A Dandy salute to Legends

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior writer

Thursday, August 22, 2019

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As a pioneer of British reggae, Dandy Livingstone's contemporaries included numerous acclaimed artistes and music producers such as singer Desmond Dekker and Lee Gopthal, the savvy co-founder of Trojan Records.

Livingstone salutes reggae's trailblazers on They Call us Legends, his first song in 40 years. Self-produced, it was released in April and is the lead single from a new album expected to be out by November.

They Call us Legends hears 75-year-old Livingstone working with musician/producer Paul “Computer Paul” Henton, guitarist Mitchum “Khan” Chin, horn players David Madden, Calvin “Bubbles” Cameron and Evrol Wray, and keyboardist Ansel Collins.

To date, the sessions with Henton have yielded 11 songs including covers of Double Barrel and Monkey Spanner, both composed and performed by Collins and Dave Barker.

The lead song, Livingstone told the Jamaica Observer, was natural.

“Every now and again you see people write about legends, and it came to me one day, 'why not do a song named They Call us Legends?'. I played with the idea for about a year and when I decided to do the track last year everything just came together and I love how it came out,” he said.

Produced for his Par Three Records, They Call us Legends was released in Europe on vinyl. Because of his ground-breaking songs like A Message to Rudie and Suzanne Beware of The Devil, Livingstone serviced the song in that region, which has a fascination with vintage Jamaican music.

“That's my market, I did a few shows there in 2015 and 2016, and I can tell you the response was tremendous. We sold a lot of albums,” he reported.

Kingston-born, Livingstone (real name Robert Thompson) grew up in the community of Kencot. He migrated to the United Kingdom in 1959 and kicked off his recording career in 1964 as a ska artiste when that sound was popular there.

Released in 1967, A Message to Rudie was Livingstone's breakthrough song, followed by a spattering of singles, including a cover of James and Bobby Purify's I'm Your Puppet and Suzanne B eware of The Devil. In 1969, he produced Tony Tribe's version of Red Red Wine, an obscure ballad originally done by Neil Diamond.

Livingstone returned to Jamaica in 1983 and has stayed away from the music industry, establishing himself as a businessman. He is considering putting out another single before the album's release.


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