Tuesday, February 28, 2012

...Roots Music can never die: „Jamaican Harmony Trios - The Jewells“

01 - jewells - jah i (extended mix)
02 - porti - one lick
03 - jewells - i believe in love
04 - jewells - my little dream love
05 - jewells - dream love
06 - jewells - singing sweet harmony
07 - version - drum & bass (flabba & style)
08 - jewells - slave trade
09 - jewells - love and livity
10 - jewells - love & livety version
11 - big youth - political confusion - jewells - love & livity dub (extended)
12 - jewells - black is the highest culture
13 - the survivors - live out the 70s
14 - the survivors - leggo badness
15 - gladstone manning - prophesy call
16 - gladstone manning - prophesy call dub
17 - the palm threes - step it out version
18 - the palm threes - step it out
19 - the immortals - can't keep a good man down
## - bonus track - the immortals - can't keep a version

Jamaican Harmony Trios - The Jewells

Some 8-9 years ago I listened to the radio show Hidden Gems - The Jewells by the Australian Reggae website firecorner.com - introducing the Jamaican harmony trio „The Jewells“. I had to that point never heard of that band, but as a huge lover of deep 70ies roots music I was immediately struck by the beauty of their songs, the heavy roots riddims which set the background to their weaving harmonies (which were very much influenced by the Rocksteady style), the baritone of their lead singer Glasford Manning, their spiritual as well as provocative lyrics – as well as some of their more mellow, lovers rock influenced songs ridding drum and bass riddims in an early 80ies rub-a-dub style fashion! Beside the podcast about „The Jewells“, which is still available for download on the Firecorner website (plus many other great podcasts – well worth checking out!) - and the article „The Jewels In The Crown“, which Penny Reel wrote in 1985 for the NME, there was no other information on the Jewells available on the Internet or elsewhere at that time. I was lucky to find two 7inches by the Jewells, as well as a few songs which I found on Niney The Observer compilations. Beside that I digitally tracked down all the Jewells songs I could find on various blogs, soulseek – or which some nice reggae enthuasiast and collectors shared with me. While I am just now writing this blogpost and putting together the tracklist for this post – I discovered the very detailed article/interview Black is the Highest Culture –The Jewells by Peter I on his very nice website reggae-vibes.com. Good stuff – and according to the interview with Glasford Manning it seems that Leggo who ran Cash & Carry and Leggo Sounds records is still sitting on songs by the Jewells worth two albums! Lets hope there is gonna be a release of their songs some day – they deserve to be heard! Here is a copy of the Penny Reel article (which doesn't seem to be online on the Firecorner website anymore):

"The Jewels in the Crown" - by Penny Reel (NME / 9 November 1985)

The handful of records from The Jewels released towards the latter part of the '70s are among the final flourishes of a long standing tradition in Jamaican popular music.

The vocal group is a constant in the island's recorded music that extends back as far as the pre-ska Jiving Juniors and The Maytals, though it is during the rock steady era in the mid-'60s when the style comes properly into its own and provides much of the more memorable sounds of the time. Similarly, during the Ras Tafari resurgence of the '70s, the style is adapted by former rock steady outfits like The Wailers, Gladiators, Ethiopians, etc and newer groups such as the original Burning Spear, Culture, The Abyssinians and many more. With the advent of the dancehall genre in the '80s the solo singer has moved back into the ascendant and the vocal group all but vanished from the scene.

The first of the Jewels collection is itself a solo effort: Prophecy Call recorded by Glassford Manning, produced by the Sir Niney and issued in JA on the Observer imprint is a sufferers plaint rendered in the manner then favoured by the Freedom Sounds roster of artists operating out of Greenwich Farm in Kingston.

When I later ask Niney for details concerning this obscure side, he tells me that Manning is the lead singer of a vocal group, The Jewels, he has been recording, and shortly after this the first of the group's waxings surface in the London pre outlets: Jah I, credited to The Jewels and again released on Observer.

This first group effort is an ehortation in defence of Ras Tafari propelled along by the double drumming recently popularised by Sly. "Although the wicked they try to cramp 'gainst I and I", Manning warns, "they shall stumble and fall." The fourfold rhythm is expounded to even greater effect on the dub I Jah as performed by The Observer Wild. The song duly forms the A-side of their sole UK issue, on Observer discomix through the auspices of Count Shelley's Third World centre, and couple with a further Jewels title unissued in Jamaica, called Black Is The Highest Culture.

Their next and final three releases mark the group's sudden shift of allegiance from Niney to Leggo Beast's Cash and Carry label. The first of these, Love and Livity, is the Jewels' single gem. Penned jointly by B. Davis (presumable Bobby Davis, former singer with The Sensations rock steady vocal group) and Glassford Manning, the song is a lilting, humanitarian hymn with weaving harmonies, which harkens back to the rock steady style. Big Youth was moved sufficiently to toast a version.

Dream Lover Babe, which followed, was again evidence of the group's gentler side, and once more its debt to rock steady is marked in both use of harmonies and production. A dignified piece.

Their last was Slave Trade credited to just Jewels and released in 1979 on a new Cash and Carry imprint, with some polemic detailing inquity under the yoke as its title suggests. "They treated us with brutality, and they treated us with no humanity," are the last words from The Jewels as the song fades. Since when a silence.

Except for a single footnote: a solo effort released in 1981 on the Beast's eponymous Leggo Sounds label from one Porti Jewel entitled Staring At Me Girl, a further G. Manning composition. Are Porti and Glasford one and the same man? The vocal suggests as much.

The style of vocal groups like The Jewels may be obsolete in the current dancehall runnings but their message remains intact. (end of Penny Reel article)

As I only have 60 minutes of music by the Jewells – I added a few songs by other great Jamaican harmony trios that I believe suit this compilation. AND! If any of you dear readers got some more info or songs by the Jewells, please please please let me know, leave a comment and share it/them with us all :)



  1. Replies
    1. Hi I am Glasford Mannings daughter, and you can EMail me at kerisha2007@yahoo.com

  2. Thank you very much for this ! I've got exactly the same experience than you, listening to the radio show Hidden Gems - The Jewells by the Australian Reggae website firecorner.com and falling immediatly in love for this sound and for Glasford Manning amazing voice & feeling.

    Bien cordialement

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment! Yeah - 9 year later and the Jewells are still some of my favourite Roots music...

  3. Hi, I just receve my first 7" of the Jewels "Love & Livity" ! This track is now in my top 10 !
    Can someone help to find or to give me the lyrics of this tune 'cause it's a little hard for a frenchy to understand all. Thanks for your help !
    JAZ at jmlouis76@gmail.com