Sunday, February 5, 2023

Larry Marshall Showcase

artist: Larry Marshall
album: Showcase
label: Little Bird

  1) Bredda Nancy bw Anancy Skank
  2) Can't you understand bw Locks of Dub
  3) Brand new baby bw Clash of Steel
  4) Captivity bw Version
  5) Come on baby bw Version
  6) Heavy heavy load bw Version
  7) How can I forget you girl bw Version
  8) I admire you bw Watergate Rock
  9) Jah jah hear my cry
10) Run Babylon bw Version
11) Serious Love bw Joyce
12) Thelma bw Still calling

Larry Marshall was a transformative figure in reggae music.  He began recording music in the early '60s for various producers but he had his greatest success with Clement Dodd at Studio One singing as a solo artist and as part of the duo Larry and Alvin. His music was huge in the Jamaican dancehalls of the late '60s and early '70s.  "Mean Girl", "Throw Me Corn", "Keep On Pushing" and "Nanny Goat" were dancehall mainstays.  Perhaps more importantly though, Larry Marshall worked as a Studio One engineer and he was one of the guys coaching the musicians, throwing out melodies and bass lines for the artist to jam on.  He didn't play an instrument.  He would hear the riddims in his head and sing them to the musicians like "Bassy mon play this!"   Many foundation reggae bass lines arose in Larry Marshalls mind.  Lord only knows how many songs have been sung to the "Throw Me Corn" riddim.  His song Nanny Goat is regarded by many as the record that initiated the transition from rocksteady to reggae.  It is claimed in fact that Larry Marshall is the person who came up with the term "reggae." "Reggae" he said, is how his mother used to say the word "regular."  Reggae music.. Regular music..  Could be... But as with all things reggae who knows.

Wikipedia says that in 1974 Clement Dodd offered Larry Marshall the head engineer job at Studio One but that Marshall declined the offer and left Studio One to begin releasing music as a solo artist.   He released the singles "I Admire You" and "Can't You Understand" on Carl Pitterson's Black and White label both of which had dub versions by King Tubby (included here).  Later Marshall split with Pitterson and set up his own "Amanda" label.  In 1975 Larry Marshall completed his self-produced album "I Admire You" and released a limited number of copies in Jamaica and the United Kingdom on the Java label.  During the period of 1974 to 1985 Discogs lists 36 singles released by Larry Marshall.  

I myself became aware of Larry Marshall when I bought the CD of "I Admire You." 

If you don't own this CD you pretty much have to get it.  

 You can buy it here.

I picked up my copy of the I Admire You CD as a blind buy in a little music shop in Pasadena sometime in the mid 1990's.  I had no idea at the time who Larry Marshall was.  I wasn't too impressed by the cover, but it was on the Heartbeat label and it was an inexpensive used CD, so I decided to give it a try.  One of those blind music buys that turned into an obsession.  I started buying everything by Larry Marshall that I could get my hands on.  I bought a ton of his singles from eBay and from record lists.  Some of the records were from Jamaican used record dealers and they came to my door in pretty shitty condition quite frankly, but I didn't care.  It was always a nice day when I got a Larry Marshall single in the mail.

Larry Marshall died in 2017 at the age of 75 of complications of Alzheimers.   He had received very little financial compensation for his music and it's a damn shame.  In later years he had left Jamaica and had moved to Miami where he worked as a day laborer on construction sites to support himself.  He had given the world beautiful music and the world had moved on.  He continued to record occasionally but certainly his music never brought him fortune.  Maybe one could argue that it was his own fault that he had never capitalized on his music.  History is filled with great artist who were inept when it came to the business end.  And the music industry is filled with crooks and users, so Larry Marshall is not a unique story.  Life is not fair, for sure.  But still, it's a damn shame. 

When I knew I was coming to the Philippines I got rid of all of my singles.  Some I sold and others I gave to friends.  Everything in the Philippines rots with fungus and as much as I loved my singles I didn't want to see them ruined by tropical mold.  So, they're all gone.  

"We'll sing in the sunshine,
We'll laugh every day,
We'll sing in the sunshine,
Then I'll be on my way."
- Gale Garnett

Before I left however, I did manage to record a lot of my records.   I put together this showcase album from some my Larry Marshall 45's. There's a few snaps and crackles on some of the songs but it's all beautiful music. I'm posting the files for this album because I want people to hear the music.  If anyone has a problem with me posting these files and they have a legitimate claim, I will take them down but to be honest if you are so concerned about the royalties this music can bring, you probably should have thought about that when Larry was alive.

Until otherwise noted the files for this album can be found HERE.

OK, the evil money men have spoken.  The file has been taken down.  I hope you were one of the lucky people who downloaded this great alum while it was up.  

Larry Marshall


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