We listen to songs over and over when we find them enjoyable. Repetition will draw interest to music that does not immediately attract. Proper ingredients, carefully arranged, and then revisited can become masterpieces. Harry A. Mudie (HAM) is a producer of Jamaican music who uniquely revisits his creations. As he returns to his creations, he improves and refines them with vision. Adjustments are made and the music is rereleased. In one instance, the original vinyl pressings were crushed up for use on another project. It was the original release of “The Drifter” that was crushed into pieces and later resurrected. “The Drifter” is just one example, HAM has used repetition throughout his career.
Harry A. Mudie grew up with Jazz music. To this day, he maintains his extensive Jazz vinyl collection, which includes Dave Brubeck, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Gene Ammons, Sonny Rollins, and Thelonius Monk. In 1955, while still in school at St. Jago High School in Spanish Town, HAM connected the love of Jazz and music to a sound system called Mudie’s HiFi. Eventually, this sound played throughout the island of Jamaica. HAM attributes his success to his personal address (PA) system. This system was very sophisticated for the time period. Harry A. Mudie recalls how Mudie's HiFi was configured, "Three individual microphone inputs. We used the best quality microphones available. We positioned the output speakers on stands, with complimentary output speakers on the floor." The design produced a reliable sound which was deep and rich and it drew the interest of Byron Lee. In his early days, Byron Lee worked with HAM to rent HAM’s system for his big band events.
In 1961 HAM visited Federal's Two Track Studio to complete his first recording. Vocal and Instruments were both balanced and simultaneously recorded HAM's first production, featuring Count Ossie. The engineer was Graham Goodhall This recording resulted in the “Remembering Count Ossie” album on Moodisc Records. Count Ossie is an icon of Jamaican culture. HAM and Count Ossie became fast friends from their first meeting. HAM describes when Ossie took him to Warieka Hill, “It was like a cut-off, because not everyone could go up there. You had to have a password to get in there because of the weed. Ossie was someone that the Police respected because he used it, but not on the street. He used it for religious purposes. He never smoked a cigarette. A very, very great guy. They used to have sit-in and play music. I used to go up there pretty often and we decided we would do an album together. That was my first recording.”
In January 1962, HAM left Jamaica to live with his Aunt Hazel in England. During this period, HAM studied electronics and photography. As a result, HAM learned the skills to mix, engineer music, create album photographs, and how to process album jackets. HAM commented, “I try to do everything." HAM really does do everything, often with the assistance of close friends and family.
After his return from England in 1965, HAM opened his own Electronic repair store and Record shop at 39 Young Street inSpanish Town. Harry A. Mudie worked under a service contract with Stanley Motta to repair Televisions, Radios, and Appliances. Motta’s business worked with photography, prints, television sales, parts and repairs. That business was good as the contract allowed for a specific dollar amount to be paid for repairs. Next, HAM revisited the recording studio with a collection of artists and musicians that he had befriended from his work on Mudie’s HiFi. The rhythm track instrumentals were completed on one weekend day and the following weekend HAM brought in the vocalists for another one day session. The rhythm track instrumentals were recorded by a group HAM named "The Rhythm Rulers." This group consisted of an amazing collection of some of the most skilled and influential musicians in Jamaican music history. Without hesitation, Harry A. Mudie recites the lineup for "The Rhythm Rulers," "Winston Wright on Organ, Jackie Jackson on Bass, Joe Isaacs on Drums, Hux Brown On Guitar, Eric Frater on Guitar, Theophilus "Snappin" Beckford on Piano, Val Bennett on Tenor Sax, Carl "Cannonball" Bryan on Alto Sax, Rico Rodriquez on Trombone, and Denzil Laing on Percussion." The vocals were laid the following week and included G.G Grossett, The Ebony Sisters, and Dennis Walks. HAM had rehearsed the artists at his repair shop in previous weeks so that he and the artists were ready for the coming recording session. This session produced vocals and instrumentals, which would dominate Jamaican music to present day. The music created includes “The Drifter" & "Heart Don't Leap" (by Dennis Walks), "Let Me Tell You Boy” (by The Ebony Sisters), “Run Girl” (by G.G Grossett), "Mannix" (by the Rhythm Rulers), "Run For Your Life" (by Carl Bryan & The Rhythm Rulers), "Waking The Dead" (by Carl Bryan, "Musically Red" (by The Rhythm Rulers), "Mudies Mood" (by Lloyd Charmers & The Rhythm Rulers). Despite the aforementioned impact of the music, ”The Drifter” did not sell and HAM crushed all of the singles that he had pressed and put the recorded tape to the side. HAM describes this event:
“Yes. Sometimes you put a song out and it’s too early. It’s ahead of its time. I found that out with some of the songs [I] release. When I find it that way, I just relax, put it down, and then reintroduce it. Maybe with something else mixed in or change along the way. "Sometime force we go back." They want a new version, so I try to see what we can do to make it fresh. We do DJ, we do instrumental, a different version, a dub version, while keeping the rhythm section tight just the same. It’s because the people love the stuff so much that they want more of it! As they say, ‘You can't get too much of a good thing.