GLEN WASHINGTON – ROCKERS NU CRACKERS

A: Glen Washington - Rockers nuh crackers

A: Glen Washington – Rockers “nu” crackers

B: Mighty Two – Rockers version

 

“Persistent” and “independent” are two words that come to mind when thinking about Glen Washington. Although blessed with a beautiful raspy and soulful voice, Glen decided to focus on his drumming career, rather than pursue a vocal career when he pocketed his first hit in 1976. A bold but wise choice, as it turned out.

Born and raised in Clarendon, Glen grew up with friends like the Maytones, Freddie McGregor and Culture’s Joseph Hill. It was the latter who taught Glen how to play drums (while playing in a band called Stepping Stone) and when Joseph Hill left for Kingston, Glen took over as a singing drummer. Joseph Hill was probably also the connection that urged Glen to visit the Joe Gibbs studio in 1976. To my knowledge, he recorded just one tune there, which not only became a big hit, but also a sizeable anthem.

Because, even today the slow, fierce and tough riddim can set a dancehall on fire. The stinging piano, superheavy basslines and sludgy drums works wonders and make it very hard to not move and twist. Add to that the fine vocals of Glen (a lot less grating than later on his career) and you have a monster tune that declares love to the immortal rockers style. What makes this 7inch interesting though, apart from being a great tune ofcourse, is that it’s not really played in a rockers style. Ofcourse, the style is open to debate, but to me “rockers” is more militant, more pushing. Especially when it comes to drum patterns. This track, however, seems to pre-date the late 70’s / early 80’s dancehall style, with its sparse riddim and heavy one-drop drums.

On the label a certain R. Grant gets a credit as co-writer. This is probably meant for ex-Gaylads member Ricky Grant, who recorded quite a lot of roots material for Augustus Pablo in the seventies. Ricky also worked as a drummer and provided backing vocals, so maybe he was in the studio when Glen came to visit and said: “hey, I got an idea!?”

As said, Glen went back to drumming after his one and only hit record for Gibbs. He played drums on Culture’s 1978 “Africa stand alone” album and played in a string of bands on the hotel scene. On one occasion he met Stevie Wonder and, after jamming and per Stevie’s request, he went on tour with the Motown legend and emigrated to the US. It would take 20 years for Glen to voice another song, but when he did, he unleashed a career that is second to none. Maybe “Rockers” foresaw the coming of dancehall, but if anything, it predicted the coming of a superstar. Because that is exactly what Glen became. A never failing, ear tingling, hit-after-hit providing reggae-superstar. Some guys just have all the luck..

 
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Label: Errol T (Ja) / Student (UK)
Release date: 1976
Matrix: ET 2683 / JG 7853
Riddim: Rockers “nu” crackers
(originally posted on 09-06-12)

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