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In 1998, I first heard 'Easy Star Volume One,' a crucial compilation on the Easy Star label. That's also when I first heard of Ossie Dellimore. His offering, 'Time Has Come,' was a smooth yet powerful tune which had me hungering for more. Two years later, he released the original 'Freedom's Journal' with the subtitle 'Righteousness Exalteth A Nation.' What a classic recording that was, with song after song being absolute killers.
Fast forward to 2003. 'Freedom's Journal' has been out of print for awhile and after some negotiations, it's decided to be re-released as the first disc ever available on Skank Records.
The decision to slightly alter the original disc was met with Ossie's blessings. We basically blended each song to have a more continuous flow and dealt with Easy Star Records to license the original version of his debut single, the aforementioned 'Time Has Come,' as well as its dub version, 'Solomon Dub' (it was felt the vocal version was much stronger than the jazzy rendition found on the first pressing). We also added an extended mix of "Sharp As A Razor" as well as 'Razor Dub.' The result, we feel, is an outstanding disc - even stronger than the original.
This "new" Freedom's Journal now clocks in at just under one hour. It still blasts off with "The System," an absolutely crucial opening tune. "Fire Man" is next, then the Easy Star version of "Time Has Come" followed by its version, "Solomon Dub."
The order of the remaining songs remains the same, and all are superb. "To The Limit," "Rocker Reggae," "Got To be Free," "Downpressor Man," "A Better Way," "Justice" and the outstanding collaboration (and extended mix) with Junior Demus called "Sharp As A Razor." "Razor Dub" has been added to close things down.
"Freedom's Journal" is full of beautiful harmonies, catchy tunes and Ossie's signature vocals jumping from the speakers, demanding to be heard. His songwriting is excellent, his lyrics are conscious and uplifting and his backing band - the Soldiers Of Justice - lay down some rocking, TIGHT, intricate rhythms.
You'll also find a 16 page booklet with an extensive interview and lyrics.
Once again, from the liner notes...
"I remember Michael from Easy Star in the late '90s," said Ossie. "As soon as I finished playing one night he said 'yo man, let's do a song,' and we did 'Time Has Come.' It was released as a single in March of '98 and then in June it was on the compilation that came out ['Easy Star Volume One']. I then did 'Sharp As A Razor' with Junior Demus as a prelude to 'Freedom's Journal.'
"I remember liking Junior's voice and thinking I needed someone like that on 'Sharp As A Razor.' I carried the music to Junior without the deejay stuff and told him to work on it. I told him to do his own thing, I didn't want to tell him what to do. I remember clearly when we recorded it, we went to pick him up and there was like 12 inches of snow on the ground," Ossie said laughing. "He came to the studio, brought the lyrics with him and it sounded all right, nothing special. But then we rolled some spliffs and had some Heinekins, and man, he went to the mic and it was one take, I swear. I never heard Junior Demus chant like that before. It was the first time like that. So that song there, when you hear Junior Demus chanting, that's one take, mon!
"Sometimes we'd be in the studio until two, three, four, even five in the morning. Then I'd jump back on the train, but sometimes I'd just sleep there. It took about nine months to record 'Freedom's Journal' and get the finished product exactly as we wanted. Everything was done live; live drums, live bass, keyboards. We'd bring in food, weed - ya know - everything we needed. Ya know the vibes were right. Some of them songs have 30 tracks, mon. I'll tell ya, it was a labor of love."
It's obvious that's a true statement and if you're one who likes your roots reggae cleanly produced with an edge, believe me, this disc will blow you away.
"We're gonna come at the world now with this new 'Freedom's Journal,' but I have new songs all ready to go. I wanna call the next record 'Ethiopia Rejoice.' All of the material, believe me, it's gonna be a much stronger record than 'Freedom's Journal.'"
If that's the case, get ready for the next disc. It should be incredible. Until then, however, re-live the brilliance of Ossie Dellimore's debut. This improved re-issue of 'Freedom's Journal' is now - and will forever be - available for reggae music lovers worldwide.