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Horace Andy

Since he began making music in the late '60s, Jamaican singer Horace Andy has been known for the haunting, arresting qualities of his vocals, which add a tinge of mystery and longing to even his most straightforward material. His voice was the guiding force of roots reggae hits like 1972's "Skylarking," and along with albums of his own that explored dub and dancehall styles through the '80s, Andy was prominently featured on select songs by trip hop pioneers Massive Attack on their genre-defining '90s albums. He made music consistently as the years went on, collaborating with artists like Alpha and Sly & Robbie on 2000s output, and teaming with British dub producer Adrian Sherwood for his 2022 effort Midnight Rocker and its dub counterpart Midnight Scorchers, released later the same year. Born Horace Hinds in Kingston, Jamaica in 1951, Andy came on the reggae scene as part of the second generation of great singers who were following in the footsteps of seminal reggae vocalists such as Ken Boothe, John Holt, and Delroy Wilson. What separated Andy from that group and virtually all Jamaican male vocalists of the early '70s (a notable exception being Junior Murvin) was his clear, powerful, high tenor voice. With the ability to shift from sultry croon to full-throated wail, as well as his delicately impeccable phrasing, Andy could be positively stunning. By the age of 21 he was already a music-scene veteran, having cut the hit records "Skylarking," "The Love of a Woman," and "I Found Someone," among others. In the early '70s he was one of the most in-demand vocalists on the island, recording great sides for Bunny Lee; the pair formed a relationship that would last for nearly the rest of the decade and account for some of Andy's best recorded work. After leaving Bunny Lee, Andy went to work with New York producer Everton DaSilva. Unlike Lee, who could sometimes be autocratic when it came to recording, DaSilva gave Andy the latitude needed to craft his own records. It was a great idea, leading to the recording of Andy's signature work, In the Light (with a companion dub LP) in 1977. Andy's vocals seemed to soar higher than ever before and the band, which included such Jamaican luminaries as Augustus Pablo and Horsemouth Wallace, never sounded better. Andy continued recording through the '80s, working with producers such as Lloyd Barnes (aka Bullwackie) and the enigmatic Tappa Zukie. In 1990, Andy was asked to contribute vocals to Massive Attack's brilliant debut Blue Lines. Ecstatic with the results, the band asked him back for 1994's Protection (which also featured another haunting vocalist, Tracey Thorn) as well as 1998's Mezzanine. Andy continued to make solo records, including a tribute LP to Bob Marley, and in 1995 the British label Blood & Fire reissued both In the Light and In the Light Dub on one disc. Andy continued recording throughout the next few decades, releasing albums like his 2007 collaboration with Sly & Robbie, Livin' It Up, and 2013's Broken Beats, which wandered at times into dubstep territory. In April of 2022, Andy worked with dub innovator Adrian Sherwood on a new album, Midnight Rocker, which reworked some of Andy's older songs and presented them alongside several newly written tunes. In September of the same year, Midnight Scorchers followed, offering a classic dub revision of the album. In addition to experimental remixes from Sherwood, Midnight Scorchers included songs from the Midnight Rocker sessions that didn't make the album, and newly recorded guest appearances from dancehall toasters Daddy Freddy and Lone Ranger.
© John Dougan & Fred Thomas /TiVo

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