Still young, gifted & yellow

By Howard Campbell Observer senior writer

Sunday, March 24, 2013

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ONLY the ignorant would bypass Yellowman's role as a dancehall trailblazer, given his achievements in the 1980s.

That legacy is revisited in Reggae Anthology, Young, Gifted And Yellow, a double compact disc to be released April 23 by VP Records as part of its 17 North Parade series.

The set also includes a DVD with Yellowman's 25-minute performance at Reggae Sunsplash in 1988.

Young, Gifted And Yellow contains many of the songs that announced the brash Albino over 30 years ago, and which made him a dancehall legend.

Those songs include Mad Over Me, Mister Chin, Soldier Take Over, Operation Eradication, Married in The Morning, Body Move and Zungguzungguguzungguzeng.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer last week, Yellowman, 56, said the songs once panned by critics are now considered classics.

"A great song dem, the people still request dem when mi do shows. The songs solid 'cause mi do dem inna mi prime," he said.

During his prime, Yellowman (Winston Foster) set fashion trends as leader of producer Henry 'Junjo' Lawes' Volcano label and became the first deejay signed to a major record label (CBS).

Most of the hit songs on Young, Gifted And Yellow were produced by the flamboyant Lawes, such as Mister Chin, Morning Ride, Who Can Make The Dance Ram, Body Move and the much-sampled Zungguzungguguzungguzeng.

Yellowman says he had a good relationship with Lawes, who was murdered in London in 1999.

"Junjo was a good record producer. Him know the hit dem, him did know wha' him want outa the business," he said.

His hits from the 1980s have served Yellowman well. He says his tours last as long as four months each year, covering established markets in Asia, Europe and the United States, as well as Latin America and the Middle East.

That is not bad going for someone who grew up in children's homes and endured years of scorn because of him being Albino.

"Nobody used to want to record mi... is like every producer run mi outa dem studio," he recalls.

That all changed after he placed third to winner Nadine Sutherland in the 1979 Tastee Talent Contest. He recorded hits for several producers including Joseph Hoo Kim, Lloyd Campbell, Joe Gibbs and Sly and Robbie.

Yellowman will roll out the hits for the fans again during a three-week British tour which starts this week.


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