Utne Reader is proud to premiere a two-song sampler for the 3-disc box set celebrating the influential music of reggae outsider Vivian “Yabby You” Jackson.
Making a name for himself with his DIY ethos, ardent Christian faith, and influential collaborations, Yabby You earned public recognition for his hit “Conquering Lion,” but never managed to reach the heights of his contemporaries in the roots reggae scene. He did, however, make plenty of friends over the years, some of whom became so taken by his music that they did whatever they could to give it greater exposure.
One such friend was Shanachie Entertainment GM Randall Grass, who first heard Yabby You’s music in 1977 and has been instrumental in keeping his legacy alive. “It was extremely difficult to obtain but what I heard was transformative,” says Grass. “When I went to Jamaica for the first time in 1982, I mentioned to the late Hugh Mundell that I wished I could meet Yabby You, thinking that was an impossible dream. The next day there was a knock on my hotel room door and in came Hugh with Yabby You on crutches behind him. That meeting, marked by much reasoning and quotation of Bible verses, led to the first release by Shanachie of Yabby’s music in America. I last visited him at his home in Jamaica a couple years before his death. When he died I felt a personal mission to preserve and re-present his great musical legacy and so decided to put together this project.”
The project Grass refers to is a comprehensive 3-disc box set titled Dread Prophecy that Shanachie will be releasing on Feb. 17. With 56 total tracks and extensive liner notes, the set includes his well-known classics, 31 songs never before released on CD, as well as 12 never before released rarities. Here is a two-song sampler of the set that includes Yabby You’s biggest hit, “Conquering Lion.”