Trojan Jamaica is excited to release the new video for the Rob Jevons remix of Bo Diddley's "Gunslinger" performed by reggae legend Big Youth, whose exuberant, eccentrically avant-garde delivery helped set the template for Jamaica's DJ-toasting in the 1970s, and paved the way for hip hop of the future. Instigated by label co-founder Zak Starkey and directed by Gabriella Blackwood, the raucous and colorful clip features other label co-founder Sharna "Sssh" Liguz and a bevvy of musicians and dancers exploding in a burst of psychedelic hypnotica all in service of this joyous dirty dub spaghetti western manifesto. Large Up premiered the video yesterday.
Starkey and Sshh recently announced the birth of Trojan Jamaica, a new frontline label, in partnership with BMG, endeavoring to bring newly-produced, Jamaican-made music to the world. March 29th heralded the debut track, Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put A Spell On You," performed by Mykal Rose (Black Uhuru) and featuring the legendary reggae rhythm combo Sly & Robbie, as well as a stellar solo from Jamaican guitar great Ernest Ranglin. The track was accompanied by a video which had its exclusive premiere via Rolling Stone.
Mykal Rose's "I Put A Spell On You" and the album version of Big Youth's "Gunslinger" are both featured on the forthcoming, groundbreaking compilation, RED, GOLD, GREEN & BLUE, and was produced by the legendary Youth (U2, Paul McCartney, The Verve), at Trojan Jamaica Studios in Ocho Rios. More details to follow.
Trojan Jamaica arrives with a mandate to explore Jamaica's diverse musical legacy, from its African roots to the endless inspiration of classic and contemporary American soul, R&B and blues. With that goal in mind, RED, GOLD, GREEN & BLUE sees such stars as Toots & The Maytals, Big Youth, Freddie McGregor, Phylea Carley, Kiddus I, Andrew Tosh, Sshh and Robbie Shakespeare taking on definitive songs by Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Willie Dixon, Howlin' Wolf, Robert Johnson, Peter Green, and Johnny & Shuggie Otis. Backing throughout comes from a truly extraordinary line-up of legendary musicians, including Starkey (guitar), Sly Dunbar (drums), Robbie Shakespeare (bass), Tony Chin (guitar), Cyril Neville (drums), Michael Rendall (keyboards, organ) and Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace (drums, organ).
"It feels like we are at a pivotal moment in time with regards to the global relevance of roots rock & reggae," says Sshh. "I give thanks every day to the island, its people and the culture that we have been accepted and given the opportunity to share it with the world."
The story of Trojan Jamaica began in 2016 when Starkey - known for his superlative work as drummer in The Who, Oasis and Johnny Marr and the Healers, among countless other musical efforts - and Australian-born artist-musician Sharna "Sshh" Liguz united as SSHH, teaming up to reinvent such seminal songs as Bob Marley and the Wailers' "Get Up Stand Up," performed alongside Eddie Vedder and Carlton "Santa" Davis, George "Fully" Fullwood and Tony Chin of the pioneering reggae backing outfit known as Soul Syndicate. A video of the performance made its way to Jamaican entrepreneur Kingsley Cooper who immediately invited Starkey and Sshh to perform at the November 2016 opening of the long awaited Peter Tosh Museum in Kingston. Another invitation followed in 2017, inspiring the duo to begin work on what would soon become Trojan Jamaica.
"We felt so warmly welcomed and at home in the musical community that we stayed and recorded all the music that has become Trojan Jamaica," says Starkey. "We're committed to presenting local artists together with international musicians who, like us, have been inspired by roots culture."
Starkey and Sshh were aided in their mission by GRAMMY® Award-winning rhythm section Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, both of whom make indelible contributions throughout RED, GOLD, GREEN & BLUE. An array of genre-spanning session superstars were enlisted, including drummer Cyril Neville (The Meters, The Neville Brothers), guitarist Tony Chin (of the famed Soul Syndicate session outfit) and keyboardist Michael Rendell (The Orb, Pink Floyd). With Youth behind the board, Starkey and Sshh lead this extraordinary band through all new performances of archetypal American music which deeply inspired the reggae revolution but whose influence on Jamaican music and culture is often forgotten.
"I find both reggae music and American blues to be similar with a different approach," Starkey told the Jamaica Observer last year. "Very cleverly, Jamaican music is 'up' music with a serious message. US blues has a very similar message in the words but the music can be harder or more 'down', but both rock just as hard."