Little Harry – Youngest Veteron
High Smile HiFi, LP and Digital Download
Thirty five years between your first and second albums is quite a gap, it certainly puts the likes of the Stone Roses in the shade. But thankfully for us reggae deejay Little Harry has persevered. Backed by Swiss digi marvels High Smile HiFi, Little Harry presents us with his second LP ‘Youngest Veteron’, a singular ruff n tuff collection of tunes.
Little Harry, deejay
It is fair to say Little Harry was an early starter in the reggae business. He began deejaying at the tender age of ten featuring on the Black Lion sound system. It was entering the J.C.D.J National D.J competition at the legendary Skateland that really kick started his career and also forged a friendship with the eventual competition winner Yellowman. The 1982 record ‘Live at the Aces; Feeding in the Dance Hall’ soon followed and also featured Yellowman, Fathead and Jah Rubaal. This was the first time Little Harry’s voice was heard on record.
The following year Little Harry started to deejay for Junjo’s legendary sound Volcano. He also recorded his debut album for Junjo, a clash between himself and fellow child deejay Billy Boyo. It was released by Greensleeves records as most of Junjo’s albums were at the time. After going on to record several songs for King Jammy, it was linking up with King Sturmars HiFi that produced his biggest hit, ‘Anorexal Body’.
High Smile Hi-Fi
The story then goes a little quiet on the recording front for Little Harry. It was teaming up with the Switzerland based production crew High Smile HiFi that kick started a second phase in his career as a deejay. High Smile consists of Icky Top, who is the musical backbone behind High Smile productions and Kebilli & Pappa Irie, the crew’s selectors who also run things at their label Top Smile Records. Check out this link for their previous appearance on my blog. This collaboration between Little Harry and High Smile resulted in two 7’s, ‘Hard Life’ in 2014 and ‘No Friend a Dem’ in 2015. Jump forward to 2018 and Little Harry’s second full length recording, Youngest Veteron hits the stores.
I mentioned ruff n tuff earlier and this phrase always springs to mind when I hear digi dancehall. The album kicks off with ‘Nah Lef Di Earth’ a track with short, sharp, urgent sounding beats. To me this is real street music, an incredibly influential sound with a lineage that runs right through hip-hop, ragga, jungle, grime and drill. But this album it is not one to be pigeonholed and has a few surprises up its sleeve. Listen to ‘Kingston City’ and you have something more rootsy, this is a slowed down dubby homage to one of the most musically creative cities on the planet. And there was me thinking I was starting to get a handle on what a digi album sounded like.
The production on the album sounds pure retro 80s and that is testament to the skills of Icky Top. Like the guys who can make reggae sound like 70s roots, I am so in awe of the skilled hands that make these records sound so authentic. Although as someone who’s ‘decade of life discovery’ was the 80s, it is slightly disconcerting that the music I grew up with is now described as retro! A good example of this 80s feel is the track ‘Gunshot’ with its squidgy synth effects, it certainly has a sound that takes me back to the party life. Not that a boy who hung out in Kingston, Surrey can justifiably draw any parallels to Little Harry’s life growing up in Kingston, Jamaica!
An album like this gives me two things to take away. Firstly it highlights how little I know about this reggae offshoot and secondly how much I do like it. I need a crash course in 80s digi reggae. Whenever I hear a High Smile HiFi release though I do feel in safe hands, they help guide me through this uncharted territory. This collection is no different, it is an excellent album and I so hope this new chapter for Little Harry sparks a long and successful recording life. I have the digi bug now and I need Little Harry to keep feeding it.
The album is available as a digital download (very fitting) from the High Smile HiFi bandcamp site and all the usually streaming places. A vinyl version is also now out for all you retro people.
I hope you like what you have heard and read here, please do share via social media, it is all much appreciated. Give me some recommendations in the comments, what tracks should I check out to further my digi knowledge?
Bless, Paper Lion