Heavy ensemble, classic album, essential Reggae.

'Utterly fantastic reggae music from The Mighty Diamonds. This record was released at a time when the Channel One studio was churning out many great vocal group records. This is one of the best and deserves to be in a any reggae collection even casual fans who start and veer venture far from a Bob Marley compilation. This really is an essential document of how good reggae and roots music can be. Short, devoid of filler and very focussed in approach means it is almost over too quickly. The production is sharp and the Revolutionaries are on fine form here with the seemingly ever present Sly & Robbie holding down the rhythm. Heavy lyrical messages are all over this record but they never get too much as is the case with some heavier roots as the vocal harmonies are so sweet and the music backing so uplifting.' -bruklover 

'Few reggae bands evoked their audience's suffering as viscerally as the Mighty Diamonds, not least because of lead vocalist Donald "Tabby" Shaw. Although overshadowed by stars like Bunny Wailer, Shaw's aching lilt remains a compelling signature of the roots-oriented '70s era. His graceful yet forceful presence on songs like "I Need a Roof" -- which laments lack of housing -- is exactly what the music needs. A strong moralistic undertone runs throughout the album. "Right Time" warns of an impending breakdown in social order, and "Why Me Black Brother Why" decries the rampant lawlessness afflicting the island nation. "Them Never Love Poor Marcus" scornfully denounces the people who betrayed the black nationalist leader (Marcus Garvey) for "rice and peas." "Gnashing of Teeth" takes up the Biblical imperative of Judgment Day, in which "only good works shall see you through." Some strategic departures help to leaven the band's approach, most notably the love song "Shame and Pride." Lloyd Ferguson steps out of his backup vocalist role on "Go Seek Your Rights," which reminds people to respect their differences while striving for social change, and "Africa" is a wistful tribute to the continent that Rastafarian believers consider their final home. The playing is first-rate, bolstered by unobtrusive contributions from session aces like bassist Robbie Shakespeare and drummer Sly Dunbar. No student of the genre should miss this landmark roots album.' -AllMusic Review by Ralph Heibutzki

The Mighty Diamonds Predicted 'Right Time' In 1976
Published: Friday July 21, 2017 | Roy Black | http://jamaica-gleaner.com/

With the bloodletting that has engulfed the nation, one can't help but agree that the Mighty Diamonds, a 1970s Jamaican vocal trio, were right on track when they warned about impending disaster in several of their recordings.

Their first big hit, When The Right Time Come (Right Time) in 1976, sent the message quite clearly as they warned:

"Man a go find him back against the wall
Oh yeah,
it a go bitter when the right time come
Lord, some a go charge fe treason
Some a go charge fe arson, some a go charge fe murder
When the lawman come, some a go run till him tumble down."

It would seem as if that 'Right Time' has come and gone from the 1970s leading into the 1980s, when thousands of people were murdered in an election decade that saw three general elections - two won by The People's National Party (PNP) and one by The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). And as they say, what goes around comes around, and The Mighty Diamonds' warning still holds strong, as murders for 2017 have already exceeded the 700 mark.

Not long after the release of Right Time, from an album of the same name, The Mighty Diamonds again stirred the hearts and minds of music fans with a classic called I Need A Roof. It was another prophetic message as they sang:

"Time a go dread
every gully a go run red
I need a roof over my head
and bread on my table
It is love in my heart
It is love for everyone."

And love and unity have been one of the hallmarks of the group, allowing them, unlike many other Jamaican groups, to stay together for over forty years without changing a member. Almost all their recordings were written collectively by the three members: Donald 'Tabby' Shaw, Fitzroy 'Bunny' Simpson and Lloyd 'Judge' Ferguson.

The group's penchant for group singing seemed to have evolved from their love for harmony singing. According to lead vocalist Tabby, who I spoke to recently from his McKenley Crescent residence in Waterhouse, "I like a combination of sounds. it's more pleasing than hearing one person. You get more variety in the sound. Come in like you looking at a whole lot of lights flashing in your face. that's what makes music sound so pretty."

Shaw said that the genesis of the group dates back to December 1969 when he and Bunny began rehearsing and writing songs but didn't begin to record. According to him: "Judge played the guitar, and when he joined us, its like we met upon the right person. At first, we tried to do a thing for ourselves, but Stranger Cole was the man who took us into studio to do a song titled Oh No Baby for Randy's Records." A few more undistinguished recordings were done for various producers in the early 1970s until they finally came good in 1973 with Shame And Pride for producer Pat Francis aka Jah Lloyd. Thereafter followed a dull period, leading up to their triumphant entry at Channel One.

Socio-Political Period

It was a period of intense socio-political musical commentaries in accordance with what was happening in Jamaica at the time, and The Mighty Diamonds were at the forefront of the movement. They added songs like Stand Up To Your Judgement, Back Wey, Africa, Have Mercy and Never Love Poor Marcus, for Channel One; Kinarky and Not To Blame for themselves; while Danger In Your Eyes, Pass The Kouchie, Wise Son, Pretty Woman, and Heads Of Government were done for producer 'Gussie' Clarke. The last piece makes the statement that heads of government are friends and asks the question, So why can't you and I be friends? The inference is obvious as the lines continued:

"Ain't no place that you can go where the badness do not flow
You haffi run like beast outta east
You haffi chuck like the best in the west
You haffi walk with your boss uppa north
Down south you haffi run up your mouth."

The group went international after executives of Virgin Records heard them and signed the group to their label. The 1976 album Right Time, spawning the hits I Need A Roof, Have Mercy, Shame and Pride, Africa, and the title track, was critically acclaimed as a reggae classic after it was released by Virgin, thereby making the group one of the most popular ones from the 1970s roots era to emerge on the international scene. The multimillion selling Pass The Dutchie by the British Jamaican group Musical Youth - a modified version of Pass The Kouchie peaked at number one on the UK singles chart in 1982.

Asked about their present activities, Tabby said: "We did cut the road for a while because Bunny was sick, but promotionally, we have restarted. We went to Europe a couple months ago and worked on a replacement, just in case, and it looks good. We have a lot of new songs, along with some older ones to come on the road soon," he concluded.'

'The 1976 debut album from reggae trio Mighty Diamonds doesn’t usually get lumped in with other roughly contemporary works of Jamaican revolutionary agit-prop, and the reasons why aren’t difficult to comprehend. Burning Spear’s Marcus Garvey, the Abyssinians’ Satta Massagana, and Culture’s Two Sevens Clash all spelled out their apocalyptic intentions — even the album titles promised deep dives into sufferation. While Burning Spear’s dense tribute to Jamaica’s Pan-Africanist visionary featured the dignified visage of Garvey himself as artwork, the Diamonds took to Right Time’s cover as a bare-chested trio seated just below their name spelled out in precious gemstones. Yet lead vocalist Donald “Tabby” Shaw and backup support Fitzroy “Bunny” Simpson and Lloyd “Judge” Ferguson reference the Black Star Line’s founder as insistently as any other analogous roots outfit: Shaw’s first full verse goes “Marcus Garvey prophesy say.” Four songs later, “Them Never Love Poor Marcus” heaps vitriol on Bag O’ Wire, Garvey’s personal driver and supposed betrayer, so named after going mad and wrapping himself in tires which shed their rubber down to the wires, ie, “Men like Bag O’ Wire / Should burn in fire.” “I Need a Roof” opens with a request to “Remember Garvey say,” while album closer “Africa” makes explicit the Garveyite goal of repatriation. Factor in songs of praise to a “Natural Natty” and calls for fellow Rastas to “Go Seek Your Rights,” along with heartfelt pleas for black brothers to stop slaughtering each other, all within a ten-song, thirty-one minute album. Minute for minute, the Diamonds practically outdo Public Enemy on the political front.

Yet Right Time hardly registers as doomsday prophesy — it’s more like the O’Jays getting AM radio to croon along with an anthem about sexual betrayal. The Diamonds clearly patterned themselves after various Motown and Philadelphia International vocal outfits, along with assorted lovermen of the post-Rocksteady era, and so even the cruelest couplets go down smoothly, with “weeping and wailing and moaning and gnashing of teeth” wedded to one of the catchiest melodic refrains on the entire album. Likewise, for all their talk of revolution, the Diamonds knew how to sell a simple line of teenage heartache, with “Shame and Pride’s” keystone “I used to see you wait / By the schoolyard gate” delivered with sweet melancholy. That song predated Right Time by several years, having made some noise on Jamaican charts in 1973 during their early rise to the top ranks of the new Channel One record label. By the time Virgin scooped the trio up along with Johnny Clarke and Big Youth during a cash-mad scouting expedition, the Diamonds had enough Channel One singles stockpiled to fill out the better part of a full-length — another reason for the album’s consistency. And we haven’t yet discussed what might be this album’s greatest offering: the introduction proper of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare as the greatest rhythm duo of the decade and beyond. Despite eventually laying down bass/drums on well nigh 200,000 individual recordings, Right Time still holds pride of place in Dunbar’s mind, with his double tap across the rim on the title cut confounding listeners — surely it was some studio trick? But no, just technical mastery, paired effortlessly with three-way harmonies. As a follow-up, Mighty Diamonds decamped to New Orleans to cut the overstuffed Ice on Fire with Allen Toussaint, a reminder that sometimes genius is local. One decade later, Sly and Robbie would cut the epochal Bill Laswell-aided Rhythm Killers, which one might argue proves that genius is also sometimes universal.'  -Jason Gubbels

Review Summary: A genuine reggae classic!

'The Mighty Diamonds are a fantastic roots reggae harmony group comprised of Donald ‘Tabby’ Shaw, Fitzroy ‘Bunny’ Simpson and Lloyd ‘Judge’ Ferguson that have been going for over forty years. Right Time, their debut album is a shining beacon of sweet, dreamy vocal harmonies, swish guitars, light piano riffs and subtle rhythms. It has been recognised by many critics as being one of the genres masterpieces.

Right Time is a sturdy album that has that mystical reggae ambiance that many pillars in the roots genre have, no surprise when you consider that it was recorded in Jamaica’s venerated Channel One Studio. It demonstrates a group that is on top of its game. Although the sound is primarily roots reggae, the album blends elements of soulful subtleness and a blues influenced sub text. ‘Shame and Pride’ would be a fine example of this. The melody carries the listener to dizzying heights, whilst the razor sharpness of the one-drop drum beat provides an aural safety net. The rhythm section on many of the albums key tracks are the formidable ‘riddim’ duo of Sly and Robbie. Sly Dunbar’s drumming is a web of syncopation and poly-rhythms that beautifully compliments the melodies of the vocalists and the horn section.

The album focuses on many traditional roots reggae topics such as poverty: ‘I Need a Roof’, which has one of the best vocal harmonies on the album, and despite the lyrical content sounds surprisingly upbeat. Marcus Garvey: ‘Them Never Love Poor Marcus’, a song that sounds strikingly downbeat compared to the rather up tempo feel of the album. Rastafarian idioms: ‘Have Mercy’, perhaps the best track on the LP demonstrates the more soulful side of the album. Strong melodies and an undeniably smooth rhythm that could satisfy the harshest reggae critic. It was also their British single debut. ‘Why Me Black Brother Why’ is a plea for men not to commit crime and domestic violence.

The tempo of the album seems slightly faster than most reggae albums. It does not dither through prolonged, slow instrumental sections or repeat the same vocal hook sixteen times in a row. For this reason I would recommend it to people who are just getting into reggae and want to hear pertinent and snappy tunes.

‘Africa’ beautifully ends the album with a whimsical, subtle piano and horn line that beautifully follow the vocals. It leaves the listener in a positive and chilled mood.

Overall the whole album oozes magnificence, it is rightly placed on many critics list as one of the greatest reggae albums of all times. If the harmonies do not grab you the rhythms will. It is an ideal album for people interested in getting into reggae. Despite what ever weather conditions you are facing, listening to this album will put warm, summery feelings into your heart.' -Pint of stella

Initially released as a single in 1975 and later included on the band’s astonishing debut LP Right Time, I Need a Roof has become a firm fan favourite. A song about life’s simple requirements, sung with emotion and humility, it had all the ingredients of a reggae hit. Sly & Robbie were at the core of the rhythm section on the LP and Joseph and Ernest Hoo Kim were at the Channel One mixing board, ensuring that the sweet sax lines, vocal harmonies and driving steppers rhythm, played off each other perfectly.

The title track from the band’s aforementioned full length debut, Right Time once again makes reference to Marcus Garvey, the Jamaica-born politician whose speeches and activism made him a figure of prophetic importance in the Rastafari movement. Its rhythm track is sensational, with a double tap snare pattern from Sly Dunbar so controlled, that it sounds at first like slapback delay. The recurring hook, “Natty dread will never run away,” represented the solidarity that could be felt throughout the Rastafari movement, resisting against those who disapproved of their practice.

The final selection from a trilogy of incredible debut album singles, Have Mercy is another track that the band has identified as being hard to exclude from any live set. The song is devotional – a prayer for guidance and deliverance for brothers and sisters alike. Its offbeat piano and rhythm guitar strike in unison, propelling the positive rhythm from start to finish.

1. Right Time 3:17
2. Why Me Black Brother Why 3:10
3. Shame And Pride 3:22
4. Gnashing Of Teeth 3:07
5. Them Never Love Poor Marcus 2:44
6. I Need A Roof 2:51
7. Go Seek Your Rights 3:31
8. Have Mercy 3:19
9. Natural Natty 2:50
10. Africa 3:10

Alto Saxophone – Marcus
Bass Guitar – Ranchie, Robbie
Drums – Benbow, Hossie, Sly
Engineer – Ernest Hoo Kim, Ossie Hibbert
Harmony Vocals – Fitzroy Simpson (Bunny), Lloyd Ferguson
Keyboards – Ansel Collins, Ossie Hibbert
Lead Guitar – Duggie, Toney
Lead Vocals – Donald Sharpe (Tabby) (tracks: 1 to 6, 8 to 10), Lloyd Ferguson (tracks: 7)
Percussion – Stickie
Photography By – Dennis Morris
Producer – Joseph "Jo Jo" Hoo Kim
Sleeve – Cooke Key Associates
Tenor Saxophone – Tommy McCook
Trombone – Vin Gordon