Maxi Priest & Shaggy
Reggae Japansplash may have come and gone,
but the season still holds out one last opportunity to sway
to the heartbeat rhythms of Jamaica's musical contribution
to the world, long an essential ingredient to Tokyo's
As a fitting conclusion to its annual Roots Music Festival,
the posh Blue Note Tokyo has concocted a special program that
once again matches regular visitor Maxi Priest with a fellow
reggae great. Last year saw the smooth British singer paired
with Southern California roots revivalists Big Mountain, while
this year sees him matched with Jamaican dancehall growler
Maxi Priest's entry into the music business is the
stuff of legend: a carpenter who was asked to build speaker
boxes for local reggae sound system Saxon, Priest's
honey-toned voice caught their attention, and he wound up
singing for them in the early '80s.
In 1987, Priest (b. Maxi Elliot) hooked up with crucial Jamaican
rhythm section Sly & Robbie for Maxi, an album that catapulted
him to worldwide fame, due largely to the massive success
of a cover of folkie Cat Stevens' song "Wild
The singer then sank into relative obscurity until the release
of the single "Housecall," in collaboration
with the gruff-voiced MC Shabba Ranks. A similar type of pairing,
this time contrasting Priest's slick lovers-rock sound
and soft-sell sex appeal with Shaggy's earthshaking
rumble and pheromones, put the pair on top of the charts with
"That Girl" in 1996.
Although born in the rough-and-tumble Jamaican capital of
Kingston, Shaggy, like Priest, is part of the Jamaican diaspora,
making his career in the US after moving to Brooklyn when
he was 18. Seeking a way off the mean streets of New York,
Shaggy (b. Orville Richard Burrell) joined the Marines, winding
up on the front lines of Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
Returning from the Gulf, Shaggy was stationed in Camp LeJeune,
North Carolina. On weekend leave back home in Brooklyn in
1993, he recorded a "boombastic" remake of the
old Prince Buster classic, "Oh Carolina." Much
to his surprise, the single became a smash, selling 600,000
copies and catching the eye of Virgin Records, who went on
to sign him to a multi-album deal.
Shaggy has gone on to prove himself more than a one-hit wonder.
Pure Pleasure (1993), Original Doberman (1994) and Midnite
Lover (1997) all performed fairly well, but it was the 10-million
selling Hot Shot (2000) that catapulted the singer to superstardom
on the strengths of the No. 1 singles "It Wasn't
Me" and "Angel."
Shaggy's latest, meanwhile, was last fall's
Lucky Day, while Priest has a greatest hits collection, Combination,
in the stores.
Maxi Priest & Shaggy play the
Blue Note Tokyo August 11-16. See concert listings for details.
Blue Note Tokyo
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