Hugh Mundell returns to Africa

Observer senior writer

Sunday, August 20, 2017

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AFRICA Must be Free by 1983, the seminal 1978 album by singer Hugh Mundell, will be reissued today by VP Records. It is part of the label's celebrations marking Greensleeves Records' 40th anniversary.

VP Records purchased the British-owned Greensleeves catalogue in 2008. Africa Must be Free by 1983 retains a strong base among lovers of hardcore reggae in Europe.

The new double compact disc features its original eight songs including the powerful title track, Book of Life and Let's All Unite. The second contains dub versions, engineered by Lloyd King Jammys James and Osbourne “King Tubbys” Ruddock.

Mundell was only 16 when musician/producer Augustus Pablo directed him on Africa Must Be Free by 1983. The son of middle-class parents, he attended Ardenne High School, but left for a music career and Rastafari.

He had already developed a strong underground following in Europe and the United States West Coast when he was killed in his car at Grants Pen Avenue in St Andrew in 1983. With him at the time was a teenaged singer named Junior Reid.

Ricardo Codrington, 25, was arrested and charged with Mundell's murder. Two years after the incident, he was given a 10-year prison sentence.

Hugh Mundell came into the music business through singer/musician Boris Gardiner, a family friend. His initial sessions with Pablo in 1976 were done at Lee “Scratch” Perry's Black Ark studio and yielded the songs Africans/Africa Must be Free and My My.

Mundell had a profound impact on emerging singers from the Kingston community of Waterhouse, where he had settled. They included Reid and Lacksley Castell, as well as Fitzroy Francis, a musically-inclined youth from the area.

“Hugh Mundell was a major influence in the Waterhouse community and especially on Junior Reid. He was the first to record Reid on a song titled Speak The Truth. Mundell was considered a prince of reggae in the late '70s with the release of Africa Must be Free by 1983,” Francis told Sunday Observer.

Chris Chin, president of VP Records, said Africa Must be Free by 1983 “is just as salient as it was then and a great representation of the two artistes who spent their lives creating music they were passionate about.”

Augustus Pablo died in June 1999 at age 44.




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