Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ishan People: A Little Jamaica By Way Of Toronto


The development and acceptance of reggae in Canada followed the same pattern as that in Britain and United States: when Jamaicans settled into this country in the 50s and 60s, they brought the music of their homeland with them.  Eventually, they began to promote and record their own releases here.

Pioneers in the 60s included Toronto's first ska and rock-steady groups, The Rivals, The Sheiks, The Cougars, and The Cavaliers.  In fact, the city became of hotbed of North American reggae, what with several reggae venues opening up: The West Indian Federation Club, Club Jamaica, Tiger's Den and The Blue Angel.  Jackie Mitoo became the first reggae artist to record a disc in Canada.  He was soon followed by Stranger Cole, Tony Eden, Audley Williams, the Webber Sisters, Leroy Brown, and Joe Issacs.

The First Record

In 1976, Toronto's Ishan People -- featuring vocalist Errol "Johnny" Osbourne (a.k.a. Bumpy Jones), Larry Silvera on bass, drummer Karl Parris Jr., keyboardist David Jones, Glen Daley on percussion and guitarists Michael Murray and Anthony Campbell -- recorded their first album, Roots, for GRT Records.  While Roots was a mélange of Jamaican rhythms, it also reflected the band's Canadian home; in other words, it was nice.

The Followup

But where Roots lacked in production values and ferocity, the followup a year later was an improvement.  While, still not as biting as their brethren back home in Jamaica, the production is better on this one.  And clubs around Toronto took notice: Ishan People performed on many of the same bills as the city's notorious punks of the era.

By 1979, however, Ishan People went their separate ways.  But their influence was immeasurable: the following 15 years would spawn a plethora of Canadian reggae bands such as (in no particular order) Messenjah, Fujahtive, Sattalites, Truths & Rights, 20th Century Rebels, Sonia Colleymore and others.

After the band's demise, Johnny Osbourne returned to Jamaica, where he began a prolific recording careers, where he would record a stunning 18 albums in the space of just 12 years.

Ishan People - Roots (1976):

1Ishan PeopleTough Tight & Dread4:31

2Ishan PeopleI Shall Be Released4:31

3Ishan PeopleOne Way Ticket3:48

4Ishan PeopleLies4:07

5Ishan PeopleYour Money Or Your Life5:29

6Ishan PeopleTalkin' Blues4:40

7Ishan PeopleSituation Vacant2:51

8Ishan PeopleNo Ganja3:21

Ishan People - Ishan People (a.k.a. Reggae Sun) (1977):

1Ishan PeopleCome To The Music4:13

2Ishan PeopleHold On3:45

3Ishan PeopleInflation3:32

4Ishan PeopleSweet Chariot4:33

5Ishan PeopleLet The Rhythm Roll3:18

6Ishan PeopleMighty Warrior3:48

7Ishan PeopleRainbow3:13

8Ishan PeopleTrenchtown5:35


PierAJackson said...

Dear Model Citizen: I love this blog, and thank you so much for recognizing these 2 classic albums. I must however protest that you have offered "a free download" for both albums though. You see, I'm Michael's sister, and this 'free-ness' brings in nothing to his Estate. Michael died 1/9/82 and i am the Administratrix for his Estate. I know that both these albums are extremely rare and only available on vinyl, but would prefer if you take down the free download thingy. I must also warn you that, I've contacted SOCAN in Toronto, and provided them a copy of the link to this blog, and they have advised me on this first approach on how to deal with this matter. The second as you may well guess, is the legal approach, and I really don't want to go there. I absolutely love that you are giving such big praise and exposure to this lost treasure, but would prefer if you put the albums up as 'Listen Only'. After all, the world needs to hear, right? In the meantime, I am researching how they can be reissued in cd format. So with all respect, please remove the albums as a 'FREE DOWNLOAD'. Thanking you in advance.

Son of Spam said...

Hi PierA:

That's actually, no problem at all. I've already complied with a request to take a download down, after it was pointed out that the particular release in question has been re-released for commercial profit.

My blog is an attempt to showcase music that otherwise would not have been heard.

So I'll gladly remove the links. However, I have to say that I don't appreciate the SOCAN warning...all you really had to do was ask me and I would have complied.

You know...catching more bees with honey rather than vinegar.


PierAJackson said...

Dear Model Citizen: You are right, I am a knuckle head to call SOCAN, and what can I say but to apologize, and to say that I am very protective when it comes to my brothers music/legacy. And to be honest, I didn't know how to approach the situation, so I called them for advice. You have to understand that Michael came on the music scene and did a lot of recordings with other artists, and did not get paid other than what they tossed at him at the end of the sessions. But if you really want to gloat, all I had was a 45rpm of "Come To The Music", which Michael left at the house in 1979. I never saw him alive after that visit. Then my mother took a trip to London, and found the 2nd album in a record shop in Brixton. She gave that to my younger brother. So if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have a copy of both those albums. So I guess I should send you a check. Just let me know how much and your addy :o). And thanks again for the info on the re-release, didn't know about that. Seems as if I'm doing SOCANs job for them. If you can provide me with more info on the reissue, like who is planning the reissue, it would be greatly appreciated. In the meantime, keep on bringing it to the masses. Respect and One Love, everytime.

Grant said...

I have a copy of "ROOTS" and I often find myself singing "Tough, Tight and Dread" to myself. It was nice to read about the history of this group which I didn't know much about. You didn't mention that the records were produced by the great David Clayton Thomas.