8.08.2012

From the slums of Shaolin

 click to enlarge

"Me say me comin' from the Shaolin Temple /
Me know me set a better example..."

Reggae records from the 1970s colorfully convey how the kung-fu flicks of that era made as big an impression on brothers and sisters in the slums of Jamaica as they had on their counterparts in the slums of urban America. Songs like "Iron Fist" by The Upsetters, "Hap ki do" by Augustus Pablo, "Natty Kung Fu" by Dillinger and "Fist of Fury" by Prince Jammy are but a few fine examples of the martial arts movie-inspired music of the islands. But the best of 'em would probably be "Shaolin Temple," an early dancehall record produced by Henry 'Junjo' Lawes and vigorously crooned by a young Barrington Levy.

The high tenor-voiced Levy (pictured right) was only 16 years-old when "Shaolin Temple" was recorded in 1979, but his vocals on this righteous riddem display the maturity and discipline of a white-bearded master. Junjo's pulsating drum and bass arrangements are as hard as they come on the track, but Levy's razor-sharp warbling still rips right though 'em like flying daggers through a rice paper window.

If you dig vintage reggae but have never heard "Shaolin Temple," your eardrums are in for a sweet island treat. Submitted for your approval...

Shaolin Temple – Barrington Levy (1979)

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