Tones of General Echo


Howard Campbell

Friday, November 09, 2012

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In commemoration of Jamaica's 50th anniversary of Independence from Britain, the Jamaica Observer's Entertainment section recognises 50 persons who have made significant, yet unheralded contributions to the country's culture. Today, we feature General Echo.

It is every deejay's dream to cop the double which in their case, is hitting the dancehall and radio with that big hit song.

In 1979, General Echo did just that with Arleen, a timeless drum and bass monster produced by Winston Riley on the Stalag beat.

Arleen featured drummer Carlton 'Santa' Davis and bass player George Fullwood of the Soul Syndicate, who played on the original Stalag five years earlier.

The song was a massive hit for Fletchers Land-reared Echo (born Earl Robinson) who developed his skills on sound systems like Stereophonic and his own Echo Tone.

Echo had other radio hits such as Drunking Master and Jean and Miss Follafashin, but he earned a reputation as the master of slackness through a series of suggestive songs that were banned from the airwaves.

Some of those underground hits can be heard on albums like Twelve Inches of Pleasure, produced by Henry 'Junjo' Lawes and distributed by the British independent company, Greensleeves Records.

General Echo was killed by the policeunder controversial circumstances in Kingston in 1980. He was 25 years old.

Thanks to Arleen, he remains a dancehall immortal.

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