Jamaica, West Indies
For Immediate Release
Bernard Collins, The Abyssinian, Releases The Last Days
Bernard Collins, lead vocalist for the legendary reggae vocal trio, The
Abyssinians, marks his departure from the group with the album entitled
Last Days (Clinch Records pre-release CRA21284).
Reggae has always contained facets of Jamaican and African culture, and
the Abyssinians were there at the forefront of the international roots movement.
In 1969, Collins, along with Donald and Linford Manning, penned what has
become the unofficial anthem for that movement, "Satta Massaganna,"
or 'give thanks' in Amharic. "Satta" was covered by many of Jamaica's
popular singers: Peter Tosh, Ken Boothe, Third World, Cedric Brooks, Big
Youth, Johnny Clarke, and Peter Ashbourne.
After too long a silence, this great voice comes to move us again. Born
in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1948, a young Collins witnessed the radical changes
that took place in his country following independence from Britain. The
Rastafarian movement, bubbling under the surface since the 1950s, burst
forth with cultural pride after colonial rule was abolished in 1962. The
Abyssinians began recording shortly thereafter and gained widespread popularity
for their sweet vocal harmonies and conscious lyrics.
The group's first album, Forward To Zion, was initially released
in England in 1976 by Klik Records Ltd. under license from Sound Tracs Ltd.
It was voted top reggae album of the year. It was re-released in April 1978
by Different Records Ltd., again under license from Sound Tracs. Its initial
Jamaican release was on Penetrate Records (LPPN 2001A/B). It was pirated
on the label 'Pre-Abbyssinians' (P/0212A/B) in the US and is currently pirated
on the Azul label on vinyl. It is available in the US on CD Heartbeat Records
under the title, Satta Massa Ganna.
Virgin Records released the Abyssinians' second album, Arise, which
broadened the group's audience to include Europe and the United States.
In 1982, Alligator Records released Forward, the group's third album,
to the US market.
In spite of the break-up of the group in 1983, Collins continued writing
as he always had. Last Days is a highly personal album: the tracks trace
one man's social and spiritual odyssey. To hear it is to experience the
unique view of this extraordinary artist.
Last Days was recorded between 1988 and 1994. It contains "Last Days"
and "African Princess" from the last sessions of the original
Abyssinians in 1988. The more recent cuts feature harmonies by George Henry,
who sang harmony on the original "Declaration of Rights," recorded
for Coxson Dodd's Studio One in 1970.
The album is arranged and produced by Bernard Collins and Andy Bassford.
It was recorded at HC&F Studio, Free Port, Long Island, USA and Tuff
Gong Intl, Kingston, JA.
Musicians: Andy Bassford, Familyman Barrett, Val Douglas, Lloyd Parks on
bass; Mikey Boo Richards, Devon Richardson, Bernard Powell on drums; Cat
Coore, Chinna Smith, Andy Bassford, Dalton Browne on lead guitar; Harry
T Powell, Junior Wedderburn, Bongo Herman, Job, Jah Tess on repeater drum;
Bernard Collins, Andy Bassford, Howard Brown, Winston 'Bo Pee' Bowen on
rhythm guitar; Harry T Powell and Bongo Herman on other percussion; Andy
Bassford, Bubbler Waul, Diavallan Fearon, Robbie Lyn, Wire Lindo on keyboards;
Robbie Lyn & Diavallan Fearon on vibraphone; Bobby Ellis & Dave
Madden on trumpet; Glen DaCosta on tenor sax; Everton Gayle on alto sax;
Vin Gordon & Barry Bailey on trombone; Dean Fraser on soprano sax; Glen
DaCosta on flute; Anthony Forrest, George Henry, Melvin Trusty, Susan Wallace,
Lauren Bradt, Susan Hochstein on harmony vocals.
Tracks: Jah Marley, Soon We'll Be Free, African Princess, Young Wings, When
You're Down, Jahoviah, Keep On, Tell Me, Wareika Hill, Too Young, Swing
Low, Last Days
Clinch Records Catalog