Once more there's a couple of Jason excellent shots taken up at the Slipe Road compound and I've wanged in the Cocoa Tea at Portmore Sunsplash in 93 live pictures too that were taken down as well.
Above is Donovan Germain, the big daddy of Penthouse, around this time (early-mid 90s) it’s pretty fair to say that they were running things (alongside the likes of perennial Jammy’s and the less established Digital B, Xterminator and other come-uppers). Getting inside the fortified gates at Slipe Road wasn’t a given (as a clueless, arrogant American bunch of journos who seemed to be everywhere, but able to get into nowhere, found out) and grabbing anything more than a snap interview with an artist on his way up or down the stairs was tricky. However, after chewing the fat with Donovan for a good while, we were granted access to most of the Penthouse crew (Buju excepted) and on subsequent visits, in the next couple of years, he personally made sure I was promo’d up to the eyeballs, and looked after right. With a solid and colourful history that stretches back aways to the early 70’s he was a fascinating subject, mentioning a number of records he’d been involved with in NYC and JA years that I owned, but had never sussed as being connected to him.
The depth of talent in his studio at the time was ridonkulous including the Kelly brothers (Dave and Tony, who were still getting on then, and seemed like very switched-on gregarious geezers) and Andre ‘Rookie Productions’ Tyrell at the core, with Lenky beginning to come through particularly for his live and studio keys work. Donavan freely confessed that his role as producer those days was frequently little more than providing the finance and infrastructure, and often suggesting which rhythm would be good to do over, and who might work in combination etc. Looking at some of the inspired pairings that Penthouse came with at that time like Buju and Beres, Marcia Griffiths and Cutty Ranks, Buju and Wayne Wonder and endless other permutations, it was no small thing. Nor were the rhythm choices, with Penthouse frequently leading the charge on recuts of greats like ‘Nanny Goat’, ‘Movie Star’, ‘Heavy Rock’ and ‘General’, usually their licks sounded the toughest too with the Firehouse Crew and the likes of Danny Brownie, Sly and Mafia & Fluxy amongst the players of instruments. I suspect that many other producers we spoke to on that trip (and I’ll be posting about later) liked to overrate their role in things, but Mr Germain impressed as someone who had no need to do that, coming with a sharp outlook and onto-it disposition, Penthouse was a very professional place. He was also smart enough to encourage his young studio charges to come up with fresh rhythms to suit the bogling times, and we’ll be getting into some of them at a later date fer sure.
YARD CREW OF HOPEFUL'S AND PROBABLY NEVER WILL BE'S AT PENTHOUSE
Penthouse is still running tunes (now in Ballater Av, Kingston 10) though its been a good while since they released anything apart from the odd tune, that truly floated my boat. I would have expected Germain to be one of the forward thinking guys who might have forseen the digital damage that was inevitable with JA music, but it doesn’t appear so. There will be more on StinkInc from Penthouse for sure, if and when the 7” overhaul gets done over Xmas I know there’s some less celebrated cuts due for a dusting off, in the meantime cop a little bit of the evergreen General rhythm (which ran for about a year) and a picked-out and pruned slice of Penthouse in session biz over 'Norwegian Wood/Darker Shade Of Black'.
(Web) Excellent unofficial Penthouse site.
Always felt that Terror Fabulous never reached where he could and should have, we'll have more on him later.
(Buy) 'Celebration Vol 5', '5 Star General' is no longer available, though I'm sure it's not hard to track down if so inclined.
Meantime here's them Cocoa Tea shots again that got got by the web fascistas.
And seasonal bleatings from Noddy Holder and me...
(Buy) from Bleep