Earl 16: 21st Century Rootsman
Reggae music, reggae sound, the number one sound/Play the guitar, come in with the bassman, I can’t do without the drummer…
During the Regan/Thatcher era, Daley cut two of his most characteristic albums for producer Roy Cousins’ Tamoki Wambezi label. 1982’s Julia and ‘83’s Songs For A Reason (both still in print) highlight Daley’s soft, emotive timbre. Similarly, the song titles say a lot about Daley’s once and future lyrical concerns: “Going To Africa,” “Mount Zion,” “Israel Vibes,” “This Tribulation,” and “Jah Is The Master” are all imbued with the singer’s heartfelt conscious vibes. Daley has the voice of a humble prophet, a poet speaking plainly about the plight of the poor.
More recently, Daley has recorded albums for Gussie P’s Sip A Cup imprint, the French Patates Records, Mad Professor’s Ariwa Music, and with the electronic dance group Dreadzone (pictured above). It’s important to note that Daley’s collaborations with the latter group occurred around the same time Horace Andy linked with Massive Attack in the ‘90s, and the Dreadzone/Earl 16 tracks were nearly as popular in England and elsewhere. In Europe, Daley tours with the No More Babylon band and records exclusive dubplates for soundsystems like Holland’s King Shiloh.
With his journeyman career music marked by myriad studio and production collaborations that reflect artistic consistency and a unified sentiment, Earl “16” Daley has made a lasting impact in the international music scene. But then again, Earl Daley has always had a sound–a reggae sound.