Kingman & Jonah: “Sign Time” debuts Claudius Linton’s first new recordings in 20 Years
KINGMAN IS BACK! The rediscovery and artistic rebirth of Claudius Linton, aka Kingman, is the reggae resurrection story of the decade. Indie rocker/producer Ian Jones (aka Jonah) met Linton, the artist behind 1976’s #1 hit “Crying Time,” on a Jamaican beach and struck up the partnership that has resulted in Linton’s 2008 comeback album Kingman & Jonah, entitled ‘Sign Time.’
Kingman, as Claudius Linton is known, recorded as a member of the Angelic Brothers and the Hofner Brothers before cutting his solo hits in the ‘70s, backed by a who’s who of Jamaican reggae greats. Jonah, or Ian Jones, co-founded Evil Genius Studios in ’90s indie-rock hub Arlington, Virginia, recording albums such as Tuscadero’s The Pink Album and touring with Eggs and Viva Satellite before launching Sun King Records.
Kingman & Jonah’s collaboration, despite their different musical and cultural backgrounds, is no experiment in fusion – ‘Sign Time’ is a classic roots reggae album on par with Kingman’s highly collectible 1970s singles. With a recording career that dates back to the early ‘60s ska movement and a musical and personal kinship with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, Kingman is more than a veteran reggae hit-maker – he is one of the originators of the roots reggae vocal style associated with Culture and Burning Spear.
The music on ‘Sign Time‘ is timeless – if not for the lyrics’ social and political references, it could have been recorded at any point in the last 30 years. The mesmerizing rhythms, soulful vocals and classic roots reggae style of Kingman’s vintage singles are fully intact, and his acoustic folk songs carry on the tradition of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” Regarding his topical lyrics then and now, Kingman says:
“We were telling people of what Marcus Garvey and Martin Luther King said, but they wouldn’t listen… Today it’s Baghdad, today it’s Iraq. But it’s the same oppression, it’s the same urgent message coming through on the new CD.”
‘Sign Time’ reunites Kingman with the band heard on his classic singles — an aggregate of reggae veterans dubbed the “Buena Vista Social Club of reggae”: Ansel Collins, Dwight Pinkney, Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace, Keith Francis, Bongo Herman and Dean Fraser.s Recorded in Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong Studios, ‘Sign Time’ is steeped in tradition and experience, but the music is no relic – it is the roots reggae sound of today.
In 2007, Sun King Records reissued the first-ever collection of Linton’s essential classic singles from the late-‘60s to the mid-‘80s, on the 16-track enhanced CD anthology ‘Roots Master: The Vintage Roots Reggae Singles Volume 1,’ which many critics proclaimed Album of the Year. If his early recordings show Linton to be a peer and an equal to his better-known contemporaries, then Sun King’s release of ‘Sign Time’ proves that his creative powers have not diminished in the 20 years since we last heard from him. As the Hofner Brothers once sang, “Kingman Is Back!”