Marty Dread compiling cornucopia of recordings
With live gigs dried up on Maui, what’s a musician to do? For Marty Dread the answer was to begin compiling material he had amassed over the years and plan to release six new albums.
Likely available in June, this extraordinary cornucopia of recordings includes a “Laws of Nature” album with country icon Willie Nelson, two “In Good Company” volumes of various duets, a dub collection with UK legend, the Mad Professor, an inspirational/activist collection “Positive People,” and a new non-reggae recording, “Mr. Right Now,” which will be released under his birth name, Martin Hennessey.
Among the duets on “In Good Company Vol. 1,” Marty teams with Fiji on “Rise and Stand,” Jamaican reggae artist Fyah Wyah on the dancehall track “Good Words,” and with Alika Atay (Braddah Alika) on the previously unreleased anti-GMO song, “Vote Yes (GMO Moratorium).” Then there’s three songs with Willie Nelson, including the beguiling reggae groove of “Laws of Nature.”
“He wrote ‘Laws of Nature’ on a napkin and said this is a song for you to record,” Marty explains. “I came up with a melody and brought it back to him and he played Trigger (Willie’s favorite acoustic guitar) and sang on half of it. There’s a poignant line about his sons becoming the bearer of his torch.”
“In Good Company Vol. 2,” includes collaborations with British reggae artist Tippa Irie, Jamaica’s Prezident Brown, Mishka on the previously unreleased track “The Father,” and a delightful island reggae style romantic duet with Amy Hanaiali’i.
“These are all duets I have collected over the last eight years,” he continues. “It’s very eclectic with different studios. The challenge is to make them sound like one album, make them sound cohesive.”
Compositions on the Nelson album, “Laws of Nature,” include the powerful anti-war song “Take No Part,” “the first song we ever did together,” he says. “I met him at what was called Picnics in Paia and it was literally a week before the Iraq war broke out. He said, ‘we should do something together some day.’ I went home and finished the song and Sly and Robbie (Jamaican legends Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare) came up with the music. Ever since that day he’s been so gracious with me. We’ve recorded all kinds of songs. Even if I just want him to play Trigger, he will arrange it.”
Other gems include “What Happened to Peace on Earth,” featuring Michael McDonald, Ben Harper, Pat Simmons, Jack Johnson, Lukas Nelson, saxophonist David Choy, and Pat Simmons Jr. And “Lend a Hand to the Farmers,” which he wrote for the Farm Aide cause. “I performed it with him several times including big shows with 40,000 people.”
The “Marty Dread meets Mad Professor — Love Defender” collection, “are all songs produced in London, most of which I wrote.” It includes a brilliant mix of “Peaceful Solution,” “a Willie Nelson song which I rap on.”
The “Positive People” album, “is a lot of stuff I did with Sly and Robbie in Jamaica last year. I added about seven more singles that I had worked with different producers, including Gaudi.”
This inspirational/activist collection features tracks like the stirring “A’ole TMT” protest song featuring Hawaiian chant by Lei’ohu Ryder; the righteous “Thank You For Nothing” (with Steel Pulse’s horn players), addressing Jamaican record industry “vampires” who have screwed over artists; and the anti-GMO anthems “Say No to Monsanto” with Prezident Brown, and “Mon-Satan Dub.”
“Prezident Brown is a Jamaican rapper, a protege of U Brown who was one of the original dancehall deejays,” Marty notes. “And ‘Mon-Satan Dub’ is a 9-minute extended dub version of that tune. It’s bananas.”
As far as “Mr. Right Now,” he describes it as, “a rock country hybrid. It’s very different. It’s produced by a guitar player on the island, Jeff Hornbeck. I recorded it with him and drummer Kris Thomas with Willie K. Pretty much between the three of us we played all the instruments, and Jerry Korvoski plays keyboards and the harmonies are by Kelly Covington or Jamaican vocalist Pam Hall, who has sung with Jimmy Cliff.”
In conclusion he says: “I put out my first album when I was 25, so it’s been one a year. This will be my 23rd through 29th album. It’s time to get them out to the world. I just feel I need to get them out and move on to something else.”
And with the virus on everybody mind, Marty adds, “maybe I should write a song about that.”