Reggae great Big Youth makes a rare return to the mic for a rendition of Bo Diddley’s “Gunslinger” on the latest cut off the upcoming Red, Gold, Green & Blue compilation, the first release from Zak Starkey’s Trojan Jamaica label.
On “Gunslinger,” Big Youth, the deejay and toastmaster responsible for Seventies classics like Dreadlocks Dread and Natty Cultural Dread, teams with the renowned Sly & Robbie, Studio One guitar great Ernest Ranglin and producer Youth for their version of Rob Jevons’ Morricone-esque remix of the Diddley song.
As Starkey, the son of Ringo Starr and drummer for the Who, recently told Rolling Stone, the Trojan Jamaica was born after the drummer and his Sshh bandmate Sharna “Sshh” Liguz teamed with Eddie Vedder and a slew of reggae legends to record a cover of Bob Marley’s “Get Up Stand Up.” The rendition earned Starkey and Liguz an invitation to perform at the Peter Tosh Museum and, ultimately, the pair decided to launch a record label.
“We felt so warmly welcomed and at home in the musical community that we stayed and recorded all the music that has become Trojan Jamaica,” Starkey said. “We’re committed to presenting local artists together with international musicians who, like us, have been inspired by roots culture.”
Trojan Jamaica previously shared Mykal Rose’s (Black Uhuru) cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ 1956 cut, “I Put a Spell On You.”
“We took our favorite blues lyrics to Jamaica and matched them to the voices we thought would fit the song and the song’s message, then presented each singer with two or three choices which were all accepted and worked up in the studio,” Starkey added.
The 13-song Red, Gold, Green & Blue, out this summer and available to preorder now, features songs by reggae legends like Toots & The Maytals, Freddie McGregor, Phylea Carley, Kiddus I, Andrew Tosh and more putting their spin on tracks by artists like Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, Robert Johnson and Johnny & Shuggie Otis.