The record label that brought the sound of Jamaica to Britain is to celebrate it’s landmark 50th anniversary at a one-day festival in Liverpool.
London-based institution Trojan Sound System will headline the event with Radio Riddler, who will perform a dub remix of Prince’s classic album Purple Rain, at Brick Street in the Baltic Triangle, in partnership with reggae festival Positive Vibration.
Trojan Sound System is a phenomenon, with the power to transcend age, race and political barriers through the music from selecta Daddy Ad, ignited by uplifting vocals from MC trio Supa 4 Creation, Chucky Bantan and Jah Buck.
They play music that satisfies the purest of vinyl collectors, while at the same time introducing a new generation to the roots of Jamaican music and Bass Culture, mixing styles and flavours from the past 50 years.
Trojan records, founded in 1968, was one of many labels in the UK that fed the ska, rocksteady and reggae craze sweeping the country. Legendary DJ and British filmmaker Don Letts has said Trojan “united black and white youth on the streets, dance floors and at school [sowing] the seeds for the UK’s love affair with Jamaican music”.
Trojan’s name comes from the Croydon-built Trojan truck that was used by Duke Reid in Jamaica, which had Duke Reid – The Trojan King of Sounds painted on the sides. Reid’s sound system became known as the Trojan Sound, which became synonymous with the new and hip music.
By 1970, Trojan artists that were making headway into the pop music charts included: Lee Perry’s Upsetters, Bob & Marcia, The Cimarons, Desmond Dekker, Bruce Ruffin, Nicky Thomas and Dave and Ansell Collins.
Trojan Sound System was formed in 2004 and the quartet relentlessly tour the globe, representing the most seminal reggae and ska record label in history. They headline club shows, captivate festival crowds and support legendary Jamaican acts such as The Wailers, Luciano, Sly and Robby and the late great, Gregory Isaacs to name a few.
The four pioneers of the Jamaican sound will be joined at Brick Street by Brian Fast Leiser and Frank Benbini, widely known as members of Fun Lovin’ Criminals, returning to the venue after their debut in May as Radio Riddler, the critically acclaimed reggae band and remixers.
In 2014, the pair released Purple Reggae, a homage to Frank’s idol Prince. The album featured revisioned tracks like Let’s Go Crazy with Suggs, Purple Rain with UB40s Ali Campbell – which has had 1.5m views on YouTube – Baby I’m A Star with Beverly Knight and I Would Die 4 U with Sinead O’Connor.
The reggae remix is as much a masterpiece of the genre as the1984 classic album – the title track even won Prince an Oscar for best song. It was released to mark the 30th anniversary of the original’s release.
Fast and Frank have also released two volumes of dubplates, featuring reworks of artists including Roots Manuva, Lauryn Hill, Steely Dan, The Doors, Method Man and Redman, Coldplay, Lily Allen and an astonishing version of The Beatles’ Come Together, as well as Marvin Reggae, five cover versions of Marvin Gaye’s most beloved hits.
For the duo, who have sold millions of records and toured the world as Fun Lovin’ Criminals with frontman Huey Morgan and with UB40 as Radio Riddler, Purple Reggae was a labour of love.
Frank said: “We’ve shown Prince ultimate respect. There has to be that because we are dealing with the guy who made me want to play music.
“Nobody is going to do something better than him, but there is scope to do something that maybe he didn’t think of. We were amazed how well Prince’s music translated to reggae. It has our own slant on it and that’s the essence of Jamaican music.
“If you go to a Jamaican sound-system – like Trojan – there’ll be an MC singing over a dubplate, singing an Elvis song or something from the 50s. It’s a very traditional thing, to do a version of something in a reggae style.”
Joining Trojan Sound System and Radio Riddler will be Positive Vibration DJs. The award-winning festival takes over the Baltic Triangle every June and has featured a roll call of reggae royalty play at the venues in the city’s bohemian quarter for the last two years.
Tickets are on sale at 3B Records and more announcements about the event will appear on Brick Street, Positive Vibration and the artists’ social media.
Trojan Sound System and Radio Riddler celebrate 50 years of Trojan Records at Brick Street, Baltic Triangle, Liverpool, on Saturday 3rd November from 2pm until 2am.