When he came through the door into the studio wearing a Mad Professor t-shirt it was like a beautiful sun appearing, an open smile, good eyes, teeth set with little diamonds. In the studio he felt at home, he knew Steve quite well and had collaborated with him plenty of times so we spoke and laughed comfortably. As he listened to the song he danced, sang and finishing to listen to the piece he said: now I need some herb! He would go out into the courtyard and come back inspired. He would go into the recording room and in a short time record his part, which is practically has remained untouched, without many cuts. Once the message was understood, nothing to complain about, easy and fast, even because the son lent itself to cheerful and carefree improvisation. Big Youth is a good person, like a father, with no diffidence, no prejudices, careful to satisfy the musicians and the message of the text.
Cedric Myton (The Congos)
He’s the one that inaugurated our recordings and put us at ease immediately. To sing Vegetarian man we needed a vegetarian and he is a real rasta that comes to the city only to work. We speak about the importance of being vegetarian, he tells us that many vegetarians will be happy wit this song, because few people talk about it. And yes, eating meat is really dangerous actually. He jams in the studio, records two tracks and in a short time creates his part. We don’t spent a lot of time together and he seemed to be really busy and serious, a reliable person with no frills.
Bernard “Satta” Collins (Abyssinians)
With Bernard instead, we spent much more time together, because he lives in Kingston, therefore we saw each other another two times. The day he came to record he was grumpy , nothing he did was turning out well, he said that he wouldn’t just sing with anyone and who the heck were we? And where was the text? What did it talk about? We got the text and explained immediately what it was about. In the song he would have to impersonate the man of the future who indicated the way “Peace is the way”. Once he listened to the song, he starts calming down. Since the song was long and the story a bit complicated, Bernard took time to read everything, then again not satisfied said: I really need to learn the song well and I need at least 10 days. Ok we say, you can come back when you want. But at that moment, his Jamaican blood must have told him not to put off until tomorrow what you can do today, so, with his expanded times he started to learn the entire song which he recorded with Clive, phrase by phrase. In the meantime Steve had disappeared, knowing “Satta”, he preferred to let him all the time necessary to record his part, without supervising like he did with other artists. Then Steve came, and with Sandro they went to get the money to pay everyone and Emma, Bernard, tow of Bernard’s friends, Clive and the two assistants remain in the studio. They listened to the last record made with Sly and Robbie, just beautiful. When he was getting paid, he asks us the royalties for the song, you never know, just in case we make it lucky, he wants to be insured of recompense. The following weeks he phones us to see us under the statue of his friend Bob Marley, he wants us to take a picture. Just as we had asked him, he brings us his records that we buy autographed and some Abyssinians t-shirts. He rides his bike with his nephew. Another time we went to his very modest house where he lives with his ninety year old mom; it is obvious that he invests everything in his music.. Then on foot we go to make a copy of Back from the future just mixed, first we go see the Sugar Minott studio, then the Studio of the Third World keyboard player. Again with his nephew, a very nice guy with whom we speak about our projects and the critical situation Jamaica is in.
Steve had insured us that the work with Luciano would have been fantastic, knowing how he worked. He came to the studio, he wanted to discuss the text, and he got the musical base and took it home. After a day or so he came back home with his part memorized and recorded. To the text that said “we must to be strong and lucky, man” he wanted to add the words” we must to be strong and working” because he thought it was important to build your own fortune alone, with work, which in the end is the message we wanted to give in this song. He was very happy of this collaboration and in saying goodbye he say “great work, great sound!”.
Tony Rebel & Queen Ifrica
The idea of working with them came to us after having listened to the record by Bob Sinclair “Made in Jamaica”, where both Queen Ifrica and Tony Rebel appear. We didn’t know that they lived together and that they were each other’s agents. We discovered it when Steve tried to contact them. On the phone Tony had asked a lot of question, he wanted to have the texts read to him, and he asked where they were from. Steve answered: “They are Italian”. “Ok – answered Tony – but which part of Italy?” And Steve: “From the right part! Come on, come, you will see that you’ll like their music.” Tony arrives to the studio, Queen waits for him in the car. He asks a bunch of questions on the song, then on Queen’s which was in French and we translated it into English, explained it, in short an hour and a half of questioning. What does the text mean? That only with inner peace can we have external peace for the whole world, that in the future there won’t be any wars. “Are you sure there won’t be any wars?” he asks doubtfully. “Of course, if humanity survives it’s because it will have learned to do without wars, without exploitation etc. otherwise there won’t be a future”. “Ok, it’s all right”. After having listened to the two bases he changes mood and becomes funny, he starts kidding around. He calls Queen who come out of the car, comes into the studio and asks more questions about the song, translation, explanation: “It was written for the migrants of north Africa, the ones that come to Europe looking for work”. “And what am I supposed to say?” says she. “That it’s not easy, hang in there”. Another hour of questions, but she is always serious, very concentrated on her work, she yells at Tony who started singing with the iphone used to study the song and write the text. At first we thought he was just playing around, instead they were actually working at the same time.. Queen starts writing too. The song is 5 minutes and 35” long, there’s a lot of space to fill but there is no problem with her, things to say and how to say it is a daily work for her. They go into the recording room, Tony asks: “what is the name of the group?”. “B a r m a g r a n d e ” we pronounce clearly. And so she starts her piece: “Here is Tony Rebel and Barmagrande…” Tony asks her advice and viceversa, they really work together.
Freddie is a close friend of Steve’s, and has been working with him for years. He is also very busy promoting culture in his Country, as we found out in different occasions from the conversations he had with Steve. Concerning the song “My meditation” it is a quite simple piece, some intervention to make, half an hour of work, to listen to the song and then tape it. Steve asked him some variations, but their under standing was so great that it didn’t take a long time to do a good job. Then we listened again, we even listened to another song and Freddie complemented us. “Great, if you go on tour in Europe, count me in”.
Frank is the only guest with whom we recorded at home because he lives near us, in Dolceacqua. Fortunately he settled in Liguria eight years ago. We have been collaborating for three years, we recorded 5 of his songs and he recorded “Good man” in this album. He has taught us lots of tricks of the trade, typical of Jamaican music which we would have never known without him. He also supervised the texts, for the use of English, which we wanted to be fluent and correct. In his case as well, there was a careful examining of the text, the search for the right word, to give the right message. We found this possible with all the other musicians in Jamaica. Listening to his voice, everyone in the Kingston studio paid their compliments.
It was rather difficult to get in touch with him and we had his number tank to some Italian musicians that live in Kingston. We had to wait that the occasion came up for him to come to town, to go pick up his daughter who studies at the university, not knowing until the end whether he was game or not. When he came into the studio, we thought he was a worker, with country clothes on, then he introduced himself….damn, it’s him. Anyhow, we listened to the song, he liked the words a lot, and he recorded his part in a short time. He introduced his wife and his younger son which already released a single. What a beautiful family!
In Jamaica he’s one of the most important authors and singers, author of many International successes. He sings in the piece that gives the title to the album “Libertà”. We had explained to Steve that this song for us is very important. The text is an ancient Tibetan prayer, lama Sonam sang the text in Tibetan and this makes this work sacred for us. We needed a spiritual and committed person. Ok, thanks to Bob Andy we have been satisfied because we believe that no one better than him could have interpreted this song so well for us. In this case Bob took his time to listen to the track over and over again then to write his text, then to record with Steve, with whom we talked about the arrangement. A very mild and gentle person, good culture and spiritual, at the peak of a soaring career.