SITTING AND WATCHING - Jamaica, 1980-style

SITTING AND WATCHING - Jamaica, 1980-style

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Friday, October 30, 2020

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OVERBLOWN political rhetoric, runaway crime, and a stagnant economy. Jamaica 2020? Try 1980.

Forty years ago the situation in Jamaica was not much different than today, which marks the 40th anniversary of the 1980 General Election.

As was the case then, the Jamaica Labour Party (who were in Opposition) won a landslide victory, taking 51 of the 60 parliamentary seats. The People's National Party was thrown into uncertainty.

But while politics and gang violence dominated headlines, Jamaicans were not short on entertainment.

TheJamaica Observerreflects on some of the songs, and places, that relieved the stress in a tumultuous year

Arleen - Considered the ultimate dancehall ‘chune’, it hears General Echo at his creative best. Produced by Winston Riley on the vaunted Stalag rhythm, Arleen was number one for several weeks. Sadly, the deejay was controversially killed by police in November 1980.

Bad Card- From the Uprising album, Bob Marley and The Wailers rode Jamaican charts with this uptempo stepper that bore the memorable ‘throw wud’ line, “Dem a guh tired fi si mi face.”

Sitting And Watching- Dennis Brown at his finest on this Sly and Robbie-produced song. Robbie Shakespeare, more known for his bass work, also played guitar on this track.

Come Sing With Me- Mento still had a place in Jamaica in 1980. Well-arranged with strong harmonies by The Turbines and flawless vocals by Stanley Beckford, made this a popular winner of the Jamaica Festival Song Competition.

Skateland- Located in the heart of Half-Way-Tree, this was the hub of activity for artistes, hot girls, sound systems and yes, skaters. Clinton “Jingles” Davy ran this venue with an iron hand.

Carib, Odeon and State - If you wanted to “tek in” the latest (and not so latest) movies, these were the hottest cinemas. At State (in Cross Roads) you could see the baddest ‘kickers’ with stars like Alexander Fu Sheng or John Liu. The Odeon was basically the same, though it also catered to lovers of the Spaghetti Western. Hang Them High, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly and They Call me Trinity were favourites.

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