There are so many sounds that had key personalities within them that have played an influential role in fuelling my passion – from Saxon and Coxsone here in the UK, to the legendary Stone Love and Kilimanjaro.
The personnel on a sound may change and vary from time to time, but it is very rare for the ethos of the unit to alter too much.
Once a reputation is gained for a certain style, the job then is to sustain, build and grow that reputation around the world. That is definitely the case for this week’s guests, Bass Odyssey. Their contribution to the dancehall business is absolutely immense.
They started out in St Ann’s in Jamaica by Keith Walford in 1989. Walford was already a DJ and selector by this point and had worked at many local shows. The early ‘90s saw Bass Odyssey cementing their position in the game with their unique style.
The set up changed in 1994 after a difference of opinion from the management of the sound, and the new line up saw DJ Mark (an accomplished mixer on the decks) line up with talented mic man Kevin ‘Squingy’ Bennett.
This was truly a golden era in the fortunes of Bass Odyssey. The clash market was a global affair now, and their level of skill, selection and showmanship meant they were a force to be reckoned with.
I can vividly remember Squingy whipping the crowd up into a frenzy on numerous UK Cup Clashes, running all over the stage with his gangly frame and audiences just waiting for that signature intro – Bounty Killer exulting, “Bass Odyssey! From Way Out In The Country!”
A major moment for any true sound clash fan. UK audiences have shown their vast appreciation of them. They were winners of the UK cup on four occasions – back to back wins in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
2009 saw the premature passing of Squingy with a long- term illness aged just 37. A devastating blow for the sound, but also for all fans of dancehall music and the reggae fraternity worldwide.
They regrouped, and came back in a triumphant return in 2014 on these shores. “They are one of the greatest sound clash sounds ever.”
So says Lady V, a sound system specialist and one of the leaders of V Rocket sound, as well as one of the greatest sound clash sounds ever.” So says Lady V, a sound system specialist and one of the leaders of V Rocket sound, as well alone of the pioneers who has helped build the global soundclash market.
“The combination between Squingy and Mark and their level of preparation was always on point. The new generation that are playing as Bass Odyssey have been handed a legacy that is hard to maintain.
“The new team do not do as many clashes as before, but they are definitely building themselves back up aftertheir hiatus, and the status is assured.”
In a market that is always having to keep up with the times, the soundclash model for 2017 renders the old rules non-existent. So then, how does a stalwart like Bass Odyssey continue to thrive in the way that they do?
“Nowadays, we are trying to create new platforms to bring through new sounds for clashes,” continues Lady V. “The elite such as Bass Odyssey have a huge fanbase and are household names – this makes them extremely important for the clash industry.
“This is a sound that carries great anthems which have been collected over the years. To have a big clash and not have Bass Odyssey on the line up would feel wrong.”
I had the pleasure of having Bass Odyssey on my BBC radio show a few weeks back, and Damion Delingy, who is now the voicepiece for the sound, is doing a sterling job representing them and is holding up the virtues and values which form the backbone of the outfit.
Their demolition of Soul Supreme sound in their own back yard in New York earlier this year shows there is no letting up in their mission.
Big up to the full Bass Odyssey team, and we wish you continued success for many more years to come. Next week we reflect on the career of the King Of The Dancehall, Beenieman