Thursday, June 10, 2010

Copied from an Ebay Auction for Tony Scott - What Am I To Do..

This is an original pressing of the 1969 release "What Am I To Do [Now]" by Tony Scott, self-produced on the [Jackie] Estick label. Recorded at Randy's, the studio band is the Hippy Boys featuring Aston Family Man Barrett on bass, Carlton Barrett on drums, Glen Adams on organ among others. Notice how Scott imitates Roy Shirley's voice on the close. The B-side is the mento-flavored "You Still Got That Smile", personnel unknown.

This is the record that spawned the massive international instrumental hit "Liquidator" by the Harry J All Stars [Hippy Boys]. It's quite a convoluted story: Harry Johnson was producing a session at Randy's for a vocal by Tony Scott. Scott was not a prolific artist, with about a dozen tunes to his credit. Apparently, Scott wasn't singing to the best of his abilities on "What Am I To Do Now" and sold the master tape of the unfinished track to Harry J, but without securing a copy for himself. (However, Glen Adams claims that the original singer of "What Am I To Do" was not Tony Scott but guitarist Noel "Sowell" Bailey, later of the Roots Radics.) The Hippy Boys felt a little bad for Scott over this, and recorded a remix for him (this record).

Harry J then took the backing tracks he'd bought from Scott and put an organ solo by Winston Wright over them, which became the smash "Liquidator". After securing airplay on Britain's influential Radio One with Tony Blackburn, the tune spent five months on the charts there, peaking at #9 in October, 1969. This song became a sort of anthem for the white reggae-loving "skinheads" ("Liquidator" is considered emblematic of "skinhead reggae"), and to this day is a heavy pre-game/halftime favorite at football (soccer) matches throughout England. It serves the same sort function as a rallying sports anthem there, as "Sweet Caroline" by Niel Diamond and "We Are The Champions [We Will Rock You]" by Queen do in the U.S. "Liquidator" has been reissued and remade several times, and is the official song of the Chelsea football team. To see the fans rocking out to the original "Liquidator", check here:

What happened next was that Mavis Staples of the Stax act the Staples Singers heard "Liquidator" while vacationing in Jamaica and loved it. With new lyrics written by Alvertis Isbell, the Stax team back in Memphis remade the "Liquidator" track, keeping it mostly true to the original at Mavis's request. This became the smash soul hit "I'll Take You There". Stax paid Harry J a sum of money for using the musical concepts of "Liquidator", which in large part enabled Harry J to build his first studio. Sadly, the Hippy Boys never received proper credit or shared in the financial rewards generated by "Liquidator".

And the story doesn't end there, but in fact begins here: all of the above three songs are based on the riddim of Alton Ellis's 1968 smash "Girl I've Got A Date" on the Treasure Isle label, though the tune's progeny use a new riveting intro and the feel is two-stroke reggae as opposed to the late ska arrangement on Alton's record.