I Jah Man Levi
I Jah Man Levi - Haile I Hymn - Island - 1978
An album way ahead of its time. Much further than say 'Catch A Fire' from the Wailers. For starters, it as only 4 tracks! One of which lasts for 12 minutes and 25 seconds. Added to this was the extensive use of lead guitar, still a alien concept in reggae music. Reggae music wasn't ready for such an album, Yet it has to be said that today the album must be thought of as one of the greatest reggae albums ever made. Time, and the evolution of the music had made it possible to fully appreciate the wonderful intricacy of the work.
I Jah Man Levi - Are We A Warrior - Island - 1979
The following year, 1979 saw the release of 'Are We A Warrior' also for Island. This time, I Jah Man and Island Records faced a new set of problems. The Dance Hall Style was coming in, and with it Reggae music was turning inwards again. There was no way that I Jah Man Levi's music could be made to appeal to the Dance Hall fans, and Rock music's interest in the music was rapidly waning. Still this 5 track set co-produced by I Jah Man and Geoffrey Chung was another great album, and one track 'Moulding' even became into a big hit.
I Jah Man Levi - Tell It To The Children - Jahmani - 1982. The release on Jahmani (his label in Jamaica) of a couple of singles in 1981 including 'Tradesman' marked a new era for the singer. 'Tradesman' was a tune, tuned into the realities of the economics of the systems that has been with us since the early eighties. It was a song about mass unemployment, but it also said a lot more. When he released this album which contained similar reality messages, it was well greeted. It had been a hard struggle for him up until now, but at last, it was his time.
I Jah Man Levi - Africa - Jahmani - 1984
The move towards more reality and love song started on 'Are We A Warrior' carried on to the fourth album 'Africa'. It was also the first album that featured I Jah Man's band. The sound they create is more minimal than usually found in the music of I Jah Man Levi, but the space left is space that I Jah Man uses very effectively. One of the best tracks would have to be 'Africa' that draws a great deal of strength from yet another wonderful horn arrangement. I Jah Man's creativity with the horn section being second to none.
I Jah Man Levi - Lily Of My Valley - Jahmani - 1985
It's been clear for at least the last couple of albums, that I Jah Man has had a full love song album inside of him and this is it. Sadly no horn are present on the album which are always the highlight of any I Jah Man Levi work, but thankfully their absence does not detract that much from the overall mellowness of the album. Of the 8 tracks on the album, ny favourites would include 'My Time' which sounds like an Alton Ellis song, but isn't. And is one of a number of songs on the album co-written with his wife Madge.
I Jah Man Levi & Madge - I Do - Jahmani - 1986
I Jah Man's next album, a duo with his wife Madge came about from the success of 'I Do' which was a very big hit in the UK around 85/86. 'I Do' was unlike anything I Jah Man had done before, it was very tender song very much in the style of the early R&B/Ska duos from the likes of Keith & Enid and Derrick & Patsy. It sold very well to the so called 'Big People' or if you prefer the M.O.R record buyer, who have always had a great influence in the Jamaica music scene, but who have never really been acknowledged.
I Jah Man Levi - Love Smiles - Jahmani - 1991
The work on this album is carried out by two sets of musicians Chris Meredith & Squiddlie Cole, and Desdale Wilmot & Dixie Pinnock. Also making a contribution are Stephen Wright on piano and Michael Nanton on Piano. Recording was done at Trevor Douglas's (Aka Leggo Beast) Leggo Studio, and the results are very refreshing. Without doubt, the most encouraging track is 'I Art Jah Watchman' one of I Jah Man's best songs for a long time. However, the real success of this album is that I Jah Man sounds settled again.