Yabby You: Jesus Dread

UNSUNG

Howard Campbell

Friday, June 08, 2012

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THE 1970s were a time of social consciousness in Jamaica. Reggae music played a significant role in this awareness largely through Bob Marley, but artistes like Yabby You kept the fire burning at the grass roots.


Yabby You produced some of the decade's most inspirational reggae and along with Augustus Pablo, is rated among the music's visionaries.


His King Tubby's Prophesy of Dub and Blazing Horns featuring saxophonist Tommy McCook and trumpeter Bobby Ellis, are considered Yabby You's best work.


British reggae historian Steve Barrow has described his 1975 debut album, Conquering Lion, as a "true cornerstone of Jamaican roots music".


Yabby You (real name Vivian Jackson) crafted a remarkable catalogue despite severe physical challenges. In his youth, he suffered from malnutrition and battled arthritis which caused him to use crutches for most of his life.


First signs of the Waterhouse-born artiste's talent came in the early 1970s when he recorded the song, 72 Different Nations, with Wailers bass player Aston 'Familyman' Barrett and drummer Leroy 'Horsemouth' Wallace.


Like many roots acts of the day, Yabby You wore locks and called himself a Rastafarian. Yet he differed with most brethren on one tenet — that Jesus Christ, not Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, was God.


This stance earned him a second moniker, Jesus Dread.


Yabby You's biggest fan base was in Europe and the United States' west coast. When he died from an aneurism at age 63 in August 2010, not many of his countrymen were aware of him or his work.


Veteran producer/disc jockey Lister Hewan-Lowe, who produced Yabby You's 1986 album Africa Queen, said few reggae artistes compare to him in terms of creativity.


"Yabby-You was a great artiste/producer in the sense he had a very different and original approach to reggae."





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