Eek-A-Mouse - Wa-Do-Dem LP
The meeting of studio genius and rodent, overseen by a man in a lab coat, a monarch, and a missionary, Wa-Do-Dem insured the DJ was no one-hit wonder. Eek A Mouse had hooked up with producer Henry "Junjo" Lawes in late 1980 on a pair of singles which barely served notice of what was to come. A re-recording of "Wa-Do-Dem" (originally produced by Linval Thompson), rocketed the DJ to the top of the dancehall rat pack, leading to a string of hits. 1982's Wa-Do-Dem gathered up a clutch of these, with the Greensleeves reissue adding two more cuts from the period. The Roots Radics lay down the kind of deep roots sound that was swiftly becoming Lawes trademark, while Scientist, King Tubby, and Barnabus took their places behind the mixing desk. The result was one of the most astonishing DJ albums of ever recorded. Eek had one of the most distinctive, and oddest, styles of the time, although today, it's a bit difficult to see what all the fuss was about. But that merely proves his impact upon the scene, his innovative "sing-jay" style, a perfect blend of singing and DJ-ing, was so quickly imitated that it was soon the norm. An aneoidal vocal quality, clipped delivery, and a propensity for strung out nonsense syllables gave Eek a decidedly non-Jamaican sound, and surrounding it with minor key rootsy melodies and a dubby mix, accentuated an unusual oriental-esque atmosphere. It's no wonder then that the DJ was originally dismissed as a novelty act (or perhaps it was sheerly down to the mouse costume), but underneath the jokey, furry exterior was a man with a message. "Operation Eradication" was inspired by the death of Eek's friend, DJ Erroll Scorcher, while "Ganja Smuggling" takes a serious look at this very subject. From the religious to the lovelorn, beyond the silly syllables, the DJ was full of intelligent and pithy observations. And when he wasn't, á la the title track, those same syllables made for infectious sing-alongs that reverberated across Jamaica and beyond. For too long, Eek has been dismissed as one of the more bizarre tangents of an underrated subgenre. Wa-Do-Dem, with its seething rhythms, simmering melodies, and spot on toasts in a unique fashion, proves otherwise.