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Freddie makes case for quality music

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior writer

Thursday, March 29, 2018

AS he prepares to promote Go Freddie Go , his latest song, singer Freddie McGregor bemoans a lack of quality reggae on Jamaican airwaves.

Go Freddie Go was released on March 23 by VP Records. But even with the muscle of that Queens, New York company, McGregor stressed the critical role Jamaican radio plays in breaking new songs.

“I think gone are the days when a good song merits airplay. It doesn't matter who you are; today if Bob Marley was around he would have found it difficult (getting radio time) in Jamaica,” McGregor told Jamaica Observer. “We just don't seem to love our music like we used to.”

Marley, who died in 1981, also found it tough to get prime-time airplay on Radio Jamaica (RJR) which was the main station in the late 1960s and early 1970s when he was a member of The Wailers. It took the push of Chris Blackwell's Island Records to find him an international audience.

Another negative for Jamaican artistes, McGregor noted, is the decline of independent record companies that market reggae exclusively. In the 1990s, VP Records had solid rivals in the United States like RAS Records and Heartbeat Records Jet Star and Greensleeves dominated the British market, and there was a smattering of aggressive 'indies' in the Netherlands and Germany.

“It's still puzzling that we've lost all our record outlets and left without distribution except for VP Records. So, our music continues to struggle,” he said.

Go Freddie Go was co-written by Lincoln Thomas, Kumar Williams and McGregor. It reflects on the 61-year-old artiste's career, starting at Studio One in 1962; his mainstream break in the 1980s, to his current status as an elder statesman of reggae.

McGregor plans to kick off a three-month tour of the United States in June to support Go Freddie Go and True To My Roots, the album he released in 2016.