Jack speaks from the arts
LOOKING dapper in a Fedora hat, lime-green shirt and high-top sneakers, singer Jack Radics let you know straight off the bat that he has a lot to say. Chilling poolside at the Wyndham hotel in St Andrew, he certainly lived up to his word.
The chatty Radics was in town promoting his first album in 10 years and charting his plans for 2013. Jack Of Art, his latest work, is scheduled for release this month and Radics is gearing up for his first appearance in the United States since 1995.
Jack Of Art has new material, but it also contains some of the songs that made Radics a standout in the 1990s. These include Moving Away and Unchained, songs made popular by Ken Boothe and Bob Andy.
No Matter, a less familiar songs to Jamaicans, is also on Jack Of Art. Released solely in Europe 10 years ago, it made charts in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
"Since 1995, all my deals have been for Europe, so what I'm doing now is getting things ready to release this album in the US," Radics told the Jamaica Observer.
The music scene in that country has changed considerably since Radics' heyday. Independent reggae labels like RAS and Heartbeat have gone out of business and promoters are no longer clamouring for Jamaican dancehall acts from that period.
Radics, however, is unfazed.
"It's probably the best thing I've ever done (staying away from the US) 'cause mi fresh an' everybody else rinse out. For me, the key is representation," he said.
For Radics, that representation is Sound Faculty, his booking and promotions agency which will distribute and market Jack Of Art. It is headed by Michelle Knight, an Atlanta-based music industry veteran who worked with Chris Stanley's Music Mountain, and Rhythm and Blues group, Frankie Beverly and Maze.
He said 30 years of being exploited by record companies influenced him to start Sound Faculty. He hopes it will eventually include a public relations arm to educate young artistes about the knotty music business.
"What I'm embarking on now is to own me. All the time I been in music I never see a royalty statement or get a advance," he said, peering through designer shades. "I'm taking care of me with Sound Faculty."
Born Balfour Bailey, Radics grew up in middle-class St Andrew. His father was an architect/civil engineer and he briefly attended Munro College in St Elizabeth.
After a stint as a club singer in The Bahamas, he returned to Jamaica in 1980 and recorded his first song, a cover of Kool and the Gang's Get Down On It for producer Valerie Cowan.
He signed to Island in 1985 and recorded several songs for different producers throughout that decade. But it was not until the 1990s when dancehall music took off overseas that Radics made his mark.
He had hit songs for producers Bobby Digital (Moving Away), Steely and Clevie (Unchained) and Donovan Germain (This Time I'll Be Sweeter). His biggest commercial success came in 1993 when he teamed with Chaka Demus and Pliers for a rousing cover of the Isley Brothers' Twist and Shout, which topped the British national chart.
It earned the trio an opening slot for UB40 on the British group's world tour, but Radics says he and Island executives clashed over remunerations, which soured, and ultimately ended, their relationship.
His last album, Always Around, was released 2001 in Europe where regular tours have earned him a strong fan base. Jack Radics hopes to do the same in the US with a series of promotional dates to be announced soon.