The Arrows International set up has entertained and served the reggae world for over forty years now. Throughout these years the Arrows sound system has played a prominent role in the sound system industry as has the development of the Arrows Recording Studio and dub-plate cutting service.
The roots of Arrows lies in the Dunkirk area of eastern Kingston and was the brainchild of three youngsters, brothers Ivan “Sonny” Linton, Phillip “Bilbo” or “Bill” Linton and their friend Robert “RO” Johnson. The sound started out in 1965, and derived it’s name Arrows from Robert Johnson’s nickname “RO” he was an electronics expert who “built the sound’s first amplifier from a Grundig radio and used a Garrard turntable to play our 78 RPM records at the time, our speaker boxes were made of sardine cases with 8” speakers”. The Arrows Disco, as it was known then, soon updated their equipment to include “a small tube amplifier and building our speaker boxes with plywood” and then in 1970 Alton King, a technician from Jones Town, transformed the sound with the introduction of “three pieces of tube amplifiers; bass, mid and treble. Built into the treble amplifier were a spring reverb section and a wicked mike stage” which was unrivalled. It was in the early years of the seventies that the sound started to focus entirely on playing reggae and rub a dub with dub plates to the fore. At this time the top sounds in the eastern Kingston included Prince Patrick, John The President and, of course Arrows. When Jackie Birch, the owner of the Prince Patrick sound, decided to emigrate to Canada, he sold his dub plate collection to Arrows. As an added bonus they also acquired his top DJ, and old schoolmate, Crutches (b. Delroy Jones), a great old school and well respected deejay who had cut a few tunes at Randy’s for the Chins, who would remain loyal to Arrows throughout the seventies and well into the eighties. In fact it’s Crutches who can be heard in the our oldest foundation tape, the 1974 Easter Sunday soundclash which Arrows had with Emperor Faith at UWI Students Union. The election year of 1976 curtailed the sounds activities but afterwards, with rub a dub deejaying in the dancehalls really becoming popular, Arrows with Crutches, Jah Mikey and a youthful deejay Puddy Lion aka Puddy Roots (b. Junior Smith) were certainly a force to be reckoned with.
At the beginning of the next decade the Arrows roster of artists grew with the addition of new deejays like Hugo Brown (b. O. Hylton), Errol Shorter and in particular the excellent Shaka Shamba (b. Devon Shaw) and his equally talented spar Liberty. These micmen, while not being household names, could certainly guarantee a lively Arrows session. Others who frequented the Arrows camp at this time were Boney, Papa Splint, Captain Sinbad (b. Carl Dwyer) and singers Clarence Parks and Errol Turner. Like all sounds, big timers like Peter Metro and Brigadier Jerry, would often drop by as special guests for the night. The selecting duties were shared over the years by the owner Bill, Ricky Zaggaluu and Papa Screw. By now they were known as Arrows The Ambassador and they were frequently involved in clashes with other big sounds like Stereophonic, Prince Jammy’s, Killamanjaro, Volcano and more.
The Arrows set up continued to flourish throughout the eighties spreading their wings internationally. They took the unusual step for a touring sound system by taking their whole set with them in a container to tour Europe and the United States. As the music changed from analogue to digital a next wave of artists hooked up with the sound and these included raggamuffin chatters like Joe Mannix (b. Courtney Peterkin), Mello Ranks and the underrated Chicken Chest (b. Alton Thomas). By 1987 Arrows International were still carrying “live” artists and these would include ex Sturmars man Cutty Ranks (b. Phillip Thomas), Professor Nuts (b. Carl Wellington), Leslie Thunder and singer Leroy Gibbon. The latter’s hit single “The Name Of The Sound” was one of the first, if not the first, to be released on the newly formed Arrows record label. An Arrows tour of England commenced in this year with Cutty, Nuts, Chicken Chest, Shamba and Gibbon all appearing for Arrows in soundclashes against some of the bigger UK sounds such as Saxon and Java.
As the decade ended the sound system was wound down and Arrows started their new project, the Arrows Recording Company based at 57C Windward Road, Kingston 2. As well as being a recording studio they offered a dub cutting service which became a focal point for sound systems both in Jamaica and worldwide. Tragically in March 2004 Arrows’ founder Phillip “Bill” Linton was murdered outside their premises in another senseless killing. It’s a tribute to the three founders of the Arrows International sound that it is fondly remembered in the dancehall world and it’s name lives on in the reggae business right up to this day.”
Emperor Faith v Arrows @ UWI Students Union, 8 Cedar Valley Road, Standpipe, Kingston 6, 14th April 1974
Emperor Faith – Irons
Arrows - Crutches
"This is a real historic recording. The original tape inlay said it was just Emperor Faith with U. Brown & Crutches 1974, but, thanks to Jayman’s ‘twiddlings,’ it reveals that there are two sounds, Emperor Faith and Arrows, taped at the same dance on Easter Sunday at the University of West Indies Students Union. The first twenty five minutes is Emperor Faith, running pure Studio One tunes in particular Alton Ellis. Although U. Brown was stated to be on it, there is a suggestion that it’s a deejay named Irons who frequented the Emperor Faith set. They then hand over to "King" Arrows. Crutches was the other stated deejay so this ties in with Arrows. Their selection is a bit more varied with Bunny Lee productions from Johnny Clarke and Horace Andy. At one point Arrows says "Emperor Faith comes, but couldn't live it up" to a Burning Spear track. Could this be the earliest recorded sound clash?????”
Thanks to Brother Granty for the crucial new information on this classic tape.
Arrows @ Kelvinator Lawn, Fleet Street, Kingston, circa 1977
Featuring: Crutches, Puddy Lion
"Another vintage recording which finds Arrows The Ambassador at Kelvinator Lawn, Fleet Street in downtown Kingston. We have seen various dates for this session, ranging from 1975 to 1978, but listening to the musical selection which includes Freddie McKay’s “Oh How I Wish” and Brent Dowe’s re-cut of “Come On Pretty Girl” it tends to suggest it dates from 1977. The deejays’ style also points to this time as well and, although it's difficult to confirm, it certainly sounds as if it is long time Arrows deejay Delroy "Crutches" Jones on “Cripple Man Skank” over the Studio 1 classic riddim, “Rockfort Rock”. Puddy Lion aka Puddy Roots is said to be here too, but we can’t confirm. Jayman has significantly improved this one from what it originally sounded like and you hear Arrows dropping some really heavy duty dubplates in the Lawn.”
Arrows @ Franklin Town Primary School, 4 Victoria Street, Kingston 16, circa April 1978
“Arrows go back to school for this 1978 session and once again we think it’s Crutches on the microphone. He urges one and all to “Come A Arrows Dance” and enjoy the vibes. Popular themes of the day abound here with lyrics like “Weather Balloon”, Weatherman Skank” and “Sex Educational Class” all being flashed. To keep the people dancing there are some monstrous Studio 1 and Treasure Isle dubs pounding from the Arrows speaker boxes. Sadly only a C45 (was it longer originally?) but it’s time to tune in to the sounds of 1978.”
Another that has beem completely reworked and is sounding much brighter now...
Arrows @ Prison Oval, Spanish Town, 1981
Featuring: Brigadier Jerry, Zigaboo, Liberty, Shaka Shamba, Sister Facey, Papa San, Monksman
Selectors – Bill, Ricky Zaggaluu
“Special request to all prisoners,” is the call out as Arrows string up their sound at Prison Oval right next to the penitentiary in Spanish Town. Owner Bill and sidekick Ricky Zaggaluu mix Studio 1 and Treasure Isle revives with current sounds from Sugar Minott and Freddie McGregor. Brigadier Jerry urges everyone to “Follow Dis Ya Sound before making way for Shaka Shamba and Liberty who are in control for most of this session. Singer Zigaboo (Zaggaluu?) voices out well on “Super Duper” and deejay Monksman shows talent. Look out too for a brief appearance from a very young sounding Papa San.”
Arrows @ Lucea, Hanover 1982
Featuring: Hugo Brown, Errol Shorter
Selector – Bill
“Arrows take their sound system on the long journey west to Lucea, the principle town of the parish of Hanover and the deejays for the evening are Hugo Brown and Errol Shorter. They set to work over Bill’s selection of tuff tunes from Barrington Levy, Triston Palma, Steve Knight and Cornell Campbell. Hugo Brown, not to be confused with U. Brown, comes with plenty of style and fashion in “Jah In The Dance” , “Hold Them” and “Gunman Weh You Get The Guns From.” Errol Shorter proves to be equally adept, flashing lyrics like “Pure Gunshot” , “A1 Class” and the more traditional “Day O”. Over two hours of Arrows the Ambassador at the controls.”
Part 1 2016
Part 2 2016
Arrows @ McIntyre Centre, Dunkirk, East Kingston 2, 18th June 1982
Featuring: Hugo Brown, Tonto Irie, Clarence Parks, Horseman, Papa Splint, Crutches
Selector – Bill
“Dynamite record producer Clive Jarrett was the promoter for this dance in the McIntyre Villa area. This is a fine session and it features Hugo Brown, once again, in commanding form riding nuff Studio 1 rhythms and he’s joined by the emerging talent of Tonto Irie. You can clearly spot that twin microphones are being used here and the two deejays shock with Hugo commenting on the “War Down A Falklands” and Tonto sends out “Special Request To All Posse”. Loyal veteran Crutches is still on the scene and he versions his recent release on the Don One label “This Ya Music” chanted over a Roots Radics recut of the classic “Keep On Moving” riddim.”
Arrows – Chisholm Avenue,Whitfield Town, Kingston, Oct, 1982
Featuring: Shaka Shamba, Matta Pang, Uglyman, Stanley Braveman, Liberty, Gillipriest, Captain Sinbad, Lady Anne.
Selectors – Ricky Zagalou
“Here we have an early 80’s session from the Arrows sound system. This tape, recorded in Chisholm Avenue, features a number of Arrows regular deejays such as Shaka Shamba from St.Thomas and his sparring partner Liberty. This pair really nice up the dance over some pounding Roots Radics versions. They keep the lyrics flowing and eventually Captain Sinbad steps up to the mic to give the ‘Bam Salute’. Uglyman and legendary gateman Gillipreist are present and Stanley Braveman, who urges the crowd to follow the Arrows sound. This session is a good example of a the long running Arrows sound in action.”
Arrows @ U.W.I Students Union, 8 Cedar Valley Road, Standpipe, Kingston 6, December 1982
Featuring: Shaka Shamba, Libert, O’Neil Famous
Selector – Zaggaluu
“This short session, clocking in at only 30 minutes, is recorded at the Students Union early on in December. Zagga draws pure Johnny Osbourne, including a special boosting up “Papa Arrows” sound, and deejays Shaka Shamba and Liberty get to work on the dubs. There’s just time for a cameo appearance near the end from singer O’Neil Famous whose vocal is “Dedicated To Miss Lou.”
Arrows @ Elletson School, Windward Road, Dunkirk, East Kingston 2, 19th March 1983
Featuring: Shaka Shamba, Zuzu, Liberty, Little Marlon, Errol Turner, Dallo, Errol Shorter
Selectors – Bill, Ricky Zaggaluu
“It’s back to school for Arrows and they entertain well in this Saturday night/Sunday morning session. Radio personality Super Don is on hand with some trademark introductions and the deejays revel in the spotlight with Zuzu in particular catching the ear. He’s a versatile performer, combining singing and deejaying to great effect. Numbers like “Ghettoman Won’t Unite”, “Baby Come Home” and “Bout Ya”, a combination with Shaka Shamba, show off his talent. Liberty charts the everyday runnings in “Mini Bus Season” and “Jamdown Hot” and a singer by the name of Dallo surprises on “Hang On Natty Dreadlocks” and “Dunkirk Girls”. Youngster Little Marlon is let loose on the “Unmetered Taxi” riddim for a medley consisting of ”Get Physical/It’s Me/Glory Glory”.
Arrows @ Ashanti Junction, Windward Road, Kingston 2, November 1983
Featuring: Redman, Liberty, Little Youth, Peter Metro
Selector – Ricky Zaggaluu
“Arrows Hi Fi are live at the Ashanti Junction, a spacious venue located at the corner of Windward Road and Mountain View Avenue. Selector Ricky Zaggaluu has some nice tunes from the likes of Icho Candy, Barrington Levy and Cornel Campbell. Peter Metro announces that “Arrows nah cater for loafters” before he launches into an adaption of Mutabaruka’s “Butter Pan Culture”. Metro top lyrics here has to be the epic ”Seven Heroes of Jamaica” which in turn inspires Redman to detail the “History Of Jamaica”.
Arrows v Volcano @ Ashanti Junction, Windward Road, Kingston 2, 1984
Featuring: Zuzu, Liberty
Selectors – Bill & Ricky Zaggaluu
“Another clash for Arrows, this time against Junjo Lawes’s mighty Volcano set up, down at the Junction early on in 1984. Only Arrows appear on the tape and owner Bill seems to have only Liberty and Zuzu at the controls. But no worries here as they are easily rise to the occasion defending the sound with positive lyrics. Both these artists were under recorded on vinyl which is surprising, as Zuzu in particular could both sing and deejay competently. His “Mr Officer” is a warning to the trigger happy police and Liberty’s “Trouble Tonight” sits nicely on top of the Channel One cut of “Worries in the Dance”.
Arrows @ Dunkirk, Kingston, 6th March 1984
Featuring: Shorty Ranking, Zuzu, Horseman, Liberty, Shaka Shamba, Redman, Trevor Junior, Errol Turner,
Squiddly Ranking, Peter Metro
Selector – Ricky Zaggaluu
“There’s a big gathering of “Eastman” entertainers at this Dunkirk dance and it’s a great session indeed. Selector Zagga has fresh music from Little John and Trevor Junior, who’s there in person to version his own singles. “The Ghetto Is No Place To Play” is one of those he sings and Liberty deejays the version with the incisive “Ghetto Youths Won’t Unite”. “Hip Hip Hooray” is another of Trevor’s “biggies” and this time it’s Peter Metro and Errol Turner who follow up with “Hello Josephine”, a rocking combination from the pair.”
Arrows @ Dunkirk, Kingston, 1984
Featuring: Shaka Shamba, Papa Boney, Liberty, Zuzu
Selector – Ricky Zaggaluu
“A lively Arrows session which features Shaka Shamba, Liberty, Zuzu and Papa Boney has them mainly deejaying Studio One riddims and tunes from Triston Palma and Little John. Shamba concerns himself with dancehall matters such as “Mash Down The Area”, “Dunkirk Rock” and “Arrows Gone International”. Papa Boney’s on the cultural tip coming with “”Jah Jah Dread” and “Jamaica Proud Of Me” while Zuzu is assured on ”Everything Gone Electric”.
Arrows @ Standpipe/Cedar Valley, Kingston 6, 10th August 1984
Featuring: Peter Metro, Brigadier Jerry , Zuzu, Errol Turner, Liberty
Selector – Ricky Zaggaluu
“Brigadier Jerry guests on the Arrows sound at a dance in the Standpipe area. The big man contributes greatly to this fine tape with pieces like “Dance In A Montreal”, “Shuffle The Deck”, “Herbman Trafficking” and “Who Say Jah Jah Dead” all corking the dance. Errol Turner is a typical dancehall singer of the day, no big hit to his name, but is able to adapt a cover version to almost any dancehall riddim. He chooses “Cupid” and “Don’t Throw It All Away” when he gets his chance.”
Arrows v Sir Daley @ Dunkirk, Kingston, 26th December 1984
Featuring: Echo Minott, Redman, Liberty, Mellow Ranks, Junior Lee, Papa Splint
Selectors – Ricky Zaggaluu
“A Christmas time clash for Arrows against the Sir Daley sound. There’s great selection with Zaggaluu running lots of Sugar Minott and Half Pint through the system and then the likes of Mellow Ranks and Redman stepping up and producing meaningful lyrics like ”Manufacture” and “Can’t Leave Rastafari” respectively. However the real star of this one is Liberty who has lyrically come on in leaps and bounds. He sounds like a university lecturer on “English History” and “Lyrics Daddy”, creating well researched and complex passages. Teaching in the dancehall.”
Many thanks to Ruffhouse for this one..............