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Features

Sound System

by Peach
23 May 2006

Gladdy Wax Sound

The Gladdy Wax Sound System has been playing the finest roots rock Reggae, Ska, and dancehall to the massive for enough years. The sound is the place where we get to play tunes in the way we believe they should be played. Reggae records are best heard at a certain volume with a good sound quality, fine mid and treble with solid bass in support. Yes, there is nothing like a well tuned sound. The Sound Systems have been the way for Jamaicans to share popular music for 40 years or more. The Gladdy Wax Sound system plays in original Jamaican style. Gladdy has run his own sound over 30 years and was a key man in the Quaker City sound in Birmingham in the 70's.

Gladdy's current sound has been lovingly built over the years and can be hired as a full system for events and festivals. You can hire the system for you to operate at events and parties. (Contact Gladdy direct on 020 7275 7513 or get in touch on the contact us page) Gladdy will also play sets for events and parties as a DeeJay.

A little history

As we now know thesound system phenomena all started with American Rhythm and Blues (R&B) being played by the mobile sound men like Tom 'The Great' Sebastian (Reggae Routs, Chang & O'Brien, 1998). He apparently bought records form a local hardware merchant to play on at his dances. At that time ordinary Jamaicans could not easily get records and most could not afford record players, So the mobiles were the place to here the latest tunes.

Setting up the Gladdy Wax Sound at the Notting Hill CarnivalBuying records form American sailors in Kingston was also a way of getting new tunes. Later people like the mighty Coxone Dodd would travel abroad as a cane cutter and bring back R&B records direct from the US and also his own sound equipment. He was in competition with Duke 'The Trojan' Read who had been running a sound for some time before Coxone. Lloyd 'The Matador' Daley was another prominent sound man on the scene. There was big competition for the best tunes. The public liked a rough rocking kind of tune. The underground sound from State Side started to mellow late in the 50's as it became more popular. The Jamaican audience wanted to keep rocking, so the sound men started to produce more home made tunes.

But of course musicians had been making local music since time and it is the musicians who really made it possible for the producers to have tunes to sell. Producers exploited local talent and sometimes of course they helped artists and young people who were only beginners. The music came from men who were professional hard-core musicians like Theolonius Beckford, Don Drummond, Baba Brooks and may others. These were the people who really made Jamaican music what it is today and they have only recently gained some of the credit they deserve. Some of these people went on the form the mighty Skatalites, one of the finest bands in the world.

At that time it was easy to buy sound equipment if you were a business man but it took long years of hard sweat to become a good musician. Sound systems often play the music of anonymous men and women. The producers liked to slap their name on the records and call the musicians All Stars. My all stars. Sometimes this was necessary as the musician line-ups were always changing. This is the way of Reggae.

In the 1970's the sound system became a place to experiment with new sounds and ways of delivering words. King Tubby's Home Town Hi Fi is probably the best known sound of that time. Tubby ran a small self built studio in Water House, an area of Kingston. He was a great experimenter with sound and recording techniques. The place where he could check the effects of his handy work were in the sound system dances. The DJ U-Roy would deliver his chat on the mike over the base heavy soundscape. Sometimes no vocal was heard and this became known as dub usually on the B side of a record. Augustus Pablo was an exponent of an instrumental style which many have taken as inspiration for instrumentals known as Dub. So as opposed to just B sides they have become compositions on their own. For some Dub has become the art. In the UK you have sounds like Jah Shaka the Mighty Zulu Warrior which specialise in heavy Dub vibes. There are many Dub systems today in the UK like Entebbe, Manassa HiFi, Abashanti, Freedom Masses, I and I Oneness and also Disciples and many more. These are modern roots sounds.

There are also enough old sounds playing the best in revival for example you have Lord Kas in Manchester, a very old sound playing in the same tradition as The Glady Wax Sound System in London. These sounds play mainly vocal sets with occasional dubs and instrumentals when called for. This year as every year Glady can be heard laying down a nice vibe at the Notting Hill Carnival in London. So come and see him there and sample an authentic Jamaican experience.

Sound systems are still a means for people to experience the newest records in a way which is not possible at home. The Dance Hall revolution of the second part of the 1980's has led to large sound systems being established like Stone Love and Kilamanjaro. Dance Hall culture revolves around the sound clash with the sounds competing to the maximum to put the other sound down. The lyrics of Dance Hall can often be violent and slack but they reflect what is happening in Jamaica today. Some DJ's like Capelton and Sizzla are changing things again as they present a Rasta reality message to the ragga rhythm in the Dancehall. Dancehall presents all the stories of the ghetto and in this way they are in the same tradition as all sounds.

You can catch the Gladdy Wax sound on the 26th and 27th of August 2007 at the Notting Hill Carnival, London. So if you want an ear drum scare you just got to be there.

© Peach 23 May 2006 all rights reserved.

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