‘Techniques In Dub’ has been culled from ‘Meditation Dub’ an album that has never been given the exposure or accolades that are due for its raw, pure undiluted musical attack. The producer, Winston Riley, has always stood firm about who gets his music to release but as he says himself:
“I’m not a hard man to deal with. I just want pay for my work. That’s why I always have my things them. You see, to put so much work into a thing and to just give it away don’t make sense. Through you're not called this man or that man people just want to take your things but if I give you something then you have to come with something.”
Pressure Sounds are pleased, no delighted, to announce that they have now come up with something to enable them to release this essential set.
Winston Riley was born in 1946 in Kingston, Jamaica and grew up in Western Kingston. It’s true he’s not a hard man to deal with and he’s been in the reggae business since its inception in the early sixties and not in any casual supporting role either. He’s been there, seen that, done this and sold you the T-shirt and souvenir programme; he’s had to be uncompromising to make it this far. As one of the legendary Techniques vocal group alongside Slim Smith, Franklyn White & Frederick Waite (the man behind Musical Youth) they started singing together at Kingston Senior School and Chocomo Lawn Youth Club in 1962 and cut a swathe through the nascent Kingston musical scene when Stranger Cole introduced them to Duke Reid in 1965. No stranger to hard work Winston had trained as a male nurse before embarking on his singing career and, as he puts it, it was a question of “work and sing, work and sing” and their very first release ‘Little Did You Know’ in the ska style was a big hit. However the advent of rock steady allowed them togive full vent to their incredible vocal power (remember this was the time for singers to really show what they were capable of) and the Techniques soon became the rock steady vocal group on the rock steady label: Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle. Hit followed hit and each member would take turns singing lead while the others provided harmonies for the front man. Slim left to form the Uniques in 1968 and the Techniques continued first with Pat Kelly and Jackie Parris and, over the years, Bruce Ruffin, Jimmy Riley, Dave Barker, Tyrone Evans & Morvin Brooks.
In 1969 Winston borrowed some money from his mother and along with his brother, Buster, set up the Techniques label. He decided “…let me just try a thing and, first of all, I mentioned it to the guys and everybody refused.” He was both producer and arranger for the group and he felt that there were not enough rewards coming his way for this important work. His first two productions ‘Come Back Darling’ from Johnny Osbourne and ‘Who You Gonna Run To’ from the Techniques themselves were considerable hits both in Jamaica and the U.K. and the die was cast with Winston not only producing the records but also singing them too as The Shades, The Sensations and, of course, The Techniques “…we used to call ourselves different names.” What happened next shocked everybody and even Winston admits that he was surprised by the success of ‘Double Barrel’ from Dave Barker and Ansel Collins in 1970. “It came from U Roy! U Roy used to make a lot of hits and I said to myself what could I do to make something… just try a thing. As a producer you try things sometimes and it doesn’t really work… but you must try to create something“. Dave Barker’s deejay style was “more like a Yankee” but it struck a chord (or even a few million chords) with the U.K. record buying public and it went straight to Number One in the U.K. National Charts - the first Jamaican deejay record to do so. Furthermore lightning struck twice and the follow up ‘Monkey Spanner’ also proved to be a crossover hit for as Winston says “…as long as you have an idea!”
On the subsequent tour of the U.K. & Europe Winston was “singer, arranger, manager - everybody!” and he used this success to build a solid, enduring body of work that has lasted until this day. He opened his Techniques Record Shop in Chancery Lane, Kingston (also known as Idlers Rest) in 1972 and, while he wasn’t present in the shop at all times it was a way of keeping in touch. “I get ideas for myself, how to really deal with music, how to create, how people react to what is really selling. It help a part of the business…but sometimes you hear some rubbish too, a whole heap of rubbish. You can't win them all.” He has recently opened a brand new, state of the art premises in Orange Street (1993) and is currently completing work on his own studio which he hopes will be open later this year.
The music that’s been released on the Techniques and associated labels throughout the seventies, eighties and nineties has led the way while others followed and it has always stood for quality at the cutting edge of Jamaican music. As roots music moved into the ascendancy in the seventies a selection of anthems of truths and rights appeared on Winston's labels that have subsequently become acknowleged classics of the genre.
Largely responsible too for helping to usher in the dance hall era in the early eighties Winston released General Echo’s (as Ranking Slackness) Slackest L.P.' and both Echo’s style and lyrical content were immediately hi-jacked by the rest of the reggae world. And the hits just kept on coming ‘Boops’ from Supercat started another phenomenal rush of copycat records, a new album from the Techniques in 1982 ‘Never Fall In Love’ plus two tastefully packaged compilations of oldies from the Techniques ‘Classics Volumes One & Two’ just in case we forgot where the man was coming from, an early album from Sanchez and a complete grasp and understanding of the current digital style computer driven rhythms…but that's another story!
Although most of the rhythm tracks date from the early seventies ‘Meditation Dub’ was first released in the latter half of the decade and it was masterminded by Winston himself “…what I feel and put together. Dub is just music and a riff and how you feel. From the time it have a proper riff and a proper groove you move! The way you feel is the way you respond to it. I love good music and a good phrase and I like to work with creative musicians…Dwight Pickney - a great guitarist, Jackie Mittoo, Steely, Sly, Robbie, Roland Alphonso, Boris Gardiner, Chinna, Ranchie, Ansel Collins, Tommy McCook, Bobby Ellis & Drumbago” …the list is endless.
Mixed at Channel One and Dynamic by Winston and Soljie Hamilton it stands today, nearly twenty years on, as a defining statement in the development of dub music here with the addition of extra tracks and cuts to add more weight (if any was needed) to the original package. It’s a heady mix ranging from the classy soul influenced ‘Go Find Yourself A Fool’, to an electrifying cut of ‘Purify Your Heart’. Each track stands on its own merits as a testament to the innate musicianship and dedication of Winston Riley.
One of the last great dub albums to be given an official nineties re-release perhaps this time round it will gain the recognition that has eluded it up until now.