Freddie McKay – Tribal Inna Yard

March 22, 2013

Freddie McKay is an enigmatic figure in the history of reggae – not least because of his anguished, eerie yet deeply human voice. Like the better-celebrated Delroy Wilson, he was more of a singer than a songwriter, but could imbue even the most trite or off-the-cuff sounding lyrics with the outer reaches of mortal passion. Like Otis Redding, his singing had a distinct pang of pain when tackling the most celebratory of festival songs – as if hurt were just around the corner.

Over the minor key roots rhythms of the 1970s he was a consummate master of twilight sufferation and dread, even when sharing matters of the heart. His death from a heart attack in 1986 feels all the more tragic for occurring just a few years before the first major reissue programmes for underrated roots singers like his friend Sylford Walker. Since that time he has remained a cult hero, a singer’s singer and a reggae fan’s reggae artist.

Freddy McKay - Tribal Inna Yard

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