Junior Murvin – Roots Train No. 1

Junior Murvin


Roots Train No. 1

Junior Murvin – Roots Train No. 1 on Black Art 45

It’s nice to have a weekend off. A few days to get caught up on some rest and relaxation, dig a bit, and finish up a mix. I’m hoping the “Special Request – Reggae Gems from the Vault gave you a few tunes that you enjoyed. The samples I used as drops were artists like Peter Tosh, Augustus Pablo, Mad Professor, Gregory Isaacs, and a handful of quotes from the requisite Reggae movie “Rockers.” I figured I’d keep the Reggae vibes flowing this weekend and visit a song that I’ve been a fan of for a long time, but finally got my hands on in a recent dig. The record I’m referring to is “Roots Train No. 1” by Junior Murvin, produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry.

Known best for the Perry produced “Police and Theives” (out on Island Records and the “Rockers” soundtrack, covered most notably by the Clash), the falsetto rootsman backed by the super producing of the original Upsetter left Mervin with this to say: “Lee Perry’s 4 tracks sound like 8 track, some time it sound like 100 track”. It’s true, and the thunder sound coming out of Black Ark Studios was present until the day Scratch decided to burn it down. But that’s a whole different story. Junior started at a very young age singing Soul covers (as so many Jamaican artists did to imitate the sounds from America) and graduated to singing along side Reggae greats Dennis Brown, Max Romeo, and Carlton and Familyman Barrett among others. A chance audition introduced him to Scratch at Studio One, but when Coxsone Dodd encouraged Murvin to add additional lyrics to his song, Murvin walked. He went on to perform and score a few smaller hits, and reconnected with Lee Perry in the mid 70’s. Perry was now up and running the aforementioned Black Ark when Murvin stepped back into the picture. “Police and Theives” was his biggest record, but “Roots Train No. 1” wasn’t too shabby either. With Perry running his production magic throughout the track, it’s hard not to get up and skank a bit when this riddim train comes through the station. To board this train you must be “righteous and clean”, croons Murvin. So Perry had exorcises whatever demons were around them through this Dub track and the they can now go “to a land where everything was grand”. You can too for that matter. Additional vocals by George Faith, Cedric Myton of the Congos, and a great horn riff by saxaphone player Herman Marquis make this a worthy train ride for Jah.

His early production for Bob Marley and the Wailers proved that Scratch was a force to be reckoned with. He furthered his genius reputation during the 70’s with his heavy ganga/extra terrestrial/crazy shoes wearing/ and anything else out of this solar system laced Dub tracks. This sound affected many musicians. Perry influenced a generation of of musicians (the Clash, the Beastie Boys, Paul and Linda McCartney, and a myriad of his reggae bretheren that either imitated or were produced by him), and still continues to make music and produce today. Like I said in my last post, he will be performing June 13th at the legendary Stone Pony here in Asbury Park. If you can get to the show, I would say do it, before we lose another one of the great Reggae musicians and producers of our time. I’ll be back shortly with some more of the good stuff, so until then: Keep Diggin’!

For those interested in learning more about reggae culture, I’d recommend these books, which are in my collection:

The Story of Jamaican Music by Lloyd Bradley

Reggae Explosion – The Story of Jamaican Music by Adrian Boot and Chris Salewicz

6 responses to “Junior Murvin – Roots Train No. 1

  1. can u send to my email the lyrics of roots train n 1? I ‘m a singer inna reggae band IN bahia, Brazil… thanks…. jAH bLESSES

  2. nice murvin tune to version of ‘police and thieves’ which goes ‘there’s too much bad weed in the garden…ooh ye-e-eah’. never seen it in physical form but had it in digital for a while.

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