Words by Jesse Serwer—
Bassist, vocalist, composer and lyricist (along with Albert Griffiths) for the great roots reggae band The Gladiators, and a former house musician for Studio One and Lee “Scratch” Perry, Clinton Fearon is truly one of the unsung heroes of Jamaican music. The multi-talented Fearon—these days making his home in Seattle, Washington—recently revisited the Gladiators’ heyday, recording an acoustic album featuring new versions of some of the band’s toppa top tunes. He plays every instrument on the LP, called Heart and Soul: rhythm, bass and acoustic guitars, congas, calabash, cabasa, cowbell and comb, wooden frog, spoons. Although the songs come largely from the reggae era, the new versions have a pre-reggae, mento-like quality to them.
Yeah, we know you’ve heard the pitch about the long-forgotten reggae singer who went back and made his old tunes new and fresh again, but this time it’s really true. Whether you know the Gladiators originals or not, Heart and Soul is truly an affecting, impactful release. Press play below to stream five tracks—”Let Jah Be Blessed,” “Chatty Chatty Mouth,” “Richman Poorman” “On The Other Side” and “I’m Not Crying”—from the LP, set for digital release Jan. 21 and physical release on Feb. 11. And then, ’cause we like to save the best for last, we’ve got a download of our favorite one in the bunch, a version of the Gladiators’ 1979 Studio One side “Tribulation.”