Beat Street Records

Junior Byles - Rasta No Pickpocket LP


In late 1967, Junior Byles formed the vocal group, The Versatiles recording under the supervision of Lee "Scratch" Perry and Joe Gibbs, scoring the minor hit, "Children Get Ready." During this same era, The Versatiles also worked with the producer, Niney The Observer, who would be instrumental later in Byles' career in his affiliation with Nighthawk. When The Versatiles split up in 1970, Byles continued to record solo for Perry, scoring a minor hit, "What's The World Coming To" released under the name King Chubby, Byles' nickname.

Between 1968 and 1974, Perry and Byles collaborated in the production of over 40 titles including all-time classics like Curly Locks, Rasta No Pickpocket, Place Called Africa, Beat Down Babylon, Cutting Razor and Long Way. Lee Perry considers Junior Byles one of the top vocalists he ever worked with, and has continued respect for Junior's character, combining equal parts of fierce and defiant Rastafarian devotion with a personality described by his contemporaries as profoundly humble.

By the mid-'70s, Junior was a major star in Jamaica poised for international exposure, but he was acquiring a reputation for mental instability. Byles was in and out of sanitariums during the latter part of the decade, but still managed to make a few great recordings. One of which, Heart & Soul, was cut with the biggest producer in Jamaica at the time, his friend, Joe Gibbs. It was a huge hit, but he recorded only a few tracks thereafter, unable to capitalize on the momentum of Heart & Soul.

The Junior Byles Nighthawk session was planned with the assistance of long-time associate, Niney The Observer. His long history with Byles was most likely a plus in helping get the session arranged. Rasta No Pickpocket was issued in 1986 and was his last album release, only a few single sides followed. This new vinyl LP edition was remastered from the original tapes


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