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Reggae Founder Rediscovered:
After 20-Year Silence, Kingman Is Back

Claudius Linton returns with Reissue CD
plus new band Kingman & Jonah.

Kingman Is Back (Overview)
Claudius Linton (Kingman)
Kingman & Jonah: 'Can You Tune This Thing, Sire?'
Ian Jones (Jonah)
The 'Roots Master' CD Compilation
The Message in the Music
Press Contact

KINGMAN IS BACK! KINGMAN IS BACK! Claudius "Kingman" Linton, considered "one of the greatest reggae singers of all time,” is back after a 20-year absence from the music scene. Rediscovered by American indie-rock producer Ian "Jonah" Jones, Linton returns with the first-ever CD release of his 1970’s roots reggae singles. “Roots Master: The Vintage Roots Reggae Singles, Vol. 1” is out on Sun King Records in November 2007.

Watch the 10-minute behind-the-scenes video on Roots Master to learn more. The enhanced CD offers 16 tracks from roots reggae founder Linton, the soulful musical companion of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. Includes new stereo mixes from the original analog tapes of Claudius's #1 hit “Crying Time,” “Backra Massa,” “Twentieth Century,” and more. Plus classic cuts rescued from vintage vinyl pressings, unreleased material and the bonus video documentary.

This first collection of essential classics, from the singer who originated the vocal style made popular by reggae talents like Culture and Burning Spear, will be followed in early 2008 by Kingman & Jonah's Sign Time. The CD of brand new songs by Kingman & Jonah features an all-star band of legendary Jamaican musicians dubbed “the Buena Vista Social Club of reggae.”

“A master musician is back,” says Jones, “and better than ever.”

CLAUDIUS LINTON (KINGMAN)

With a toot of the horn, Bob Marley pulled his BMW off the rutted Jamaican road and hopped out to warmly greet a Rasta sitting on the grass. Onlookers gaped as the man who made reggae a global sensation sat down on the dusty roadside to talk and share a laugh. Who was this man who could readily command an audience from the island's favorite son? It was Marley's old Trenchtown friend Claudius “Kingman” Linton, the roots reggae singer known around the Kingston recording studios for his soulful voice and his knack for a killer melody.

Claudius and singing partner Cecil Hemmings, known first as the Angelic Brothers and later the Hofner Brothers, rose with Trenchtown's other reggae greats from early 1960's ska singles to the crest of reggae's '70's heyday. The Hofner Brothers popularity soared when their single “Kingman Is Back” competed in the finals of the 1972 Jamaican Festival Song Competition against the tunes from Junior Byles and Toots & the Maytals. Toots won the contest, but the crowd roared for more of Claudius's powerful vocals and electrifying stage show.

Linton and Hemmings parted ways after recording a half-dozen singles, and Claudius went out on his own, releasing his catchy songs and strong messages of unity and peace during key moments of Jamaica's violent election cycles. “We were telling people of what Marcus Garvey and Martin Luther King said; but they wouldn't listen,” Linton says. “Today we're singing about Baghdad, about Iraq. But it's the same oppression, it's the same urgent message coming through on our new Kingman & Jonah CD. We are trying to sing some reality to the people.”

In 1976, Claudius hit the top of the charts with the Rasta consciousness anthem “Crying Time” and followed it up with another 10 years of the classic roots reggae tracks now compiled on the reisssue CD Roots Master. Today, the original 45s can trade hands for hundreds of dollars.

“When I began to compile Claudius' back catalog, his fans started appearing from around the globe to help out. They all asked me to produce a reissue collection so they wouldn't have to spend a fortune searching for expensive and rare singles,” Jones says. “And they all want Claudius to get his due, at long last, as a crucial reggae talent.”

Linton is the living history of reggae. Singing lessons with “father of reggae” Joe Higgs along with fellow future stars Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. The Rolling Stones' Jamaican recording sessions for Goat's Head Soup. Linton was there. But after recording “Reduce The Arms Race”/ “Chun Pon Nanie” with famed reggae producer Jack Ruby in 1984, Claudius disappeared from the scene. Return to top.

KINGMAN & JONAH: 'CAN YOU TUNE THIS THING, SIRE?'

Today, Kingman is back. A chance meeting on the beach in Negril, Jamaica, brought Linton together with American indie-rock musician/producer Ian Jones. "Can you tune this thing, sire?" Linton called out to the passing tourist. Jones tuned up Linton's battered Washburn acoustic, and within minutes the two musicians were harmonizing and jamming like old friends. Linton quickly nicknamed Jones "Jonah" for his discovery, and the next day Kingman & Jonah, were cramped into a tin-roof recording studio to track the first songs for Linton's comeback: the mellow vibe of "In The Street" and the topical lament "Baghdad."

“The musical connection between Claudius and myself was immediate and tight, and we both knew we were onto something. Two days after we met, I returned to the US and started fleshing out the basic tracks we had recorded in Jamaica,” says Jones.

Meanwhile, Kingman & Jonah continued writing music together over the phone, producing songs for today's troubled times with the same irresistible melodies and powerful “conscious” lyrical flair familiar to fans of Linton's earlier work. Despite the distance, Kingman & Jonah began to forge a musical bond between the First World and the Third World, black and white, old and young, the past and the present. As Kingman & Jonah sing on “In The Street”: “Ain't no border troops can't stop the truth.”

To record their new compositions, Kingman & Jonah reached again into Jamaica's reggae past. In early 2007, they met in Bob Marley's Tuff Gong Studios, Kingston, JA, with an all-star band of reggae legends. The recording sessions were also a roots reggae reunion — Linton hadn't seen his old bandmates in 20 years: Ansel Collins, organ, Leroy "Horsemouth" Wallace, drums, Dwight Pinkney, guitar, Keith Francis, bass, Bongo Herman, percussion, Dean Fraser, horns. A New York documentary crew was on hand to capture the moment, quickly dubbed "the Buena Vista Social Club of reggae." Click on the video link to see clips from the session.

Sun King Records will unveil the resulting full-length CD of new tracks, Sign Time, in early 2008.

“Yes, bredda, can't wait,” writes one visitor to the band's MySpace page. “The new album is gonna be the best reggae album since the 1980's, I know it.”" Return to top.

IAN JONES (JONAH)

Baltimore, Maryland-based producer and musician Ian Jones — like Claudius a natural musician from his early teens — reached the finals of the ASCAP Songwriting Contest by the 18th birthday. In 1993, he co-founded Evil Genius Audio Labs, a recording studio in the breadbasket of the burgeoning DIY indie rock sound, Arlington, Virginia (home to labels Dischord, Teenbeat, Simple Machines).

During this time, Jones struck up a close association with Teenbeat Records, both as a recording engineer on many of the label's discs (notably Tuscadero's The Pink Album) and as a touring musician with the Teenbeat bands Eggs and Viva Satellite. He continued recording other artists throughout the 1990s, gaining a reputation for "natural sound." In 2006, Jones was honored with Teenbeat Records' Lifetime Achievement Award.

As a singer, guitarist bandleader, solo acoustic and with his group Bombardier Jones, Ian performed live on both coasts and a few places in the middle. In 1996, he launched Sun King Records and released the CD-EP This Is the King of Suck, followed by the full album Dustbowl in 1997. At the turn of the century, he began collaborating with electronic musician Peat Biby under the name Jonesamatic. In 2006-07, he united with roots reggae founder Claudius Linton to create the new reggae sounds of Kingman & Jonah and reissue Claudius' roots reggae classics. Night World Records will released Ian's new solo album Can't Conquer Me in March 2008. Return to top.

THE 'ROOTS MASTER' CD COMPILATION

"Red light!" shouts the engineer behind the control room glass. A quick count-in on drum sticks and the band kicks in. "If your sorrow should hit the sky, take my advice: Things will be better, someone will help you out," Claudius sings in a style inspired by the R&B sounds that floated across the Caribbean from radio stations in Memphis, Tennessee. Backing him on most of the '70s and '80s roots reggae cuts compiled in Roots Master, Volume One are his favorite rhythm section -- the Soul Syndicate with Earl "Chinna" Smith on guitar -- plus a selection of session greats like Jackie Mitoo, Ansel Collins, Fish Clark, Vin Gordon, The Upsetters and many more.

It's hard to imagine songs this memorable were lost for three decades. But with a couple of reel-to-reel tapes that Claudius had hidden away for a quarter-century — and the help of reggae collectors around the world — Roots Master has compiled not only rare tracks rescued from vintage vinyl pressings, but new mixes of Claudius's biggest songs from the original analog tapes. No longer do fans have to pay big bucks for a scratchy 45 record. On Roots Master, Claudius' voice soars out crisp and clear from meticulously restored multi-track analog tapes, practically as unfettered as the day he recorded them.

“From the time I first met Claudius in Jamaica at the end of last year, his singular talent as a songwriter, musician & singer has never ceased to amaze me. His musical idiom is clearly within the realm of classic roots reggae, but I believe his vocal talent defies that narrow niche classification. He is a remarkable soul singer in the most timeless sense of the word,” says Walter Carlton, the designer who created the visual identity for the project.

“After having the privilege to spend some time with him during rehearsals for the Kingman & Jonah 'Sign Time' sessions in Negril and Kingston earlier this year, I can honestly report feeling that I was in the presence of a singing greatness on par with Otis Redding.” Return to top.

THE MESSAGE IN THE MUSIC

Always in the music: the message. As can be heard in the new songs of Kingman & Jonah, Claudius has always sung powerful "conscious" reggae music. On Roots Master, we at last have an opportunity to hear the roots of his unwavering call for peace, social justice, morality and spiritual elevation. From 1974's "You think it's peace and safety, 20th Century, ruling is gone" to 1984's "Reduce the arms race, Mr. President... start saying your heavenly grace!"

These songs reflect the social turmoil of the times in which they were written, but Claudius' social message is as relevant as ever today. "Energy crisis time..." Return to top.

PRESS CONTACT

Anthony Scott Piatt
Fly on the Wall Media
10002 Kent Rd E
Bloomington, IN 47401
fly@flyonthewallmedia.com
812.336.7938