Fred Locks sails again

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior writer

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

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When Fred Locks recorded Black Starliner in 1975, Jamaica was caught up in a wave of black consciousness and it seemed only natural that he record a song addressing repatriation to Africa. On his new EP, Rich Already , the veteran roots singer also takes on issues affecting the country.

Rich Already contains seven songs including the title track and a “Nyahbinghi/dancehall” update of Black Starliner. All are produced by Diavillan “Dia” Fearon.

Fred Locks said he enjoyed the sessions with Fearon who has previously worked with dancehall and roots acts such as Bounty Killer and Alex Marley.

“Him very creative 'cause none a di song dem sound alike. Dia is a good musician an' him very versatile,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Some of the songs, like Your Beautiful Black Skin and Dem Lost, look at skin bleaching and the multimillion-dollar highway project taking place in the Three Miles area of Kingston. They were done live which Fred Locks prefers since he was weaned on recording with musicians.

“Nowadays, a lotta di producers want yuh write a song an' then yuh record pon a riddim which I don't really like. With this project is not a lotta big musicians but is big music,” he said.

Fearon and his father Dennis “Jah D” Fearon on keyboards, guitarist Clinton Rufus of The Gladiators and bassist Andrew “Andrew Bassy” Campbell, are the established musicians who worked on Rich Already. Drummer Eric Samuels, percussionist Trevor Forsythe, and guitarists Barry Jones and Paul Crawford also contributed.

Fred Locks (born Stafford Elliott) is a survivor of the 1970s roots-reggae movement that was led by legends like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Burning Spear. Though Black Starliner is his signature, he retains a loyal following with other Rasta anthems such as I've Got A Joy and So Jah Say.

In a 2012 interview with the Observer, Fred Locks said he co-wrote Black Starliner with Owen Goode in 1968 after reading a Twelve Tribes of Israel pamphlet about Pan African leader Marcus Garvey, who was a vocal advocate for black repatriation to Africa. At the time, the singer was a member of the harmony trio, The Lyrics, who recorded at Studio One.

Unlike many of his contemporaries who bemoan lack of airplay for their current songs, Fred Locks is not overly concerned about airplay.

“Wi getting some play, is good music wha' mi know di people will love once dem hear it. Dat's all I can sey,” he said.


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