Angus Taylor 2011-12-16
David Sinclair AKA Tappa Zukie was one of the great deejays and producers to come out of West Kingston’s Greenwich Town area in the 1970s. His blazing-horn-based productions on his own Stars label showcased some of the finest work from roots artists such as Prince Alla, Knowledge and Junior Ross.
But the one-time wayward youth, taken under the wing of local impresario Bunny Lee, was also a successful chanter. His albums Man A Warrior and M.P.L.A. won over leading lights in what became the punk rock movement. Lyrically he proved popular toasting Rasta confrontation (Clement Bushay production Message to Pork Eaters), worldlier matters (self-produced 1978 hit She Want a Phensic), or both (Natty Dread a Weh She Want with Horace Andy).
His first proper solo album since 1996 (barring 2004’s collection, Cork and Tar) isn’t strictly new in that it uses original 1970s rhythms, yet is none the worse for it. Engineered by Lynford ‘Fatta’ Marshall of Fateyes Productions with minimal overdubbed harmonies, it’s a vehicle for Tappa’s still-ear-catching deejaying and a reminder of just how good his music was back in the day.
The vintage feel is enhanced by the vinyl crackle of opener Judge I Oh Lord, a re-voice of his 1975 deejay cut to Ronnie Davis’ Jah Jah Jehova. The title-track, on Knowledge’s double-drummed Century backdrop, espouses the interesting concept that x is both the symbol for schoolboy error and for voting politicians into power. Feds and Ther Money revisits another Knowledge side, Fools and Their Money (which ironically sells for huge sums second-hand), while the heavily-theological Israel rides the rhythm to Funeral by Prince Alla – who guests later on Rasta People. There’s also political comment (Youth and Youth, on the Take-5-themed backing to Andy’s Must Be Hell) and feminine appraisal (Woman a Wi Yard and Big Batty Gal).
Tappa’s voice is deeper, with more gravitas and less of the hepcat insouciance of old. The music, laid by members of the Revolutionaries and Soul Syndicate, is all first-rate. For some listeners this may sound retrograde, but in terms of pound-for-pound tuneage X definitely hits the spot. A bona-fide legend makes a welcome return.