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Naaman Lee

 

Last revised: 3/08/14

 

From the reference Roots Knotty Roots,  we know that throughout the 1970s, Naaman Lee released a string of at least eight self produced singles on a variety of labels, including, St.Thomas, Mascot, Prince of Peace and Randy's. Sometimes, he recorded under his name, other times as The Old Timers or as The Harmonizer.

Naaman's tracks ran the gamut from rustic quadrille to mento-reggae to pure reggae. As these labels sometimes include the text, "Lee Prod.", these releases are sometimes mistakenly thought to be Lee Perry productions.


 

 
The 1978 Naaman Lee single, "English Woman", on the St. Thomas label. This track is reminiscent of Stanley Beckford's mento-influenced reggae, though with the inclusion of banjo, it's a bit more on the mento side than Stanley's reggae is. "Mento In Dub" is the version on the B-side.

From 1972, billed to The Old Timers, "Quadrille Beat", is on the Mascot label. It's a traditional mento quadrille. Quadrilles are long, consisting of several movements. When released on a 45 RPM single such as this one (or, for that matter on a 78 RPM single decades earlier), the movements were spread across both sides. This is a 6 movement quadrille. Five movements seemed to be most common. Chin's Calypso Sextet recorded a 4 movement quadrille. A quadrille LP can be seen on the More Middle Period Album Scans page. As you can see below, there were several label variations for what was apparently a popular single (the last scan coming courtesy of  Jurjen Borregaard of Amsterdam from Riddim Shower).

 

  "Roll The Music" and "Version"
by Naaman Lee, on the Mascot label from 1976.

Complete with banjo, this track is mento reggae with a touch of calypso. It's a medley of familiar mentos: 

"Natta Bay Road", "Dog War A Matches Lane", "Wheel and Turn Me" (with new lyrics about Festival), "Natta Bay Road".

  Another rustic Old Timers quadrille from 1972: on Randy's "First Figure" backed with "Second Figure".

  Two rustic instrumental mentos by the Old Timers on the Mascot label from 1973:

Jamaica Mento No. 1
       backed with
Jamaica Minto [sic] No. 2

 
Again on Mascot is the 1973 Naaman Lee single,

"Wedding Day"

b/w

"Finger Rock"

On "Wedding Day", Naaman asks for a man's daughter's hand in marriage, and makes his case. It's a gentle song, with Naaman's mento voice making the track sound very mento-reggae. "Finger Rock" is a melodica cut of the riddim, and suddenly it's straight reggae rather than mento reggae.

 
 
The Naaman Lee single, "Sweeter Than Sugar" on the Prince of Peace label (year unknown). It's similar in sound to the above track "English Woman", featuring fun electric banjo playing. The b-side is the dub version, "Sugar Dub". A fine example of mento/reggae fusion, featuring a good melody, interesting instrumentation and a
nice vocal. Because it's my favorite Naaman Lee song, and it's not in print, here is a song clip of Sweeter Than Sugar[Click here for notes About the Audio Clips On this Site.]


 

From the collection of Kenichiro Takeda of Japan, on the Music Box label is "Quadrille Mento 1-3 Instrumental" by The Harmonizer, another traditional mento quadrille by Naaman Lee, that spans both sides of this single.

 


Here's an interesting Naaman-Lee produced 45 on Mascot. It's by The Happy Five in what appears to be their only recordings.
 

   "Merry Old Days" is a fine, sax-led banjo-filled instrumental jam of "Wheel And Turn Me".

"Hot Boogie" finds the band sounding out of their element playing and R&B intrumental.

 


 

  From 1976 a Naaman Lee produced mento-reggae single By L. Christie,

"Rockey" a.k.a.
"Rockey Fashion"

as seen released on the Federal and Mascot labels.

From 1977 a Naaman Lee produced mento single by The Fingers Group,

"Six Figure 77"

This is said to be an instrumental, and by its title, may be a quadrille. I do not know what the flipside is.

 
 
The Naaman Lee single, "Sweeter Than Sugar" on the Prince of Peace label (year unknown). It's similar in sound to the above track "English Woman", featuring fun electric banjo playing. The b-side is the dub version, "Sugar Dub". A fine example of mento/reggae fusion, featuring a good melody, interesting instrumentation and a
nice vocal. Because it's my favorite Naaman Lee song, and it's not in print, here is a song clip of Sweeter Than Sugar[Click here for notes About the Audio Clips On this Site.]


 

From the collection of Kenichiro Takeda of Japan, on the Music Box label is "Quadrille Mento 1-3 Instrumental" by The Harmonizer, another traditional mento quadrille by Naaman Lee, that spans both sides of this single.

 


Here's an interesting Naaman-Lee produced 45 on Mascot. It's by The Happy Five in what appears to be their only recordings.
 

   "Merry Old Days" is a fine, sax-led banjo-filled instrumental jam of "Wheel And Turn Me".

"Hot Boogie" finds the band sounding out of their element playing and R&B intrumental.

 


 

From 1976, on the Music Map label is "World Answer" backed with "Version" by Naaman Lee. This is a reggae track but for Naaman's soft, pleasing country vocal delivery.

  On the Federal label, from 1976 is "Simmer Down" backed with Instrumental Fashion" by Naaman Lee. (It's not The Wailers track of the same name.) Not pure reggae, but this time, rather than mento, it leans heavily to calypso, with a calypso rhythm played on electric guitar, bass and steel drums.

On the St. Thomas label is "Teenage People" from 1979. This track was reggae rather than mento-reggae.

Also reggae rather than mento-reggae are two other Naaman Lee singles I've heard, both on the Mascot label: "Freedom", from 1974, and "Understanding" (year unknown).

Here is "Understanding", and hey!, there's Naaman on the label.

I have also heard a Naaman Lee produced single with a scratched out title and artist on Mascott from 1976. This track would be considered straight reggae, if not for the electric banjo and country-voice vocals.  

An obscure Naaman Lee production from 1975:

On the N. L. Overseas label is "Rasta Kingdom" backed with "Version" by The Esteems. I have not heard this record.

Finally, an even more obscure Naaman Lee single is, on the Mascot label,

"African Drums"    with the unseen b-side
"My Mattie" 

I have not heard this record.

 

 

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