Diamonds plan for golden year

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior writer

Sunday, June 24, 2018

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The Mighty Diamonds plan to start recording their first album of fresh songs in over a decade this year. It will be released in 2019 when the acclaimed vocal group celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Lloyd “Judge” Ferguson, one of two active founders of the trio, told the Jamaica Observer that he and lead singer/co-founder Donald “Tabby” Shaw will produce the set. Their last studio album, Thugs In The Streets, was released in 2006.

Ferguson and new member Joseph “Capo” Williamson spoke about their current tour last week from Southern California, the latest leg of the Diamonds' North American tour. They agree it is important to record new material.

“That help get more bookings. Fans and promoters want yuh sing di hit song dem, but they always want new material,” said Williamson.

“We see ourselves as pop artistes. When yuh limit yuhself to vintage artiste yuh only get a certain kinda show,” Judge chimed in.

Most of the dates on the tour so far have been in California. Others took place in Oregon and Las Vegas.

It is the Diamonds' most extensive trek in the United States since 2015, when they performed throughout the West Coast and Midwest.

“Di US and Canada have always been a big market for us, so it was really a priority to get back there in a structured way. We're doing about three months here an' then we go to Europe in August an' Brazil in November,” said Judge.

Williamson, a veteran of the South Florida reggae scene, joined The Mighty Diamonds last year, replacing Ken Bob who assumed the role of co-founder Fitzroy “Bunny” Simpson, who suffered a debilitating stroke three years ago.

They have since done spot dates in Europe, Brazil, Peru, and Mexico.

The Mighty Diamonds was formed in Trench Town in 1969, around the time a new sound called reggae was simmered in Jamaica. After recording for different producers, including Lee “Scratch” Perry and Stranger Cole, Shaw's brother-in-law, they scored their first big hit in 1972 with Shame And Pride.

They first toured North America in 1976, the year their outstanding The Right Time album was released by Virgin Records. Largely recorded at Channel One studio in Kingston with The Revolutionaries band, it contains a number of classic songs including I Need A Roof, Africa, Them Never Love Poor Marcus, Gnashing of Teeth, Why Me Black Brother Why, Have Mercy and Shame And Pride.

The Right Time was released during a rich period for reggae, which took off in Europe and North America. With a series of quality follow-up albums and songs, The Mighty Diamonds remained a potent touring unit until Simpson's health deteriorated.

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