Zak Starkey and Sharna “Sshh” Liguz, have announced the creation of a new reggae record label, Trojan Jamaica, and a groundbreaking compilation Red, Gold, Green & Blue. The first song from the compilation and label is the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put A Spell On You” performed by Mykal Rose featuring Sly & Robbie. The song will be available for streaming tomorrow. You can hear the song from a video below though. Mykal Rose will be performing with Sly & Robbie for the Ithaca Reggae Fest in Upstate, NY on June 29th. Check out info on that here.
Trojan Jamaica arrives with a mandate to explore Jamaica’s diverse musical legacy, from its African roots to the endless inspiration of classic and contemporary American soul, R&B and blues. With that goal in mind, RED, GOLD, GREEN & BLUE sees such stars as Sshh, Toots & The Maytals, Big Youth, Freddie McGregor, Phylea Carley, Kiddus I, Andrew Tosh and Robbie Shakespeare taking on definitive songs by Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson, Peter Green, and Johnny & Shuggie Otis. Backing throughout comes from a truly extraordinary line-up of legendary musicians, including Starkey (guitar), Sly Dunbar (drums), Robbie Shakespeare (bass), Tony Chin (guitar), Cyril Neville (drums), Michael Rendall (keyboards, organ) and Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace (drums, organ).
“It’s our aim to bring a range of new Jamaican music to the masses,” says Sshh. “An evolution of roots, rock and reggae, combining contemporary artists with a number of Jamaica’s musical pioneers. It’s an absolute honor to be working with such incredible people”
The story of Trojan Jamaica began in 2016 when Starkey – known for his superlative work as drummer in The Who, Oasis and Johnny Marr and the Healers, among countless other musical efforts – and Australian-born artist-musician Sharna “Sshh” Liguz united as SSHH, teaming up to reinvent such seminal songs as Bob Marley and the Wailers’ “Get Up Stand Up,” performed alongside Eddie Vedder and Carlton “Santa” Davis, George “Fully” Fullwood and Tony Chin of the pioneering reggae backing outfit known as Soul Syndicate. A video of the performance made its way to Jamaican entrepreneur Kingsley Cooper who immediately invited Starkey and Sshh to perform at the November 2016 opening of the long awaited Peter Tosh Museum in Kingston. Another invitation followed in 2017, inspiring the duo to begin work on what would soon become Trojan Jamaica.
“We felt so warmly welcomed and at home in the musical community that we stayed and recorded all the music that has become Trojan Jamaica,” says Starkey. “We’re committed to presenting local artists together with international musicians who, like us, have been inspired by roots culture.”
Starkey and Sshh were aided in their mission by GRAMMY® Award-winning rhythm section Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, both of whom make indelible contributions throughout RED, GOLD, GREEN & BLUE. An array of genre-spanning session superstars were enlisted, including drummer Cyril Neville (The Meters, The Neville Brothers), guitarist Tony Chin (of the famed Soul Syndicate session outfit) and keyboardist Michael Rendell (The Orb, Pink Floyd). With Youth behind the board, Starkey and Sshh lead this extraordinary band through all new performances of archetypal American music which deeply inspired the reggae revolution but whose influence on Jamaican music and culture is often forgotten.
“I find both reggae music and American blues to be similar with a different approach,” Starkey told the Jamaica Observer last year. “Very cleverly, Jamaican music is ‘up’ music with a serious message. US blues has a very similar message in the words but the music can be harder or more ‘down’, but both rock just as hard.”