New York city Dub History
– Lloyd ‘Bullwackie’ Barnes – a soundman, engineer, producer, studio and record shop owner, as well as label boss

#lloydbarnes #bullwackie #wackies #wackieshouseofmusic #newyork

I guess growing up in Germany, looking for reggae music, it is inevitable to at some point bump into Hard Wax – a long running record store in Berlin that on the one hand is deeply connected to the city’s techno heritage, but on the other hand is also responsible for some serious works in issuing and reissuing crucial roots rock reggae… (for sure, from early on in my search, it became a place of pilgrimage for me and my music addict friends)
once you check their catalogue, it’s obvious that they select very carefully what they stock and sell and that there are certain affiliations between them and a few studios/labels on the other side of the Atlantic…. one of which is the legendary Wackies from New York…
a good number of singles and albums from the Wackies vaults have seen the light of the day via this special New York-Berlin connection since the early 2000s and thereby managed to reach a many new reggae lover’s hearts and to keep the music in steady circulation and ever fresh – most of it many years after its original creation…
today, no one, a bit more serious into reggae, can say he/she has never seen the famous logo with the lion standing in the grass waving the Wackies flag… but when I was finding out that Ras Kush had worked for the same label many years back in New York, he told me how it was very different back then, and about people chasing him away with the records he tried to sell to shops and distributors, because they didn’t like the sound and it felt ‘unfinished’ to them… hard to understand, from today’s perspective, as a lot of their records are hailed as classics in the genre by now and the peculiar sound is praised by many… (I guess, partly due to the determination and strong believe from people like Ras Kush, Mark Ernestus and others)
one thing is for sure: the wonderful music that came out of the Wackies stable by the likes of the Love Joys, Sugar Minott, Horace Andy, Wayne Jarrett, Milton Henry, Roland Alphonso, Junior Delahaye, The Chosen Brothers and many others – under the wings of the great Lloyd Barnes ‘Bullwackie’ himself – really stood the test of time !
me for my part, I really give thanks, I was able to discover this musical universe and can only urge anybody to dig deeper into it…
take a little journey back in time to the eighties, with this 1981 documentary ’Bullwackie In New York’ by Christopher Coy…

The Love Joys – cousins Sonia Abel and Claudette Brown, originally from Brixton, England – are well known for their recordings (and performances) as a vocal duo with producer Lloyd ‘Bullwackie’ Barnes in New York during the 70s and 80s. Their seminal roots albums ‘Reggae Vibes’ and ‘Lovers Rock Reggae Style’ are considered milestones in reggae, a refreshing departure in a field too often dominated by men. With the classic Wackie’s sound behind them the duo beautifully and skillfully meshes social critique and affairs of the heart, from a woman’s point of view…
(iconic album photo by Clyde Nelson – left Sonia, right Claudette)

The hills of Jamaica were alive with the sounds of music on the day Milton Henry was born in Central Kingston. His talent as a singer was discovered at the tender age of 12 when Carl Dawkins would put young Milton on the street corner to sing. The reactions of people passing by were encouraging the young man. From early he was inspired by music greats like Slim Smith who together with Curtis Mayfield had a lasting influence on his singing style.
Together with Prince Allah (aka Keith Blake), Milton formed The Leaders, but he also sang/played guitar with or arranged for such groups as The Emotions, The Progressions, The Techniques and The Hippy Boys, and continued to record occasional singles for different producers like “This World”, recorded with Lee Perry and released under the King Medious alias. During this time, Milton became more and more interested in the business and the organizational side of the art. Eventually he produced his own version of Curtis Mayfield’s “Gypsy Woman” on the Success label.
Realizing the need to expand his horizons, he migrated to the US where he met Lloyd “Bullwackie” Barnes in New York City. Bullwackie recognized Milton as a talented artist and the two collaborated together. In 1985, Milton released his debut album “Who Do You Think I Am?” on the Wackie’s label. He continued on the upscale in 1986 and toured with Reggae Japan Splash. 1987 then saw the release of the “Babylon Loot” album on the Tachyon label. As from start, he was heavily involved with Wackies, on all aspects of their runnings, the following years he was rather to be found behind the scenes in a variety of projects. It wasn’t until 2013 that his third album saw the light of the day – “Branches And Leaves” – a collaboration with Roberto Sanchez from Spain for Iroko Records from France.
In recent years Milton has been featured on a small selection of releases with different producers from all over the world.
Being active in the roots circuit for a many decades, Milton’s voice still hasn’t lost any of its mesmerizing quality and sounds as warm and smooth as ever.