|Though they slimmed from a quartet to a
duo over the years the Wailing Souls have survived to be
one of the most enduring of the vocal groups first
established in the early seventies. Wisnton "Pipe"
Matthews first recorded as a child-member of the
Schoolboys then with partner Lloyd "Bread"
McDonald in a band called The Renegades. Also singing
under the names Pipe and the Pipers and the Classics,
their earliest work as a The Wailing Souls took place at
Studio One under the guiding hand of Clement "Coxsone"
Dodd to whom they have recently returned to record an as
yet unreleased album.(Wow!)
Their major early hits were cut on riddims that today
help define reggae music: an overwhelming number of hits
have been cut in the last two years on revamped versions
of "Fire Coal Man," "Things and Time"
and "Back Out" (the latter two setting the
precedent as they were back to back hits by the Wailing
Souls on the same riddim in the early 70's). Unlike many
the Souls' story doesn't end at Studio One.
They went on to cut (again often on revamped Studio One
riddims) a huge body of work at Channel One in the mid-to-late
seventies that established them for all time as one of
the great roots vocal groups while scoring hit after hit
in Jamaica followed by a major international release on
the Island/Mango label.
In these days they appeared as a foursome joined by
George "Buddy" Hayes and Garth Dennis, a
founding member of Black Uhuru who returned to that group
after a decade with the Wailing Souls. Despite the paring-down
of their lineup Pipe and Bread went on to issue a huge
body of work for Jamaican producers as well as major
label releases for Sony that have included coups Jamaican
artists can often only dream of like selections on
soundtrack albums, television appearances and three
Now based in Southern California (though they continue to
record in Jamaica and America) the Wailing Souls--Winston
"Pipe" Matthews and Lloyd "Bread"
McDonald--visited Chuck Foster's Reggae Central radio
show on KPFK-LA July the 23, 2001in conjunction with
their latest release, Equality issued on the Music Blitz
Chuck: It's been a long, long time the Wailing Souls have
been contributing to Reggae music, going back to the
early Studio One days in the first place Pipe: Yes, as
you know we've been around for quite a good while,
putting out the good music and continually keeping going
stronger and stronger, y'know what I mean? Chuck: True,
true. And Waiuling Souls were a big, big part of music in
the mid-seventies when you had a major string of hits for
Channel One as well, remaking some of your Studio One
hits and making some new classics that seem to have
become a part of the foundation of Reggae music now as a
lot of people are bringing back those riddims.
Pipe: Yes because you see what really happen is we were
ahead of our time, you know. And we were creating sounds
that was way ahead so is like now the people them really
realize this is really what was happening: was a good
thing. So they just re-return back and start to re-do
Chuck: True, true. Now a little later in the late
seventies the Wailing Souls led the forefront of reggae
music as you crossed over, put out a great album in the
Mango label of your own productions and really were one
of the first Reggae groups to get radio airplay in
America back then.
Pipe: Yes because first of all we were, even before that,
we were the first Reggae act ever been played in any
disco club in the United States. Beca' we have that great
shot called "Jah Jah Give Us Life To Live," you
know. We had a disco 45, you know. And then afterward now
is like we did "Bredda Gravalicious" which was
another big hit for us and we went and did the thing for
Mango. And you can also see we add that one to the list
also on the Mango tracks. Well from there it really step
us further because the group becomes well well big in
Europe. Because that album is a very big album in Europe.
So it's like we keep moving forward, not looking backward
but keep going forward.
Chuck: True, and a great body of work over all the years,
many independent releases. You had releases recorded in
Jamaica, came back strong, did a couple of albums for the
Sony label here in the mid-nineties that again garnished
airplay most Reggae never see.
Bread: Yes and we really have to give thanks for that,
Chuck. And all of that is the work that we put into it,
taking care to always put out good good lyrics, good
riddim track as Style say, we are ahead of our time
because people always ask us that question: how come we
always right up there with everything that is happening
and that is why. And even as last week Sunday when we had
our record release I hear they come up to me twice in the
same week it happen I hear them say bwoy, you guys
getting better and better everytime I see it! You know,
we do it. And it's the same thing, dedication and
determination, you know, hard work!
Chuck: True. And you really put your finger on it as you
say in the interview in the chapter of my book Roots Rock
Reggae where I interviewed you and it come out to say
that the Wailing Souls never wrote a bad song.
Pipe and Bread: No, no, boss! Bread: If we feel it bad we
scrap it. And sometime too is somebody have to come to us
and say that song is a wicked song man, you nah do it?
Chuck: I was one of the critics who really loved the work
you did when you did some cover tunes in movie
soundtracks like Cool Runnings, I really did love that
album called Psychedelic Souls where you covered some
great English and American hits but I know a lot of
hardcore reggae critics who kind of thing reggae stopped
in the seventies don't as much like that kind of music as
the kind of music you're doing on this brand new album
where you return to that Channel One sound, you return
with even Sly and Robbie playing and to these great
cultural tunes that no one really writes like the Wailing
Bread; Yeah, true. Pipe: You see what really happen,
Chuck, is that the Psychedelic Souls album was a t'ing
that we tried to improvise on by doing all these American
number one million seller into Reggae. Because as you
know, Americans do Reggae.
Chuck: True. Pipe: So why can't we take their songs and
do it in Reggae? Chuck: And true American don't always
acknowledge when they do Reggae.
Pipe: (laughs) What you see, Reggae is the people's music.
It doesn't matter whoever do it as long as you have that
vibration and that positive sound. Everybody gwan cling
to it. So is like we, doing Psychecelic Souls was a good
experience for us and moving on to another stage where we
really let the American public know that we can do songs
that they know. Because most of the time we always do our
original songs. We want to let them know that we are very
versatile, as Bread say.
Chuck: True, and that is so much in the music industry.
We're speaking live in the studio with The Wailing Souls
right here on Reggae Central, Pipe and Bread, two
individuals who've been involved in Reggae music from a
long way back and have a long history. Close with our
brother the late great Joe Higgs, with the Wailers
Pipe: Yeah, you see what really happen Chuck, we were the
smaller guys. Growing up in the ghetto you have bigger
older guys and you have the smaller guys. We were the
smaller guys that were dealing with much more
positiveness that negative so you find those older guys
try to have us among them, encouraging us, giving us good
ideas about being kids, giving us good feelings about
ourselves. So yes little guy, you good you know, keep
doing this, continue with singing that way and always
write your songs. Knowing those people was like going to
school you know, and is like you're getting teach by the
teacher. So is like all these years we have developed so
much intelligence from that. Know about the business,
know how to go about writing songs and things like that.
So you know we gain a lot of things from that. Bread:
Well rich, true man. Because you know,
Joe Higgs. Photo by Chuck Foster.
Joe Higgs is a man whe business, he's all about business
and that is one of the first thing Joe will tell you.
Pipe: Yeah, he was the first. Me wanna tell you, him was
the man who tell all of us, Bob, everybody. Him tell all
of us, say watch here guys. You guys make certain you
write your own material. In style, man. Him even take us
Bread: Even from those days, man. Pipe: Yeah, he was the
one who took us down to the office to register our first
set of songs. So we have to give him all the respect for
that. So he's not here but his words live on. Yes I.
Chuck:Yes, in all of us. Well it's such a pleasure to
have the Wailing Souls here in the studio on a day like
today, this, His Majesty's birthday. Pipe and Bread: Oh
yes, give thanks!
Pipe: Because is not plenty of who is around today to
give praise. So you have to give praise every time.
Chuck: We want to give the people the chance to hear some
of this excellent new release. In the past I've had the
great opportunity to feature some of the classic music of
the Wailing Souls but right now I'd like to concentrate
on some of this great new music coming out right now.
Pipe: Yeah man! Yes, definitely. Bread: 'Cause you know
it's out in the store right now and we want the people
them to run go pick up their copy now.
Chuck: Why don't you tell the people a little something
about this next track I'm gonna play now called "Foundation."
Pipe: Well "Foundation" now was really written
by myself and a friend of mine. And this song was really
showing us, all people you know, that we have to have a
foundation. A strong foundation. Basic! Because if the
foundation is destroyed everything crumble. And most
people don't have no foundation this day. Most people
they just deal with make believes. And when the real
McCoy comes, they don't know what to do. So you have a
strong foundation Bread: Else you can't build nothing
Pipe: A foundation that no one can break. Yes, I! "Artificial,"
another new song on Equality, indicts modern living in
classic style that wouldn't sound out of place on a
Channel One release from the seventies. "Technology
revolution is causing great confusion" Pipe intones
on this burning critique of society.
Chuck: Wailing Souls with "Artificial" from the
brand new Equality album on the Music Blitz label and the
cd is out there for sale right now everywhere, in the
major chains and independent shops and we're speaking
live in the studio with Pipe Matthews and Bread McDonald
of the Wailing Souls. Tell me about this song that we
just listened to, we live in a world that is increasingly
artifical, it's a very interesting theme.
Pipe: Yes, Chuck. Bread: Is Pipe write this song you know
and it self-explanatory really. A whole heap of things
going on which is not natural. Everything is artifical,
artifical grass, you name it.
Pipe: If you check it everything is straying away from
the natural resources of life. Growing up as a likkle
youth in the ghetto of Trenchtown, I used to have this
brother who ususally say "everything is artifical."
He always say everything is artificial." Bread: And
dem time deh Pipe: Hard to tell! So now that we come and
see it's been artifical ages right now. Say oh man, this
man was seeing things just like how we used to write our
songs. 'Cause what people don't realize now, the ghetto
of Trenchtown is like a University. Or a college and
everything. You can get everything there as long as you
put your mind to whatever you want to achieve, you can
get it there.
Bread: Yeah, knowledge is there. Pipe: You know from the
older guys that is around. So as Bread would say this
song speak for itself and everyone know that everything
is artifical. 'Cause of technology revolution.
Chuck: A couple of songs I've featured in the last few
weeks on the show, the title track "Equality"
and again it's so wonderful to see you returning to these
I-niversal themes that make us all thing
Pipe: Well Chuck, the thing about it you know is like
nothing has (changed) completely so far, you know what I
mean because even injustice is still around. There are
still people not getting the benefit of the doubt.
Chuck: They get the doubt but they don't get the benefit.
Pipe and Bread (laughter) Really Chuck, it's true. Pipe:
They way I look at it you know, people are still
struggling and suffering out there. All over the world
it's just the same. And the thing is that there is no
equal rights and justice among man and woman.
Bread: True, true. Pipe: Because if you look at what the
Holy Book say, God said all man are equal under the sun.
So I see in which everybody should have a equal chance.
Equal view, equal opinion of everything. Because you know
we are all born free. We are put on this land and we are
here to cherish it. Everything that is here is for us.
Chuck: That takes us to another of these great songs we
played just last week and got phone calls on and that is
"The Power and the Glory." This is something a
lot of people don't talk about in this time that we live
Pipe: Yeah because most people try to seek glory you know
and them don't know that is God that have the power and
teh glory. 'Cause is HIM make everything work. You is
only his instrument, you know what I mean, his child down
there. So if him mek you be wealthy, give thanks. Don't
seek power. Beca' remember you can never have no more
power than whatever you get man
Bread: Than all you achieve. Pipe: Yes. So you have to
make sure you give him the power and the glory. Bread:
For sometime man feel that them so powerful like them
know more than the Almighty. Like everything that you see
them try to explain it scientifically. And we know seh
that a spirual thing, you know wha' I mean?
Pipe: Well no man can show me so powerful anything. Look
when you have a natural destruction like from a tornado,
earthquake, hurricane, some wicked typhoon--which guy can
stop that? A guy can't go assume say bwoy it can't happen
here. OK, look how many times you say rain's falling over
here and it's not falling over there. Right? So check
that. Jah own the power and the glory, man.
Chuck: We're talking live in the studio with the Wailing
Souls, featuring their new cd Equality. Now I want to
jump over to another cd from the Music Blitz label, we
featured a song from this by the Wailing Souls called
"The Underdog" a few weeks back. There's
another track on here credited to the Reggae Blitz All-Stars
but I hear some familiar voices in this song, "What
You See Is What You Get."
Bread: Yeah man, we are a part of that too. Pipe and
myself along with Andrew Tosh and Bunny Ruggs from Third
World. You know, it's on the Music Blitz label too. It's
still hard to walk into a dance today and not hear Wayne
Wonder and Baby Cham's "Joyride." The devil-may-care
attitude it celebrates has a downside the Wailing Souls
explore on Equality.
Chuck: A big hit record a couple of years back there was
called "Joyride" and just wonder at the message
you're putting out here that life is "No Joyride."
Bread: Yes basically that is it you know 'cause
Pipe: What we really a try to show the world is nothing
is easy and anything you need and want you have to work
hard to achieve.
Bread: True, true. Yeah mon. That a it basically: no
joyride. Because even recently we was in Jamaica, we go
home to do a video in Trentchtown and we see a lot of
them weh we a grow up with and them a look like still
they take it for a joyride cause they still same way we
left them, no further and as a matter of fact now they
have a thing down there called the Culture Yard and we
the Wailing Souls kinda contributing towards it because
it have a lot to do with the culture of the place and
some museum and tourist area and all that. So we give a
contribution toward the Culture Yard down there and as a
matter of fact right now every record we sell a
contribution will go to the Trenchtown Development
Association to see if we can't elevate, develop and make
some a them youths have something to look towards.
Pipe: Some of the youths don't really have a chance to
achieve anything because as you know the area has been
branded so it like we have to try as youths that come
from down there whatever we can put back inside. Bread:
And if any youth right now who a listenwe want to tell
them Trentown to do whatever you can 'cause 'nuff
progress seen with the Culture Yard. And any badness and
everything wha you a try right now, cut that out. Pipe:
The Governor is involved and people like the Governer
General and thing. And I was told told that they have
turned over Trentown to us for
Bread: Forty-nine years so is like they give us a lease
down there to see what we can do in this forty-nine years
if we can really turn the community around. We are just
hoping that with the help of the Almighty and fellow
members from Trenchtown and from our record sales and
thing that we can be be able to do something for the
Chuck: So what you're saying is life is a serious thing
Pipe: Yes, yes. Because is each one help the other boss
so you can't just talk, you have to live it.
Bread: Put your mouth where your money is.
Chuck: We're speaking live in the studio with the Wailing
Souls and I wanted to tip over to another very
interesting release. It's the soundtrack to a film called
Titan A.E. and among the many artists on this soundtrack
again The Wailing Souls (with "Renegade Survivor").
So Pipe and Bread, how you get involve with this
Pipe: Well what really happen you know Pam Turball, our
new manager, played a great part in that. She got the
deal from Fox to do the song. What really happen they had
a space and they wanted an uptempo song. We didn't see
the movie or anything but we got an idea what the movie (an
animated science fiction film) was like. We had a
deadline where they wanted the (song recorded) by Monday
and it was like Friday! So we write the song the Saturday
and Sunday we did it just like that and we took it over
to Fox and they say yes this is it they want it and they
accept it so eventually it's in the movie and on the
Bread: And we want to give thanks and big up to Fabian
Cooke who co-produce this song with us.
Chuck: Longtime Bullwackie's resident musicianship Pipe:
Yeah man, Fabian is one of us from long time.
Chuck: And this too shows the diversity of the Wailing
Souls that you could do something like this so quick and
so kind of futuristic
Bread: So good so excellent because quick but if have to
be so that people could accept it for these people Fox
and Capital Records could say this song not up to
standard so not only quick but it have to be just right
Chuck: One of the songs on this cd is called "Hard
Living." Wailing Souls really know hard living from
way back. Bread: Yes brother Chuck. We always have to go
back to the University which is Trenchtown. 'Ca that is
where everything started for us, all the hardship. But
interestingly enough you know we wouldn't trade any of
that for anything. All of those upbringing make us to be
the people we are today. Personally if we had never had
that kind of upbringing we wouldn't be who we are today.
Chuck: You couldn't write a song like "Renegade
Pipe and Bread: No! Bread: No, boss. And although it was
hard it was sweet. Because we have all the fun in the
world growing up. We had our sport, we had music, we had
food but we don't know say we living in the ghetto and is
like it was us against the world inna that sense. Because
when you live in a trenchtown if you're going to get a
job out there in the world you can't let them know that
is where you're coming from. You have to use somebody
else address who live uptown. Or else you're not getting
that job, man!
Pipe: Yeah because is a stigma for Trenchtown. Bread:
'Cause you come from the ghetto. "Nothing good come
out of Trenchtown."
Pipe: But I would like them to know the best come out of
Trenchtown. We are here to prove, Bob is here to prove,
and there's many more. Bread: Many man more! Lots of
scholars, lawyers Pipe: All different work people came
from there Bread: Great sportsmen
Chuck: And a lot of what the Wailing Souls are about is
not just having come from this background but having come
strong and come with some decisions in your life. This
song "Not For Us" (from Equality) is a good
Pipe: Yeah man! The thing about is we always just try to
think positive. So is like even although we know that you
have negative vibes we don't try to accumulate a lot of
negativeness. Because when the negativeness come we turn
it into positive. We always try fe know if we gwan write
a song it is something that can really uplift your mind.
Because our work is to rehabilitate and educate our lost
souls. Because we are the Wailing Souls. So you know we
don't really come to really cheat the people or to tell
the people the wrong thing. We are here to show the
people the right thing. Because coming from the ghetto we
were youth that we see everything: we know everything.
Cause in the ghetto there is everything and anything you
want is there.
For youth to really hold onto what you want. But we
always think that our aim and view is to make something
happen in this lifetime. And as long as you are doing
something and giving back something to the people 'cause
we get our talent you know naturally from God so it is
our mission to do whatever he tell us to do, write
whatever he tell us to write. So that the people can
always know there is hope because a lot of people don't
know there is a God. But I know. And many more people
know. But still we hve to deal with the people that don't
really know. You know wh' I mean?
So that is the reason that we always keep and try to
strive to do the very best every time. So that we can
always in the forefront with the music knowing that some
of the major guys should be here today. Because the music
is still growing you know. It is like we are the only
guys right now which really represent certain things in
the music right now. Because there is not much creativity
coming out of Jamaica again from the music. So is like
being living in America and still have that spiritual
vibes and things with us you know we always continue to
do the good work and to know that the people are always
satisfied with what we do. Because we're not going to put
out any mass production.
Chuck: Yes. Especially on this release having a great
drummer like Sly Dunbar playing here and these great
musicians you're using, this classic kind of Channel One
sound, the Steppers rhythm,.
Bread: Yeah, yeah! Pipe: Well Chuck alla this connection
come from between when we first started because is like a
lot of the musician them like the most famous and the
best musician in Jamaica they always like to play with
the Wailing Souls. Because what they say is only one
thing: when the Wailing Souls come to the studio they
don't joke. We don't waste people time. That is one of
the things. We come, we have our song ready, we come with
our guitar, we play, musician can create them own ideas.
So is like a joy when we come in the studio. Whatever
time we come to Jamaica to do any kind of recording we
can always move with these people.
Bread: We have our choice of the backing musician them.
Pipe: Yeah, yeah. Bread: Because the man a feel good to
create something out of themself. Because they know this
is new music. Pipe: Fresh blood! Bread: Yeah! (laughs)
Chuck: Before we get back to another cut from the Wailing
Souls I brought along a little treat. Pipe this is your
first record--it's kind of a scratchy old copy of "Little
Dilly" by the Schoolboys. Pipe: Yes Chuck! I really
did this song when I was like nine years old. So this is
like starting off Winston "Pipe" Matthews.
Chuck: Pipe, you were telling me when this was recorded
everything was done live. Pipe: Yeah because in those
days you know it was like 1963 in those days was like all
the musician and the singers would all be in the studio
room and we just play live. It's not like with technology
advanced now where we can say "take from there."
When we made a mistake we had to start at the top again
and come back. So this was an experience for me and I'm
glad that I came up in this time because this time prove
how good you was because you cannot go into the studio
and make mistakes because everybody is playing, you have
to stop it one time! And that time I see where I have
that potential. Because Prince Buster was the producer,
he love me from that time and anywhere him going he
always take me with him so that I can really see the
place and know whenever time they are doing certain
concert and thing I would go.
Chuck: What an amazing history from those early ska days
to the great recordings that you two did at Studio One
with "Mr. Fire Coal Man," those classic songs
Bread: "Back Out With It," "Things and
Chuck: All the way up to now I just give thanks that you
Souls can stay so long through all of this
Pipe: We always give the Father the praise for is him
giving us the breath of life you know and as long as
there is the breath of life there is everything Bread:
Plus the challenge and the inspiration Pipe: Everyday we
just have to give thanks and praise you know because
every day is another day and is another adventure in life
because there is so much thing happening every day you
don't know what can not take place tomorrow.
Chuck: I want to say thanks so much to Pipe and Bread The
Wailing Souls for coming down to join us today playing
some tracks off the new album, it's such a pleasure
always a pleasure Pipe:
Well Chuck you know we always love to do these things
because what really happen some people come and see us on
stage sometime and sometimes they can't even come
backstage to talk with us so speakin' on the radio like
this they have a full view of what the Wailing Souls
really about and what our aim and views are like and
those are the things we like to come on the radio and
express to our fans. So this is something that we always
love to do.
Chuck: Well and the Wailing Souls are such a message
group. Another song on this cd is "Stop the Conflict"
Wailing Souls still to this day trying to stop the
conflict Pipe: There is so much conflict boss happening
all about. All these conflict come from some kind of
misunderstanding or this guy want to be the badder than
this other guy because there's so much Superman business
going on now Chuck. But Jah control all things and have
the power over all things.
Chuck: True and that's why I kind of wanted to end this
set with this new song called "Down On Your Knees"
that you have on this new cd. Because this is really
Wailing Souls with that strong and humble message that
you have from the very beginning
Bread: Yeah, the spiritual vibes you know. Give thanks!
It's always a pleasure sitting in with you whether it's
the book or this. And one more thing: go and get the cd
on the Music Blitz label. Respect! One love. Pipe: And I
say blessing to all Wailing Souls fan and as Bread says,
go and get this one for you no regret it.