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On 31st August 1986 a week long event started in Ocho Rios to celebrate the 28th Anniversary of Jack Ruby’s involvement in Jamaican music. The guest performers turned out to honour the contributions that he had made both in the recording of classic roots music and, of course, his legendary sound system Jack Ruby Hi Power.

Jack Ruby (b. Lawrence Lindo) had moved from Kingston to the Ocho Rios area in the fifties, attracted by the blossoming tourist industry which was happening along Jamaica’s North Coast. We presume that he started off his own small sound system, Jack Ruby Hi Fi in the late fifties playing in and around Ocho Rios; however, it was as a record producer that brought Ruby to national and international prominence in the 70s. It was his seminal work with Burning Spear on the breakthrough “Marcus Garvey” album and the subsequent LP’s “Man In The Hills” and “Dry & Heavy” which threw the reggae spotlight firmly on the parish of St Ann. All the time Jack’s sound system was growing bigger and ever more powerful with its multiple towering speakers forming an impressive wall of sound.

 

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Home for this, reputedly biggest sound on the island, was in Ocho Rios at 1 James Avenue better known as 1 Music Avenue, and many a rub a dub dancehall session was held here. A classic sequence of dance at Jack Ruby’s lawn in the late seventies can be seen in the 1978 film “Rockers” and it features the owner at the controls himself.

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The sound built up its reputation throughout the seventies and as the dancehall era dawned in the early eighties they were right at the forefront of the action. They had regular weekly sessions at their headquarters, invariably attracting the cream of the dancehall deejays, and frequently venturing into the hotbed of Kingston for soundclashes at Skateland, where the “country” sound more than held their own. I Roy was working on the set in the seventies, he cut some specials for Jack that he would still draw for in the eighties.

 

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The first cassettes of Jack Ruby Hi Power started to appear around 1980-81 and would often feature veteran seventies deejays like U. Brown, Nicodemus, Lui Lepki and Brigadier Jerry freelancing far from Kingston city. Deejay sensation Yellowman seemed to divide his time between the Aces Disco and Jack Ruby’s set up. One deejay who could be said to have built his career almost entirely on Jack Ruby’s set was Rockfort born Bobby Culture (b. Fitzloyd Billings). In common with Brigadier Jerry he made very few records, but he was much loved in the dancehall, with a distinctive tone, clever lyrics and plenty of style to match. Righteous deejay Brimstone (b. Gladstone Fisher), aka Brimstone & Fire and formerly known as Jah Stone in the seventies, was another who spent some time with the Ocho Rios sound. Other local artists who could be heard on the Ruby sound around 1981/2 were the late Montego Bay deejay Papa Ritchie (b. Ricardo McKenzie), Sonny Ranking and his sidekick Pants (b. Belroy Blake), Deucie Ranking, Scotchie Ranking and the quirky singer Icho Candy (b. Winston Evans). Ruby’s number one selector was Fat Jaw and his stellar work at the controls of sound helped keep them at the top of the pile. Other crew members included Bonito and mixer Long John.

 

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Film of the Jack Ruby sound was also included in the UK Channel 4 documentary series “Deep Roots Music”. Shot at 1 Music Avenue circa 1981/82 it shows an authentic rub a dub session in full flow with Jack Ruby at the controls alongside long-time selector Fat Jaw. Dreadlocked Bobby Culture drops hard with “Dangerous Thing”, while deejay Scotchie Ranking, in space-age headphones, delivers a rocking “Mi Hot”. Vocalist Icho Candy adapts “Where Do The Children Play” to the “Answer” riddim and Mickey Simpson showcases his latest release ”Good Good Loving”. Bobby Culture rounds off things with “Gunman Connection” over the version of Michael Prophet’s fearsome “Gunman”.

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In 1982 the sound embarked on a full scale tour of the USA with an entourage of 11 including Jack, Fat Jaw, Bobby Culture, Nicodemus, Lui Lepki and Brimstone. They played dates on the East Coast, in New York and New Jersey, and they even crossed to the West Coast playing in California and showcasing an authentic sound system there for perhaps the very first time.

 

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1984 saw them coming to England for a tour, this time with a smaller crew which included only two deejays, the upcoming General Trees and a relative newcomer to the Ruby ranks, Professor Frisky (b. Denzil Dwyer).

 

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Jack Ruby still played regular dances at their headquarters with the crème of deejays like Brigadier Jerry, Nicodemus, U. Brown, Super Cat, Junior Demus passing through. With Bobby Culture and Brimstone now in America there was room for some upcoming deejays like Thinner One (b L. Pengelley) and the talented Slim Brown (b. Fitz Cottrell). The latter became a firm favourite on the sound, graduating to President Brown and later carving out a career as a stage and recording artist of some note.

 

The sound was still going strong in 1988, some thirty years after it’s inception but sadly in April 1989 Jack Ruby passed away leaving the sound in limbo. The recordings of the sound live on here as a tribute to sound of Jack Ruby, “The Immortal Hi Power”.

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Jack Ruby v Virgo Int. @ Skateland, Half Way Tree Road, Kingston 5, circa February 1981

 

Featuring: Yellowman, Brimstone, Jah Buzz, Nicodemus, Welton Irie, Bobby Culture, Brigadier Jerry

 

Selector – Fat Jaw

 

“Here is one of those “town v country” dances held at Skateland with Jack Ruby coming up against the Virgo Int. set. There are some big guns giving their time to Ruby’s including Brigadier Jerry, Nicodemus and Yellowman, who is in especially good form. There are sound boosting lyrics from Jah Buzz, with “Jack Ruby A Mash It Up”, and Brimstone’s cultural “Jah Children Crying” is prominent here. Welton Irie commandeers the “Late Night Movie” chat and there’s an early chance to hear “My Name Is Bobby Culture” passage from the man himself. Possibly our earliest Jack Ruby and essential listening.”

 

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Jack Ruby @ Nine Miles, St Ann, 1981

 

Featuring: Bobby Culture, Nicodemus, Icho Candy

 

Selectors – Fat Jaw & Bonito

 

“Travelling inland from Ocho Rios, Jack Ruby climb deep into the country to the small village of Nine Mile, the birthplace of Bob Marley. This is the first of two consecutive nights for the sound and on this occasion selectors Fat Jaw and Bonito choose a mixture of Studio One and current dancehall re-cuts of the “Answer” , “Full Up” and Party Time”. Father Demus treats the locals to some of his favourite lyrics which of course means tracks like “Boneman Connection” and “Married For The Opportunity”. Icho Candy is on hand to give his interpretation of Cat Stevens’ “Where Do The Children Play” in his own inimitable dancehall fashion.”

 

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Jack Ruby @ 1 Music Ave, Ocho Rios, St Ann, 10th June 1981

Featuring: U Brown, Nicodemus, Lui Lepke

Operator: Fat Jaw

 “The distinctive voice of Jack Ruby booms out loud, “Presenting The Ballot Box”, the big  showdown. This is the famous dance that was meant to feature a DJ clash between Nicodemus & Brigadier Jerry, sadly we don’t get to hear the General on this part, as It's mostly Nicodemus carrying the swing. We do get to hear U Brown and Lui Lepke for a short while. The part where Lui Lepke is riding the “Hi Fashion” rhythm when Fat Jaw pulls it up and he says "Brigadier deh on ya" making the crowd go ballistic, is one of the great moments in sound tape history!”

It has been said there are 4 parts to this session, here are 2 of them, it would be great to hear some more if anyone out there has any of the other parts?

Part 1

Part 2

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Jack Ruby Summerfield, Clarendon 1981

Featuring: Bobby Culture, Pants, Sonny Ranking, Briggy Levi

Operator: Fat Jaw

A very nice session featuring Jack Ruby 'the Immortal' on the road nicing up the Summerfield area. Fat Jaw drops selection from Cornell Campbell, Sammy Dread & Trsitan Palmer for the Clarendon Posse. Bobby Culture is the main feature on this one and he drop's his 'Buenos Dias', 'Health & Strength' & 'Fish Hunter' lyrics and a whole heap more. Apprentice's Pant's & Sonny also flash some style most notably Pant's with 'Joyce gone' and the very funny, 'Ultrabritee, make the teeth whitee' Another session from the Massie/WCTD connection that is sounding a lot better after some work...

RE-UP

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Jack Ruby @ Lavender Lawn, Flankers, Montego Bay, St James, 1981

 

Featuring: U. Brown, Brimstone, Bobby Culture

 

Selector – Fat Jaw

 

“Its “hot around the mic centre” as U. Brown, Brimstone and Bobby Culture entertain the people at the Lavender Lawn in the Flankers area of Montego Bay. The mighty “Shank I Sheck” blasts out and Brimstone chants “All Rise To Meet Jah” with conviction, while Bobby Culture advocates the good herb in “Smoke Sinsemillia”. Listen out for U. Brown’s “Automatic Boom” chatted over a crucial 70’s dubplate “Mind Your Own Business” which has a wicked I. Roy “intro”.

 

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Jack Ruby @ 1 Music Avenue, Ocho Rios, St Ann, 1981

 

Featuring: Brigadier Jerry, Dread Bob

 

Selectors – Fat Jaw & Ilawi

 

“The Jah Love posse meets the Ocho Rios crew in this crisp recording at Music Avenue. The selectors Fat Jaw and Ilawi flash plenty of Mighty Diamonds and Dennis Brown tunes and Brigadier Jerry is totally at home with the versions. There’s a particularly heavy dub cut of DB’s “Have You Ever” dropped and over it Briggy hails everyone in “Ain’t No Stopping Jack Ruby”. Emerging singer Dread Bob is given a chance and he goes with the popular in the dance standard, “Gonna Take A Miracle”.

 

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Jack Ruby @ 1 Music Avenue, Ocho Rios, St Ann, 1981

 

Featuring: Yellowman, Lui Lepki, Bobby Culture

 

Selectors – Fat Jaw & Tony Virgo

 

“Jack Ruby’s HQ would have been packed for this session which featured deejay sensation Yellowman and Virgo’s Lone Ranger. Unfortunately Ranger is not on the recording but King Yellow more than makes up for this. His entertainment includes the witty “Don’t Call Me Daddy”, the biblical “Galilee”, the topical “Gunman” and the heartfelt “Tribute To Bob Marley”. He always had all bases covered in a dance.”

 

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Jack Ruby @ Tucker, Montego Bay, St James, 1981

 

Featuring: Bobby Culture, Yellowman, Nicodemus, Icho Candy

 

Selectors – Fat Jaw & Bonito

 

“Ruby’s sound is back in Montego Bay again, this time in the Tucker area. The line up includes Yellowman and Nicodemus so it’s guaranteed roadblock and musical murder. Nicodemus rolls out some his favourite lyrics, such as “Willie Red” and “No Way Better Than Yard” while Bobby Culture hails the “Montegonian” people as well as borrowing the very popular “Gunman Connection” lyrics. Icho Candy sings the old chestnut “Jah’s Got The Whole World” while Yellow gets them roaring on “Spar With Me” and “Cherry Oh Baby”. A good example of how Jack Ruby ran things in 1981.”

 

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Jack Ruby @ May Pen Infants School, May Pen, Clarendon, June 1981

 

Featuring: Bobby Culture, Deucie Ranking, U. Brown

 

Selectors – Fat Jaw

 

“It’s back to school time for Jack Ruby’s as the promoter, Doobie has hired the May Pen Infants School hall for the evening. The ‘teachers’ for the class are U. Brown, who delves into the history of Marcus Garvey’s “Black Star Liner”, and Bobby Culture who discusses the virtue of the “African Girl”. The student deejay is Deucie Ranking and he reports on the death of one of Jamaica’s leading dramatists and comedians in “Ranny Williams Dead and Gone.”

 

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Jack Ruby @ Greenwich Town, Kingston, July 1981

 

Featuring: U. Brown, Lui Lepki, Yellowman, Bobby Culture, Fathead

 

Selectors – Fat Jaw & Bonito

 

“Greenwich Town was Jack Ruby’s birthplace and this excellent tape captures the sound on its return to his roots. The all star line up doesn’t disappoint with Yellowman and his apprentice Fathead both tackling the “Johnny Dollar”, Yellow with his big hit “Soldier Take Over” and Fathead warning “Jailhouse No Sweet”. The runnings are tough in Kingston and Bobby Culture and Lui Lepki both have things to relate about the recent killing of PNP enforcer General Starkey.”

 

Many thanks to Daddy Ruffhouse for this one....

 

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Jack Ruby @ Falmouth, Trelawny, 1981

 

Featuring: Yellowman, Fathead, Papa Richie

 

Selectors – Fat Jaw

 

“This is Jack Ruby playing out in Falmouth, the principle town of the parish of Trelawny. Tunes from Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown and Jimmy Riley make up the bulk of Fat Jaw selections and the people are treated to a fine Yellowman showcase in which he runs through his full repertoire. Papa Richie is on board too and he hails his home town in “Mo Bay People” as well as adding a “Tribute To Bob Marley.”

 

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Jack Ruby @ Flankers, Montego Bay, St James, August 1981

 

Bobby Culture, Icho Candy, Nicodemus

 

Selector – Fat Jaw

 

“Jack Ruby are treading familiar territory as they are once again in the Flankers area. There’s some familiar personnel on hand too, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile session. Bobby Culture and Nicodemus keep things bright with the latter’s “Barefoot Hustling” and “Waterhouse Rock”, his answer to the Wailing Souls mighty “Firehouse Rock”, sounding good to these ears.”

Many thanks to Ricky for this one...........

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Jack Ruby @ 1 Music Avenue, Ocho Rios, St Ann, 17th August 1981

Featuring: Yellowman, Fathead, Brigadier Jerry, Bobby Culture, Briggy Levi, Nicodemus, Icho Candy

Selectors – Fat Jaw & Ilawi

 “There’s an impressive line up of top class performers who’ve assembled for this dance celebrating the birthday of St Ann hero Marcus Mosiah Garvey. There’s the usual mix of Mighty Diamonds selection alongside some of Ruby’s favourite riddims like “Shank I Sheck”, “Scandal” and “The Answer” and the artists take their turn. Briggy rides the Diamonds versions with lyrics such as “Abomination” and “Jah Jah Inside” while King Yellow’s lyrics range from “Gray’s Jamaican Ketchup” to “Sexy Me Sexy”. Fathead steps from the shadows on “Raiders Party” and North Coast deejay Briggy Levi offers “Dedicated To You” to the Ochi crowd.”

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Jack Ruby @ 1 Music Ave, Ocho Rios, St Ann, 1981

Featuring: Yellowman, Bobby Culture, Fathead

Operator: Fat Jaw

“Jack Ruby’s lawn, with it’s courtyard flanked by their massed speaker boxes, rocked to sound of St Ann’s number one sound. You can hear the crowd roaring their approval when Yellowman, now surely the peoples favourite deejay, launches into “Don’t Call Me Daddy” and “Diseases”. He’s joined by partner Fathead, who voices “Living As A Poor Is A Crime” and Bobby Culture who’s wicked on “Love & Unity In St Ann” and ”Culture Stylee”. Fat Jaw has a nice selection from Sammy Dread and Jimmy Riley while the deejays make the dance well nice!”

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Jack Ruby @ Ocho Rios Secondary School, Ocho Rios, St Ann, December 1981

Featuring: Brigadier Jerry, Icho Candy, Bobby Culture, Scotchie Ranking, Sonny Ranking, Sister Angie

Selectors – Fat Jaw

“Jack Ruby’s Hi Fi make the relatively short trip to Ocho Rios Secondary School and this nice extended two part session captures them rocking the foundations of the establishment. The Rankings, Scotchie and Sonny, may not have a ‘big name’ but that doesn’t stop them when their time comes. The lyrics heard on Scotchie’s ”Horseman Jamboree” and Sonny’s “Girls Want Disc Jockeys” and “Royal Wedding” show them to be more than competent on the microphone. But who wouldn’t struggle when standing next to Bobby Culture and Brigadier Jerry. Bobby works his way through some of his best known lyrics such as “Eradication Squad” and his signature tune “My Name Is Bobby Culture” whilst Briggy’s lost none of his roots wisdom as “Bad Boy Deh Pon Street”, “Get Up & Fight” and the appropriately timed “Gwan A School” all spread a positive message to the audience.”

Runs for over 2 & a half hours......

Part 1

Part 2

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