Santic & Friends - An Even Harder Shade Of Black

Problems - Horace Andy
Jah Guide - Big Joe
Lovers Mood- Augustus Pablo
Chalice Blaze - Jah Woosh
One Heavy Duba - King Tubby & Santic All Stars
I'll Be Around - Gregory Isaacs
Harder Shade Of Black - Augustus Pablo
Better Shade Of Dub - Santic All stars
Children Of Israel - Horace Andy
Pablo In Dub - Augustus Pablo
Peace In The Valley - Roman Stewart
Palace Of Peace - Santic All stars
Yamaha Ride - I-Roy
One Thousand Swords - Augustus Pablo
Free Jah Jah Children - Jah Woosh
Blackman In Dub - Augustus Pablo & Paul Blackman

Leonard Anthony Chin was born in 1953 in Kingston, Jamaica, the first son and second child in a family of three brothers and five sisters. Leonard's father was a baker by trade but Leonard was not destined to follow the family tradition. At first Leonard fancied trying his hand as a car mechanic but decided to train as a photographer/darkroom technician and wound up as a young employee of the Gleaner newspaper company.

The musical diet in the Chin household was naturally of the American Pop/Soul ballad variety, the favourites being Nat King Cole. Brook Brenton, Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington. However the sound of Ska and then Rocksteady, and names like Prince Buster, Monty Morris and Delroy Wilson were soon to become the dominant influence in young Leonard's life.

In around 1970, at the age of seventeen, Leonard starting messing around with some of the local Kingston bands and began to fancy himself as a singer, eventually performing some shows with a popular local band at the time - Charles Hannah and the Graduates. On his first venture into the studio Leonard cut two tunes as a singer on a label called Puppy - via Gussie Clarke. Personally dissatisfied with the results he realised that front man was not his role in life and began to consider writing and producing.

His entry into production was effected via existing friendships with a few musicians including the Barrett brothers, Carly and Family Man, at the time part of the Upsetters and later, of course, to become the rhythm cornerstone of the restructured Wailers, the man known as Reggie - another Perry sessioneer, Tin Leg who used to be a drummer with Inner Circle, and not least the great Leroy Sibbles.

The first studio Leonard used was Randys where Errol Thompson (E.T.) was the main engineer. To build rhythm tracks he then moved between Randys and Harry J's, where the engineer was Sid Bucknor. Dynamics and Federal were used strictly for mastering.

The first singer he worked with was Umoja but there was no vibe. However Leonard had always admired the melodica work of the young Augustus Pablo, particularly big hit Java - produced by Clive Chin (no relation) at Randys studio - so Pablo was pestered by Leonard and finally submitted agreeing to cut a tune. the outcome was 'Pablo In Dub', not only the debut record, but also a hit, on the label named SANTIC (so called after Leonard's drummer friend SANta and the TIC from AtlanTIC!)

Once the first SANTIC broke into the market and Pablo was on board then the singers and DJs naturally followed, beginning with Horace Andy for 'Children Of Israel' and 'Problems', both sets of lyrics penned and voiced by Horace within two hours of checking the rhythms! Leonard then cut a song demo for Roman Stewart, handed the tune to Gregory Isaacs who voiced it the following day - 'I'll Be Around'.  As was the practice, once a tune was a hit, the rhythm was recycled DJ style - step forward Big Joe, I-Roy and Jah Woosh. At this stage Leonard was even able to offer the odd advance!

Inevitably SANTIC came under the majestic spell of the mind and fingers of the great King Tubby. At Randys ET engineered in classic style but under the influence of producers who knew the sound they wanted. But with Tubby there was more experimentation on the board with the sound mix and his reputation was such that producers would give him space to do what he did best - the gentleman technician and dub master supreme!

At the height of SANTIC's Jamaican popularity Leonard decided to check out the business in the UK where the domestic Reggae market was beginning to boom. It was at this time, around 1973, that he was approached by Winston Rodney, the man known as Burning Spear. Spear, who had parted company with Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd, was preparing the tunes that were eventually to become the legendary 'Marcus Garvey' album and asked Leonard to become involved in the production. Leonard politely  deferred the decision until his return from the UK, and the rest, as they say, is history!

In 1975 Leonard became domiciled in London and had major success in the developing Lovers Rock market, in which he was a leading light, working with the likes of Carroll Thompson, Donna Rhoden, Trevor Walters and Lorna Pierre. He was returning to his first musical love of balladry, however that's another story. For this particular release, a retrieval of the SANTIC album 'Harder Shade Of Black', with the addition of six extra tracks from the same period, we pay tribute to the early musical achievements of Leonard SANTIC Chin - then and now a remarkable self-effacing and modest man who created a classic body of work in the 1970s with the contribution of singers and players who have since become legendary figures of Jamaican music.

Steve Barker
"On The Wire" BBC Radio Lancashire

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