From the reference
Roots Knotty Roots, we know that throughout the 1970s, Naaman Lee released
a string of at least eight self produced singles on a variety of labels,
including, St.Thomas, Mascot, Prince of Peace and Randy's. Sometimes, he recorded
under his name, other times as The Old Timers or as
Naaman's tracks ran
the gamut from rustic quadrille to mento-reggae
to pure reggae. As these labels
sometimes include the text, "Lee Prod.", these releases are sometimes
mistakenly thought to be Lee Perry productions.
|The 1978 Naaman Lee single, "English Woman",
on the St. Thomas label. This track is reminiscent of
Stanley Beckford's mento-influenced reggae, though with the inclusion of
banjo, it's a bit more on the mento side than Stanley's reggae is. "Mento In
Dub" is the version on the B-side.
From 1972, billed to The Old Timers, "Quadrille Beat", is on the
Mascot label. It's a traditional mento quadrille.
Quadrilles are long, consisting of several movements. When released on a 45
RPM single such as this one (or, for that matter on a 78 RPM single decades
earlier), the movements were spread across both sides. This is a 6 movement
quadrille. Five movements seemed to be most
Chin's Calypso Sextet recorded a
4 movement quadrille. A quadrille LP can
be seen on the More Middle Period Album Scans
page. As you can see below, there were several label variations for what was
apparently a popular single (the last scan coming courtesy of Jurjen
Borregaard of Amsterdam from
||"Roll The Music" and "Version"
by Naaman Lee, on the Mascot label from 1976.
Complete with banjo, this track is mento
reggae with a touch of calypso. It's a medley of familiar mentos:
"Natta Bay Road", "Dog War A Matches Lane",
"Wheel and Turn Me" (with new lyrics about Festival), "Natta Bay Road".
Another rustic Old Timers quadrille from 1972: on Randy's
"First Figure" backed with "Second Figure".
Two rustic instrumental mentos by the Old Timers on the Mascot
label from 1973:
Jamaica Mento No. 1
Jamaica Minto [sic] No. 2
|Again on Mascot is the 1973 Naaman Lee single,
On "Wedding Day", Naaman asks for a
man's daughter's hand in marriage, and makes his case. It's a gentle song,
with Naaman's mento voice making the track sound very mento-reggae. "Finger
Rock" is a melodica cut of the riddim, and suddenly it's straight reggae
rather than mento reggae.
The Naaman Lee single, "Sweeter Than
Sugar" on the Prince of Peace label (year unknown). It's similar in
sound to the above track "English Woman", featuring fun electric banjo
playing. The b-side is the dub version, "Sugar Dub". A fine
example of mento/reggae
fusion, featuring a good melody, interesting instrumentation and a
nice vocal. Because it's my favorite Naaman
Lee song, and it's not in print, here is a song clip of
Sugar. [Click here for
notes About the Audio Clips On this Site.]
From the collection
of Kenichiro Takeda of Japan, on the Music Box
label is "Quadrille Mento 1-3 Instrumental" by
The Harmonizer, another traditional mento quadrille by Naaman Lee,
that spans both sides of this single.
Here's an interesting Naaman-Lee produced 45
on Mascot. It's by The Happy Five in what appears to be
their only recordings.
||"Merry Old Days" is a fine, sax-led banjo-filled
instrumental rendition of "Wheel And Turn Me".
"Hot Boogie" finds the
band sounding out of their element playing and R&B intrumental.
From 1976, on the Music
label is "World Answer" backed with "Version" by
Naaman Lee. This is a reggae track but for Naaman's soft, pleasing
country vocal delivery.
On the Federal
label, from 1976 is "Simmer Down" backed with Instrumental
Naaman Lee. (It's not The Wailers track of
the same name.) Not pure reggae, but this time, rather than mento, it leans
heavily to calypso, with a calypso rhythm played on electric guitar, bass and
||On the St.
"Teenage People" from 1979. This track was reggae
rather than mento-reggae.
||Also reggae rather than mento-reggae are two other
singles I've heard, both on the
Mascot label: "Freedom", from
"Understanding" (year unknown).
Here is "Understanding", and hey!, there's Naaman
on the label.
I have also heard
a Naaman Lee
produced single with a scratched out title and artist on
Mascott from 1976. This track would be considered straight
reggae, if not for the electric banjo and country-voice vocals.
||An obscure Naaman Lee
production from 1975:
On the N. L.
"Rasta Kingdom" backed with "Version"
by The Esteems. I have not heard this record.
||Finally, an even more obscure Naaman Lee
single is, on the Mascot label,
"African Drums" with the unseen b-side
I have not heard this record.