Category Archives: Vol 13-1995 – Articles

Inner Circle – ’94 Grammy Nomination – V13#02 1995

Miami’s “Bad Boys” Nominated for ’94 Grammy
by Sara Gurgen

They won the Grammy for best 1993 Reggae album, and now Inner Circle–Miami’s world famous, hard-working “Bad Boys” of Reggae–have been nominated for the 1994 Grammy with their latest Big Beat/Atlantic release, Reggae Dancer.

“It’s doing excellent, man, everywhere in the world; and when I mean excellent, I mean excellent,” said band leader and rhythm guitarist, Roger Lewis, in a recent Miami interview during a brief respite from Inner Circle’s hectic touring schedule. “It is one of the biggest selling foreign albums in Japan. Over 300,000 albums [have sold] in Japan [as of Dec. 21]. Hundreds of thousands in Mexico. In Brazil, in Europe–very well. In America, it’s not doing too bad. I think we made it up to about 200,000 copies.”

INNER CIRCLE
INNER CIRCLE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the songs on the album that has been released worldwide and doing very well is “Games People Play.” “It was not really a success in America, but ‘Games People Play’ was literally a hit single every where else in the world,” explained Roger. “It was a top 10 song in about 10 countries in Europe. It didn’t really go No. 1 and do what “Sweat” did, but it was top 10 in Holland, in Germany, in Scandinavia, in Brazil; and it was No. 1 in Japan.”

Another stand-out track on the 12-song album that has been released as a single, along with a video, is “Black Roses,” also the name of Inner Circle’s 1990 album. “It’s a great song, man,” exclaimed Roger. “‘Black Roses’ is like a vibe song, you know, dealing with the children and the injustices towards kids in the world. If you look into the world today, you have child labor; you have slave labor in India; you have child prostitution in Asia; you have people killing kids. That’s what ‘Black Roses’ is about, my garden of black roses. What we talk about a lot in our show is abuse to children and also world unity and respect for each other in this world. We try to solve this racial business. There’s only one race, and that’s the human race.”

Roger said that there is no particular theme or concept behind Reggae Dancer, which, with the exception of one song, was written by the band. “We didn’t really approach it with a concept. It’s not like it’s a love album or a party album. It has everything in there. You know, mix-up business–all spectrums of life, from ‘Reggae Dancer’ to ‘Summer Jammin” [featured in the film and soundtrack album Beverly Hills Cops III] to ‘Signs,’ talking about prejudice, to ‘Walking on the Rainbow,’ talking about unity.

Inner Circle w NAMES Ian-Roger Llve“Everything we do is Inner Circle style,” Roger continued. “We don’t try and copy no guy’s style. This is just Inner Circle’s vibe of Reggae music. Our interpretation, our feel for the big tree of Reggae. Bob Marley has his style, we have our style–how we feel to put it over. A lot of times people want to put us in this bag. You know, ‘you are supposed to be traditional Reggae.’ I don’t know about all of that. I just know that we make music from our heart and how we feel within the vein of Reggae; and if you like it, you like it and if you don’t, I can’t help you.” When asked what he thinks about the state of Reggae today and where he hopes to see it go in the future, Roger responded: “As long as it is successful, fine with me. I know what I like. I like the cultural vibes and everything; but everybody has their own vibe, and what the people love, the people love. Variety is the spice of life.”

Roger’s favorite song on Reggae Dancer is “24-7-365” because “it depicts what we are all about. We are always working 24-7-365. You understand that Inner Circle was like an underdog group. A lot of people never liked Inner Circle for some reason. Them never think that we have the talent to really make it or whatever. [The band’s success] is a true testimony to hard work and perseverance. Our point is to reach our goal [which] is to leave a Reggae legacy behind us.”

Inner Circle’s roots can be traced back to more than 20 years ago in Kingston, Jamaica, where founding members Roger and his brother Ian Lewis (bass), joined forces with keyboardist Touter Harvey and singer Jacob “Killer” Miller. Their career climbed throughout the ’70s and then came to a sudden halt when Jacob was killed in a car crash in 1980. Soon after Jacob’s untimely, tragic passing, Ian and Touter moved to Miami and set up Top Ranking Records (which later evolved into Circle Sounds Studio). A few years later, Roger moved to Miami as well. They brought in dynamo drummer Lancelot Hall and impressive lead vocalist Calton Coffie, and in no time the new line-up released the highly acclaimed, One Way (Ras Records, 1987), featuring their smash hit “Bad Boys” which became the theme song for the FOX network’s hit TV show Cops. “Bad Boys” was nominated for an Emmy as Best Theme Song for a docudrama, and became a No. 1 hit in Norway and England and went platinum in Sweden.

Inner Circle 1996 Reggae Report Calendar

In 1990, the new Inner Circle came out with their second release, Black Roses (RAS), which didn’t do as well as One Way. They came back with a vengeance in 1992 with their extremely successful Bad to the Bone (RAS), featuring the mega hit, “Make U Sweat.” Bad to the Bone was re-configured, with some track changes, to become the Grammy award-winning Bad Boys, Inner Circle’s debut Big Beat/Atlantic release. The album included a remixed “Make U Sweat,” called “Sweat (a La LA LA Long),” which became an international hit. The song reached No. 1 in every European country, except Greece and England, and reached No. 1 in nearly every South American country.

Since the Grammy, Inner Circle has had a chance to perform in many of those countries. “We’ve been all around the world. We’ve been to Europe. We’ve been to Asia. You name it, we’ve been everywhere,” said Roger. “In March, we are going out to India, Thailand, Korea, Hong Kong, Taipei, Beijing–maybe the first Reggae group to play Beijing– South Africa, New Zealand. We are going to leave in March and not come back [to Miami] until May. Then we are going to Europe in early summer. Then we will be in America and Canada for the rest of the time, about three months. I think we are going to lock down shop from September and take those months off and start to work on a new album,” which they plan on releasing in 1996. “Remember, we always work on our albums and our videos on the run. You have to realize that, you know. So this time, I think we are going to take time off from about September and really try and give [the project] some time, you know what I mean?”

Before ending the interview, Roger gave respect to cultural singer Garnet Silk who’s recent passing he said was “very, very, very tragic. I never really knew him very well, but the guy was so talented.” Roger’s final message to Reggae Report readers was: “Peace and love and unity, and stop the violence. Who have kids, spend time and look after them because they are the next generation.”

 

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Musical Forecast: Look for Snow V13#03 1995

by Patricia Meschino

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SNOW – 1996 Reggae Report Calendar – October

One of the most satisfying cuts on Canadian DJ Snow’s new release, Murder Love, is a tale of his love affair with Reggae music called “Dream.” Here Snow reminisces about his days in Toronto’s Allenbury housing project, where he first became acquainted with Reggae through the friendships formed with the many Jamaicans who had moved into his area: Listen Shabba Ranks playing faintly from the speaker/I would eat mi curry chicken, that’s my favorite supper/If you think mi joke or lie, gwaan ask me mother/I would living on the island sweet, sweet Jamaica/Fish with Coco Tea down in the river/Hanging at the ghetto with me boy they call Ninja/No, but it’s only a dream. Continue reading

SNOW INTERVIEW – V13 #3 1995

Musical Forecast:  Look for Snow

by Patricia Meschino

One of the most satisfying cuts on Canadian DJ Snow’s new release, Murder Love, is a tale of his love affair with Reggae music called “Dream.” Here Snow reminisces about his days in Toronto’s Allenbury housing project, where he first became acquainted with Reggae through the friendships formed with the many Jamaicans who had moved into his area: Listen Shabba Ranks playing faintly from the speaker/I would eat mi curry chicken, that’s my favorite supper/If you think mi joke or lie, gwaan ask me mother/I would living on the island sweet, sweet Jamaica/Fish with Coco Tea down in the river/Hanging at the ghetto with me boy they call Ninja/No, but it’s only a dream.

“Dream” goes on to describe imagined evenings spent at Kingston’s Godfather’s nightclub and sessions with the Stone Love sound system. If the song had more verses, it might have depicted other ambitions of the aspiring DJ, like performing at Jam World for Reggae Sunsplash and ripping up the crowd at Topline and other crucial Kingston dance hall sessions. Yet, something Snow could never have imagined was that his first album for Motor Jam/EastWest Records, 12″ of Snow (released in 1993), would go platinum and the first single from the album, “Informer,” would top the Billboard Pop Charts for seven weeks! “When I did that album, it was just for fun,” Snow recalls. “I wasn’t thinking this album’s gonna blow up. I didn’t really think nothing of it, I just loved doing it. When it did blow up, I was like, ‘Are you sure?’ Now, I look on my wall and I see these plaques and I think, ‘Yeah, they’re sure.'” Continue reading

SPRAGGA BENZ – V13#3 1995

SPRAGGA BENZ – Rising Star

by Yasmine Peru

Although ace DJ, Carlton “Spragga Benz” Grant has been on the music scene for less than two years, he has had mega hits with his first singles (“Jock it Up” and “Girls Horray”) and has recently been signed to Capitol Records in what has been hailed in the music industry as “historic.” Through it all, Spragga has managed to remain a humble youth with both feet placed firmly on the ground. “I’m just a normal person like everybody else,” he declared.

For Carlos, as he is affectionately called at home, being introduced to Stacy Greenberg from Capitol Records at the Cactus nightclub in Portmore was the first step towards getting signed. Stacy, he said, had heard New York DJ Dahved Levi playing some of his songs and really became inspired. She came to Jamaica in March of last year in search of him; he went to L.A. shortly after, and the rest, they say, is history. Continue reading

SPANNER BANNER V13#3 1995

SPANNER BANNER  The Chillin’ is Over

by Karie Russell

There are many unique things about the Reggae industry. One is the unusual monikers some artistes go by. For example, the list of artistes who make up Reggae’s “musical tool box.” There is Screwdriver, Pinchers (Jamaican slang for a bird-beak pliers,) and Pliers. And, of course, no tool box would be complete without a spanner (wrench)–as in singer Spanner Banner.

Now, apart from being both linked with this tool box scenario, Spanner Banner and Pliers are otherwise connected on two counts. They are brothers and they are both signed to the same recording company, Island Jamaica.

Pliers’ career is already somewhat successfully cemented as he is part of the “wicked” hit duo, Chaka Demus & Pliers, who has had such hit songs as “Murder She Wrote” and “Tease Me,” which went gold, selling some 400,000 copies.

Spanner Banner (born Feb. 6, 1959, in Rock Hall, St. Andrew, and christened Joseph Bonner), on the other hand, has not been as successful as his brother; but he has, and is having, his fair share of success as a singer and songwriter. Continue reading

YAMI BOLO – V13#3 1995

Yami Bolo – Burning up the Charts From Jamaica to Japan

by Howard Campbell

The conviction Yami Bolo shows as he belts out Bob Marley’s “Heathen” reflects the singer’s coming of age, a conviction that is further enhanced by his commitment to the perfect sound, even during rehearsal. Four takes and a “turn it up little more deh bassie” and Yami Bolo is ready to rock.

Bolo was at the Tuff Gong headquarters rehearsing for the Feb. 6 Bob Marley concert at the Bob Marley Museum for which he was one of the top acts. While the event was a tribute to one of his heroes, the fact that he was billed as one of the evenings stars meant that Yami Bolo is finally being given the recognition that had proved so elusive to him at home.

A jocular, laid-back six-footer with a ready smile, Bolo is the typical Roots man. At home in cut off jeans and Reebok sneakers, he has reason to be satisfied with the route his career has taken in the last 12 months, and as humble as he is, isn’t afraid to say so. “Things a come on good, y’know,” the 24-year-old remarked prior to tuning up. “Right now, we jus’ a concentrate on all that is good for ’95; we’d a like win all awards ’cause we put we heart inna this project.” Continue reading