SOUL BROTHERS – PUSSY CATCH A FIRE

soul brothers pussy catch a fire

A: Soul Brothers – Pussy catch a fire

B: Destroyers – Secret Weapon / Follow this beat

 

This must be the most confusing Joe Gibbs 7 inch ever issued. And that’s quite a bold statement when it comes to Joe Gibbs vinyl, for the label is supreme in mislabeling, misprinting and mispressing (especially b-sides) their 7 inches. At one point it was so bad, I came up with my own conspiracy theory in which the misprints/labels/etc were actually being used as very smart marketing tools. After all, if you like the tune you’re listening to, you’d definitely want to check out who is singing or playing on there when you find out you were wrong about the artist, which means you’ll take an interest in the label and start digging. Seems rather smart to me. But discovering this 7″ shattered that imagination forever…

As you see can see, my copy is a blank pre-release, decorated only with a beautiful “Joe Gib’s” stamp. The original Jamaican Pressure Beat and UK Pressure Beat issues of this song give credit to the Soul Bros or Soul Brothers and that’s exactly how the song is still remembered today. But it’s very unlikely the famous Soul Brothers had anything to do with this song. For one, this “Skatalites part 2” band was short lived and worked mainly from Studio One. Though some of its musicians did record sessions for Joe Gibbs, his backing band at the time was known as either the Destroyers or the Hippy Boys. Furthermore the Soul Brothers transformed into the Soul Vendors come 1967. This 7 inch, however, was recorded in 1969.

In 1992 “Pussy catch a fire was included on an lp called “Adults Only part 2” (Trojan) which is a very enjoyable compilation focussing on ska and early-reggae slack recordings. On that album the song is credited to the Soulmates, which makes more sense because that group was credited more often on Joe Gibbs’ records. Although the group was also credited when Count Machuki was on vocal duties or when the Viceroys did their thing, the Soulmates were actually comprised of George Dekker, Glen Adams and Reggie “Alva” Lewis. To make it a bit more complicated Jackie Robinson and Sidney Crooks also have sung songs under the monnicker. Sydney started working at Joe Gibbs’ record shop after his early attempts at a career with his trio called The Pioneers had more or less come to a halt. He started recording at Joe Gibbs again and legend has it he found Jackie Robinson outside the studio, rehearsing a tune, because he needed a back up singer. The duo cut some fine tunes at Gibbs, including “Longshot (bus me bet)“, “Jackpot“,  “Catch the Beat“, and “Pan Ya Machete (an anti Upsetter track.)”

soul bros pussy catchThe thing is, I’m willing to believe the backing vocals on this track are the Pioneers, that makes sense to my ears. But there’s someone else. The man shouting “fire fire!” and talking throughout the record. I would have taken it for either Sidney or Jackie doing vocals in a funny mood if it weren’t for my Jamaican seller. He told me this record actually featured Niney and the Destroyers.  That makes sense too. Niney was Joe Gibbs’ producer at the time. He also received far less credit than he should have (see miscrediting story above) and, well.. it does sound like him, doesn’t it?  Then I checked the almighty Roots Knotty Roots database and found they too credit this as Niney and the Destroyers. I’m headstrong, though, and position myself in the middle: I believe it’s indeed the Soulmates/Pioneers singing here,  backed by the Destroyers and vocally enhanced by Niney.

The b-side is a fine instrumental cut to, here they are again, the Pioneers’ “Catch the beat” which has been issued as both “Secret Weapon” (credited to the Conquerers; Amalgamated, Ja) as well as “Follow this beat” (credited to the Destroyers; Pressure Beat Ja and Uk.)

It’s also often credited to Ansel Collins, which sounds about right. Title wise, I think “Secret Weapon” was the original name, which might have changed after the Pioneers hit with “Catch the beat”.

As much as I like to try and solve a puzzle like this, or rather, speculate about a solution, for there’s no way to be sure of anything if you weren’t around at the time of recording, there is one thing you can be sure about. And that’s the music. Which is scorching hot, both lyrically as well as musically. Whatever name they put on the label, beware, because this will burn you..

 

*************
Label: Pressure Beat (ja), Pressure Beat (uk), Amalgamated (ja / uk: b-side only)
Matrix: DYNA-JG-1184-1 / BY WIRL – JG- 4564-1
Release date: 1969
Riddim: A: Pioneers – Longshot kick de bucket
Riddim: B: Pioneers – Catch the beat

(originally posted on 06-02-11)

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