Derrick Morgan - Gun Finger

A: Derrick Morgan – Gun Finger

B: Derrick Morgan – Judge I don’t care


Another surprise record! I bought this as Pete Tosh’ “Leave my business” on Ebay the other day and won it for a very good (read ‘low’) price. To be honest, I wasn’t planning on bidding high on it either, since “leave” isn’t the best Tosh song out there and it’s definitely not among the best of his Gibbs’ released material. That said, I don’t yet own a copy on vinyl and I am a collector, so I tried to get my hands on this copy right here. I remember the description info was very sparse, something like: “Pete Tosh on Jogibs, plays very well” so I took a leap of faith there. A leap that was well rewarded. Very much so, actually..

Just as when I stumbled upon my copy of Augustus Pablo’s “Pablo at home by accident, I now accidently stumbled upon a disc from the Derrick Morgan ‘Judge’ series. And it’s an obscure one too, because I don’t think this ever saw the light of day as an official release, nor did I ever see it on a compilation album. In fact, the only copies I’ve seen on the web are all issued on wrongly credited Jogibs labels, making this catch even more special.

The ‘judge’ series by Derrick Morgan are well known in the reggae world, since he released a heap of tunes in this mould. The most famous of the lot is probably “Judge Dread in court“, which was his answer to Prince Buster’s “Judge Dread.” Buster and Morgan had a long time feud going on on record after the departure of Morgan to producer Leslie Kong, resulting in an interesting call & response series of records. After Buster released ‘Judge Dread‘, Morgan struck back with his answer. Later on, Morgan revisited the ‘Judge’ theme with “judge long sentence” (on Unity) and, apparently, also as Judge I don’t care. And he really doesn’t care. Shouting ‘Hush up!’ throughout the sessions, Morgan makes sure the person in front of him makes his way to jail, regardless of whether that man is a gunslinger or a reverend.

Although Buster’s “Judge Dread’ was released as early as 1967, I’d place the record featured here as released in 1972. In 1974 Michael Manley passed the so called ‘Gun Court Law’ which imposed indefinite detention on anyone caught with an illegal firearm. Manley, elected prime minister in 1972, called to ‘bring in the guns’ (also commented on by Derrick Morgan through ‘Bring in the guns’, released on Bunny Lee’s Jackpot label in 1972) from the get go and threatened with long sentences. Churches were used as a safe collection point and the fact that the reverend of a church is given a life sentence for the possesion of a firearm in “Judge I don’t care“, although exagerated, is both funny as well as scary. From what I read about the Gun Court trials, you’d end up in jail for life before you could say ‘i’m innocent’.

The riddim of ‘Judge’ is a stripped down version of Jackie Mittoo’s ‘Who done it’ which Errol Thompson also used on the first African Dub album (‘Universal dub‘) Shorty the President also used the Joe Gibbs version of the riddim when he recorded the impeccable ‘No peace’ tune a few years later.

The gunfinger on the flip is treated to a version of Chanel 5’s ‘Old Kent Road’ (released on Pee), which Joe Gibbs dubbed New Kent Road when he recorded his version with Johnnie Lover for Pressure Beat. Although mr. Gunfever gets to tell his story (he’s conned) the Judge has no mercy on him. He’s gone now, but what’s left is this amazing gem. Hush up!


Label: Jogibs (Ja)
Release date: 1972 (?)
Matrix: JG-3944 /3945 R.R.S. e.t.
Riddim Gun Finger: Old Kent Road (Chanel 5 aka Jimmy Riley)
Riddim Judge I don’t care: Who Done it (Jackie Mittoo)

(originally posted on 29-10-11)


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