Mr X & Sweetie - White Liver Mabel

A: Mr X & Sweetie – White Liver Mabel

B: Winston Wright – & Larry McDonald – Reuben


Although slackness became a big thing in the 80’s dancehall scene, rude tunes have always been around in reggae. The pace and beat are certainly not the only ingredients the originators took from Mento when they invented ska, as they were quick to morph the folk music’s bawdy classics into an updated form. And so it has been ever since.

Joe Gibbs released his fair share of raunchy tunes too, of which White Liver Mabel is perhaps the least known. It’s certainly not hit material that is presented here, not lyricswise nor musicwise, but it sure is entertaining to listen to Mabel and Reuben quarreling over whether or not to have sex. Reuben is tired and wants to go to sleep. Probably because Mabel wore him out already, as White Liver is Jamaican slang for nymphomaniac (or, less dramatic, a woman who wants it all the time, any time.) I have no idea who the people behind Mr X or Sweetie are, so tips (or wild guesses) are welcome. Could the male voice be Joe Gibbs himself?

Larry McDonald by Habte SelassiThe bickering of the two lovebirds takes place on a track called Reuben, an instrumental version of Peter Tosh’ “Them Ha Fi Get A Beatin” and credited to Winston Wright (keys) and Larry McDonald (percussion.) The latter adds some nice and subtle flavour to the fierce piano stabs, like he also did on many other recordings in the 60’s and early 70’s (Ife L’ayo for Clancy Eccles being a personal favorite.) A self taught percussionist Larry soon found himself recording with Carlos Malcolm, Lennie Hibbert and Count Ossie before moving to the United States. There he worked with giants like Taj Mahal and Gill Scott-Heron among others. It took him almost 40 years, but in 2009 he finally released his own album, called Drumquestra. If you dig what he does on Reuben and the like and if you’re into jazz, be sure to check that album out.

White Liver Mabel/Reuben is seen here on a US Wimpex press, but was also released on the orange and white JoGib label in Jamaica. I’m not sure if it ever reached the shores of the UK.



Label: JoGib (Ja) / Jogibs (Usa)
Release date: 1972
Matrix: 6251 A / 6251 b
Riddim: Wailers/Pete Tosh – Them Ha Fi Get A Beatin 

(originally posted on 11-01-13)


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