PETER TOSH – COLLIE WEED / HE’S SO GOOD TO ME

peter tosh collie weed

A: Peter Tosh – He’s so real to me

 

B: Peter Tosh – Collie Weed / Weed weed weed

 

When Peter Tosh cut a deal with Joe Gibbs to work together on a 50/50 basis, the steppin’ razor must have also brokered a total and absolute freedom of expression. Never one to keep his thoughts to himself, Tosh fully explored the limits of contemporary reggae when he recorded as a solo artist. His output for Gibbs (and Randy’s at the same time) ranges from deep roots to quirky instrumentals, from poppy medleys (impersonating Desmond Dekker in a carbon copy style) to experimental chants and from peace and love messages to militant, anti-establishment statements.

Having grown up singing church music, he took that side of him and incorporated it into his music. Soul music found its way into it as well, his rastafarian believes too, as did his knowledge of the Amharic language. Tosh always seemed to be looking for something new in his music, something edgy – never done before. Loving weed and wishing to smoke his pipe in peace, finally resulted in his biggest hit, “Legalize it“, recorded in 1974 and one of the first songs to fully express the “free up the weed” sentiment as baldly as Tosh did. It got him in trouble too, but that wasn’t the first nor the last time. Tosh was a rebel, a real one. And that, in combination with the sound of his voice, his audacity and his superb songwriting skills, makes him my favourite Wailer.

So, I wasn’t too surprised when I found out Tosh had actually recorded a ‘legalize ganja’ tune earlier on in his career. The flipside of the obscure ‘Black Dignity‘ – released on Pressure Beat in 1970 and a superb nyahbhingi tune featuring Peter Tosh proclaiming an introduction in Amharic – fails to deliver the version, as credited, but actually plays a tune on which Tosh can be heard singing “Collie Weed” every now and then. It sounds more like a dub, really, than a proper song. Which brings to mind the question if he ever recorded a full vocal version?

The answer is, yes he did. I stumbled upon proof when I took a chance on eBay, bidding on an item listed as “unknown rocksteady tune on Pressure Beat.” Perhaps because that was the only information attached to the auction, I was the only bidder and ended up paying more for shipping costs than the actual vinyl. Much to my surprise and excitement, when it arrived at the Pressure Beat headquarters the vinyl played two songs I never heard before. Although the one about weed was kind of familiar…

So here they are: a gospel take – a version of the classic gospel chant ‘He/God is so real to me’ – and a rebel take, both riding the riddim that was also the basis of Max Romeo’s ‘Don’t be prejudice‘ and featuring Peter Tosh alongside friends, among who I believe to hear Pipe Matthews of the Wailing Souls (sing it brother!) – who also sang background on other Tosh recorded material at the time. Naturally I tried to find out more, but there is nothing to be found on the internet and inquiries with knowledgeable people (including the Wailing Souls) so far haven’t been answered satisfactory. If you happen to know more, please let me know.  In the meantime, enjoy the music!

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Label: Pressure Beat (Ja)
Release date: 1970
Riddim: Don’t be prejudice – Max Romeo
Matrix: Dyna JG 3891 / Dyna JG 3893

Posted: 02-09-2015

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2 Comments on PETER TOSH – COLLIE WEED / HE’S SO GOOD TO ME

  • Glen says:
    26 December 2015 at 16:05

    Greetings… thanks for this info. I have just managed to find a copy of this single too – with the same Sweep The Street (Instrumental) label on both sides, but the dark pinky / red colour, rather than yellow.

    Reply

    • pressurebeat says:
      28 December 2015 at 10:49

      Nice! Ever since I posted this one, quite a few copies have surfaced. All with Sweep the street label, but indeed different colors.

      Reply

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