Herman Chin-Loy was passionate about music from an early age. Far too often, Herman Chin-Loy is wrongly forgotten when the greats of the Dub-History to be enumerated. He belongs with his "Aquarius Dub' from 1973 are basically among the spearheads of this genre. Before opening his own Aquarius record shop and label in 1969 at the tender age of 21, he sold records, worked in record shops and DJed at some of Kingston's hottest clubs.
Although he was responsible for the vocal tracks, it was his fabulous instrumentals that best define his early career and which this compilation focuses on. Herman Chin Loy has a sound that is unmistakable like no other in reggae. Like Lee Scratch Perry, he always specialized in the quirky and unusual. His labels Scorpio and Aquarius are responsible for some of reggae's most innovative instrumentals. From his Kingston record store in the early '70s, he was able to capture the "street" vibes of many of his young, hip customers. Initially, his first instrumental records were created under the name Augustus Pablo. Until a skinny young man named Horace Swaby showed up at his store with a melodica. Herman gave the young Swaby the name Augustus Pablo and took him to the studio. The rest is history.
Here on "Aquarius rock(Pressure Sounds) we have some of the liveliest funky reggae tracks ever made in Jamaica. There are a handful of vocal tracks too, but those are killas too. The instrumental pieces collected on the album impressively show Herman's early studio career. Harnessing the talents of the Hippy Boys (aka The Upsetters II) and the Now Generation in the studio, Chin-Loy began releasing a flurry of instrumentals, which this compilation focuses more on. The keyboards-dominated pieces have been attributed to Augustus Pablo, regardless of who actually sat at the keys. The producer released the young melodica player who showed up at Chin-Loy's first single "Iggy Iggy", also under the pseudonym Augustus Pablo. Horace Swaby kept his new stage name and continued to land hits, most notably "East of the River Nile", with which he established his unmistakable Far East sound.
Aquarius Rock features half a dozen classic Pablo/Swaby solo singles, some of which are also DJed by the producer. Some recordings are combined with instrumental pieces, which underlines even more the extraordinary work of the band and the astonishing creativity of A. Pablo himself. The musicianship is phenomenal throughout, be it the band's instrumentals, the horns' solo excursions, the rousing melodica pieces and of course the keyboard-dominated pieces. These instrumentals, as well as A. Pablo's solo pieces, make up the bulk of the present set. Two vocal tracks come from Alton Ellis, who delivers his "Alton's Official Daughter" cleanly if a bit unpolished, while Dennis Brown contributes the "Song My Mother Used to Sing" more soulfully. An unknown Archie McKay sings "Pick Up the Pieces," which has nothing to do with the royals' classic. Beres Hammond presents one of his earliest recordings, an impossibly warm "No More War" followed by Herman's "No More Version". Less well known than his cousin Leslie Kong, Herman Chin-Loy still deserves our full attention, and this compilation is a long-overdue tribute to one of reggae's most influential talents. The fine scat intros are all written by Herman Chin-Loy himself.