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Saxson Sound - London

Posted by Mr. Article 
Mr. Article
Saxson Sound - London
June 03, 2005 09:38AM
King SaXon ¨’ Studio International

The SaXon Studio International sound system, dominated the reggae dancehall throughout the 80's and mid 90's both nationally in the UK and internationally all over the world. SaXon brought overseas recognition to the dancehall scene in the UK and promoted many artists including, Papa Levi, Smiley Culture, Asher Senator, Maxi Priest, Tippa Irie, Daddy Rusty, Senior San, Junior San, Ultimate, Deadly Ranks, Double O, Miss Irie (rip), Daddy Colonel, Roger Robin, Mickey Mclean, Sugar Merchant, B-Candy, Mickey General, Multi-blind, Dangeryouth, Richie Ranks, Neville Morrison, Simmy Ranks, Peter King, Mikey Dupa plus many more besides. Many of the artists secured International fame and recognition in their own right.

There was no sound-system that could stand in the way of the mighty SaXon owned by Selector Lloyd Francis alias Musclehead and managed by Dennis Rowe (¡®D¡¯Rowe) as the best singers and MC's crowded the sound. The sound was always at its best when operated by Trevor (Sax) Ranks, with Musclehead flinging down selection. Minimuscle, Mixers Trevor, Henry (Digital Prento) Equaliser and later Mikey Boops made sure that the music selection; sound engineering and mix set the standard, which the SaXon MC¡¯s and singers expected. We should never forget the contribution here from Daddy Worzel (rip) from driving the sound van to setting up the sound system in the dance.

To the best of my knowledge, SaXon was not fueled by income from narcotics and was the best loved sound system amongst the dancehall massives creating Roadblocs wherever they performed, leaving other sound owners jealous and envious of the killa SaXon duplates and their fearsome MC's.

Hip hop artists and reggae superstars like Beenie Man, Yellowman, Papa San, Lt Stichie, Buju Banton, General Trees, Papa Toyan, Peter Metro, Lecturer, Supercat, Nicodemus, Squiddley Ranks, Pato Banton, Junior Reid, Half Pint, Macka B, Charlie Chaplin, Welton Irie, Johnny Ringo, Bunny General, Shinehead, etc were influenced by the SaXon MC's as well as sound systems like Sir Coxsone Outernational, Fatman, Java, Unity, Frontline Sound, Young Lion, Stereoclassic, Rapattak, Observer, Radics, Gemi-Magic, Taurus, Maverick, Now Generation, Sovereign, Nasty Rockers, King Tubby¡¯s, Prophesy, Jah Shakka, Luv Injection, Ghetto-Tone, Black Scorpio, Volcano, Stereo-1, Afrique, Downbeat, Jack Ruby, Black Scorpio, Cosmic, Metromedia, Stonelove, Stur Gav, Jamdown Rockers, Gemini, Creation, Jungle Man, Duke Alloy, King Addis, Bodyguard, Kebra Negus, V-Rocket, Killamanjaro ......etc. SaXon completed a magnificent history by winning the sound system world cup clash in 1994.

SaXon (UK undisputed #1 sound) played Third World (NYC's Champion 90's Area in Brooklyn) in 1985. This clash between the USA and UK opened up New York as a venue for international sound clashes. This clash was held nearly two decades ago and is still talked about today.

SaXon MC's were signed by major record labels, Island records signing up Maxi Priest and the talented squadron leader Papa Levi, who became the 1st UK based reggae artist to reach the top of the Jamaican reggae charts with his hit tune, 'Mi God Mi King', this hit tune simultaneously being No 1 in the UK reggae charts. The other MC's (Tippa Irie, Daddy Colonel, Senior Sandy, Daddy Rusty and Sugar Merchant) were signed by Greensleeves on their UK Bubblers label specially created for SaXon, which produced and recorded the live dancehall session, ¡®Coughing Up Fire' in 1984. Despite this it¡¯s very surprising that this amazing academy of talent and application has not received the true recognition and reward it deserves, especially in the case of the ¡®squadron leader¡¯ Papa Levi.

After Maxi Priest, Roger Robin was the second most important singing talent to emerge from SaXon. He was only 11 when he first took the mic on the sound. By the time he was twenty he had developed a singing style that many would say was ¡®stolen¡¯ from Maxi, but the dancehall massive new from early out how ¡®Lumberjack Roger¡¯ used to sound. In fact many would argue that Roger was actually the better singer and a much more talented songwriter. Whatever the case I loved them both. Roger¡¯s single "More Love" topped the UK reggae charts in 1990. In 1993 his "Undiluted" album - which includes a ¡®Fist Full of Dollars" - received the "Best British Reggae Album" award.

Sound §Áeflections from the Archive

¡®Yes wi cum bac agen on a trip down memory lane
wi kno tings hav fi change but bring wi bac di Gud Ol Days,
cah wi sing seh wi fi moov wid di times caan mek dem leave us behine
wi kno tings afi change but gi wi bac di Gud Ol Days¡¯
Tippa Irie and Pato Banton

I use to go around the local house blues scene in Birmingham mostly on a Friday night after work. Now and again we would hear some half decent MC's and good music. Nuff yard tunes were coming in and we would check out the latest tunes down at Don Christies record shop in the Bull Ring on Saturday afternoons, then checkout sessions at Barker St, St Peters Road or Balsall Heath (Sodom) where the big bank holiday special sound Duke Alloy use to play, owned by Bujum and operated by Grubby Banton. These were the days before Wayne (Glamour) Irie use to operate the set.

We then started to hear about a young upcoming Birmingham sound called Upfront Hifi run by Zeb-I (Carl Baxter). Upfront use to play party style in flats but it was madness and sometimes felt dangerous, if you ever managed to get in, it felt like you would never get out. Eventually the sound system moved to ram out the bigger dancehalls like Oaklands and would draw the Biggest crowds to their dance. We didn't realise at the time that most of the lyrics were pirated off the 1981 Reggae Sunsplash tape, especially Peter Metro's Calypso Calypso. But it was all good fun and the vibes were always mellow with nuff girls following the sound. These were the days when the Johnny Dollar, Feel Like Jumping,Taxi and the Whip riddims ran the dancehall. One night in an Upfront v Skippy and Lippy dance a dread came in near the end of the session his name was Macka B and he mashed up the dance with some wicked lyrics. Macka B promised not to be late for the next clash dance and encouraged us not to miss it. Every one talked about the forthcoming clash for weeks and I duly arrived at the next clash in Oaklands. Skippy and Lippy kicked off early and Macka B continued where he left off brandishing killer lyrics, the crowd was going mad and Upfront's crown (Birmingham No.1) was slipping. All of a sudden some men rushed the Upfront set like they were looking to fight, then another dread jumped on the Taxi rhythm Upfront had selected, his name was Pato Banton. The crowd was then entertained by a lyric fi lyric show down. Macka B got my vote for doing a lyric in French, German and Spanish like.........

'Seh Blak man ina Ingland seh dem speak patois,
it soun inglish but a lickle sweeter,
ear de french man dat a une, deux, trois¡¯ etc ¡­¡­.continuing in Spanish and German.

I left feeling that the best MC I had ever heard was Macka B, not only was
Macka wicked lyrically, but his personality was based on his faith (a humble and conscientious Rastaman), which made him even more likeable. To this day I don¡¯t believe a word of slackness has ever left his mouth. Not too long after I started to hear about a young 17yr old MC called Tippa Irie, everybody was saying he was from SaXon and that he was amazing. The first tape I got to hear him on was a copy of the DSYC DJ Jamboree live LP in London. I didn¡¯t realise at the time that it was a King Tubby's set until my close brethren ¡®H¡¯ lent me the LP, where Tippa and General Slater (aka Slarter! later on) ran the show. General Slater stole it for me I thought he was the most complete MC for the time. I did recall another DJ doing;

'de date a Friday 28 di munt a January,
wi in de new year call 83,
mi cum a Tulse Hill fi di DJ Jamboree
in case me neva mention fi mi name a Levi
clear di boogu out yu nose soh yu can breed easy
tek di wax outta yu ears pay attenshun tu mi
cah now mi a go present connection a di MC........' but more of him later.

For me it was still all about Tippa and Slater they seemed born to chat. Some close friends of mine went to Oaklands to see the SaXon v Jungleman sound clash, the talk of the town was that Jungleman (like many sounds to follow) experienced total annihilation by the Lewisham super system, my friends told me that Macka B and Pato were old time style and that the SaXon MC's had moved the standard much further on. Jungleman never played out much after that dance becoming Now Generation in future years. The 39 Massive¡¯s Boasy Peter, CP and Judah never forgot the memory of that beating, fast forward to the clash at Somerfield community centre Winson Green between SaXon and Now Generation 1987 when Ghetto-sacs and some other men rushed the SaXon set!

I made a promise to myself to never miss another SaXon dance and the time came when SaXon played at the Botanical Gardens Harborne Birmingham, against Radics owned and operated by Dolphus. Dolphus enlisted Macka B and Pato to help in the clash alongside Nigga Judah, CP and Boasty Peter from Jungleman. The dance was wicked every MC was on form, but the SaXon MC's carried the dance, they had more unity and had lyrics in abundance ('Miss Rowe a strikly 7-up a weh mi sip¡¯ or ¡®tree di hard way as yu can see¡¯, etc).

Tippa was wicked, Macka B and Colonel seemed to be in a competition to see who could roll their tongue the best. I left the dance with nuff memories and one name on my mind to tell my friends, PHILIP ¡®PAPA¡¯ LEVI he was just something else, totally at ease, composed and full of invention. Lyrically and personality wise he was from another planet. From that day to this only Lieutenant Stichie, Papa San and Professor Nuts in my opinion are in the same class and possess the same overall ability for complex lyrical invention. As wicked lyrical poet and dancehall bubbler Tippa Irie runs them all close, as does Junior Sandy, Macka B and Smiley and Asher in their early days. All are technically advanced and gifted bordering on the genius! The superstar dream team of Senior San, Daddy Rusty, Daddy Colonel, Junior San, Papa Levi and Tipper Irie were just unbelievable!! They revolutionised the MC business in the UK and the rest of the world with their fast styles and technically complicated single topic lyrics which could bore hole in any riddim. No one else was doing this at the time. Their lyrics reaching Jamaica and being pirated (copied) by the likes of Yellowman (Jah mi fear), Charlie Chaplain (Jah mi fear), Welton Irie (¡¯84 Shan), etc. The tape to have around this time was the SaXon v Ghetto-tone dance Coliseum Suite when Ghetto-tone never turned up, everyone wanted the tape. The tape is awesome full of lyrics from beginning to end. From Levi¡¯s Gran to Tippa¡¯s most famous Arsenal supporter and Colonels ¡®Gran dis a di counteraction¡¯, Tippa¡¯s lyric;

It name Jam Rasta no dis yah session a fi jam
Rasta kno dis yah session a fi jam
Rasta kno dis yah session a fi jam
Is i man Mr Irie at di microphone stan
In case yuh neva kno i am a lyric bantan
a me originate if i was a rich man
I want all u people hear dem style and fashion
An as a MC I got my own opinion
I prefa Daddy Colonel to Duty Desmon
I prefa Daddy Buro to di one Yellowman
I prefa Nicodemus to di one call Toyan
I prefa Johnny Ringo to im partna Welton
I prefa Philip Levi to Daddy Champion (record jumps!)
Cah mi prefa Philip Levi to Daddy Champion
Seh Smiley and Asha a wi companion
Dem chat reality dem dow¡¯n chat friction
Di one Willie Major upcomin mike man
To mi a feel im av di most ¡®O¡¯ inna dis yah land
Trevor operator hol im balls inna im an
An Dennis always cuss im how im cum from Taiwan
moving unto Micky who¡¯s an impotent man
Di only blakman me no hair hav a suntan
Seh Blak cockney Bailey always chat di cockney trong
An inna fi im tro¡¯ses im hav a bag a san
Seh lumberjack Roger a di one who sing song¡­¡­¡­¡­¡­.Genius!

From then on I never missed any SaXon dance anywhere in the Midlands area, (from Nottingham ¨C Northampton). In those days I never had a car, I would never worry how I would get back from the dance, just as long as I could make it there was all that mattered to me. The return journey was usually down to the first train back to Birmingham or night service bus pass and foot. Looking back I can¡¯t remember how I use to reach some of the places I did. I remember one night after SaXon played Bojangles in Bilston. SaXon had Earl 16 live round the set (¡®Batman and Robin skank wid Papa Levi tonite¡¯) and Levi mash up the dance with 'rip down session'. At the end of the dance me and some Radics MC¡¯s (Kernal Valentine and Lieutenant Mellow) and Sugar Merchant all arrived at the local train station at the same time and all we did on the platform and on the journey back to Birmingham was to talk about Levi¡¯s lyric, especially the part when he said,

'Tuesday night mi naim a Indian curry
an Lard yu shud a ear me flash it like a Indian
¡­Oyah Oyah Oyah Oyah'....Wicked!

About some time around 1985 GT (Grantley Haynes) and Pato started to promote dances at the Henry¡¯s Night club Bilston, this was a big step from the five-star promotions crew (Big T and Massive) who felt they had Handsworth and SaXon under lock and key, especially as Big T and D Rowe were family. Some of the five-star promotions didn¡¯t always come off where SaXon was concerned and it reached a point for me where I would not go in the dance unless I could see Muscleheads Stag/Merc parked outside. GT and Pato seemed honest and approachable so there was a big shift towards their promotions. At the same time GT started to manage Tippa after his tune ¡®Hello Darlin¡¯ became a big hit in the UK charts. As a result Tippa and Pato started to do more stage shows together, we liked to see them ¡®up there¡¯ but I never wanted Tippa to leave SaXon, that¡¯s where he made me and the rest of the dancehall massive feel good. There was a rumour one time that GT was trying to steer Tippa way from the dancehall, I asked D Rowe about this one time but I leave you to guess what he said!

One night there was a promotion for the long awaited MC clash of the giants between Macka B & Pato v Tippa & Levi. Everyone was looking forward to it. It would settle the issue concerning who really was the best MC. I never thought that Pato would get past the first round against Tippa & Levi but Macka B had some wicked lyrics, so I thought he would be much harder to tame. The night came and a coach and been organised to take people from Balsall Heath (Sodom) to the dance. When I got on the coach if my memory serves me well Pato and GT were guiding people on (checking tickets) and Pato said he was ready for it. When got to the club we just breezed straight in no hassle and I went straight to the front. Every body was waiting with great anticipation for the clash to start. After a while nothing seemed to be happening and for the first time it occurred to me that I had not yet seen Tippa or Levi. GT then came to the front of the stage using his handkerchief to wipe the sweat off his face, and then he quelled the noise of the crowd and said;

¡®crowd a peeple mi friten fi tell oonuh seh Levi an Tippa doh de ya¡¯

At first everyone was going mad shouting Fix! Set-up! Money-back! GT then said they would run the show as Macka B and Pato were there, whilst everyone was upset we kind of see with him as he was saying it wasn¡¯t his fault. Macka B saved the night with some wicked lyrics, like;

Mi cool mi cool mi cool mi nuh worry mi nuh worry mi nuh worry miself
Mi unda level level level level level vibe Lard
Mi cool mi cool mi cool mi nuh worry mi nuh worry mi nuh worry miself
Mi unda level level level level level vibe
Operator change di music put it pon di oda side
Pon di riddim mi a bubble an a sekkle an a cool an a sekkle an a ride¡­¡­unbelievably fast!

When he buried Admiral Jerry after Jerry had done a very nasty lyric about women (everybody booed Jerry). I can¡¯t remember the full of the lyric but at the end said in a very final judgement like voice;

¡®don¡¯t worry slackness chanter you won¡¯t be alone
Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher they will keep you at home¡¯.

The crowed went mad, it was wicked. I never reached home till around 3 in the morning and had to get up for work, I was tired all day.

Another night at the same club Levi and Tippa were the entertainment in between the Birmingham MC competition between Fancy Fitzty, Kernal Valentine, Zodman and Lieutenant Mellow. The fact that Zodman won was like the sideshow, the level of professionalism showed by Levi and Tippa on stage was something to be seen and Henry Prento gave them a wicked mix, taking over from Dolphus who had mixed for the Birmingham MC¡¯s.

A little while later at the Maximillian Club in Birmingham (I still have the video!). The clash of the giants took place. Trevor Sax was on the mix of the Master Blaster sound (now Luv Injection). Although Levi arrived late on, he didn¡¯t get to chat as Ghetto-sacs (him again) mashed up the dance and stopped the Blaster selector from putting on a riddim for Levi. I have to admit that the night belonged to Pato he was a revelation, kind of showing that he could mix it in the First Division (Premier League not yet invented¡­lol). His lyrics was the freshest and the most inventive, especially in his ¡®mi nuh trouble nuh-one, nuh-one shouldn¡¯t trouble mi¡¯ lyric, when he said,

¡®one time Radics play SaXon a London City,
mi neva di go cah Dolfus neva did treet me properly,
so me stay a mi yard a watch di late movie.
Next day when mi wake up mi get an SP,
Tippa did a boast seh im wud a beat me.
Me neva get worried me neva get jumpy
cah mi no nuff rispec is due onto me,
not jus only me but also Macka B
cos he¡¯s a gentle man with manners and a boss MC,
de both a we praise God di almighty
and wi read wi bible frequently
any way mek me get back to Philip Levi
and the ugly bwoy name Tippa Irie¡­
me don¡¯t trouble no-one, no-one shouldn¡¯t trouble me¡¯. Wicked!

Although I knew it was going to be very difficult for Macka and Pato to live with career destroying MC¡¯s like Levi and Tippa, especially when thinking of the lyrics that MC¡¯s like Daddy IP, Lesi Lyrics, Bubbler Ranks, Youthy General, Dirty Desi, Daddy Willie, Mr Palmer, Nigga Jimmy of the Coxsone, Ghetto-tone and Young Lion, sounds had to face. The real surprise of the night was that Macka B got brushed up from early out by Tippa; he claimed he didn¡¯t know it was a clash dance until he heard it the night before on the Radio WM Des Mitchell show. Pato¡¯s determination made sure he never faced any social embarrassment; although overall his lyrics were the best on night we were all disappointed not to hear Levi, especially when we could see him standing around the set.

Another memory I have is from the Big House (Handsworth Leisure Centre) when SaXon played against Maverick sound from Leeds and Master Blaster from Birmingham. There was only Levi and Colonel but the dance was wicked. Musclehead ran some ruff Mikey General riddims the whole night, alongside Prince Junior, King Kong and Sugar Merchant. Levi did his Militancy and president botha lyric and a wicked combination with the Colonel;

¡®tu much lyric wi afi gi sum away,
heres one fi yu San
heres one fi yu Tip,
heres one fi yu San
heres one fi yu Tip,
seckle Trevor Rank no boda bite up yu top lip
Muscle silectin Digit a mix it
dis harmonising it sound fantastic,
Levi and de Colonel is lyrically fully quip,
sink nuff DJ like the ship call Titanic
more versatile dan Inspector Gadget
ribbi ribbi bung bung ribbit tittyt titty tit
dis ya stile a sting an shock an dis ya
style a hit a kick,
obliterate the dubplate exterminate the plastik
dis is wat wi wan tu be known tu de Public
put down microfone if yu is a mechanic
cah microfone it nuh carry nuh dipstick¡­¡­.¡¯

Wicked! I never left the dance until the sounds locked off.

My close brethren ¡®H¡¯ moved to London just behind Kennington Oval. Daddy IP (RIP) lived below him in the same block of flats. We didn¡¯t chat much at first but when he find out that I knew he was Cosxone MC then he would speak, he didn't like it when we use to say that SaXon better dem though. Sad he lost his life the way he did. ¡®H¡¯ later bought a flat on Southwell Road off Coldharbour Lane and nearly every weekend I was down there visiting, and I would take in whatever big dance was going (Mellon Road, Battersea Park, Clapham Park, Notting Hill etc). Sometimes we would even drive from London to catch up with the sound like when SaXon played Coxsone and Unity at Central Club Reading 1987. SaXon had some wicked Leroy Gibbons and Admiral Tibbet, Coxsone had Stichie and Shabba on some wicked riddims. When they played Tenafly on dub-special doing Ruffneck Fashion it mashed up the dance. But the dance was spoiled at the end when things got heated after Deadly touched Tenafly with a lyric about seeing him in the West-End ¡®a wear gwal frock¡¯. This clash followed the bashing SaXon had earlier given Coxsone in Leeds and Blacka was back behind the controls, ¡®suh yuh kno it jus kudn¡¯t end deh soh!

The 1987 clash dance in Chapletown Leeds against Coxsone was amazing until it get shot! Levi mashed up the dance with his, ¡®keepin a dance dun a washington¡¯ and Roger Robin singing ¡®society¡¯. Muscle¡¯s selections were wicked, 5 slices of Emmanuel Road and the ¡®Dallas¡¯ dubplate are my key memories of the dance, aside from having to jump a wall to get out the dance when everyone scattered and dived for cover from Billy the Kid! SaXon totally outplayed Coxsone. Some of my bredrens who love Coxsone said on the night that they would never take them in again unless Blacka was behind the sound!

Tenafly alongside Topcat, Prento Youth, Bikey and Fathead were the best Coxsone MC¡¯s. Daddy Freddy had too much head top (made up on the spot) lyrics for me. Although it must be said Freddy was an exciting vibes out DJ just like the DJ¡¯s from home, he would always jump and go mad round the sound. Tenafly (human teletext) had wicked inventions but later on started to do too much headtop stuff when doing combinations with Freddy (¡®cum lik-a Freddy get tu im¡¯). His ¡®World Cup crazy¡¯ and ¡®boom shukkle shukkle seh dem loose a Shuttle¡¯ lyric in Clapham Common 1986 was brilliant. Tenafly just didn¡¯t have a forceful personality more ¡®tan soh back¡¯ and so never ran his sound like the SaXon guys without being pushed by Blacka or Gappy Dread. Gappy and Musichead would always be shouting ¡®a who rule¡¯? To get him to front the sound more. I have to say in partnership with Stevie Culture or Danny Chemist on the mix Tenafly was wicked!

To me Deadly Ranks wasn¡¯t blessed with the same magic as the other SaXon MC¡¯s. But he shocked me once when he did a spin on the Senior San (¡®vibes in a de dance gettin higher, su cum Musclehead rubadub yuh desire¡¯) and Tippa Irie (¡®Nyah was a man from moa Kintyre, evry day im git up im a labba labba labba) with; ¡®Tell u bout Richard Pryor who juck heroin an im kin ketch a fire¡¯, about his best lyric for me.

My brethren ¡®H¡¯ had a cousin (Wilo) who was the best friend of Coxones upcoming selector Roger aka Musichead, before the big dances in London against Coxsone, Roger and I would always discuss the outcome. He would tell Wilo and I about all the specials that Blacka had prepared specially to deal with SaXon, but I would always declare that ¡®my¡¯ sound would come through regardless. From about 1987 after every SaXon v Coxsone dance I would get a tape of the Coxsone side within a week of the dance. Wilo would always get a copy from Jeh¡¯sus or Musichead. Musichead would say ¡®mek Ronnie see ow wi angle dem¡¯. This continued right up to the early 1990¡¯s when Blacka got the former Duke Alloy engineer Ray to build new amps for Coxsone, the old Coxsone valve amplifier had had its day. I remember the night of the Tyson v Bruno fight in 1989 at MFM Club Northampton, Coxsone had some wicked specials with Frankie Paul and Dennis Brown and hurt SaXon on the night. Tenafly also had the right lyric for the occasion, as we all rushed out the dance to listen to the fight on the radio in the car, when we came back in Tenafly flashed the following lyric as the news reached the Coxsone sound, ¡®Mike Tyson a de dan, a de dan, Tyson a de dan im a di King champion¡¯. I had to admit it was Coxsone¡¯s night from beginning to end; they killed SaXon with their Dennis Brown and Frankie Paul dub plates, especially ¡®Coxsone a di lick¡¯. The only answer SaXon had was Senior San, he saved SaXon from a serious battering!

Another time when I was in London I gave Minimuscle a call and he told me to come and visit him in Malpas Road. My brethren ¡®H¡¯and I went to visit Minimuscle and Mrs Francis fed us and treated us nice while we looked at photo albums and talked about SaXon. Minimuscle made sure I left we plenty slices of the mighty sound system on cassette tape.

I followed SaXon come snow, rain or shine all over the country Coventry, Leeds, Liverpool, Nottingham, Wolverhampton, Manchester, Bilston, Notting Hill, Leicester, Northampton, etc. A bredren of mine Earl (Sixteen!) was ¡®in a it tu¡¯ with me everywhere SaXon played.

Many times we would link up with individual members of the SaXon family like Worzel, Levi, Junior San, Cookie. Worzel would always spar with Hugh
Johnson when SaXon played in Birmingham and he use to let us know the latest news and the next big dances when we link up. I use to buck Cookie at nuff dance, on night after a failed clash in Coventry against Unity, SaXon kept a dance in a nearby flat in the Hillfields district of the town when I reach the dance Cookie was controlling the door, when I asked him how much to come in he just said, 'yu a SaXon soldier yu nuh a fi pay'.

Although every MC loved the sound, none loved the sound more than Colonel. There was a time for about 3 years non-stop where every dance I went to, Colonel would be there to defend his sound. Colonel was the perfect foil for MC combinations. He linked well because of great timing and awareness, like on the dub special with Levi and Tippa, ¡®luv oonuh bad¡¯ in 1988. One night in 1986 SaXon played Observer in Oaklands, and the dance was like a memory daze session with tunes going back to the days of Lewisham Boys club and Moonshot Club Depford. Colonel set the pace in the dance bringing the other MC¡¯s in and he front the sound Bad! Senior San and Junior San did some wicked lyrics on the night.

¡®Dis a champion bubbler mek yu waistline roll, and cruise we a cruise¡¯, by Senior San mashed up the dance.

Then Junior San followed him with, ¡®reggae and soul lard wat a dis in a Lundon wi spread the dancehall disease¡¯. Musclehead fling down some Bad Nitty Gritty and Pinchers riddim. Tippa reached the dance late and the dancehall niceness just kept on flowing to the end.

Simmy Ranks (Human Bible!) had some fantastically long lyrics, but you had to listen carefully to catch hold of his substance beyond his lyrical style, ¡®Bible Runins¡¯ is a good example as is ¡®mi ha¡¯ fi run fi mi life ina coldswet¡¯.

I have to make a special mention of my mic man ina inglan (said in the voice of the Colonel). Junior San was a lyrical genius just like Levi and Smiley Culture, his lyrics complex and inventive, I use to love hearing him chat, he was a conscious youth as well. I use to feel if anyone was going to take over from Levi in the lyrical sense it would be Junior San (don¡¯t think anyone could beat Levi in other aspect). Not surprising then that Papa San from yard mentioned San Junior in his lyric DJ Business. I have many favourite lyrics from Junior San like;

¡®cumon leh me tell u yu wats nu, Junior Sandy No2,
cumon leh me tell u wats new, spin a row, farm a line, scabby hi, scooby doo,
that¡¯s the bran nu patton an stile from Ovacliff road 22,
crowd a people undastan me crowd a people ketch dis clu theres not one but two young Sandy¡¯s here to rock the revanu¡­¡­¡­.¡¯

But my favourite lyric from Junior San was;

¡®Sandy jus a rivit Junior Sandy jus a rite-a,
Sandy jus a rivit Jinior Sandy jus a rite,
Sandy jus a rivit Junior Sandy jus a rite,
Sandy jus a rivit Junior Sandy jus a rite,
name is Junior Sandy an I¡¯m sweeta dan a candy
jus like Papa Sandy mi cyan rivit an a rite.
Trevor Ranking mix it mi seh Trevor Ranking mix it,
long wid Digital an Junior Sandy pon di mic,
weda yu from Birmingham
weda yu from Nottingham
weda yu be blak or mi she weda yu be wite,
gatha roun de system wan u listen to de ri-ddim
if yu ar a pankoot moov out of my site,
nuff rispec to Dennis Rowe and Miss P from de radio an
Ooh Ahh Ahh Freddy hol tite.
Rock an cum in for yu foot dem clean
me nuh care if yu wearin pepy jean
cos de mor der is we making sure wi jus be-ing polite.
Irie im and sting an Daddy Rusty im a shock-a
Levi is the King and Junior Sandy jus a bite,
munny it soh funny but to sum it sweet like honey
but to mi well don¡¯t forget mi at de ending of de nite¡¯¡­¡­¡­¡­.

I could give you more but Mr Sandiford would sue me!

To be a SaXon MC you had to be totally original with your own chatting style and inventions. Though I use to love when the MC¡¯s jumped on a style like Smileys, ¡®coot a coot soup a soup car a car and a train is a train¡¯, Asher Sennator¡¯s, ¡®Asha kno evryting bout de car¡¯, Tippa Irie¡¯s, ¡®I¡¯m a lyric maker¡¯ and Colonels, ¡®it¡¯s a boom is a killa it¡¯s a masterpiece, sour milk weh mek yoghurt, sour milk weh mek cheese,¡¯ or ¡®im not a DJ not an MC I¡¯m a lyric banton¡¯ and Levi¡¯s, ¡®notch a notch soup a soup an a coot is a coot¡¯ or ¡®if yuh wah mi an yuh need mi duh not loaf little sista.¡¯ No Saxon MC typified originality more to me than Rusty! Rusty wasn¡¯t into the fast chat thing, but some of his lyrics were wicked. One night at Oaklands in 1985 against Stereoclassic, Rusty torn down the dance with;

Ow mi cook a food ow mi mek a sweetpot
O mi cook a food ow mi mek a sweetpot
Earli Sundeh morning Mama wake mi up
Gi mi two poun a rice in a di pot fi look up
Me left di good grain tek de bad one dem up
Wen mi dun wash de rice mi put di peas in de pot
Hour an a half longtime fi cook dat
Wen it draw down mi add cream cokenat
Onion thyme it nuh need no carrat¡­¡­¡­¡­Daddy Rusty chat different from the rest!

¡®Do yuh rememba di skool days wen¡¯, ¡®moped bike moped bike a di new style¡¯, and ¡®one day pass a mi one day pass, nuh one zone ah nuh two zone fi mi pass legal it a tree zone¡¯ are further examples of Rusty¡¯s individuality..

Early 90's ET start select fi di sound and I never liked how it played, peer old tune, no new specials at all, more like a disco than a sound. We use to hear that Levi was going to leave and chat for Java with Joe 90, not sure if this is true or rumour but that¡¯s what they use to say. SaXon never played the same and didn't seem as professional more like a joke thing, however once Trevor got hold of the reigns, SaXon started to come good again and once Muscle was back in action the sound was fit to take on the new juggling sound systems. Around this time too I was in Guernsey in the Channel Islands after leaving Birmingham University. There were only a handful of black men on the entire Island. At a local record shop a man was telling me about a reggae artist who would be visiting the Island with his band, I ran through every artist I could think but he just kept saying, ¡®no not him.¡¯ He kept saying the artist was a reggae rapper, Tenafly I said, ¡®no not him and so on¡¯. Then he said the rapper had a hit in the UK charts with ¡®hello¡¯ something. Tippa Irie? I said. ¡®Yes Bingo¡¯ was the reply. I went to the airport o meet them when they arrived. Tippa Irie, Mickey Tuff, Lester Davis and the rest of the crew. I had just come back from Jamaica so I had plenty of white rum, so I cooked some curry mutton and rice and made some carrot juice for the crew. We reasoned until it was time for them to go and sound check and do the show. It was a great weekend.

I have so many memories and got so much entertainment from those days. SaXon was the most loved sound, because they were not a war-mongering, just a bunch of talented youths who would stand their ground. When the heat was turned up in the dance no sound could live with their MC¡¯s. The only sound in the world that would be a match for them lyrically would be Cosmic sound with Papa San and Bunny General and Stereo-one with Lieutenant Stichie, Ricky Stereo and Daddy Blue. Legendary clashes against Cosxone and Young Lion prove the case in point, SaXon had the most talent and the sound with the best personality so they were always the peoples Champion.

I very rarely visit the dancehall scene anymore too much responsibility to joke with, and secondly of the madness that has over taken the dancehall scene, control has been handed over to the ¡®pi pi bad bwoys¡¯. I took in a 2004 session in Digbeth in Birmingham, my first dance in about 10 years. It was good to see those guys again, they all still look so young and the ability still there, watching them live round the set delivering their lyrics felt lie it use to be, much better than the music juggling scene of the talent less which runs the dancehall now. It seems to me that their talent was deserving of much greater reward, both in financial and recognition terms. In my day they kept nuff man sane ¡®yuh betta beleeve dat!¡¯ as we had something special to look forward every time a SaXon dance came round. On social commentary and a cultural level they passed on as much as any University Lecturer has ever taught me about pollution chemistry and analytical techniques! The SaXon MC¡¯s mastered the art of complex lyrics and invention long ago, it now seems that it¡¯s all about the message¡¯ just like Tippa¡¯s ¡®a de shotta dem dweet¡¯ lyric in 25th anniversary reunion dance Bedford, he had the whole dancehall in his hand because he was dealing with reality, a reality that he had sadly come to experience in his own life. As I see it they have become true artists, operating at the highest level in the vocation they chose to follow. Some may never know what SaXon really meant to the dancehall massive but just take a trip down memory lane and listen to the mighty SaXon Sound in full dancehall effect, ¡®dun talk¡¯!

Of the 250+ SaXon tapes, CD¡¯s and records I have (many where I was in the dance), my top ten all time SaXon sessions are;

1. Philip Levi v Lesley Lyric ¨C ¡®yu can hav de trophy I¡¯ll take the cash¡¯ (some say Lesley was a good MC but Levi buried Lesley so badly that his career was effectively over from this point, no one would ever take him seriously after this. Curiously enough with a PhD in hand he¡¯s taken very seriously as a visiting lecturer by Goldsmiths College).

2. SaXon v Ghetto-tone (Ghetto-tone never turned up, but those lyrics from Tippa, Colonel and Levi are still firm in the memory today and had everyone talking about them for years ¨C even in very recent times.)

3. SaXon v Surge Shepherds Bush 1983 (this tape was a favourite for everyone, amazing atmosphere). ¡®Tree di hardway as yuh cwan see¡¯. This dance was where Saxon ran the Bunny li li dub on the real rock riddim 'give me the dub plate mek mi mash dem down'. How many years after did Addis copy it???

4. SaXon ¡®coughing up fire¡¯ live LP (Lickwood!! what more can I say?)

5. SaXon v Stereoclassic Oaklands Birmingham 1985 (Never seen so much condensation run from the ceiling, the atmosphere inside was just like those dances we always wanted to be part of, especially when Muscle dropped Tonto Irie on the sleng teng riddim. Trevor Sax said, ¡®Cookie, D-Rowe mi nuh no if a SP or ruma but di man dem seh, police dem seh, dem tink a bomb plant in yah soh¡¯, I said ¡®a weh im seh bomb plant¡¯? Hugh Johnson said, ¡®si di bomb deh, a Saxon an dem a let arf¡¯! Pride of place amongst my tape collection.

6. SaXon v Young Lion Part 1 (Mr Palmer, Nigger Jimmy and Daddy Willie couldn't manage Levi)

7. SaXon v Coxsone Leeds 1987 (Up until gun shot pop ina de dance, SaXon did have it, key memories Roger Robin singing Society and Levi chatting about keeping a session down a Washington, after Musclehead fling down five slices of Emmanuel Road, you should have seen the look pon Festus face)

8. SaXon v Luv Injection 1992 UK cup clash (SaXon lick off the head of the juggling champion. Trevor Sax said, ¡®dem neva see a soun bill suh farse, 'Leroy dan Smart said, ¡®the victory is mine'. Luv Injection selector King Zukie, ¡®jus hol im ears and squeeze im hed like im kudn¡¯t tek nuh more¡¯.

9. SaXon v Third World Tilden Ballroom New York (or World Third should I say!)

10. SaXon v Coxsone v Taurus St Matthews Church Brixton 1988 (Tippa run di set wicked de night an big up him sound). B Candy's ¡®the meaning of life¡¯, Tippa and Rusty¡¯s combination, ¡®neegle eye¡¯ plus the Barrington Levy specials was wicked too. Barrington Levy and Peter Metro live on Coxsone was the only thing that saved them. Tippa show Tenafly how to front a sound. When dance done Musichead and I reason about it and he had to admit that SaXon was ruff in the dance).

SaXon v King Addis v Kebra Negus v Stereophonic 1994 World Cup clash Milton Keynes (Many would have this as there No 1, but this only told me what I already knew from 19 long-time!)

Sound bytes

To much lyric wi a fi gi sum away eh to much lyric wi a fi gi sum away heres won fi yu san heres wan fi yu Tip seckle Trevor Rank nuh boda bite up yu top lip Muscle selecting Digit a mix it...... yu can hav the trophy l'll take the cash.... i am a most faitful arsenal supporter.... dis ya champion bubbler mek yu wase line roll... short smart 5ft 4in in evry word, born in 1967 November the 23rd.... mi born 1965 the month call june, grow up concious from mi lef mi moda woom.... reggae and soul lord wat a dis in a londun we spread di dancehall disease..... ow mi cook a food ow mi mek a sweet pot.... three di hard way as yu can see, yes is I Colonel T and I Tippa Irie and last but not least I Pupa Levi.... saxon dun wid the trubling and strugling is time fi di entatainin.... fatbelly fatbelly ras like me tek weh tree gwal from tippa irie..... mi keep uskankingfreakingbodpoppingbellymovingjockygroovingcoolanddeadly waterpumping all on yu toe new design strikly mine sweater dan vintage wine.... All my people should know that its crucial in this time, all my friends all around they taking coke and getting high...... The vibes corner hear me now..... Wah dat dem a lick...... jah woman jah man dis a di 84 shan..... bonnie and clyde born in america, di bota dem was to wanted gansta....... I guess some people wonder why do the church bells ring and inside do the people sings of love and happiness tr la la tra la la ..... shuufle up di deck and put di king pon top, irie a sting papa levi a shock, due to the fact we av di lyrical knack, tear down tennament maisonette and flat...... Miss Rowe! strictly seven up a weh me sip...... Jah Jah a go slarta president botha, down in a africa pople getting massicar african broda an african sista..... PAPA LEVI, DADDY COLONEL, SENIOR SANDY, TIPPA IRIE, MAXIE PRIEST, ASHER SENATOR, SMILEY CULTURE, JUNIOR SANDY, MISS IRIE, ROGER ROBIN, MIKEY McCLEAN, B CANDY, NEVILLE MORRISON, MIKEY DUPA, SUGAR MERCHANT, DADDY RUSTY, D-ROWE, MUSCLEHEAD, MINI-MUSCLE, TREVOR SACS, MIKEY BOOPS, HENRY SAX...... Thanks for the memories.
Re: Saxson Sound - London
June 03, 2005 02:22PM
south london rude boy sound ,thay never messed around thay would kill a sound ,bury them ,then dig them up and cremate them ,these days are gone and i don't think you will see anything like this again ,it was an english thing ,pure cockney rudeboy
Re: Saxson Sound - London
June 03, 2005 02:44PM
Nice inside article,got to agree with peter levi,first saw them firing 81/82 notting hill carnival,wicked dubplates.
solid rock
Re: Saxson Sound - London
June 03, 2005 03:46PM
does anyone remember the video clip that was going around the net where they drop that d brown in a rammed dance and the place goes f***ing crazy..
Re: Saxson Sound - London
June 03, 2005 04:38PM
A serious piece of writing this, give thanks & big respect to you.
Re: Saxson Sound - London
June 03, 2005 05:15PM
Enjoyed the read. Wish I could experience it.
Re: Saxson Sound - London
June 08, 2005 12:23AM
dem wrong fi trouble the don, d-o-n saxxon ah di don
Re: Saxson Sound - London
July 27, 2005 12:23PM
I am the author of the SaXon studio short biography above. I have updated and clarified some comments that have been made about the article on the following message board, for those who are interested.


For those who use SLSK an updated copy (V7) of the document with pictures, can be uploaded in pdf format from my Ebook sub-folder. Soulseek user name sAx

Rispek continual 1an all!


Post Edited (07-27-05 05:28)
Re: Saxson Sound - London
July 28, 2005 01:32AM
still stalking Babyface on his message board, sAx? LOL

Re: Saxson Sound - London
July 29, 2005 04:24PM
Hi Chimino,

longtime no hear!! I don't stalk just talk!! Nothing I read on that site was new to me, I guess not the case for you being part of the ill-informed?
Re: Saxson Sound - London
July 29, 2005 11:30PM
LOL, it was just a joke. That site pop down like Face's solo career....

Re: Saxson Sound - London
November 01, 2005 10:38PM
Raspect Sax, one qusetion for you bredren, is this Henry??
Re: Saxson Sound - London
November 01, 2005 10:42PM
Update: Killamanjaro killed Saxon over the weekend, their first clash in 20 years.

Re: Saxson Sound - London
January 17, 2006 01:11AM
Yes I, Them were the days. I could echo most of what you said as i seemed to be at most of them dances myself! really enjoyed going down memory lane, jah know! You mentioned daddy Ip, and that was one Mc i did like , but what happened to him?
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