Bulby, the Master Blaster

Observer senior writer

Thursday, September 13, 2018

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Most people in music circles know Colin “Bulby” York for his work as a sound engineer and producer for reggae/dancehall's elite acts. But periodically, his name gets top billing on the marquee.

The 45-year-old York steps out front again today with the release of Master Blaster, his second album. Like his first, 2016's Epic & Ting, he gets a lot of help from well-known friends like Beres Hammond, Beenie Man, Christopher Martin and Marcia Griffiths.

Hawaiian singer J Boog, Ethiopian rapper LoLa Monroe and Barbadian singer Ch'an also contribute to the multi-cultural set.

On Epic & Ting, York experimented with electronic dance music (EDM) which was the trendy sound, but this time around, he goes back to his roots.

“I wanted to approach this album from a dub perspective unlike the previous album which was more from an electronic vibes,” he told the J amaica Observer.

On Master Blaster, he put his signature on two classic songs. “ Lots of Signs and Cherry Oh Baby are some of my favourites and I wanted to put my spin on them to give them a modern twist and keep the original vibes at the same time,” he said.

Lots of Signs was originally done in the mid-1980s by Tenor Saw. For the Master Blaster version, York enlisted Christopher Martin and Beenie Man.

Cherry Oh Baby, the 1971 Festival Song winner by Eric Donaldson, has been covered multiple times. Busy Signal and Trinidadian soca star Patrice Roberts team up on York's raucous dancehall edition.

Epic & Ting was released during the height of the EDM craze which helped revive interest in the careers of veteran artistes such as Johnny Osbourne who collaborated with Major Lazer, the genre's leading lights.

While he eyed the pop market with his first album, York stressed that the approach to Master Blaster, in terms of production and marketing, is different.

“I want to market this album to a wide base of music fans around the world so that's why I merged a lot of genres and artistes from different countries. I'm not really eyeing a specific demographic because I think this album can play anywhere, anytime... for exercising, when you're doing yoga or just simply relaxing,” he said.

York represents the new generation of Jamaican studio engineers who emerged during the late 1980s. His first project was singer Edi Fitzroy's song, Prison Life, followed by numerous sessions with Beres Hammond, Sly and Robbie and Cherine Anderson.

Forming the Fateyes production label with fellow engineer Lynford “Fatta” Marshall, they delivered a flurry of dancehall hits including Jah Works by Terror Fabulous, Memories (Beenie Man) and Want You Back, a massive seller for Singing Melody.

He has already started promotion for Master Blaster. The resident selector for American reggae/hip hop singer Michael Franti since 2010, he heads out with him for another North American tour, starting in early October.

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