FANTELS – HOOLIGAN

The Fantels - Hooligan

A: The Fantels – Hooligan

B: Mighty Two – Far Land

 


Some gwaan like hooligan, some act like maffia and some follow their path as a musician. In the case of Hal Anthony Lewinson this choice must not have been a hard one to make. Born into a musical family; Jimmy Cliff is his cousin and the Jamaicans’ Norris Weir is his uncle; it seems only logical Hal Lewinson ended up as a singer, songwriter and guitarist. Like Ken Boothe once sung, it’s the way nature planned it. And nature plotted it correct allright, because anno 2013 mister Lewinson is still going strong.

From the minute he picks up the phone, Hal proofs himself a charismatic, enthusiastic and eager spokesman of reggae. Born in Frankfield, Jamaica (Clarendon) he joined his first group called The Beltones after they scored a major hit with “No More Heartaches” for Harry J in 1968. Whether or not this was the first ever reggae tune shall forever be open to debate, but the group did create a template for what was to come. The Beltones disbanded in the early 70’s due to financial discontentment. Leadsinger Trevor Shields went solo and Hal Lewinson joined the Fantels, who were also briefly known as The Beltones. Hal explains:

hal“In the Fantels you have Hal Lewinson, you have Leon Brown (leadsinger) and you have.. I can’t remember his first name! I think it’s Locksley or Leonard or something.”

Lennox? Do you mean Lennox Brown?

“No, I don’t think it’s any Lennox. It’s either Locksley or Leonard. One of the two. Locksley Brown… We recorded for Tubby’s, for Jammy’s, we record for Bunny Lee. We record for a lot of people.”

You recorded just one song for Joe Gibbs: Hooligan.

“Yes, that’s the only song we did for Joe Gibbs, it was a big hit in Jamaica. We liked the sound that Joe Gibbs had at that time. Leon Brown lead it when we did it for Gibbs, but on my album I lead sing it. Me and Leon Brown came up with the lyrics and the musicians that played on the Gibbs version is Sly on drums, Lloyd Parks on bass, Tarzan on keyboard, also Frankie Bubbler Waul on keyboard too, Bo Peep on guitar. The engineer was Errol Thompson. We were planning to do an album but it never worked out.”

Howcome? Joe Gibbs didn’t want more hit material?

“No, it’s not that. It’s because we were reluctantly. He was looking for something else [..] and he wants to see money. He’s not like us. What we see, we are farmers. We believe in sowing and what you sow is what you reap. So you can’t reap without you sow, so we never get our chance to do our thing because in a matter of time we just sing out and get no money.”

Right, so you were thinking long-term and he was thinking short-term?

“Short term, yeah! So we just forget him and bring in Trevor Shields. After Locksley Brown had left we change the name to Beltones.

 

Fantels

 The Fantels live on stage – used with kind permission of www.reggae-vibes.com

 

The Beltones? That was the name of the group before the the Fantels, right?

“Oh yes, but we went back to the Beltones with Trevor Shields. We all do lead. And then we did a show in Kingston. And the mc went to introduce us as Beltones and there was a posse from Jungle, from downtown, and when the mc said “Ladies and gentleman, we present to you The Beltones!” The crowd said “No bell on stage! Because, you know, in Jamaica we have two politicians, we have the PNP and the JLP. And JLP is for the bell. So, the guys that were there, they were from the PNP! And when they hear ‘bell” them say they don’t want to Beltones on the stage. And that’s when we changed the name back to Fantels.”

“We did some tours, and lots of shows on the north coast in Jamaica, but as you know only salvation lasts forever. But I am still doing my thing, I have my own band called Hal Anthony & The Millennium Band and we toured Europe, Japan, South America and the Caribbean (working with Freddie McGregor, Fab Five, Ken Boothe, Melodians and many more) I have three albums out, and I am in the studio right now working on a cover album plus also an original album.

I checked your albums. You still sound very strong. Even when you re-record an old song, it sounds fresh. You’re a nowadays artist.

[laughs] Yes, I am. Thank you! I am one of them, it’s because of the love I do music.

After which Hal bursts into Carl Malcolm’s “Miss Wire Waist”. A favourite of both him and me.

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Special thanks to Hal Lewinson for the great chat and to Reggae-Vibes.com for the photos.

Recommended further reading: Trevor Shields interview

Reccomended further listening: Hal Anthony and the Millenium Band

(This interview was also published on United Reggae Magazine: http://unitedreggae.com/articles/n1290/041313/interview-hal-lewinson-from-the-fantels & on Reggae-Vibes: http://reggae-vibes.com/concert/fantels/fantels.htm)

 

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Label: Errol T (Ja)
Release date: 1977
Matrix: DSR 3001
Riddim: /

(originally posted on 22-02-13)

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2 Comments on FANTELS – HOOLIGAN

  • Trevor Shields says:
    27 December 2016 at 14:08

    I’m reading this article for the first time and would like to thank Hal Lewiston (Junior) for the honorably mention of me and the Beltones.There are a few discrepancies here about the Beltones and the Fantels.As I recall, it was after the Beltones disbanded that I joined the Fantels, but my time with the Fantels was phenomenal. We were based in Kingston, Jamaica where we performed extensively. However, we also performed at various hotels on the north coast of the Island…I left the Fantels only because I had to join my family in Canada…once again, thanks Junior. All the best to you and the Millennium Band.

    Reply

    • pressurebeat says:
      27 December 2016 at 15:52

      Hi Trevor,

      thank you for the additional notes on the story of the Fantels. It’s much appreciated.
      Respect,

      Ingmar

      Reply

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