Bim Sherman – ONU Sound Records – 1982

Golden Locks / Revolution / Slummy Ghetto / You Are The One / Just Like A King

Across The Red Sea / Golden Morning Star / Awake The Slum / Party Time / Sit And Wonder

A stonewall ONU Sound classic uploaded tonight, the silky vocals of the late Bim Sherman, voiced over ten hard rhythms recorded at Channel One and Harry J studios by a seriously heavyweight list of session musicians including Sly and Robbie, George Oban, Ansell Collins, Deadly Headly and Bobby Ellis. The usual ONU Sound musicians make an appearence, Style Scott, Eskimo Fox, Crucial Tony, Bubblers and Bonjo I. This LP and the pre ONU Sound ‘Lovers Leap’ LP are both stacked up with top notch material recorded by this (at the time) underrated vocalist. ‘Lovers Leap’ is also available on this site. Search for it using the search function if you care to give it a listen. Also worth searching out on this site are the records he is vocalist on by Singers And Players and New Age Steppers.

The tracks ‘Just Like A King’, ‘Across The Red Sea” and ‘Golden Morning Star’ on this ONU Sound released LP were repeatedly listened to by a much younger Penguin in his bedroom…and it is very nice to get reacquainted with these tracks again today. It is a shame that Bim is no longer with us as he was a very kind and considerate man who I found was always pleasant to be around.

Text below lifted off, so thank you and respect given in advance to that site.

One of reggae’s most enduring cult figures, Bim Sherman was also among the most highly-regarded singers of his generation, with his sweet, wistful and unmistakable voice acclaimed by scholars as one of the purest ever to emerge from the Jamaican music scene. Born in 1950, he first attracted notice with his 1974 debut single ‘One Hundred Years in Babylon;’ the Kingston studio circuit soon beckoned, but Sherman instead went his own way, refusing to perform any material except the songs which he himself wrote. As a result, he remained under-recorded throughout his career, a predicament rare in the annals of reggae history; by 1976 he was even forced to form his own labels, Scorpio and Red Sea, selling his singles on the streets of Kingston. Self-released efforts like ‘Golden Locks’ and ‘My Whole Worl’ earned Sherman a small but devout following, and in 1978 the British label Tribesman Records compiled his early work on the LP ‘Love Forever’. He relocated to England in the 1980s, there joining the On-U Sound stable headed by producer Adrian Sherwood; with Sherwood at the helm, in 1982 Sherman recorded the acclaimed ‘Across the Red Sea’ LP  before forming another self-owned label, Century, to release an LP of the same name.

Born in Westmoreland, Jamaica on 2nd February 1950 the singer who became known as Bim Sherman had many aliases – Jarrett Tomlinson, Jarrett Vincent, Lloyd Vincent, Bim Shieman, Lloyd Tomlinson, J.L. Vincent etc. The names Vincent and Tomlinson came from Lloyd’s mother and father respectively. Jamaican singers of the sixties and seventies found it a commercial necessity to change names as they moved from label to label, just like the North America’s rural bluesmen of an earlier age changed names as they moved from town to town.

Bim Sherman did not ascribe his love of music to any one person but rather to his family, with whom he would attend church services and Sunday school. But as he became older, he would go to the local dancehall:

“… I always knew I could make the music, ever since I was small and it was all I wanted to do. I remember growing up and listening to it, singing along with it and feeling the power of it, which is the other side of roots, and feeling light-headed…”

In the early seventies the young Sherman swapped trades from fisherman to electrician when he moved in with one of his brothers in central Kingston. His closest musical friends were Keith Porter and Ronnie Davis, who would go on to form premier vocal group the Itals, but his first recording experience was with his early mentor Gladstone ‘Gladdy’ Anderson at the famous Treasure Isle studios. But things did not work out as well as he hoped, or as he once so eloquently put it…

“…things just go boof!”

So his first record to be released was cut at the Federal studio with Sid Bucknor who was the engineer for ‘One Hundred Years’. ‘Love Forever’ followed, a self-financed affair on the Element label and then came a string of tunes now recognised as reggae roots classics on Sherman’s own Scorpio, Red Sea and Sun Dew imprints. These singles met with a degree of local success and appreciation which convinced him to continue, but in Jamaica there was always a kind of pressure:

“Lots of people like Randy’s or Joe Gibbs want to record me, and even producers before them like Coxsone. But its not easy in JA (Jamaica) to get what you want out of recording and those people have a range of tricks they use to oppress you…”

Like so many other young Jamaicans in the seventies Sherman decided to try his luck in the UK, after being persuaded to join 1979’s Roots Encounter tour alongside renowned toaster Prince Far I, Creation Rebel and Prince Hammer. In fact his first album ‘Love Forever’ had been issued a year earlier on the Tribesman label, including the title tune plus nine other previous Jamaican singles. Sherman settled in the UK cementing a friendship and business relationship with the young maverick reggae producer Adrian Sherwood, a long-time admirer of the singer.

Adrian adds, “All great singers and vocalists have one thing in common – their voice stands out like a uniquely tuned instrument that only one person can play. Bim Sherman [was] a singer / songwriter with a truly golden tone. I have been throughout his whole career a huge fan. I first heard one of Bim’s songs while working in PAMA records Soundville Shop in Harlesden, London, in the mid 1970s … His was like a voice from the wilderness, the lyrics and fragile power ensured that in every subsequent batch of imports I was looking out for a new Sherman record. I wasn’t disappointed.”

Adrian went on to buy all of the 7″ pre-releases which featured the voice of Bim Sherman. It was during this time that Sherwood was developing his business collaboration with the heavyweight Jamaican DJ Prince Far I and he encouraged Prince Far I to hook up with Sherman for recording purposes. Eventually tunes such as ‘Down In Jamdown’ with Jah Lion and ‘Love Jah Only’ with Jah Buzz came into the UK on the Hitrun label, a partnership venture between the young English producer and the veteran Jamaican toaster.

The connection with Sherwood’s subsequent On-U Sound label led to collaborations with a vast range of musicians, artists and producers including Gary Clail, with whom he appeared on Top Of The Pops crooning on his ‘Human Nature’ smash hit of 1991, Akabu, Tackhead, Japan’s Audio Active, the Sabres Of Paradise, Groove Corporation, Bomb The Bass and latterly Sinhead O’Connor. These collaborations continued along side Bim’s own solo releases, mainly through his UK imprint Century.

In 1994 Sherman re-recorded six of his old tunes in an acoustic session at Richard Branson’s Manor Studios, accompanied by Skip McDonald on guitar and Talvin Singh on tablas. A trip to Bombay followed where India’s finest film musicians provided the extra layers of sound that resulted in 1994’s ‘Miracle’, the album which is probably Sherman’s masterpiece and a fitting testament to reggae’s sweetest voice.

What marked Bim Sherman out from his contemporaries was not just his plaintively sweet vocal delivery, or the matching subtlety of his songwriting, but the fact that throughout his career he maintained a fierce defence of his own independence as an artist, keeping control of his output both creatively and commercially.

Lloyd Jarrett Vincent AKA Bim Sherman, singer and songwriter, born Westmoreland, Jamaica, 2nd February 1950, died London 17th November 2000.

Steve Barker

  1. dan i
    dan i
    December 5, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    I remember that Powerhaus gig well. There were a few dubwise gigs there at that time – Jah Shaka’s Fasimbas, On U Sound System and such. Adrian was on the mixing desk that night, wasn’t he?

    Bim was magnificent, full stop.

  2. Penguin
    Penguin • Post Author •
    December 5, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    I also remember that gig very well and with a fair amount of fondness Dan. I went home with the girl at the front entrance collecting the tickets / guest list names. A goth looking girl called Lara L….o from Bologna in Italy. I drove her home that night and to my surprise I soon found out she was living along Myddleton Road N22, a few doors away from where I worked at Southern and just a street away from where I lived (I took her home there that night and opened the front door to prove that I lived there). Nice and handy. I found out later on during our year long courtship that she had also dated Andi Sex Gang many years before (which was a nice touch in a weird way). Also a few months after starting our relationship, Kevin from Conflict started to date Lara’s flatmate Debbie who was also from Italy, so the four of us were all quite close for a while. Good times…She went back to Italy a year or so after we met and we soon lost touch!

  3. dan i
    dan i
    December 11, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    sweet 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *