Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Diamonds Are Forever

We'll rejoinder yesterday's Bauhaus birthday bash with an anniversary post about one of the great undersung groups of all times.

It's tempting to dwell on the (spectacularly tragic, almost mythically sad) way this band came to an end just a few months ago, but I'll try not to do that out of deep respect for the legacy of the music these beautiful people created over a 50+ year career.

This is one of the ensembles in a category you could almost count on the fingers of one hand: a group that first came together in 1969 and whose three principal members stayed together until this year, when what happened happened.

In one of the more hilarious music industry twists, what's probably their most famous and beloved song -- an absolute standard of the Reggae genre -- is most known in a cover version in which all the cannabis references are dumbed down into an homage to food.

These guys made over 40 albums, according to what I was just reading, yet few outside of Roots Reggae enthusiasts and Rastafarians know who they were.

Even besides the prolific studio career, they were a staple of the global touring circuit for uninterrupted decades, especially on festivals and events focusing on Reggae.

This past March it all came to an end in almost surreal fashion, when one member was slain in a drive-by shooting and another -- who had just been hospitalized -- passed 48 hours later from diabetes, having never yet been told of his comrade's demise.

Like I said I'm doing my best not to go on a negative tirade about it, but you have to ask yourself: who shoots a 67-year-old man, himself one of the greatest living Jamaican artists? What the actual fuck is this world? It launches me into an instant McEnroe moment of You Cannot Be Serious, people.

Regardless, today we honor Donald Shaw, Fitzroy Simpson and Lloyd Ferguson: Tabby, Bunny and Judge.
Never, if we lived to be 10,000, would we hope to meet any three people more worthy of being called Diamonds.
Mighty Diamonds
The Edge
Manayunk, PA

01 Party Time
02 Heads of Government
03 Them Never Love Poor Marcus
04 Natural Natty
05 Natty Dread Never Run Away
06 Have Mercy
07 Africa
08 I Need a Roof
09 Get Up Stand Up
10 Keep On Moving
11 Have a Little Mercy
12 Pass the Kouchie
13 band introductions
14 medley incl. Pass the Kouchie reprise/Mack the Knife/Just Don't Want to Be Lonely
15 Heavy Load
16 Rumours
17 Bodyguard

Total time: 1:09:27

Donald "Tabby" Shaw - vocals
Fitzroy "Bunny" Simpson - vocals
Lloyd "Judge" Ferguson - vocals & melodica
Joseph “Capo” Williamson - guitar
Derrick "Stewie" Stewart - drums
Junior "Chico" Chin - trumpet
Ronald "Nambo" Robinson - trombone
Larry "Professor Larry" Silvera - keyboards
"One Drop" - bass
Shalita - vocals
Malijah - vocals

flawless master soundboard DAT of the complete performance
373 MB FLAC/July 2022 archive link

This is just about as flawless an example of what the Mighty Diamonds were all about, coming courtesy of a soundboard DAT capture every bit as flawless.

I'll be back Friday with some legendary mental illness, molded into music that will last centuries.

Built to last like the MDs here, blessing us with this Irie show taped 23 years ago today and still vibrating. Now, pass that kutchie to your left, will you?--J.

The Mighty Diamonds


  1. Wow. Thank you so much for this. You are right on all of it: a great recording of an inspiring group, the importance of their music over the years, the tragedy of the Diamonds' losses, and to not dwell on that when there's so much to celebrate. It would be hard to overstate the impact buying their first LP, "When The Right Time Come - I Need A Roof," when I was a teenager wound up having on my listening... and it's one of the few records I'd be pretty confident saying had some real influence on *me*, my thoughts and my politics far beyond musical taste and DJ habits.

    You really hit it dead on with this post, but even when you don't 100% overlap with my tastes, I always appreciate the breadth of music that you share (and the huge effort you put into polishing up some of these recordings). It's always exciting to find something from a longtime favorite like this, but more than a few times you've also provoked me to explore artists I hadn't heard or never really given a chance. Thank you for all of it!

    1. comments like these are why I bother to do this <3

    2. also: your blog is tremendous in its own right, and the writing makes mine look like 100 monkeys with typewriters

    3. Ha! Not true, but that's kind, my friend. Thank you! Writing has felt a bit like torture my whole life... That blog has definitely been partly an attempt to teach myself to get over it and quit the fussing and excuses. I'm glad you found it and enjoyed! Hopefully you found some things worth listening to and I was able repay a little bit of your generosity from this page.