The Outlaw

Josey Wales

The Outlaw

Though West Kingston–born microphone controller Josey Wales honed his craft for years as the voice of the Roots Unlimited and King Sturgav soundsystems, he didn’t make his formal recording debut until the early ‘80s, when he entered the studio with producer Henry “Junjo” Lawes. Lawes ran Volcano Sound, one of Jamaica’s most successful soundsystems. With the help of The Roots Radics and mixing-board prodigy Hopeton “Scientist” Brown, he produced some of the dancehall era's most revolutionary recordings, including hits by Barrington Levy, Yellowman, and Don Carlos. Wales’ debut, The Outlaw, is a characteristically strong Junjo production, featuring the gruff-voiced Wales chanting witty lyrics about soundsystem culture and day-to-day Kingston life over a series of punishingly spare rhythms from The Roots Radics. “Let Go Mi Hand"—a cleverly sketched tale of a night out spoiled by an uncooperative bouncer—was the album’s breakout hit. But nearly everything here is equally accomplished, from the fearsome “It a Fi Burn" to “Can’t Put It On," a shuffling rub-a-dub cut that finds Wales borrowing the melody from The Pioneers' late-‘60s rocksteady hit “Long Shot."

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