Music in Context.
Earl Zero “Righteous Works” b/w “Heart’s Desire”
A construction job can lead to anything. In Kingston 13, Jamaica, “anything” might include a studio session, if you happen to have the right boss. In 1975, this is what happened to twenty-two-year-old reggae singer Earl Zero. “I knew my boss had an ear for music… One day, I started to sing the first lyrics to ‘Righteous Works’: ‘Move yah, you wicked man…’ That night he asked me to sing it for him again, and I did. I convinced him to get some studio time, so we went to Channel One and recorded it.” Thus spawned the recording career of one of reggae’s most prolific vocalists. Although far from a household name, Zero would pen many an influential song and be covered by a wide spectrum of artists, from Caribbean crooner Johnny Clarke to American rocker Jonathan Richman. In 1979, American producer Warren Smith would record a full album with Zero for his own label Epiphany, which resulted in a more modern-sounding take on most of his classic tracks. Now, nearly thirty years later, Wax Poetics Records is proud to reissue the most successful single from these sessions, “Righteous Works,” in the much-coveted discomix rendition, which features a psychedelic dub version blended seamlessly into the vocal. The B-side features a mellower Earl Zero classic, also presented in discomix fashion. “Heart’s Desire” was recorded a few years earlier with producer Alan “Jah Wally” Campbell, who was influential in Zero’s pursuit of his musical dream. This vinyl-only release is the third release by Wax Poetics Records, who, like their sister publication, is fast becoming the authority on music’s unsung heroes. This limited edition 12-inch comes with newly designed cover art, inspired by the simple yet iconic graphic design of reggae’s past. In order to complement this historical pair of tunes, we include liner notes by Wax Poetics contributor Seb Carayol, who interviewed Earl Zero for the occasion.