LulzImg - Image Hosting for teh lulz

 

Hailing from Elletson Flats, situated in the uptown Kingston 6 area, the very popular Black Star sound system emerged onto the dancehall scene during the seventies. Occasionally known as Black Star Liner they flew the flag for this tough neighbourhood promoting conscious dancehall, much like Jah Love did, combining lyrical deejays and upcoming singers.

 

 LulzImg - Image Hosting for teh lulz

 

We are unsure of when Black Star first started playing out but they were reportedly a soul sound at first before graduating to the reggae arena. According to some informative Bruk Back lyrics they were active alongside Tippatone, King Tubby’s and Emperor Faith in the early part of the seventies. The set was put together by two brothers Noel and Donald Darling, playing in and around the Papine area and building up a good, solid reputation. Both the brothers played their part in the sounds running, in particular Donald, who was Black Star’s main selector for the duration of their popularity. Donald Darling was a man of many nicknames and when he first started selecting he was known as Danny, then changing to Danny Dread. But to avoid confusion with King Attorney’s selector Danny Dread, he became better known as “Smokey Don”, or even “Smokey Joe”. Noel aka “Yams” or “Yammy” performed the important roll of the sounds manager and was frequently hailed in the dance by the artists on the microphone.

 

 LulzImg - Image Hosting for teh lulz

 

With Black Star and Jahlovemuzik sound systems both operating out of the same North East Kingston community it is not unsurprising that Brigadier Jerry (b. Robert Russell) would choose to perform on Black Star when Jah Love didn’t have a date or were inactive. He features on most of the Black Star tapes from 1979 onwards bringing his trademark roots and culture deejaying to the sound. Briggy’s spar from Jah Love, Natty aka Natty Clive, would sometimes link up with Black Star in the late seventies as well.

 

As the eighties decade started another deejay Danny Dread, a youth of Indian/Black descent, made the breakthrough on the set. (Not to be confused with another deejay called Danny Dread aka Reverend who worked for Killamanjaro and later Metromedia, or the selectors with the same name.) He was first handed the microphone by Brigadier Jerry on Jah Love and was very much influenced by Briggy’s style of deejaying and remained an important member of Black Star for the next five years or so. After a tour of America with Black Star in the mid 80’s he chose to remain there. Tonto Irie (b. Errol Coley) was another deejay with a lyrical flair who appeared at roughly the same time. Originally named Tonto Ranking he formed a great partnership with Danny Dread and the two of them spearheaded the rise of Black Star. He would later move onto the King Jammy’s set helping them reach to the top as well as recording some fine early digital dancehall records.

 

The next important deejay to join, around 1983, was Bruk Back. Raised in Sievwright Gardens and an original spar of Super Cat, he made Black Star his home. A tremendous performer who could really handle the microphone in a dancehall setting, he remained loyal to Black Star over the next few years. In fact any session which had Bruk Back and Tiger firing off lyrics was essential listening. Tiger (b. Norman Jackson) had originally started out as a singer in the seventies and had graduated to the dancehall, first on the Inner City Vibes set before starting on Black Star early in 1984 and quickly developed into a deejay with a unique energetic style that could whip up any dance into a frenzy. Tiger’s popularity in the dancehall led to a successful recording career with countless hit singles and albums for Island, Penthouse and King Jammy’s, amongst many others.

 

Over the period of 1980-86 numerous other deejays helped consolidate Black Stars stature and these included Metromedia favourite Zuzu (b. M. Murray) who was also adept at singing. Peter Ranking (b. Peter Legore) was another quality singer and deejay and sometimes would be joined by his sparring partner General Lucky. Black Star’s answer to Michigan and Smiley was a duo named Papa Finnegan (b. Steven Kelly) and Junior Ranking (b. Junior Williams). Whilst not the best known of all the deejaying duos they could rhyme with timing and skill. Lastly, from 1984 onwards Bigga Ranking could often be heard contributing to the deejay excitement.

 

From 1983 the Black Star sound nurtured a posse of singers, possibly the largest pool of all the top sound systems. Perhaps the first to appear was Anthony Malvo, a vocalist who could easily adapt a popular hit song to any given dancehall riddim. He was a vital member of the Star crew and was particularly good in combination with Tiger. In the mid eighties he went to perform and record with King Jammy’s and has continued with a long and fruitful career both as a singer and producer to this day. Hopeton Lindo, a singer with a long recording history stretching back to the late seventies, gained vital dancehall experience working on the set and his distinctive vocal tones would be well received when he took up the mic. He continued to record through the eighties and beyond and became known as “The Pen” because of his skills as a songwriter both for himself and the top singers working for the Gussie Clarke’s Music Works stable and still produces quality music today. Other experienced singers associated with the sound include “One Away Man” Earl Cunningham who, like Lindo, had begun recording in the late seventies, and “Ruff and Tuff” Robert Ffrench, another talented artist who has had a long career as a singer and producer. Archetypical early dancehall singers Pad Anthony (b. Hartley Wallace) and Half Pint (b. Lindon Roberts) both had great success from 1983 onwards and they all added their flavour to many a Black Star session. Quirky roots singer Edi Fitzroy (b. Fitzroy Edwards) used to pass through on occasion too. Indeed a great number of artists associated with the Black Star sound, particularly the singers, have gone on to have long and successful careers in the reggae business.

 

Black Star competed well with the other ranking sound systems, frequently taking part in soundclashes with competitors such as Arrows, Black Scorpio, Lees Unlimited, Jammy’s and many more. Talked about clashes included the March ‘84 showdown at NCC Club with Killamanjaro and a four sound clash against Metromedia, Sturmars and Torpedo which was held at the Students Union in ‘85. Like a lot of their contemporaries they also embarked on tours abroad, which included a visit to the UK in 1984 with a crew of Josey Wales, Charlie Chaplin, Danny Dread and Sister Verna,. A USA tour followed in late 1985, this time with a more familiar line up of “Daddy Star” favourites, Bruk Back, Tiger, Tonto Irie, Danny Dread, Zuzu, Robert Ffrench, Anthony Malvo and Earl Cunningham.

 

 LulzImg - Image Hosting for teh lulz

 

1986 seems to be a watershed for Black Star and with some of their main performers moving to other sounds the set started to fade from the scene. It seems that by the very late eighties the owners decided to migrate to America taking the sound and setting up in Washington where, by all accounts, a version of it still operates to this day, minus all the artists who put the sound on the map. Even now though the Black Star sound is still fondly remembered by dancehall fans for its excellent band of deejays and singers who in turn produced some truly memorable dancehall sessions.....

 

 LulzImg - Image Hosting for teh lulz

 

Blackstar @ Kintyre, Kingston, 1979

 

Featuring: Brigadier Jerry, Skengae One

 

Selector – Smokey Don

 

“Only a small taster of what was probably a longer cassette, so we have to be thankful for this, possibly our oldest Blackstar session, recorded in Kintyre. Smokey Don is in the middle of a Barrington Levy selection and we get to hear Brigadier Jerry voice “I Kill Barny Last Night” his paean to Barnabas Collins, a character from the popular TV show “Dark Shadows” which must have been running on Jamaican television in the late seventies. Skengae One is the other deejay here and he echoes the lyrics of Barrington’s killer tune “A Ya We Deh” before the tape clicks to a halt far too soon.”  

 

Download

 

 

Blackstar @ Standpipe, Kingston 6, 28th June 1979

 

Featuring: Ranking Joe, Brigadier Jerry, Natty

 

Selector – Smokey Don

 

“A typical 1979 session would feature tunes from Barry Brown, Black Uhuru and Gregory Isaacs and this Blackstar is missing none of them. Smokey Don flips the singles and Ranking Joe, Brigadier Jerry and Natty chant down those versions for the Standpipe faithful. Ranking Joe’s first up with “Black Princess” and “African T’ing” before making way for Briggy and Natty who control the rest of the recording. A blistering dub to “Ain’t No Sunshine” is the foundation to Briggy’s “Stay Back With Yu Tribal War” while Natty Clive’s “Uptown Top Ranking” and “Mr Walker” embellish the Cool Ruler’s classic “Mr Brown.”   

 

Download

 

 

 

Blackstar @ Elletson Flats Community Centre, Elletson Flats, Kingston 6, July 1980

 

Featuring: Brigadier Jerry

 

Selector – Smokey Don & Papa Londy

 

“The Elletson Flats Community Centre was a regular venue whenever Blackstar chose to play in their own area. It’s an 1980 session for “Daddy Star” as Briggy clears up any confusion over the date of this tape as he references the recent Eventide fire disaster. There’s a real feast of Studio One music on show and it’s “The General” all the way riding the riddims effortlessly. There are many high points such as “Build A Little Roof”, “Dip Them Ina Culture” and “Babylon Put On the Pressure” but really taken as a whole it’s a wonderful example of Brigadier Jerry at his very best.”

 

**Runs for 2 hours**

 

Download

 

LulzImg - Image Hosting for teh lulz 

 

Black Star @ Cope Lawn, Southside, East Kingston, 19th June 1981

 

Featuring: Danny Dread, Peter Ranking, Papa Satta

 

Selector – Smokey Don

 

“This session finds Black Star travelling down to Eastern Kingston for promoter Sasquan’s dance at Cope Lawn. Peter Ranking and Danny Dread handle the show in this part of the dance with both hailing the many posse’s in the area, with special requests going to the “Okra Slime” posse, the “Southsideites” and even the “Granny Posse”. Versatile Peter Ranking’s contributions include “Beach Party” and “Living As A Poor” while “Dreadlocks Danny” deejays pieces like “Tickle Natty Dread” and “Can’t Take Your Family”. Black Star in a ‘81 style!”

 

Download

 

LulzImg - Image Hosting for teh lulz 

 

Black Star @ Tavern, Papine, Kingston, 1981

 

Featuring: Bobby Screw, Tonto Irie, Junior Demus, Brigadier Jerry, Blacka, Puddy Roots

 

Selector – Smokey Don

 

“Presenting a Friday night jamboree in Tavern and this has good roster of artists passing through. The Brigadier is controlling things here but youth deejays are rising too. Tonto Irie’s lyrics show he’s one to watch with a flow that includes “Ocean To Ocean” and “She A De Boom”. Junior Demus has the crowd roaring when he declares that everyone’s “Mad Over Me” and Bobby Screw urges one and all to “Get Up Stand Up”. Guest Puddy Roots arrives on the scene, fresh off “Bus No.29 to Papine”, as detailed in “Puddy Just A Come”.

 

Download

 

LulzImg - Image Hosting for teh lulz 

 

Black Star v Echo Vibration@ Port Maria, St Mary, December 1981

 

Featuring: Danny Dread, Tonto Irie, Peter Ranking, Papa Olord

 

Selector – Smokey Don

 

“Here’s the Black Star side of a clash with Dexter Campbell’s Echo Vibration held at Port Maria in, we think, December 1981. Danny Dread’s fired up after some disrespect from Vibration and selector Smokey Don flings some great Black Star specials from Phillip Fraser, Barrington Levy and Sergeant Bruckup straight to their head. Veteran Papa Olord shows mic control on “England Cold” and “Keep On Coming” while Tonto Irie’s informative on “Everything Gone A Metric”, defensive on “Ashes To Ashes and even getting a little slack on “Soca Rumba”. Danny Dread’s “Black Star A De Ruler” and “Go Papa Star Go” are just a few of his flag waving lyrics on show here in this St Mary’s dust up.”

 

Download

 

LulzImg - Image Hosting for teh lulz 

Black Star @ Camperdown, Kingston, 1982

Featuring: Brigadier Jerry, Stamma Ranks

Selector – Smokey Don and Archie

“This Friday night session was held in the Camperdown area and has Brigadier Jerry’s stamp all over it. The Black Star crew of Smokey Don and Archie have a succession of musical discs from Triston Palma, Phillip Fraser and Johnny Osbourne and the master is at work on the versions. “Calypso King”, “Independent Smoker”, “Upstairs” and “Rema & Jungle” are all typical of the man’s lyrical skills. Stamma Ranks is the only other deejay present and his contribution here is a Lone Ranger inspired “World War One” and “Entertain By Black Star”, which is appreciated by the crowd.”

Download

Black Star & Black Scorpio & Virgo Int. @ St Mary 1982

Featuring: Brigadier Jerry

Selector – Smokey Don

 “This is a three sound link up at an unknown location in the parish of St Mary. Brigadier Jerry and Tonto Irie are fronting for Black Star, and although Tonto’s not on the audio, what you do have is Briggy working over some tried and tested Studio 1 nuggets and his “Trip To Cuba” displays his more than adequate Spanish linguistic skills. Smokey Don also has a selection from Linval Thompson, whose tunes like “Baby Mother” and “Holding On To My Girlfriend” are causing worries in the dancehall.”

RE-UP

 

LulzImg - Image Hosting for teh lulz 

Black Star @ Lovebird Club, Young Street, Spanish Town, circa May 1983

Featuring: Brigadier Jerry, Tonto Irie, Teeny Bop, Papa Olord

Selector – Smokey Don

“This is an extended version of a Black Star session at the Lovebird Club in Spanish Town and it’s a good one too. It has a long Studio One section in which Brigadier Jerry works his magic over those unforgettable Brentford Road classics. The deejay Teeny Bop turns out to be Briggy’s younger brother and with “Jah Inna Me” and “You See Me” he continues in the Russell family’s strong dancehall tradition. Tonto Irie continues to flourish and his boomshots here are “Ease Up Babylon” and “Tell them Already.”

RE-UP

 

LulzImg - Image Hosting for teh lulz 

Black Star @ Fountain Club, Old Harbour Road, Old Harbour, St Catherine, circa August 1983

Featuring: Super Cat, Early B, Echo Minott, Tonto Irie, Sister Nancy, Bobby Culture, Teeny Bop, Brigadier Jerry, Papa Michigan, Danny Dread, Bruck Back

Selector – Smokey Don

“The Fountain Club was another of Old Harbour’s reggae venues and this wicked session took place there early in August 1983. And what a great line up of artists Black Star has attracted. Early B and Super Cat are in their ascendancy and, as expected, you get top notch performances from them. Echo Minott’s an archetypical dancehall singer who’s graced hundreds of dances over the years and his popularity still remains strong. His contributions include some choice covers and a version of his hit, “Farmer Man”. Papa Michigan is on his own here but that doesn’t stop him and “Sugar Daddy” is his solo take on the Michigan and Smiley number. Others to light up this tape are Sister Nancy, with “Flash It”, and Bobby Culture, with “Three Raggamuffin Mice”. Nice vibes in Old Harbour.”

RE-UP

 

LulzImg - Image Hosting for teh lulz 

Black Star @ Claremont Community Centre, Claremont, St Ann, 1983

Featuring: Charlie Chaplin, Danny Dread, Tonto Irie, Dread Bob

Crew – Smokey Don & Junior

 “Claremont, situated in the centre of the St Ann parish, plays host to Black Star sound late in 1983. Charlie Chaplin is the big attraction and he effortlessly controls things here assisted by Danny Dread and Tonto Irie. Charlie knows how to work the crowd and hit lyrics abound and they include “Brand New Second Hand”, “Unfair”, “Woman A Mi Yard” and “Youth Nowadays”. Danny Dread has the flow too and his work on “Take You To America” and “Jamaica Nice” reflect this. Tonto Irie’s in a cultural mood on “Jah Lick You With Reaction” and ”Read The Holy Book”, reflections of his association with Brigadier Jerry.”

 

RE-UP

 

LulzImg - Image Hosting for teh lulz 

Black Star @ Elletson Flats Community Centre, Elletson Flats, Kingston 6, January 1984

Featuring: Tonto Irie, Anthony Malvo, Danny Dread

Selector – Smokey Don

 “Black Star play to their own community early on in 1984. Tunes from Sugar Minott, Tony Tuff, Little John and Triston Palma all appear from Smokey Don’s musical crates and this selection keeps the centre rocking. The deejay action is supplied by Tonto Irie and Danny Dread and they rarely disappoint. Danny’s contributes ”Human Mechanic” and “Boom Downtown” and Tonto offers up “Worries, Trouble & Problems” and “Experience” to the eager dancehall patrons of Elletson Flats.”

RE-UP

LulzImg - Image Hosting for teh lulz 

Black Star @ Lyssons Community Centre, Lyssons, St Thomas, February 1984

Featuring: Zuzu, Bruck Back, Anthony Malvo, Earl Cunningham, Tiger, Hopeton Lindo, Little Alan, Boss Nigger, Mellow Ranking

Selector – Smokey Don

 “The Black Star posse of artists is growing in size and they travel out east for this date in Lyssons in the parish of St Thomas. Zuzu is now becoming a regular and he showcases some excellent lyrics on “Can’t Leave Selassie I Alone” and “Money A Run”. It’s Tiger and Bruck Back who really rock this tape with “Daddy” Back pondering the hardships of “Living In The Ghetto” and the rumours of an impending “Tidal Wave”. The “Roaring” Tiger is himself like a lyrical tsunami as “Life In A Jailhouse”, “Screwface” and “Better We Cool” are just a few examples from his deejaying master class. The singers, Hopeton Lindo, Earl Cunningham and Anthoy Malvo are also on hand to add spice to this high quality Black Star session.”

Download

LulzImg - Image Hosting for teh lulz 

Black Star vs Metromedia @ Waterford Park, Kingston 4, 3rd March 1984

Featuring: Pad Anthony, Tonto Irie, Brigadier Jerry, Liberty, Bigga, Bruck Back, Sister Nancy, Puddy Roots, Danny Dread,

Selector – Smokey Don

 “Here’s Black Star playing alongside Metromedia, most probably at the latter’s HQ and they travel with a typically strong set of artists representing the Elletson Flats sound. Their talisman, Brigadier Jerry, rocks this Saturday night session hailing “Rema & Jungle” over the “Victory Dance” riddim, as does Tonto Irie, who’s really coming to the fore as a micman, and he’s ready to ride “Any Riddim” given to him. Arrows man Liberty is in the locality and he chats “Position” and “Read The Holy Book” to great effect. Pad Anthony is in good voice as he delivers some nicely sung songs such as ”Home Sweet Home”, “Watch Your Step” and “Some Guy Have All The Luck.”

Download

LulzImg - Image Hosting for teh lulz 

Black Star @ White Hall, St Thomas, 1984

Featuring: Tonto Irie, Bruck Back, Simple Simon, Earl Cunningham

Crew – Smokey Don

 “A nice little session held at White Hall, a town in the parish of St Thomas. Tonto Irie and Bruck Back take the lion’s share of the mic and their excellence is reflected in some great lyric building. Bruck Back has a warning to the youth of St Thomas in “Life Story” and other passages like “Run When Me Hear Gunshot” and “Education” all add to the man’s reputation. Tonto Irie’s no slouch either as heard on “Freedom Fight” and “Praise His Name”, over the dub to Barrington Levy’s storming tune of the same name. Local man Simple Simon sings “She Gone” and “Foreign Minded” in a favourable dancehall style.”

RE-UP

LulzImg - Image Hosting for teh lulz 

Black Star @ Tavern, Kingston, July 1984


Featuring: Bruk Back, Bigga, Chakademus, Echo Minott, Sgt Bruckup, Earl Cunningham, Pad Anthony, Screecha Nice, Junior Reid, Half Pint, Robert Ffrench, Papa Chris, Tonto Irie, Hopeton Lindo, Anthony Malvo, Junior Ranking


Selector – Smokey Don


“Here’s a great two part Black Star session promoted by their very own Tonto Irie in their own area, Tavern. There’s no Brigadier Jerry as he’s working in New York but there’s a great line up of artists ready to rock Tonto’s dance. We can hear how Smokey Don’s selection run throughout the tapes as he starts with Studio 1 before moving onto pre digital vocals from current hit makers like Half Pint, Michael Palmer and Leroy Smart. Bruk Back attacks the Brentford Road classics, sounding sharp on “Talk Of The Town”, “America” and, in particular, on “Star Of The Show”. Chakademus is indeed “Dangerous” and Tonto tries the fast style describing himself as a “Professional” in the deejay stakes.”

Runs for 3 hours

PART 1

PART 2

 

 LulzImg - Image Hosting for teh lulz

Black Star v Arrows @ Barbican, Kingston, 28th July 1984


Featuring: Bruk Back, Danny Dread, Tonto Irie, Junior Reid, Papa Finnigan & Junior Ranking, Anthony Malvo, Earl Cunningham, Echo Minott, Screecha Nice, Brigadier Jerry


Selector – Smokey Don


“With sound-clashing very much in vogue, Black Star come up against East Kingston’s Arrows set. All of Black Star’s regulars are milling around the sound station, including the returning Brigadier. There are some specials on show of course, with Smokey rinsing some crucial Pad Anthony and Anthony Malvo sound slates. Danny Dread comes with some fine lyrics on “Roadblock” and “Out Of Order;” duo Finnegan and Ranking swap lines well on “A Weh Dem Like”. Singers are represented by Junior Reid, with his hit song “Poor Man Transportation” and Echo Minott ‘adopting’ the pop lyrics of “Sweet Dreams.” Over the “Victory Dance” riddim Brigadier the General quite rightly asserts that “Papa Star A De Ram Dance Master!”

 

Many thanks to Keimo for this one...

Download

 

LulzImg - Image Hosting for teh lulz 

Black Star vs Black Scorpio @ Skateland, Half Way Tree Road, Kingston 5, 29th July 1984


Featuring: Danny Dread, Papa Finnigan & Junior Ranking, Tonto Irie, Edi Fitzroy, Hopeton Lindo, Robert Ffrench, Anthony Malvo, Earl Cunningham, Bruk Back


Selector – Smokey Don


“Sunday night was Skateland night and it’s massive venue plays host to veteran sounds, Black Star, fresh from the Arrows clash, and Maurice Johnson’s Black Scorpio. Edi Fitzroy is just one of a number of singers present and he voices “Young Girl” and “Black Star Time” in his distinctive style. Smokey Don features some Hopeton Lindo specials and the man himself is here dueting a rousing “Sitting In The Dance” with Robert Ffrench. It’s not all soundbwoy lyrics though as there are some incisive social observations from Danny Dread on “Politics Business” and Tonto Irie on “Rema & Jungle.”

Download

LulzImg - Image Hosting for teh lulz 

Black Star @ NCC Club, off Half Way Tree Road, Kingston 5, 5th October 1984


Tonto Irie, Danny Dread, Junior Ranking & Papa Finnegan, Steve Knight, Joe Lickshot, Bruk Back, Robert Ffrench, Hopeton Lindo, Brigadier Jerry, Toyan, Anthony Malvo, Edi Fitzroy, Earl Cunningham


Selector – Smokey Don


“Around this time another venue, the NCC Club located just off Half Way Tree Road, started hosting dancehall sessions. This is another sparkling Black Star show featuring most of their big hitters. Six singers touch the mic including Steve Knight on “Run & Rip Off” and Edi Fitzroy versioning his hit “Youthman Penitentiary.” The crowd roars out when Briggy chants “Me No Like Gunman” and there’s a snippet of Toyan who chats “Me Name Papa Toyan” and ”Any Riddim” in quick succession. Black Star tapes from this period were always interesting and as Bruk Back states the “Vibes Are Inna We.”

Download

 

Image and video hosting by TinyPic