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Mighty Diamonds

Vocal trio the Mighty Diamonds were one of the most internationally popular reggae groups to emerge from the '70s roots era. More accessible than many other roots outfits, the Diamonds boasted soulful, gorgeously pure harmonies and tight, catchy songwriting, much of it from within the group itself. They were devout Rastafarians, but balanced their spiritual and political messages with sweet romantic material, which gave them a more universal appeal than militant groups like Culture or Black Uhuru. Regardless of whether they were singing love songs or protest anthems, the Mighty Diamonds brought a startling emotional commitment to their best material, and their debut album, Right Time, still stands as one of roots reggae's all-time classics.

The Mighty Diamonds were formed in 1969 in the Kingston ghetto of Trenchtown, also home to Bob Marley. From day one onward, their lineup consisted of founder and harmony singer Pat "Lloyd" Ferguson (aka Judge Diamond, the Judge), lead singer Donald Shaw (aka Tabby Diamond, the Prophet), and harmony singer Fitzroy Simpson (aka Bunny Diamond, the Jester). Their sweet sound and polished choreography were distinctly inspired by the Motown groups of the '60s. During the early '70s, they recorded for several producers, including Stranger Cole and Rupie Edwards, without much success. Finally, in 1973, they caught on at Byron Lee's Dynamic Sounds studio and notched their first hit with "Shame and Pride."

From there, the group moved on to Joseph "JoJo" Hoo Kim's Channel One imprint in 1975. They scored two quick hits with "Country Living" and "Hey Girl," and then had their biggest success yet with "Right Time." Signed to a major-label deal with Virgin, the Mighty Diamonds issued their first album, also titled Right Time, in 1976. It was an instant classic, tackling a multitude of social and spiritual issues with powerful yet graceful music, and spawned further hits in "I Need a Roof," "Have Mercy," and "Africa." Now stars in the U.K. as well as Jamaica, the group traveled to New Orleans to record their follow-up LP, Ice on Fire. Produced by Allen Toussaint, the album was an uneasy marriage of reggae and American R&B, and was received poorly by the group's roots-minded fans.

Retreating from crossover territory, the Mighty Diamonds returned to Channel One and cut several strong roots albums over the next few years: 1978's Stand Up for Your Judgement, 1979's Tell Me What's Wrong, and the most acclaimed of the bunch, 1979's Deeper Roots. In the early '80s, the group started working with producer Gussie Clarke, reworking old Studio One rhythm tracks into new songs on their 1981 album Changes. One of those new songs, "Pass the Kouchie" (or sometimes "Kutchie"), was a major hit in Jamaica, and in 1982 it was covered by the Musical Youth for the U.S. and U.K. smash "Pass the Dutchie" (substituting a type of cooking pot for the original's marijuana slang).

In the mid-'80s, the Diamonds began to incorporate the digital sounds of ragga into their music, on albums like 1985's Struggling and the Clarke-produced efforts The Real Enemy (1987) and Get Ready (1988). Additionally, several collections of the group's unreleased work for Channel One appeared during the decade. Their recording pace slowed a bit in the '90s, though they still came up with fine new albums like 1993's smooth, soul-oriented Paint It Red and 1994's harder-hitting Speak the Truth. The group also continued its extensive international touring schedule up into the new millennium, and kept up a steady string of appearances at the annual Reggae Sunsplash Festival. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Roof (Single)

1. Roof

x

Track List: Reggae Anthology: Pass The Knowledge

Disc 1

2. Pass The Kouchie

3. Right Time

4. Bodyguard

5. Have Mercy

6. Struggling

7. Just Can't Figure Out

8. Gates Of Zion

9. Jah Jah Bless The Dreadlocks

10. Brother Man

11. Jail House

12. Morgan The Pirate

13. Cat-O-Nine

14. Eyes On Africa

15. Africa

16. Jah Will Work It Out

17. Shame And Pride

18. Pray Unto Thee

19. Country Living

20. Tamarind Farm

21. I Need A Roof

22. Mr. Chin Slippers

23. Ghetto Living

24. Pass The Knowledge

25. Identity

26. Let The Dollar Circulate

27. Gypsy Woman

28. Heads Of Government

29. Keep On Moving

30. Fight It Out There

31. Just Like A River

32. (This Is) Party Time

33. Let Jah Sun Shine

34. Hypocrite (Dubplate)

35. Swell Headed (Dubplate)

36. Survival (Dubplate)

37. I Want To Know (Dubplate)

38. Lovely Lady

39. Rocky Road (Dubplate)

40. The Last Dance (Last Waltz)

Disc 3
x

Track List: Unconquerable

1. Back Weh

2. Never Get Weary

3. Who Told You So

4. Heathen Children

5. Fight The Reggaelution

6. Left With A Broken Heart

7. Black Skin Lady

8. Spread Your Love Around

9. Why Me Black Brother

10. I've Got To Let You Know

11. Let The Dollar Circulate

12. Tribal War

13. Heart Breaker

14. Fight, Fight, Fight

x

Track List: I Need A Roof

1. Right Time

2. Why Me Black Brother? Why?

3. Shame & Pride

4. Gnashing Of Teeth

5. Them Never Love Poor Marcus

6. I Need A Roof

7. Go Seek Your Rights

8. Have Mercy

9. Natural Natty

10. Africa

11. Plastic World

12. There's No Me Without You

13. Praise Is All We Get

x

Track List: Best Of MIghty Diamonds

x

Track List: Revolution

1. Fancy Lady

2. No Opportunity

3. Kinarky

4. Hustling

5. Revolution

6. No Crying

7. Wise Son

8. Your Heart Desires

9. Jah Jah Lord

x

Track List: Rise Up

1. Leaders

2. The Life You're Living

3. Look In Your Eyes

4. Trap

5. Rise Up

6. Back Stabbing

7. My Youth

8. Living Like A King (F. Simpson/K. Ferguson)

9. Drifting Away

10. Stranger

11. Sample

12. Angels

13. Living Like A King (F. Simpson)

14. The Have Not

15. John Gotti

16. Searching

17. Thwala

x

Track List: Heads Of Government

1. Tamarind Farm (Feat. Hugh Brown)

2. Juvenile Child

3. Natural Man

4. Carefree Girl

5. Brother Man

6. Only Just Bagan

7. Johnny Too Bad

8. Kept Out

9. Bodyguard

10. Like ASoldier

11. Tell Me What's Wrong

12. Heads Of Government

13. Same Knife

14. Pretty Woman

15. Young Gifted And Black

x

Track List: Bust Out

1. I Need A Roof

2. Screeche Cross The Border

3. In De Dance Again

4. Tell The Heathen

5. Came Saw & Conquer

6. Cool It

7. Take Love For Granted

8. Fight Fire With Fire

9. Love Me Girl

10. Get Up & Fight

11. Hotter The Battle

12. Africans

x

Track List: Jam Session

1. Jam Session

2. Is This An Illusion

3. Jah Jah Lord

4. Black Skin Lady

5. A Feather In A Richman'S Hat

6. Twelve Midnight

7. Who Told You So

8. Got To Let You Know

9. A Lesson We Should Learn

10. I Miss You

x

Track List: Never Get Weary

1. Satellite Dish

2. Never Get Weary

3. Reggaeman

4. Apartheid

5. I Don'T Want Any Crumbs

6. Respect Due

7. Marcus We Miss You

8. I Wish You Well

9. Horse Is Horse

10. Run Around Child

x

Track List: Get Ready

1. Schoolmate

2. Another Day Another Raid

3. Tonight I'm Going To Take It Easy

4. Idlers' Corner

5. Sensemilla

6. Cannot Say You Didn't Know

7. My Baby

8. Get Ready

9. Up Front

10. Modeller

11. Bad Boy Business

12. Mr. Bodyguard (12" Mix)

x

Track List: The Real Enemy

1. The Real Enemy

2. Gang War

3. Playgirl

4. Babylon Is Dangerous

5. Dem A Worry

6. Free Africa

7. Right Feeling

8. I Say No

9. Mr. Botha

10. Chant Down War

11. Dread Out Deh

x

Track List: Struggling

1. Struggling

2. Reggae-Lution

3. Heathen Children

4. Red Tape

5. Girl You Are To Young

6. Long Time

7. Tell Me What's Wrong

8. Someone To Love

9. Heartbreaker

10. Hustling

x

Track List: The Roots Is There

1. Everybody Has An Accent

2. Declaration Of Rights

3. Pretty Woman

4. The Poor Man's Prayer

5. Heads Of Government

6. The Roots Is There

7. Juvenile Child

8. Ebony And Ivory

9. Part-Time Love

10. The Breadwinner

x

Track List: Reggae Street

1. Reggae Street

2. Shabby Raggy

3. Illiteracy

4. Hunting Ground

5. Stay Far

6. King Kong

7. Atlas

8. Survival

9. Forbidden Fruit

10. Unseen Eyes

x

Track List: Right Time

1. Right Time

2. Why Me Black Brother Why

3. Shame And Pride

4. Gnashing Of Teeth

5. Them Never Love Poor Marcus

6. I Need A Roof

7. Go Seek Your Rights

8. Have Mercy

9. Natural Natty

10. Africa

Comments

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