Gregory Isaacs ADD

Track By Track with Curtis Lynch: Gregory Isaacs Remixed

04/15/2013 by Angus Taylor

Track By Track with Curtis Lynch: Gregory Isaacs Remixed

Today (April 15th) England’s Necessary Mayhem label released their long awaited tribute to Gregory Isaacs. Necessary Mayhem Presents Gregory Isaacs Remixed is a 15 strong series of recordings by the cool ruler, based on original productions by Augustus “Gussie” Clark, reworked, restyled and refashioned by label owner Curtis Lynch Junior. Angus Taylor asked Lynch to take Reggaeville through the album track by track, giving the story behind each song.

“Jealousy was on the Gregory and Dennis No Contest combination album. That’s one of my favourite album tracks which I always thought got overlooked so it was definitely one of the first tracks I wanted on the list! I wanted to be creative with it so everything has changed – the only thing that is the same as the original is the vocal. Now there’s an added vocal by Macka B. I just wanted it to sound “now” and like me – as heavy as possible, a ridiculous intro, crazy basslines. It was a good vibe. I had fun.”

“Report To Me was always a favourite because of the part where Gregory says “I passed by your house this morning at a quarter to three!” Who passes by someone’s house at a quarter to three??? I always found the lyrics really funny but at the same time he’s really serious about it! His vocal delivery is a typically old school Gregory vibe so for it to be here in this new style was like a vintage vibe. Again I tried to add more things to it but there’s a classical element in there as well (which actually features quite heavily across this album).”

“This was really strange. I had this idea in my mind of what I wanted for this tune. If anybody had walked in on me doing this tune they would have thought I was absolutely bonkers! It’s almost like Dr Frankenstein – “It’s alive!” I could hear it in my mind and when I put it down it actually worked! I was jumping up and down! You would have thought there were several people in the studio but it was just me on my own. All sorts of madness! Streetwalker is definitely one of my favourites. It’s got the right frequency to my ears and in terms of what I had in mind it was the smoothest tune. This tune was done in no time. Because I had heard it. I had seen it. I could feel it. From the beginning.”

“This was good fun as well. Because on the tape in the parts Josey Wales had his version and Shabba had a version too. Shabba was talking about a sound system while Josey Wales was in direct response to Gregory’s Mind You Dis but they were all separate tunes. So I thought “Wouldn’t it be really cool to have them all on the same track?” But have Gregory as the chorus, Shabba as a sub-chorus and right at the end have that 70s style where you have the deejay finishing up – which was Josey Wales. Again there’s that classical element – me and my mum were just speaking about the track actually – there’s a part in there that sounds almost like James Bond.”

“For six months of this two year project Night Nurse was bugging me. I had several different mixes in different styles and I was almost said I wasn’t going to do it. I saw Rodigan at East Village and when I was going to do Night Nurse he said “Are you sure?” I said “You’re not filling me with confidence right now, Rodi!” and then he was like “Good luck, Godspeed”. Then I had several conversations with Mr Clarke about Night Nurse and he kept saying “It’s about what you can do to make the differences between it”. I would say this was the most difficult tune on the album and I nearly left it off. But I sent it to two listeners who don’t know each other in different parts of the world and they both loved it. When I expressed that I might leave it off they said “No way!” I’m a great believer in the fact that sometimes you have to shut up and do your job. I never call the right tune anyway! Sometimes when I do my rhythms I think “This tune is going to be the big tune” and the one I thought would do the least is the biggest one! So I decided to put it out. And if I’m totally honest Night Nurse has never been one of my favourite Gregory tunes. This man’s got so many great tunes – how come it’s this one??? But in the end the mix and the music I’m really pleased with.”

“A lot of this was down to watching some really quaint TV and listening to the music. For some reason I’d spent that weekend watching some murder mysteries on ITV3 like Agatha Christie and Lewis! Let Off Supm was one of the last set of tunes that I did for the project and I didn’t want the whole album to sound the same. I had got some new sounds and new bits and pieces and because my mind was on Agatha Christie I decided to implement some of those things into the track. And I really like the instrumentation and that, where the original was a much bigger Gregory and Dennis combination, on this one I just left it as Dennis saying a few ad libs here and there so it was much more of a Gregory song.”

“This was another track that wasn’t really one of my favourites but we needed a love song. What I liked was that I used Gregory’s lead vocal to make his harmonies which again was that whole mad white jacket crazy scientist vibe in the studio where it was “It’s worked!” I had the whole track in harmony at one point but I had to get over myself and stick to the track! Because that was a massive classic track for Gregory. Rodigan and Mr Clarke refer to each other as brothers – they’re really close friends. I remember Rodigan told me a story of how  he was in Jamaica when Gregory had just finished Private Beach Party, Mr Clarke ran it off for David to play at a dance that night and David has loved it ever since. The first tune I sent him from this album was Private Beach Party and he played it on his first show on Radio 1Xtra. So if we got a co-sign from David it must be good! With that history for David to play it meant a lot.”

“Inner City Lady was always a favourite but I didn’t know the meaning of Inner City Lady. I got it all wrong! I thought this was a lady who was well to do with lots of money. I remember on a drive with Mr Clarke he said “Inner City Lady? Are you sure you want to do that? It’s not very relevant anymore and it’s like a ghetto talk”. It’s about a woman that’s the complete opposite of what I thought she was! But I’ve always loved that track. The original instrumental was classic Sly and Robbie – really moody and my kind of thing. Like a lot of Gregory’s big tunes ftom this period it was written by Mr Carlton Hines.”

“While doing the project Mr Clarke sent me this tune saying “This tune has never come out anywhere other than Japan. See if you like it”. I absolutely adored the instrumentation. The intro alone was superb so I kept the synths and keyboards parts in. But I wanted to do something with this tune which was more now – a more hip hop, down south kind of vibe. I thought “If it works with Gregory’s vocal on it then it could be a trend”. And it worked, which goes to show that Gregory’s vocal is quite versatile. I might sound like a crazy fan but his vocal can fit on most genres. You put him on drum’n’bass, dubstep, the same vocal seems to work.”

“For some reason this is my most played tune on iTunes! I don’t understand how. That’s me being really quirky. Some really odd things happen in that tune. There are some errors that I’ve left in. His vocal is in a different key from the original. It’s just me experimenting – and maybe that’s why it’s the most played tune!”

“Plant Some Love was always going to be the last track on the album. It’s off the Private Beach Party album and I just thought it made sense to be last. He’s no longer here with us and it’s almost like he’s telling you to be wise, be good, love each other. It feels like the end. It was really hard to do this song and I didn’t do it last on purpose! I actually did it in the middle. At one stage it was going to be a dubstep kind of vibe, which worked. Then I was going to get a drum’n’bass mc on it – I made all the calls and they were really up for it – but then I thought that, no, it should just be Gregory and have a big ending at the end of the track.”

“On the first Jealousy I had it in the 70s style with Macka B at the end. Here I wanted to flip it round so Macka B starts the tune and Gregory and Dennis end it. The modern way, because now everybody just wants to hear the deejay! So depending on where you’re playing out you could start with either/or. That’s what’s good about DJing out is that you actually see responses from the crowd first hand. They tell you whether they like something or not depending on whether they continue to move or not! Report To Me is more of an instrumental than a dub to be honest. There are some dub packages coming soon with more fierce dub things. Disrespect is the same reversal again – Josey Wales at the front and Gregory and Shabba down the line. Actually Jealousy’s everywhere! But it was good to have this dub as well.”

“Overall, creatively I wanted to enhance what was already great. You have some wonderful musicians that were on the original tracks: Sly & Robbie, Dean Fraser. You have some wonderful singer songwriters like Carlton Hines. JC Jodge is in various parts of it, as is Carleen Davis. Then you have to look at it sonically as well: Stephen Stanley and Souljie who were superb mix engineers. There are so many things to take into consideration when you do a project like this because it’s already brilliant. You have to add something both creatively and sonically for it to make any sense and any difference – and I’d like to think we’ve achieved that.”