A: Slickers – Man beware

B: Sir Lord Comic – Jack of my trade


The story of the Slickers will forever be intertwined with that The Pioneers. For starters because their first song, Nana, was actually recorded by the Pioneers. As Pioneer Jackie Robinson states in this Pressure Beat interview: “there was no Slickers, that’s a name we just grab out of the air. Even though afterwards you have the name Slickers,  [..] That group consists of Sydney Crooks’ brother [..] Derrick Crooks. But it’s our name. We used it to do the song called ‘Nana’ and then we just left it.”

That said, it could easily be that Slickers lead vocalist Derrick Crooks was also present at the time Nana was recorded. As a former member of the Pioneers – which then consisted of Sydney, Winston Hewitt and Derrick – he recorded some fine late ska/early rocksteady sides for the Caltone label, such as Good Nanny and Doreen Girl.  None of the Pioneers’ early songs hit the charts, so when Winston Hewitt left for Canada – being replaced by Glen Adams for a short while – the group broke up. Derrick left the scene for a while to work for a bauxite company and Sydney landed a job at Joe Gibbs.

When both brothers got back into the recording game, they unleashed a string of tunes upon the scene that all sported a style that was akin. But they weren’t in the same group anymore. Sydney reformed The Pioneers with Jackie Robinson while Derrick formed The Slickers, featuring Winston Bailey and Abraham Green. Listening to their recordings it’s evident that both groups were formed on the same set of musical influences and ideas. So much so, that the Blue Cat label credited ‘Run come walla‘ by the Pioneers to the Slickers, and it could just as well be them. To add some more to the confusion,  whether or not The Slickers were the Pioneers and vice versa, Derrick and Sydney occasionally just mixed it all up and recorded together under, again, different monnikers such as The Soul Mates or the Reggae Boys. Which is not to say all tunes by these groups feature them on vocals.  Still with me?

With songs like Frying pan and Run Fattie already doing their rounds in the dancehall, the Slickers added to their roster with Man Beware. Recorded and released in 1970, this warning song is a serious contender. It’s rather simple, yet very effective. And highly addictive as well, due to that juicy guitarloop by Lloyd Willis meddling with the gospel based style of ‘sing and talk back’ by Derrick and his Slickers. Magnificent!


Label: Pressure Beat (Ja) / Amalgamated (UK)
Release date: 1970
Riddim: original
Matrix: Dyna JG 638-1

Posted: 23-12-2015


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