If he could have found people willing to give voice to the lyrics he penned, Max Romeo would have never stood behind a microphone.
“I did not have singing on my mind. I loved poetry. I wanted to be a writer,” the man known for saucy songs such as Wet Dream, the wry War Inna Babylon and the joyous Let The Power Fall on I told The Sunday Gleaner.
However, “Nobody would sing my songs. They said they were stupid, so I recorded them myself,” beginning with I Will Buy You a Rainbow in 1967.
Forty-two years and 42 albums
later (with a final one in the works at his Charmax Studio in Palm, Treadways, St Catherine), Max Romeo is releasing the bulk of his extensive catalogue
on 10 CDs of 16 songs each. The first five are already out and he is hoping that the next half of the collection will be released before Christmas.
“If you follow my career, I am a person who likes to be original. I have never heard or seen it done before, so I decided to do it,” he said.
The collection spans his first recording, Buy You a Rainbow, to 2006’s A Little Time For Jah.
He has an eye on his own mortality and has no doubt observed the chaos that has befallen the estates of other singers. “One of the main things is to get the Max Romeo songs in one stable, so in my passing my kids won’t have to be all over the place. I am happy to be alive to gather them up for my children,” he said.
It helps immensely that Romeo’s brother, Lindbergh ‘Black Lindy’ Lambert, who lives in England, has painstakingly collected the songs from the get-go. “He can find all Max Romeo music,” the singer/songwriter said.
The nature of the music business being that a performer will record with multiple producers over the span of his career or even consecutively, almost invariably there are disputes over rights when collections are being put together. Max Romeo has had none and does not anticipate any. “Most of the producers are dead,” he said. Further, “I have no contracts with these guys. They never paid me. I am waiting on that (contestations) to happen so I can take them to court.”
Each CD in the collection is presented as a chapter, the songs being individual verses. Romeo says “The number one selling book in the history of the world is the Bible. It is written in chapters and verses. I am trying to pull the people who like the Bible.” Fittingly, then, the first verse in the first chapter is Maccabee Version.
Banned and Censored
There are some songs that Romeo has deliberately culled from his career-defining collection – the raunchy songs he did before his growth into Rastafari in 1971. Wet Dream, which he says is “semi-rude”, makes the cut. The others will be included on another album, Banned and Censored, “for those who like to hear Max Romeo sing about what they are making noise about today”. He also plans a live performance CD.
So he has a lifetime of material to choose from at the Charmax showcase, slated for the Palm Community Centre, Palm, Treadways, on Saturday, December 5. Also performing will be his sons, the duo Rominal, Ruffian, Sophia Squire, Jallanzo, Nitro, Singing Cologne, Anjalee, Prince Allah, Dub Tonic Kru, Jimmy Riley, Warrior King, Lutan Fyah and Ras Murdack.
Romeo is satisfied with the response so far to his catalogue collection. “The people are very excited. They can’t wait to get it,” he said.
By Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
source : jamaica-gleaner.com