Abyssinians’ Collins rocks Redbones

Basil Walters

Monday, April 02, 2012

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BERNARD Collins of the Abyssinians gave an outstanding performance at the Redbones Blues Café in St Andrew last Friday.

The well-attended gig was an 'edutainment' event. Collins, in full African garb, spliced his musical deliveries with historical data of the famed harmony trio he cofounded with Donald Manning in 1968.

"We are here tonight to keep the music alive. The Abyssinians are the first to put Amharic (the language of Ethiopia) in reggae music," Collins told the audience.

Supported by the harmonies of George Henry and Melvin Trusty, and backed by the Clinch All Stars band, Collins’ performance was energetic.

Even though his voice is not as strong as if was in his heyday with the Abyssinians, Collins still has what it takes to stir an audience.

He was particularly impressive on Good Lord which he performed after opening with Forward Jah Jah. He followed with Yi Mas Gan, Shadrach, Meshach and Abendego, and Let My Days Be Long to complete the first segment of the show.

On the resumption, Collins reeled off Wicked Man, Young Wings Can Fly, Jah Marley (in tribute to Bob Marley), African Princess, This Land, Declaration of Rights and, of course, the reggae anthem Satta Massagana.

Collins so worked up the patrons that they demanded a repeat performance of the reggae hymn recorded at Studio One in 1969 (originally recorded as Far Far Away) before re christened Satta Massagana in 1971. Bernard Collins’ performance at Red Bones showed why the song has been covered countless times.

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