Monday, March 8, 2010

Rocksteady Hero

For the final double digit Rasta Mon-day I feel it only fitting to put up a true Rasta and my all time favorite reggae singer, Bob Andy. He may not be even on the radar as far as most well known, although his style and wisdom would definitely put his face on my Mount Rushmore of world musicians.

This man is Ballin' out of Control

I came across Bob Andy in the sheer infancy of my Ethnomusicological studies. I found him deep on a Trojan Records Motown Cover album. I had never heard of any singer on the album, but out of all the songs, Bob's version of "Baby, I Need Your Loving" stood out. His voice was earthy and profound, yet delicate, as if he was really trying as hard as possible. I must have listened to that song a hundred times before my next step into reggae. With the help of Columbus' Caribbean Oasis, Roots Records, I found Bob Andy's Songbook, a collection of his enormously conscious solo works from Studio One. This record turned my interest into a full blown odyssey as I dove deeply into the themes that Bob Andy often mentioned: Hard Work, Integrity, Justice, Community, Individuality, Freedom, Love and Inner Peace. I know that it reads like a Boy Scouts pamphlet, but these themes became my quasi-mantra at a crucial time, helping me grow from a troublesome, all-over-the place scamp, to whatever debatably more mature version of that I am today. As I became so enthralled with the subject matter,  I basically used Mr. Andy a Spiritual Guide of sorts, or maybe a Guardian
Rastafarian Angel, to help illuminate the most vital of human traits. 
You can compare the social awareness of his catalogue to anything that has been released on a world-wide label. His musical pleas to the wasted youth rival those of Marvin Gaye and his cries to help feed the hungry were on par with George Harrison's, all while his duets with Marcia Griffiths were easily more romantic and intimate than anything done by Sonny & Cher. By the 1970's his fame had reached across the ocean as Bob & Marcia hit it big in the UK with a version of Nina Simone's "Young Gifted and Black." Before long, Bob was touring the entire world sharing his music and views with those who were there to listen. As he grew older and his dreads grew longer, he only became more prolific, releasing many more albums and founding his own Record Company, I-ANKA.  Since then he has been, Remixed, Re-Dubbed, and Retrospected, while continuing to play at shows from Florida to Ethiopia, London to Poland, and from Australia back to Kingston, Jamaica. In fact, no more than six months ago, Mr. Andy performed in Brixton, UK to a crowd who was so excited, they would hardly let him sing. He is lucky though, it is almost as if Bob Andy was looking for a special audience, a select group who, like himself, are non-jaded and considerate, who find beauty in the natural ebb and flow of life, who resist the pressure being assimilated into a bland and faceless society. Hopefully in writing this piece, we can help spread his message further.
To give you a taste of the full Keith Anderson (his real name) experience, I am including what I consider Bob Andy 101. His song My Time beautifully introduces his world view and songwriting style while his piano accompaniment by Jamaica's Keyboard King, Jackie Mittoo showcases the depth of his early sounds. As a bonus, I am also including the first song that drew me to him, Baby, I Need Your Loving as well as a later hit, Hell A Go Broke Loose, to give you a hint of his later more developed sounds off his Retrospective album. I sincerely hope you will enjoy the music, and if you do, please support Bob Andy by downloading his album or going to

Song #96: Bob Andy - My Time

BONUS SONG: Bob Andy - Baby, I Need Your Loving

BONUS SONG: Bob Andy - Hell A Go Broke Loose 

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