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Friday, 2 December 2016

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!: Day 337 - Junior Murvin

Police & Thieves - Junior Murvin
Island Records
Produced by Lee "Scratch" Perry
Released 1977

The Original Police and Thief (as it was called then) was released on the Wild Flower label in Jamaica in May 1976.

Featured on the record are: 
Boris Gardiner (bass), Ernest Ranglin (guitar), Sly Dunbar (drums), Keith Sterling (keyboards), and Joe Cooper (organ), with backing vocals provided by Barry Llewellyn and Earl Morgan of The Heptones. The B-Side Grumbling Dub, though not credited on the original label is The Upsetters.

Island Records released it in the UK July 1976 as a single and retitled it Police & Thieves. The song became an anthem in the UK in 1976 as the Notting Hill Carnival erupted into a riot. Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon of The Clash were involved in the rioting, which inspired them to cover the song on their debut album, in a style that they called ''punk reggae', not 'white reggae''.

In 1977 a new song "Bad Weed" by Junior Murvin was released in Jamaica on The Upsetters label and featured the backing track of Police and Thieves.

It was included on the 2003 CD Reissue.

It was backed with a Curtis Mayfield Cover

The single was again reissued in 1980 on a 12" containing some different mixes.

The single finally reached the charts four years after its initial release. This particular version of it was a response to the song being used in the film Rockers. Whilst the film was first shown in 1978 at the San Francisco Film Festival it didn't get a proper Theater release until 1980!

It peaked at #23 in the charts.

      2003 CD Reissue
     Bonus Tracks
11 Childhood Sweetheart    
12 Bad Weed (Discomix) - see above for link   
13 Roots Train (Extended Mix)    
14 Memories    
15 Rasta Get Ready

Included a bunch of Dubs Cuts, Singles and Alternate Versions.
Today is the third anniversary of the passing of Junior Murvin and I thought that I would post his epic Police & Thieves album in his honour.

Junior Murvin did actually release more music than Police & Thieves but it is this album that forever has cemented legacy and not just within the realms of the reggae world. With The Clash recording a cover of it for their debut album and playing it live most nights on tour they exposed a lot of youngsters to this magnificent slice of reggae that had been written about police brutality in Jamaica but somehow found itself to be a soundtrack for the violence of the times in the UK.

The song gained a new lease of life four years later when included on the Soundtrack for the movie Rockers. Along with others that included the brilliant Tenement Yard by Jacob Miller, Slave Master by Gregory Issacs, Jah No Dead by Burning Spear, and Book of Rules by The Heptones, Natty Take Over by Justin Hines & The Dominoes plus more from Inner Circle, Bunny Wailer, Rockers All Stars*, Kiddus IThird World, The Maytones, Peter Tosh and Junior Byles.

(* Some versions of the album replace this with Lee Perry and The Upsetters' Dread Lion)

Junior Murvin even found himself on Top of The Pops as he saw his signature song rise to #23.

After the original release of Police & Thieves he continued to release albums and singles on various labels and with different producers: Cool Out Son (with Joe Gibbs in 1979), Bad Man Possee (single and album with Mikey Dread in 1982), Apartheid (album and single with Prince Jammy in 1986 - was released in the UK on Greensleeves) and his last single Wise Man in 1998 (it was a 10" Split with Praise Him by Winston Fergus on Dubwise Productions). Albums included Muggers in the Street (1984 produced by Henry "Junjo" Lawes - released on Greensleeves in the UK), Signs and Wonders (1989 produced by Delroy Wright and Al Campbell for Live & Learn label. This was his last "official album").

Junior Murvin will forever be remembered for one great song and I guess it is better to be remembered for a great song rather than a stinkingly bad one or worse, not remembered at all!

Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start!
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