Sing It Wicked Style
Niney The Observer is well-known for his great productions and collaborations with the likes of Dennis Brown, and for some of the best rhythms to come out of Jamaica. Maybe less-known is that he began in the music business as a singer. Here for the first time is a collection of songs culled from his career that feature the outstanding voice of the Observer himself. Niney The Observer (b. Winston Holness, 1951, Montego Bay, Jamaica) grew up in Montego Bay, Jamaica and began singing in school bands in and around the area and the nearby town of Lucea, where one of the bands he sang with featured future Studio One guitarist Eric Frater. Two other singers that Niney grew up with were Derrick Morgan and Eric "Monty" Morris. Producer Coxsone Dodd of Studio One began noticing Niney's talents and offered him some studio time and a base to work out of on Charles Street in Kingston Town. The year was 1957 and Coxsone Dodd released some of these early recordings featuring the vocal talents of Niney on his Studio One label. In the late 1960s, he worked as an engineer at KG Records, where he first began producing. He moved on in 1967 to work with producer Bunny Lee, and a short time working for producer Lynford Anderson's studio saw him take the vacancy at Joe Gibbs' studio as chief engineer, when his friend Lee Perry left. Niney gained his name after losing a thumb in a workshop accident and adopted "The Observer" name after being inspired by Lee Perry's use of his nickname "Upsetter." Christmas Eve 1970 saw the release of the now seminal Niney track "Blood and Fire" recorded at Randy's Studio 17, with the backing vocals provided by Lloyd Charmers, Dobby Dobson, Densil Len, and Busta Brown. The musicians were the Soul Syndicate band, a collective group of musicians that Niney would use throughout his career of which the nucleus would feature Carlton "Santa" Davis, Carlton Barrett (drums), George "Fully" Fullwood, Earl "Flabba" Holt, Aston "Family Man" Barrett (bass), Earl "Chinna" Smith, Tony Chin (guitar), Keith Sterling, Gladstone "Gladdy" Anderson (keyboards), Noel "Skully" Simms (percussion), and Bobby Ellis, Tommy McCook, Vin Gordon (horns). The tune would also feature what was to be Niney's signature heavy/sparse sound. If Niney The Observer's work as a singer was ever in doubt or overshadowed by his many other talents, then this album will put that to rest. Niney behind the microphone as compared to a mixing desk is a great, great, great thing. CD version includes four bonus tracks.