Snoop Lion  put Phil Pratt in spotlight Ken Boothe's Artibella

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

Friday, August 31, 2012

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EVEN in his heyday of the 1970s, Phil Pratt says he was never one for the limelight. However, American rapper Snoop Lion's cover of Ken Boothe's Artibella has put the focus on one of reggae's under-rated producers.

"It better off when yuh keep a low profile, yuh have less intruders," said Pratt wryly in an interview with the Jamaica Observer this week.

Snoop's latest hit, La La La, was inspired by Pratt's version of Artibella, a song first recorded at Studio One in the mid-1960s by Boothe and fellow singer Strangejah Cole.

The Pratt edition was released in 1970 and was his maiden hit after being in the music business for nearly a decade.

"It tek a while (to get a hit song) but it come at a good time for me an' Ken 'cause nothing was really happening for us," said Pratt from his London home.

Released in July, La La La has recorded over three million hits to date on YouTube. It is the first song as a reggae artiste by the controversial artiste formerly known as Snoop Dogg.

Pratt, who is in his 60s, says he has heard the Snoop track and given it the thumbs-up.

"I have no problem wid it, changes have to gwaan an' right now nothing is really happening in reggae. If him can make the thing come back, dat's a good thing."

Born George Phillips in the west Kingston community of Denham Town, Pratt started out in the early 1960s as a singer at Studio One but never got the breakthrough. Later that decade, he branched out into production and released a series of songs by Boothe, Horace Andy and Pat Kelly.

Artibella was a game-changer for Pratt. Featuring Aston 'Familyman' Barrett on bass, drummer Lloyd 'Tin Leg' Adams, Alva 'Reggie' Lewis on guitar and pianist Gitz Wilson, it was recorded at Randys studio in downtown Kingston and became one of Boothe's first reggae hits.

It was followed by other big hits for Pratt including Strange Things and My Heart is Gone by John Holt; Talk About Love (Pat Kelly) and Black Magic Woman and What About the Half which were done by Dennis Brown.

In 1982, Pratt gave up full-time music production and moved to London where he operates two restaurants. Like most of his contemporaries, he says his catalogue (comprising over 70 albums) is in demand throughout Europe.

He retains some link to contemporary Jamaican music. His son is Garfield 'Sampalue' Phillips, producer of some of Lady Saw's biggest hits.

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