Archive for East Village Radio

Count Ossie and The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari- “Grounation” 3xLP (1973)

Posted in music, records, Tom with tags , , , , , , , on April 17, 2008 by criticalreviews

Going to college in Charleston kinda left a bad taste for reggae with me…while Andolinis Pizza always played great old school stuff I was too blinded by all of the frat boys wearing Bob Marley t-shirts to notice the great music they had on. But reggae really hit me sometime last fall. I had been listening to Mystic Sound on East Village Radio and Tunnel One on WNYU, and really liked what I heard but didn’t know where to start with purchasing LPs. I had recently come back into contact with a friend of mine, Jay (formerly of Andolinis Pizza), who does a couple really rad internet radio shows out of Austin, TX. Jay started me off with some suggestions, and now when ever I have a question I tend to shoot him an email. My brother got me for X-Mas a copy of Soul Jazz’s Studio One Roots and the first song on it is a short little instrumental number by Count Ossie and the Cyclones (which I was living and dying with for most of January and February). I did some research into it, and didn’t come up with much so I sent Jay an email and he told me to check out Count Ossie’s classic album Grounation.

So I had heard that Jammyland, the great reggae shop in the East Village, had closed and stopped in to confirm this was just a rumor. While Jammyland was open I found out, and very sadly so, that they will be closing thier doors at the end of May. Jammyland’s rent was raised, and they are currently looking for a new spot, but the guy working the store didn’t sound super positive (I guess this will be a temporary end to Hospital Productions as well). One good thing that did come out of my visit to Jammyland was that they finally tracked down some copies of the currently out of print Grounation on LP.

So I was skeptical at first of the LP. I had read that Grounation was typically a scratchy sounding record, but I took my chances (after a little encouragement from klk). The album art is fantastic:

The records, and there are three of them, were housed in plastic bags (typical of reggae vinyl pressed in Jamaica from my experience thus far). I took care of that as soon as I got home getting them in proper dust jackets. While the records themselves have quite a bit of popping and crackling, especially when the needle gets toward the center, but this is just due to the press not the condition of the vinyl…. the music is amazing.

Count Ossie is known for bringing Nyabinghi culture (which is considered the strictest form of Rastafarianism) to reggae. Ossie is credited not only with creating many of the Nyabinghi rhythms as well as being the first to record Nyabinghi drumming, but many music historians credit his song “Oh Carolina” (a version of which is on Groundation) as being the first reggae record ever made.

Musically Groundation is extremely hypnotic, and this is mainly because of the drumming, and overall has more of a tribal feel(much more so than any of the other reggae records I have). The album lyrically is mainly talking and preaching over the music (there is a little singing), and chanting (which are characteristic of Nyabinghi Celebrations aka Grounations). The title track of the album is over 30 minutes long, and takes up the entire 3rd LP. This album is raw, and you can tell that it was recorded in the early days of reggae. I can see how reggae, overall, was greatly influence by The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari not only in Nyabinghi rhythms and drumming, but even in vocals and music, especially if you listen to “Oh Carolina” (this is the most traditional sounding tune on the album).

I think of this record as a cultural experience, and very few albums give me the feelings and chills that this one does…if you play it loud enough it almost feels like you are in the middle of the ceremony…like you are sitting next to one of the drummers (so much so that some of the drums are much louder at times than others), and the singer is preaching to you. Spiritual.

I can say it is really unlike anything I have ever heard, and I highly recommend it, if you have any interest in reggae music.

Although I can’t embed it…you can listen to “Oh Carolina” here (as well as many others)

Jay, mentioned above, helped me out with a bit of my history and currently spins roots and dub records on kvrx.org from Monday night/Tuesday from 12am-1am Eastern time, and on KAOS959 8-10pm on Tuesdays. Thank for everything Jay!

(Tom)

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