Roman Stewart: Give Thanks 'Showcase'

Although he more than deserved it, he was never in the forefront of successful Jamaican singers. For this reason, information about him is very sparse. Nevertheless, I venture a thesis: Without Roman Stewart there would have been no Dennis Brown. As you can read in the relevant literature, Roman taught Dennis how to sing. The vocal similarities are indeed striking, close your eyes and listen. Who do you hear? No, not the young Dennis Brown, but Roman Stewart with a “lost” album. Quite apart from the fact that “Roman Stewart: Give Thanks 'Showcase' “ (Thompson Sound) was never conceived as an album. Some titles were released as singles or maxi singles by Linval Thompson on his Thompson Sound label in 1979 and have never been available again since then. There are also three unreleased and completely new tracks and their Dub-Versions to be heard: Give Thanks, Give Thanks Dub, I'm In A Bad Mood, I'm In A Bad Mood Dub, Hello Baby and Hello Baby Dub.

Roman Stewart, born in 1957, started his career as a small boy on the street and at the pier where the cruise ships docked. There he sang for the tourists, and his friend Freddie McGregor collected the money that people were willing to give. Roman was just 1968 years old in 11 when he recorded his first recording, While I Was Walking, as Romeo Stewart And The Tennors With Tommy McCook And The Supersonics. In 1974, Roman had his first hit “Hooray Festival”. A song written by his older brother Neville aka Tinga Stewart and Willie Lindo. After his first breakthrough, he achieved another success in 1976 with “Hit Song,” produced by Tommy Cowan.
On the whole, the early 1970s were a successful time for Roman. He began recording new songs for well-known producers such as Glen Brown (Never Too Young), Derrick Harriott (Changing Times), Everton Da Silva (Rice & Peas), Phil Pratt (Fire At Your Heel) and Linval Thompson. Although he emigrated to the USA in 1976, he always maintained close contact with his home country and continued to make numerous recordings there. It is said that “Rice and Peas” is his best-known song, which he also recorded for Linval Thompson in 1979. In total, he recorded more than 70 singles and a good handful of albums and was able to look back on a career that spanned more than 30 years. On January 25, 2004, Roman aka Romeo or Romie Stewart died of a heart attack at the age of just 46. The previous evening he had attended a concert by his good old friend Freddie McGregor. Afterwards, Roman went to a birthday party, where he sang two more songs. When Roman wanted to sing his third song, he reportedly turned off the microphone and complained of chest pain. He later collapsed and was taken to hospital, where he remained in a coma and died the next day.

Over twenty years after this tragic event, Linval Thompson comes around the corner with the tapes that were believed to be lost. Roman Stewart's vocals and the Roots Radics Band's powerful riddims were recorded at the Hookim Brothers' Channel One Recording Studio on Maxfield Avenue in West Kingston, Jamaica. As mentioned, Linval Thompson found the original tapes and commissioned Roberto Sánchez to remix them at his A-Lone Ark Muzik Studio in Santander, Spain. Thanks to the expert preservation of the vintage analog sound, the listener feels transported back to the early dancehall era. The powerful title track “Give Thanks” is a classic roots song that has never been released before. The track and his Dub-Pendant offer a fantastic, bass-heavy riddim. With “Baby Come Back,” Roman Stewart turns to a love song. The song was originally recorded in England as 12? Vinyl released by Cool Rockers, a short-lived offshoot of Greensleeves Records that focused on lovers rock. The Revolutionaires were named as the accompanying band. He clearly shows that Roman is at home in both the roots and lovers sections of reggae. “Mr. Officer” is a play about the problems that come with possessing the green herb (Herb, Lambsbread, Ganja, Kaya, Collie). The remaining tracks on this LP deal more with matters of the heart, particularly issues that lead to complications in relationships. Each track has its own merits and is worth listening to more than once. Roman Stewart shines vocally on every piece, including the heavy ones Dubs by Roberto Sánchez are a real pleasure to listen to. Once again he has Dubmaster from northern Spain demonstrates that he is experienced enough to create a contemporary album from historical recordings with the classic sound of the golden age of reggae.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

3 Responses to “Roman Stewart: Give Thanks ‘Showcase'”

Yes, I could also write, “I like”.
And I would probably be out of the game. But I'm still far from completely thrilled with this disc. I admit, this type of reggae wasn't my favorite style yet. And yes, I prefer to write it face down in brackets (I was never as big a fan of Dennis Brown as so many dancehall fans around the world)
The Roots Radics may be at work here, but for me they still sound too much like Revolutionaries. It feels like (I haven't counted) that most of the riddims are too much in the "four to the flour" beat, which has always not really impressed me as much as the "One Drop" and ultimately the many others Drum patterns and riddims that – in my opinion – seemed and still seem a little more sophisticated and magical. Well, I probably don't have to write anything more about this "great rustle" - which I always mainly associate with the "Channel One style" from that time. I listen to a lot of tunes with this rustle, but I don't need it at all. No ! Not at all ! Minus! Nekesse! The part must be placed on a separate track so that it can at least be seen in the Dub can be completely and consistently hidden. I also just bought a Mad Professor disc from 2015. Great riddims, but it wasn't until I got home that I realized that it was a record for babies where it just rustled “all day long”. Rustle rustle rustle……… I don’t understand.
As I said, I like “Give Thanks” but I still have my own sensitivities that were not taken into account here.
Occasionally Roberto Sanchez just wants to annoy me a little by not only letting it rustle up, but also occasionally superimposing ancient signals from Sputnik as a disruptive signal over the mostly great riddims.
But as I said :

I like the disc! …………………….. lemmi

“I was never that big of a fan of Dennis Brown…”

Me neither, he gave me too many cheesy things later on. But on July 6, 1979, I had the outrageous good fortune to see his concert in Montreux, and I have appreciated his early works ever since.

Just look at the backing band:
Bass – Lloyd “Sparkes” Parkes
Drums – Devon Richards
Keyboards – Frankie “Bubbler” Waul
Lead Guitar – Earl “Chinna” Smith
Percussion – Ruddy Thomas
Rhythm Guitar – Winston Bowell
Saxophones – Dean Frazer
Trombone – Lloyd Kerr, Ronald Robinson
Trumpet – Junior “Chico” Chin

For me, Dennis and the We The People Band delivered a concert that made me cluck my tongue. Note: two trumpets! Almost exactly two months earlier, the album “Words Of Wisdom”, produced and mixed by Joe Gibbs and Errol Thompson, had been released. An album that I still enjoy listening to today. In my opinion, Dennis Brown also reached the peak of his vocal work in 1979. He was still miles away from his cocaine abuse.
It is said that Dennis Brown was Bob Marley's favorite singer.

High Ras Vorbei !
The “Words Of Wisdom” also turned my feelings about Dennis Brown almost 180 degrees. But I only got to know this record when my opinion and enthusiasm for Dennis Brown was already pretty low. And besides, it sounds much worse than it is. After all, I was also at a Dennis Brown concert with an equally fantastic band.
It was an evening with ASWAD as a band and later (much later) again as a background band for Dennis Brown. I don't want to do him any injustice, but I think his star airs were so great back then that he felt like both ASWAD and the entire audience -
had to wait at least three hours. When he finally came, my stuff was completely gone and I felt more ready for bed than for a big concert. But well, I don't really know the real reason for his delay, so please forgive me if he was just trying to take the German train... ;-)
Ok, I don't know exactly what it is but my taste in music doesn't exactly match Bob Marley's ;-)

Does not matter ……. the main thing is that it grooves ………….. lemmi

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