❉ This is the definitive collection of Delano Stewart’s work with Sonia Pottinger, writes Paul Matts.
Many artists in Jamaican music have huge catalogues. Not so Delano Stewart. After the brief lifespan of The Gaylads, he recorded a batch of swaggering solo tracks and then … nothing. So, thank god Trojan Records hauled them all together and released the Stay A Little Bit Longer compilation in 1970.
The quantity of Delano’s available material is limited. Not the quality though. Delano is a rarity in Jamaican music – there is no expansive archive of his work. So, we must be grateful for what we do have – and it’s all here on the Doctor Bird collection. Doctor Bird is a division of Cherry Red Records. Everything Delano recorded on High Note is here – that is, the Trojan album plus a small handful of bonus tracks.
In order to bring the package in line with other Doctor Bird issues, the Delano cuts are bolstered by a whole stack of High Note recordings by other artists. To describe Sonia Pottinger as one of Jamaica’s top female record producers is an insult – it was hardly a competitive field. She was, simply, one the most inspirational people to come from the island. Ever.
The collection boasts period photos galore and notes by Harry Hacks. Sit back and enjoy one of the sweetest voices in Jamaican music, produced by one of the motivational figures in Jamaican music.
The album is a definitive collection of Delano Stewart’s work with Sonia Pottinger from 1968 to 1969. The tunes are in the new faster tempo brought in, post rock steady, initially by blue beat and then the newly termed reggae style. They are edgy and have attitude. Generally, the tunes have gone under the radar as the years passed by, but the dozen that make up Stay A Little Longer all are seriously classic boss reggae cuts.
The opener, and title track, has received plenty of attention, however. As well as being on many a reggae compilation album, UB40 chose to cover Stay A Little Longer on the third of their Labour Of Love series. Delano’s soul delivery over the subtle snatch of the rhythm is effortlessly sensational.
This is a feature throughout. You get the impression he could sing anything and turn it into something memorable. The ease of his reach on the lively, feel good Dance With Me is another case in point.
The very resonant production on Hallelujah creates a very earthy, crunchy sonic. The grand cries of ‘Hallelujah!’ leave the listener in no doubt to the track’s positivity. The approach was duplicated (why not?) on That’s Life, another steady boss number. The lover’s plea that is Don’t Believe Him is simply superb. How could any woman refuse Delano when a plea is made with such a voice over such a groove??!!
A do-over of Marvin Gaye’s Wherever I Lay My Hat was comes with a steady tempo, and a poignant, believably candid performance from Delano. Check Sonia’s chic dub production technique at the intro.
Three bustling boss reggae rockers open-up the second side of the vinyl. Another strutting lover’s plea, Got To Come Back, the fantastic boss reggae snatch of Rocking Sensation and another up-tempo cut, Let’s Have Some Fun. Delano’s vocal on Tell Me Baby is deeper, showing more versatility.
Give Me A Chance is a duet with Millicent ‘Patsy’ Todd. Given Patsy’s ‘teen ska star’ image, it is no surprise it was a huge hit in Jamaica. Her young voice dominates at times, but the tune is no less great for it. The album closes with the uplifting Wish It Could Last. An apt title given the brevity of Delano’s career. The angelic backing and rich brass combine with the man’s vocals to provide a superb production.
Four bonus tracks complete Delano’s work for Sonia. Given three of these are alternative takes on existing tracks, they represent only a small addition to what originally appeared on the Trojan release. There is an instrumental working of the title track and Don’t Believe Him, plus a strings mix of Give Me A Chance. The only original bonus track, Win Your Love, features a nice combination of vocals and piano providing the melody. Again, it has a wonderful, tough edge.
The remainder of disc one is in fact a previously unreleased Trojan Records long player entitled Doctor No Go. It is a compilation album, made up of twelve tracks issued on High Note Records between 1969-70. I’m not sure why it wasn’t released. There are two further bonus tracks.
Lloyd Chalmers and the Hippy Boys get things underway with Doctor No Go. It has a very definite Upsetter vibe, not surprising since the Hippy Boys went on to provide the core of Scratch’s studio band. Great toasting on the cut, it gets things off to a great start.
The presence of Delroy Wilson on any album is a fantastic thing. His delivery, tone and performance are strong, classy and resonant. Your Number One, and particularly I’ve Tried My Best. are early boss reggae nuggets.
Another strong inclusion is Marcia Griffiths. Her track Toil (My Ambition) Part Two, contains the strong and sassy vocal the world has come to expect from Marcia. The first of the bonus cuts is a further version of the tune, this time entitled Toil Part One.
Elsewhere, The Conquerors provide the fun with the celebratory National Dish. Naomi Philips gives an appealing vocal on You’re Not My Kind, a track written by Sonia Pottinger herself. Another vocal group, The Victors, give us a cracking chorus over a chilled beat on the rare Reggae Buddy. The calypso influenced Jennifer features the intimate voice of Junior Soul (AKA Junior Murvin). There is a belting Roland Alphonso and the Gaytones instrumental called Sticker. Both return on the second disc. Skinhead rudies will love the strut and bounce of The Emotions’ version of the traditional folk tune Rum Bay.
The disc concludes with Fatty, by Bim and Bam. Bim and Bam were in fact Ed Lewis and Aston Wynter, a comedy double act who achieved fame in the 1930s with an act often based round chaotic court room drama scenes. Fatty was issued as a 45 on High Note and featured a live comedy sketch over a reggae rhythm.
The Bim and Bam cut is typical of Sonia. She wasn’t one to stick to what was ‘on-trend’ in Jamaican music and released all manner of musical styles.
Disc two is entitled Reggae Pressure. Winston Wright, the organist with The Dynamites, provides the disc’s title with his storming instrumental cut.
There is a right mixed assortment of styles on offer here.
For instance, two calypso-based tunes start proceedings. Kettle drums rumble away in the background as The Conquerors open up with the easy Mr D.J., and The Victors continue the holiday feel with Easy Squeeze. Jamaican calypso is beautiful on the ear, and Nora Dean provides more with The Valet. There is a delicious Latin touch to another Jamaican calypso smash by Nora, Must Get A Man. It is voraciously vibrant number.
Busty Brown of The Chosen Few combines Caribbean folk with calypso in superb fashion on Man Short.
The disc is full of household names. The Ethiopians with Praise Far I. Dave Barker’s cracking She Want It. Junior Soul (Murvin) with Slipping. Delroy Wilson provides yet another standout with the awesome What Do You Want With Me – a real belter, with the man’s vocals commanding everything. The same applies with his other cut on the disc, the breathless Good To Me.
Another high point is The Melodians’ magnificent do-over of Eddie Floyd’s Love Is A Doggone Good Thing. The band have two more tracks, (You Rule) Your Destiny and the fabulous No Nola.
There is a real earthy production on The Hippy Boys’ Chicken Licken. The Storm by The Emotions wraps itself around you like your sweetest lover and two reggae-soul tracks by The First Generation, Give Him Up and When, show yet more diversity. The collection closes with another reggae comic sketch single by Bim and Bam. Full of cheesy jokes –
‘When is Mother’s Day?’
‘I Don’t Know, when is Mother’s day?’
‘Nine months after Father’s night.’
Cue much cackle.
This is a wonderfully balanced collection. It may be long over-due, but the world can now enjoy one of the best boss reggae albums of the era. Stay A Little Longer by Delano Stewart is chock-full of strutting bounce led by the man’s evocative vocal.
Added to this is a selection of material from Sonia Pottinger’s High Note Records. The variety and quality of material is a testament to the work of a woman who increasingly inspires the more you listen to her work.
❉ Delano Stewart – Stay A Little Bit Longer (DBCDD065) was released 9 October 2020 by Cherry Red Records/Doctor Bird, RRP £11.99. Click here to order directly from Cherry Red Records.
❉ Paul Matts is a writer from Leicester, England. His first novella, ‘Donny Jackal’, a kitchen-sink coming of age drama set in English punk rock suburbia in 1978, is out now both in paperback and as an E-book. His fiction has been featured in Punk Noir Magazine, Brit Grit Alley and Unlawful Acts. Paul also writes articles on music, in particular on the punk and new wave movement, and is a regular contributor for We Are Cult, Punkglobe, Razur Cuts and Something Else magazines. See https://paulmatts101.wordpress.com/ for more details, and to subscribe for updates.