Lacksley Castell: Waterhouse's glory

Observer senior writer

Thursday, February 15, 2018

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With February acknowledged as Reggae Month, the Jamaica Observer salutes some of the music's unsung heroes in this daily column.


A FLOOD of singers emerged from the Kingston community of Waterhouse during the 1970s: Don Carlos, Michael Rose, Hugh Mundell, Junior Reid, and Lacksley Castell. The last, also a talented songwriter, is largely forgotten.

Like Mundell, Castell was a protégé of roots visionary Augustus Pablo. Both artistes died in 1983.

In a 2012 interview with the Jamaica Observer, Reid saluted Mundell and Castell, whom he considers two of his biggest influences.

“Everybody used to live within walking distance from each other…pare talent. Mundell an' Lacksley Castell was some a di first man wha' bus' out a Waterhouse, an' we as likkle youth follow,” he said.

In a short career Castell recorded a number of songs and albums that have earned him a lasting following, especially in Europe. His songs include Morning Glory, Dr Love and Jah Love Is Sweeter, which was a strong seller in the British reggae market.

The wiry Castell helped define the Waterhouse vocal sound later made world-famous by Rose, Reid and Yami Bolo. His first album ( Jah Fire) was a collaboration with the gifted Mundell, who was the first person to record and produce a song by Reid.

Castell's two solo albums, Morning Glory and Princess Lady, are collector's items in Europe. They were reissued in 2005.

Reviewing his song Tug-A-War, some years ago British record label Pressure Sounds described Castell as “a thoughtful, laid-back singer perfectly suited to the sparse rhythms that dominated the roots scene of the period”.

At the time of his death, Castell's talent was being noticed by mainstream producers like Sly and Robbie and Dean Fraser, as well as Neil “Mad Professor” Fraser in the United Kingdom. He reportedly died from asthmatic complications at age 24.

Lacksley Castell's legacy not only lives on through his music. His younger brother, Trevor Castell, hosts a Facebook page in honour of the promising artiste who was on the verge of a major career breakthrough.


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