Barrington Levy – “Bounty Hunter” (1979)

Sometimes you pick up a record because it just looks right. Barrington Levy’s Bounty Hunter is one of those records.

I had some time to myself on our recent trip to Los Angeles, and since we were staying downtown my vinyl options were limited. However, The Last Bookstore was just a few blocks from our hotel, and they had a nice selection of used vinyl, which was super heavy on soundtracks but also had a pretty good selection of reggae. I probably flipped through every 12″ in the store over a course of a few hours, and this battered copy of Bounty Hunter from 1979 looked to be right up my alley. I didn’t even notice when I bought it that it was recorded at King Tubby’s, with Scientist on the controls. That’s a pretty solid pedigree.

Summer is reggae time. My well-used copy of Bounty Hunter has plenty of pops and clicks and hisses, and with Scientist on the controls the music has hints of dub sprinkled all over it like fairy dust, which is just perfect for a summer night. It looks like this was Levy’s first LP… and he’s been making music more or less ever since, though he’s certainly slowed down in recent years. This is “classic” early reggae, that mix of early soul/rock/do-wop with a reggae riddim, perhaps nowhere as perfectly as on “Moonlight Lover.”

My reggae shelf seems to be slowly filling up… I’ve yet to buy an album I thought was “bad,” and I don’t think that’s because I have amazing taste or have been super lucky… I think I just dig da reggae, mon… especially in the summer…