Noel Ellis Noel Ellis

Not much attention is paid to the Toronto reggae scene of the early 1980s, but it boasted some heavy hitting in-house talent and managed to produce a small share of classic material. Of particular note is the Summer Studio operated by former member of the Jamaicans, Jerry Brown, who, besides giving us some rootical Willi Williams material, recorded this debut for Alton Ellis’s Canadian raised son, Noel, in 1979. This re-release enables reggae fans to catch up on righteous riddims they may have missed out on. For the most part Noel Ellis is the sound of an artist struggling to find his voice. Preferring at this point to ride the rhythms with a few underdeveloped lyrical ideas, Ellis experiments with a mixed bag of vocal styles, even employing a little Big Youth stylee now and then. His crowning achievement is no doubt "To Haile Selassie,” a devotion to the living Jah that prophesises all nations will bow to His Imperial Majesty. The song is fuelled by the dreadest of backing track based on Jackie Mittoo’s classic "No No No”— and it’s no wonder, Mittoo was on hand for these recordings (as was Willi Williams and Johnny Osbourne), delivering organ and no doubt musical direction. Elsewhere, "Rocking Universally” (an alternate cut of Williams’s "Armagideon Time”) would be equally powerful if it weren’t for an annoying chipmunk-type voice throughout. All the songs morph into exceptional dub extensions, letting producer Jerry Brown flex his studio’s muscles to mighty effect, making each track over six minutes. (Light In The Attic)