Aquarius Rock: The Hip Reggae World of Herman Chin-Loy

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.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

6 Responses to “Aquarius Rock: The Hip Reggae World of Herman Chin-Loy”

Yes, a very very nice compilation, but as already mentioned (somewhere in another comment by someone): absolutely nothing new.
I'm a big fan of this part of Jamaican music history and I've accumulated tons of material (CDs, LPs and downloads)...does it need more? The most modern technology helps at least with the umpteenth preparation of the original tapes and the I don't know how many remasters... nevertheless, the questions keep coming up for me: Is this just selling out and making money? And who is getting the “rolls” (in the sense of: is that fair?)?
Well, if people can get excited about this music with it, then I'd be happy to...

rotten Philip!

"…………………… already mentioned (somewhere in another comment by someone): absolutely nothing new."

That's actually what I said in Release Radar, and it's still true. If you have the 2004 release, don't panic. If you don't have it, you should grab it.
This album is an important piece of Jamaican music history. Many of the tracks on it were not physically available for a long time - except perhaps at horrendous prices on record markets. Apparently there are still many (new) friends of reggae/Dubwho are also interested in the roots of the genre and are happy about such re-releases. The demand for classics is also reflected in the fact that the vinyl edition of "Aquarius Rock" is already sold out.

I don't share your fears of "selling out and money-making". Pressure Sounds is not dubFunny underground label that doesn't pay their artists adequately or at all.

Herman, hasn't made music since the 80s when he left the island. I'm happy with whatever we are given. do you think this is a money grab? some records sold on bandcamp that probably cost 10 less than they are getting sold for? some streams? c'mon brodie think.. there aint shit for money in music unless you are a lucky handful of artists. the people who do this still are the ones who really love it.

Rotten men (and men)!!!

Ja Ras Vorbei ! A lot of things look familiar to me, some I would even find again. But it's always nice to play a sampler like this - put together by real connoisseurs - and enjoy it in one go. Maybe that's why I left the disc in 2004, because "back then"
seemed too familiar. Perhaps I had just bought other samplers that also had many of these versions or very similar ones.
"Iggy Iggy", for example, is very familiar to me and I often "transcribe" it to myself. "East Of The River Nile" is also clear and so on and so forth.
But I only discovered all these snacks a long time after they were created. A lot came through samplers all at once and that's how they did it DubTunes and most of the Roots Tunes from that time weren't as "burned in" on me as, for example, a disc by Misty In Roots, which I could inhale much more intensively for a whole year and far beyond, alternating with ASWAD, Black Uhuru, Steel Pulse, Bob Marley and all the legends ( may Burning Spear and all the other everliving legends forgive me ). Of course, the breaks became longer and longer for each disc over the course of time, as more and more new (and old) material is added. So it would be nice to have at least seven lives.
And as you also reported very nicely and in detail in the review, Herman Chin - Loy is also a "point of spear" for Dub.
The "Aquarius Dub“ had as far as I remember also in the “Dub Conference” by Helmut Philpps plays a certain key role.
But I'm not really familiar with that either. I have the "Aquarius Dubs" really not really "on the pan" I have to admit.

That's why I'm going to follow the link above right now (“right now” is always nice too) and refresh my memory.

How long ……………………. lemmi

Aquarius Dub !!!

I hardly hear anyone DubEffect. Just "Strip To The Bone" or something like that. Wasn't that the time when "bounced" rather than gedubbed was or do I have to DubRead the book again!?
Well, I have to anyway!
Anyway, although I im minimalism Dub don't favour, this is a brilliant example of the feeling the musicians from Jamaica had back then. I can listen to it in an endless loop and I'm more happy with every round.
It's that magic that I lack in most productions today.
At that time, Haile Selassie's aura must have left deep traces in the souls of the Jamaicans, which alone allowed them to transfer this spirituality into the riddims.
Another advantage for this mystical creativity was probably the fact that at that time they didn't want to make money with it because they thought nobody was interested anyway. Today, almost all musicians in Jamaica have to (or want to) earn money with it and more and more softened "randb rhythms" creep in and even rhythmic aberrations like trap are not shy away from.
What should a reggae connoisseur like me start with there???
That's exactly why I became a reggae fan. because I missed this groove in almost all other music and still do.

“Reggae is for people who are missing something.” ……. is a quote from the last Marley film, which was a big hit in the cinemas.
Unfortunately, I still can't get the ambiguity out of my head that is in this phrase "inside" ;-)

I'm still missing a whole lot on our planet. Especially when it comes to the peaceful coexistence of people.
And when “everybody” always freaks out just because someone burns a book somewhere, then I find that pretty crazy too. However, I find it even more crazy that someone who thinks he's smarter makes this provocation so public when you know full well that there are lots of crazy people who are just waiting to freak out over such a trifle.
Conclusion : No matter what it is exactly, it is certain that I am not the only one missing something ;-)

"Take heat! Take heat! And smoke up the collie weed"
Don't burn books!!! Its a German "naziding" !
you understand mr Swedish boy !?!

Neither the Bible nor the Koran are sacred to me.
By the book DubConference looks a little different.

Ok, I'll make it short ...... bye ...... lemmi

mane, couldn't have expressed it better. pioneers at the forefront of a whole new musical genre that imo, laid the foundation for modern beat maker style production. artists just messing around with studio equipment not being afraid to do something strange and weird. making the songs not worrying about a perfect mix then immediately pressing a records and selling them out of their own store.

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