If the name of Willi Williams is known at all outside the reggae world, it is for his hit "Armagideon Time", which he recorded for the legendary Studio One label in 1979. The song was covered the same year by the punk group the Clash, and has since gone on to become a standard of sorts. But Willi was - and is - much more than a one-hit wonder who had the 'luck' to be covered by a pop group. Willi had begun his career back in the early 1970s at Studio One, and by the end of the decade he was ready to produce his masterpiece. That turned out to be the "Messenger Man" album, originally released on Willi's own label in a tiny pressing and now proudly reissued by Blood and Fire in an expanded edition with 8 previously unreleased dub versions of the songs.
For an album that was recorded in three different studios in two countries [Jamaica and Canada], the set displays a remarkable organic coherence, along with a willingness to explore new sounds and instrumentation that make it virtually unique among more conventional 'roots' music of the period. The involvement of legendary musicians - such as Jackie Mittoo [pivotal keyboard genius with the Skatalites and Studio One], Carl Harvey [longtime guitarist for Toots] and the celebrated drum and bass team of Carlton 'Santa' Davis and George 'Fully' Fullwood [Soul Syndicate and Peter Tosh's band] - ensures that the
arrangements and musical textures are always interesting And the songs - with Willi's subtle and insinuatingly jazzy vocals - justget better with each successive listen.
Remastered from Willi's tapes, the re-issue includes previously unseen photos supplied by the artist and in-depth notes by respected US writer and archivist Carter van Pelt, based on extensive interviews with Willi.
A long-lost classic, in which the message truly is in the music...
1. Messenger Man [4:46]
2. Slave [5:16]
3. Give Jah Praise [3:21]
4. Dungeon [4:49]
5. Zion Town [3:58]
6. I Man [4:49]
7. No Hiding Place [3:56]
8. Valley Of Jehosephat [extended version] [6:58]
9. Rocking Universally [Armagideon Style] [3:06]
10. Messenger Man Version [5:04]
11. Slave Dub [2:35]
12. Give Jah Praise Version [3:21]
13. Dungeon Dub [3:55]
14. Zion Town Dub [4:26]
15. I Man version [4:46]
16. No Hiding Place version [3:01]
17. Universal Dub [2:59]