican deejay phenomenon out of the dancehalls and into the recording studio. A number of records featuring deejays were released during the sixties but their spoken and shouted introductions and exhortations usually remained un-credited. It was not until Clancy took Stitt into the recording studio that the art of the deejay would be officially recognised.

"'Cause when him (King Stitt) record tune U Roy no record no music yet... I Roy no record no music yet. Big Youth no record no music yet..." Keith Hudson

Clancy then produced one of the first ever dub mixes (before dub had even been given a name) on a seven inch single entitled 'Phantom', a riveting drum and bass interpretation of King Stitt & Andy Capp's 'Herb Man', mixed by Lynford 'Andy Capp' Anderson and released on Clancy's Dynamite label. His next foray into the genre, 'Sound System International Dub LP', was also way ahead of its time; although dub now had a name Clancy's 'Dub LP' still required an explanation in its title.

Never content to sit back and only sing about the system Clancy was actively involved in trying to change the status quo. A lifelong socialist, "I was taught socialism from birth", Clancy believed that music could be a genuine force for change. As an outspoken supporter of the charismatic Michael Manley's People's National Party Clancy recruited artists and musicians to the PNP cause. In 1971 he helped to persuade many of Kingston's top stars, including Ken Boothe, Derrick Harriott, Bob Marley, Max Romeo and Delroy Wilson, to play on the PNP 'Bandwagon'. Clancy not only released powerful political anthems such as 'The Message' by Neville Martin and his own 'Rod Of Correction' but also released 'Power For The People'. This record included excerpts from Michael Manley's speeches transcribed by Clancy, "I still have the typed copy in my house", and read by Michael Manley over a backing rhythm in the recording studio.

"We won a landslide victory in 1972. Unquestionably, Bandwagon and the protest music to be found in early reggae contributed much to that success." Michael Manley

After the 1972 election Michael Manley asked Clancy to form a committee to advise the Prime Minister on copyright and musicians' rights. However, Clancy felt that his contributions were not being taken seriously by the more conservative members of the government. Matters worsened and, according to Clancy, the radio stations would no longer play his records because of his support for the PNP.

"For years I didn't get any airplay and it forced me out of the record business.... They didn't understand the songs were not done for Manley but for the people who were looking for a change." Clancy Eccles

He continued to record sporadically but stopped almost completely in 1977 in protest against increases in the price of records and consequently, during the period of reggae's greatest overground success, the pioneering work of Clancy Eccles, one of its undisputed originators, was too often overlooked. Although Clancy built his music with an acute awareness of what his audience wanted he was often too progressive for them and the burnished beauty of his productions, at the forefront of reggae, deejays and dub, and his penetrating political stance did not always fit in with the tenor of the times. Clancy enjoyed good health throughout his life but died tragically in Spanish Town Hospital on 30th June 2005 following a heart attack.

"You love the rhythm, you feel the rhythm, you got the rhythm, upset the rhythm..."
'Feel The Rhythm' 1968
Feb 9, 2012 Text by Harry Hawks
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