14 Jan 2020


First compilation of a new serie with 12 inch released on Greensleeves with the original Greensleeves' 12" singles cover. This first volume focuses on Henry "Junjo" Lawes productions released between 1979 and 1983. This songs have been recorded at Channel One with The Roots Radics and mixed by Scientist, Soljie or Barnabas at King Tubby's studio.

A fitting tribute to the talents and vision of Henry "Junjo" Lawes.

'The late Henry "Junjo" Lawes was one of the earliest and most important Dancehall Reggae producers and this excellent compilation puts the spotlight on his 1979-1983 productions for artists like Eek-A-Mouse, Yellowman, General Saint & Clint Eastwood, Barrington Levy, Barry Brown and others. All of the eleven tracks featured on this CD are the original extended 12" single versions that were played in Jamaica's dance halls back in the day and all are superbly remastered directly from the original master tapes. To round out the package very nicely, Greensleeves Records has included an extensive essay in the booklet which also features rare photos of Henry "Junjo" Lawes and the artists he worked with back in the early 1980s. This CD really is a must-have for all Dancehall Reggae fans. Enjoy!' -Justo Roteta

Amazing 12" versions of great early dancehall hits

'I'll keep this short because I'm too busy enjoying the music. No filler here -- just great 12" versions that will rock your party. High points include "Wah Do Dem" by Eek-A-Mouse, "Look Youthman" by Barrington Levy and my personal favorite, a stunning 7:56 long version of "Firehouse Rock" from the Wailing Souls, which closes out with about three righteous minutes of crackling, rocking dub.

If you've only heard the LP versions of these songs, you haven't really heard them. The 12" versions are so much better, combining the original hits with necessary B-side dub remix versions in all their trance-inducing fury.

What I especially love about the musical period represented here is that the electronics never got in the way of the melodies or the performances, in contrast to the often over-processed sound of today's music. This is a fine additon to your conscious party. Enjoy and peace.' -PositiveVibration

Henry “Junjo” Lawes (1960 Kingston, Jamaica – 1999 London, England). This year it’s 20 years ago the man was shot in London in 1999.

by Teacher at Reggae Vibes | Sep 8, 2019

Henry “Junjo” Lawes, born in the Waterhouse district of Kingston, Jamaica, started his career in the business singing in a group called Grooving Locks. Response was poor and he switched to producing. After a short period working as an assistant producer for Linval Thompson, releasing his first productions on Thompson Sound and Jah Life, he teamed up with upcoming artist Barrington Levy. The success of this collab was enormous with hits such as Collieweed, Shine Eye Gal and Looking My Love. The resulting album Bounty Hunter was a landmark in the development of the early dancehall. He set up his own labels, Volcano and Jah Guidance and Arrival. He also founded the highly popular sound system Volcano.

He started working with the Roots Radics and a young engineer Scientist. They were responsible for the sound on the majority of his releases. His roster of artists included Michael Prophet, General Echo, Little John, Toyan, Barry Brown, Josey Wales, Eek-a-Mouse, Nicodemus, Frankie Paul, Don Carlos, Hugh Mundell, Linval Thompson, Captain Sinbad, Michigan & Smiley and the man who was reggae’s figurehead during the first half of the 1980s, Yellowman.

He was also pivotal in the reawakening the careers of several veteran artists. Former Paragons member John Holt scored big with Police In Helicopter and Sweetie Come Brush Me while Studio One veteran Johnnie Osbourne charted with Fally Lover and Icecream Love. Alton Ellis, Earl 16, Leroy Smart, Junior Murvin, Ken Boothe and Al Campbell were among other artists who benefited from Junjo’s producing capabilities. The Wailing Souls started out in the late 1960s and under the wings of Junjo they boosted their career in the early 1980s with some heavy duty 12″ singles and outstanding albums.

He was ahead of his time with the concept of two artists clashing on one album and the launching of albums of live dancehall sessions. His stable cooperation with Greensleeves Records, who released nearly all of his material for the European market, gave him international exposure.

In 1985 he relocated to New York missing out the new wave of digital reggae and dancehall riddims that swept Jamaica. In New York he got involved in drug issues and had to spend six years in Riker’s Island prison. Returning to his homeland in 1991 he took up producing with up and coming talents like Ninjaman, Shaka Shamba and General TK. On 14 June 1999, he was shot dead in a drive-by shooting in Harlesden, northwest London. The case remains unsolved.

1984 Volcano crew
'The Volcano set up was the brainchild of a music entrepreneur from West Kingston called Junjo Lawes (b. Henry Lawes). His path to sound system fame differed from the usual in that he started out producing records in the late seventies working alongside singer and producer Linval Thompson. In fact he could lay claim to one of the first dancehall albums ever released when in 1979 he produced, in partnership with Jah Life (b. Hyman Wright), Barrington Levy’s  classic “Bounty Hunter” album.

This catapulted the youthful singer to stardom and made Junjo Lawes one of the most sort after producers right at the start of the dancehall era. His productions became all the rage, employing the new on the scene Roots Radics Band who specialised in slower, heavier riddims all mixed down by Scientist or Soljie at Channel One. The hits started to flow in the early eighties with many singles coming out on the Volcano label and its affiliated imprints Arrival and Jah Guidance. With the help of Junjo’s sound, artists like Yellowman, Eek A Mouse, Ranking Toyan, Josey Wales and many others, burst onto the dancehall scene, recording singles and albums which earned them fame both locally and in “foreign”.

In 1981 and 1982 Lawes had almost non stop success working with a broad spectrum of reggae artists. From more traditional groups and singers like Wailing Souls Johnny Osbourne and John Holt to grass roots artists like Little John, Lui Lepki, Little Harry(b. Claude Campbell) amongst many others. Around 1982/83 Junjo started to contemplate his next move in the business, the Volcano sound system. He had an unlimited supply of music with which he could cut to dubplate and he started to assemble the equipment needed to compete against Kingston’s finest. The sound had their headquarters in Myrie Avenue in Kingston 11 and soon he was surrounded with all the talent he needed to take the sound to the top.

Perhaps one of the key elements to having a great sound system is recruiting the best selector. In choosing Danny Dread (b. E. Ffrench) as his main man, Junjo couldn’t have chosen any better. Without doubt Danny Dread was, and still is, one of the finest soundmen of all time. If you want a set to have success Danny Dread is the man to guide a sound. Junjo also employed Steve and Bello to look after the day to day running of the sound. During the short period that Volcano flourished (1983-85) Steve and Junjo's brother Papa Mellon also selected the tunes for the sound. Buro remembers the very first night that Volcano strung up their sound. It was held in front of the Kingston Industrial Works on Spanish Town Road and the venue was so packed that nobody could move, and there was “gunshot everywhere, salutes, fences started to beat”. Buro made quite an impact that night and Junjo hired him the very next day saying “yuh haffi deejay the sound”

On the deejay front Buro (b. Donovan Spalding) was perhaps Volcano’s number one mic man, stepping over from the Killamanjaro sound around mid 1983. Always cultural in style the “Original Banton” could ride rhythms all night long, stringing lyrics together without hesitation. Another fine deejay who often turned up when Volcano played out was Josey Wales (b. Joseph Stirling). He was recording for Junjo at this time so it was only right that he should lend his considerable skills to the Volcano set. Another seasoned performer was Ranking Toyan (b. Byron Letts). His deejaying was unmistakeable, delivering his lyrics with an almost asthmatic kind of style. No matter the age of the performer, if they were good enough they played a part. So youthful deejays Little Harry (b. Claude Campbell), who had first appeared a couple of years earlier on Port Morant’s Aces International aged just 10, and Billy Boyo (b. William Rowe), himself first taking the mic aged 9 on Prince Jammy’s, regularly rocked the crowds. Other Volcano regulars were Elfigo Barker (b. Glenroy McPharker), who learned his trade from Stanley Braveman on Prince Jammy’s set at the turn of the 1980’s. Shadowman (b. Junior ...) was spotted by Junjo performing on Little John’s Romantic set and was brought on board right from the start. Buro’s apprentice deejay was Matta Pang aka Prento, and his training continued the tradition of schooling youngsters in the art of deejaying. Like most sets they always had special guests like Yellowman, Eek A Mouse, Lui Lepki, LeeVan Cliff, Dillinger and others passing through on any given night.

Volcano couldn’t forget the singers and the aforementioned Barrington Levy, dubbed the ”Mellow Canary” for his unique vocal style, graced many of their dancehall sessions versioning many of his classic tunes of the day. One artist who was there right from Volcano’s beginnings was the singer with the nasal voice, Little John (b. John McMorris). By 1983 he was already a youthman veteran, having made his first recordings late 1979 aged just 9. Singers like Don Carlos, Junior Reid, Tony Tuff and Winston Hussey could also be called upon to counteract the deejays on occasions.

The Volcano sound could be heard playing out 3-4 times every night, in Kingston, Spanish Town and beyond. At this time soundclashing was becoming a regular thing and they frequently had competition from one, two or even three other sounds in the lawn. At one such event in July 1984 at 121 Maxfield Avenue, Volcano came up against Killamanjaro, perhaps the leading sound at the time, and during this dance leading mic man Buro decided he’d had enough and defected over to the opposition. According to Buro Volcano were never the same sound again after this. Shortly afterwards Junjo made plans to take the entire set to America for some dates in New York. What happened then is a little unclear. It seems that the set was searched when it reached New York and Junjo was arrested, charged and subsequently jailed for a long period and this unfortunately signalled the abrupt end of Junjo Lawes’ empire. Sadly this included the Volcano Hi Power sound system, a leading light of the dancehall world.'

Sources of information
Tero Kaski & Pekka Vuorinen, Reggae Inna Dance Hall Style (1984), Helsinki, Black Star.
Buro Banton interview by Uli Gueldner, Riddim magazine 2005

1. Michael Prophet - Gun Man 6:53
2. Eek-A-Mouse - Wa-Do-Dem 7:41
3. Barrington Levy - Look Youthman 12'' 6:19
4. Wayne Jarrett & Silver Fox - Saturday Night Jamboree 8:15
5. Wailing Souls - Firehouse Rock 7:54
6. Flick Wilson - Slavemaster 5:37
7. Barry Brown - Give Another Israel A Try 6:09
8. Triston Palma & Nica Smart - Mr. False Preacher 6:44
9. General Saint & Clint Eastwood - Another One Bites The Dust 5:59
10. Yellowman - Who Can Make The Dance Ram 6:56
11. Michigan & Smiley - Diseases 7:55

Incl. scans