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Label Hall of Fame

African MuseumText by Harry Hawks

An early enterprise by two of Kingston’s elite recording artists, Gregory Isaacs and Errol Dunkley, to wrest control of the music they were making from the producers and place it in the hands of its creators…
Date Added: Apr 11, 2012 Copyright (C) 2018 Dub Store Sound Inc.
1972 ~
Place of Establishment
Jamaica
Kingston
Chancery Lane
Founder:
Gregory Isaacs
Co-founder:
Errol Dunkley
Producer(s):
Gregory Isaacs
Related Artist(s)
Gregory Isaacs
Related Label(s)
Virgin Front Line
In 1972 Gregory Isaacs started to come into his own with the formation of the African Museum label and Chancery Lane record shop with his good friend and fellow vocalist Errol Dunkley. The label got off to a flying start with Gregory's plaintive 'My Only Lover' and the wonderful 'Look Before You Leap' (later versioned by Augustus Pablo as 'Ape Man' for Dennis AlCapone's Ah Wee label and Big Youth as 'Things In The Light' for his Negusa Nagast label) and Errol's interpretation of Delroy Wilson's evergreen 'I Don't Know Why' which was re-titled 'Movie Star'. Both were huge Jamaican hits.

The label also released Big Youth's debut record, 'Movie Man', a next cut to 'Movie Star', and a further Tyrone Downie version of the rhythm the rare 'Movie Skank Volume Three', Augustus Pablo's 'Pablo In Red' later versioned by I Roy as 'Black Talk', Glen Brown on the enigmatic 'Crisp As A Ball' and an instrumental version to 'Picture On The Wall' by Sounds Combine entitled 'Jah Picture'. One of Dennis Brown's greatest ever records, 'In Their Own Way', was also released on an African Museum blank; the rhythm was then used by Gussie Clarke(Augustus Gussie Clarke) for Big Youth on 'Be Careful' on the 'Screaming Target' album and for I Roy's 'Coxsone Affairs' on the 'Gussie Presenting I Roy' album. Gussie repaid the compliment when Paul Freeman sung 'Life Is Sweet' for African Museum over the rhythm to Gussie's Roman Stewart classic 'Try Me'.

As the decade progressed Gregory assumed sole control of the label but in order to finance African Museum he also recorded for a number of other producers notably Phil Pratt with 'All I Have Is Love' and Alvin GG Ranglin(Alvin Ranglin) with the 'In Person' album and his first Number One 'Love Is Overdue'. By the time Gregory signed to Virgin's Front Line label in 1978 the African Museum label was primarily a vehicle for Gregory Isaacs and his ascent to superstar status. His first album for Front Line, 'Cool Ruler', was excellent and earned Gregory another of his many nicknames and the follow up, 'Soon Forward', was even better. The title track was originally released on Sly & Robbie's Taxi label but the remainder of the tracks, including the incredible 'Universal Tribulation', were all African Museum productions. Both long players were released on African Museum in Jamaica and, due to problems with Virgin's UK distribution, were often easier to find in the UK's specialist shops on African Museum than their locally pressed Front Line counterparts.

At the start of the eighties Gregory Isaacs was, beyond any doubt, reggae music's brightest star and African Museum singles such as 'Poor And Clean', 'Top Ten' 'Tune In' and 'Front Door' were all massively popular. London based Chrysalis Records pulled off a remarkable coup when their subsidiary label Pre secured the rights to Gregory's next long player for African Museum 'Lonely Lover'. The album not only featured the aforementioned 'Poor And Clean' and 'Tune In' alongside brand new beauties such as 'Tribute To Wa-Dee' but also provided Gregory with yet another nickname. The eagerly awaited follow up, 'More Gregory', was similarly superb and included 'Front Door' and the heart breaking 'If I Don't Have You'. Once again, it was released on African Museum in Kingston.

Gregory's live concert appearances, with "the ultimate rude boy reggae star" resplendent in white suit and fedora, now became the stuff of legend. At one his appearances at North London's Rainbow Theatre crowds of disgruntled fans who had been unable to purchase tickets tried repeatedly to gain entry making it impossible for the majority of ticket holders to get into the venue. The London based branch of African Museum was kept very busy and a number of twelve inch records were released in the UK and, although these were usually straightforward UK releases of Jamaican hits, a handful of records such as 'Wailing Rudie' and 'Next To You' were never released outside of London. These two certified classics filed neatly next to the UK cut of 'Mary'/'If You See My Mary' which was completely different to the Jamaican release. A rare African Museum foray into producing other artists came with Bingy Bunny's 'Young Lover' in 1981.

The following year Gregory signed to Island Records and his first album release for the label 'Night Nurse' provided him with his biggest ever crossover success but he also served a six month prison sentence in Kingston that year for possession of unlicensed firearms. He celebrated his freedom with his second Island long player the appropriately named 'Out Deh!' and, although he now began to record extensively for other producers, African Museum continued to release Gregory's self productions. The African Museum record shop moved from Idlers Rest to new premises uptown and upstairs at 92 Red Hills Road which was always remarkably well stocked with a selection of fabulous records. The greatest attractions were still Gregory's own ||African Museum||| releases such as 'Just Infatuation', 'I Am Gregory' and in combination with Dennis Brown and Junior Delgado on the lovely 'Be Mine Tonight'. Gregory's 'Brand New Me' album was nominated for the Grammy Awards of 2010.

It can be very difficult for artists to produce themselves but a very select few have the objectivity and clear sightedness to do so. Gregory Isaacs was one of the few. Although he recorded countless classic records for other producers his own productions on African Museum were invariably better still. A legend in his own lifetime Gregory died of lung cancer at the age of 59 in London on 25th October 2010.
Apr 11, 2012 Text by Harry Hawks
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Hit Titles
Gregory Isaacs - Cool Ruler
CD Gregory Isaacs - Cool Ruler Virgin Front Line US
  
¥1980 (US$17.58)
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Gregory Isaacs - Soon Forward
CD Gregory Isaacs - Soon Forward Virgin Front Line US
  
¥1980 (US$17.58)
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Gregory Isaacs - More Gregory: Remastered
CD Gregory Isaacs - More Gregory: Remastered Island US
  
¥2680 (US$23.79)
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Gregory Isaacs - Night Nurse: Remastered
CD Gregory Isaacs - Night Nurse: Remastered Island US
  
¥2480 ¥1680 (US$14.92)
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Gregory Isaacs - Cool Ruler
LP Gregory Isaacs - Cool Ruler African Museum
  
¥1480 (US$13.14)
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Gregory Isaacs - Soon Forward
LP Gregory Isaacs - Soon Forward Tad's
¥2380 (US$21.13)
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Gregory Isaacs - More Gregory
LP Gregory Isaacs - More Gregory African Museum
  
¥1580 (US$14.03)
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Gregory Isaacs - Night Nurse (Island 30th Anniversary Edition)
LP Gregory Isaacs - Night Nurse (Island 30th Anniversary Edition) African Museum/Island US
  
¥2980 (US$26.46)
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Gregory Isaacs - Stick By Me
7" Gregory Isaacs - Stick By Me Moodisc US Stick By Me
  
¥1680 (US$14.92)
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Gregory Isaacs - Paymaster
7" Gregory Isaacs - Paymaster / Ranking Buckner - Captive Observer Paymaster
  
¥570 (US$5.06)
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Gregory Isaacs - Slave Master
7" Gregory Isaacs - Slave Master African Museum UK Slave Master
  
¥900 (US$7.99)
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Gregory Isaacs - Love Is Overdue
7" Gregory Isaacs - Love Is Overdue African Museum UK Love Is Overdue
  
¥1480 (US$13.14)
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Gregory Isaacs - Night Nurse (Remastered)
7" Gregory Isaacs - Night Nurse (Remastered) African Museum Night Nurse/Doctor's Darling
  
¥600 (US$5.33)
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Gregory Isaacs - Tune In  (Remastered)
7" Gregory Isaacs - Tune In (Remastered) African Museum
  
¥600 (US$5.33)
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Gregory Isaacs - Soon Forward
7" Gregory Isaacs - Soon Forward Taxi
  
¥720 (US$6.39)
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Gregory Isaacs - Enough Is Enough
7" Gregory Isaacs - Enough Is Enough Mixing Lab Run Down The World
  
¥570 (US$5.06)
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Gregory Isaacs - Rumours
7" Gregory Isaacs - Rumours VP US Rumours
  
¥980 (US$8.70)
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Tiger, Gregory Isaacs - She Give Me Hic-Up
7" Tiger, Gregory Isaacs - She Give Me Hic-Up Techniques Tune In
  
¥600 (US$5.33)
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Gregory Isaacs, Marcia Griffiths - Number One
7" Gregory Isaacs, Marcia Griffiths - Number One Penthouse Number One
  
¥600 (US$5.33)
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Recent Arrivals
Tony Brevett - Bright Star
7" Tony Brevett - Bright Star / Tony Brevett - Shoot On Sight African Museum UK Undying Love
  
¥570 ¥199 (US$1.77)
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Best selling 7"(s)
Tony Brevett - Bright Star
7" Tony Brevett - Bright Star / Tony Brevett - Shoot On Sight African Museum UK Undying Love
  
¥570 ¥199 (US$1.77)
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Nana Dee - Give It To Dem
7" Nana Dee - Give It To Dem African Museum
  
¥570 ¥199 (US$1.77)
BUY
Edi Fitzroy - Lonely Woman
7" Edi Fitzroy - Lonely Woman African Museum
  
¥570 ¥199 (US$1.77)
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Gregory Isaacs - Don't Go
7" Gregory Isaacs - Don't Go African Museum Info: Deleted
  
¥570 ¥199 (US$1.77)
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Gregory Isaacs - John Public
7" Gregory Isaacs - John Public African Museum UK
  
¥1100 ¥680 (US$6.04)
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