Reviews Zone

Dave & Ansel Collins: Double Barrel: Expanded Edition (Doctor Bird) Out now




5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)





With the famed Trojan label celebrating its 50th birthday this year, it is apt that there is a current slew of re-releases of albums and tracks originally issued by the British label back in the day.

This one is a special one. From Dave and Ansel Collins. An expanded version of one of Trojan’s most popular LPs, with some goodies new to CD added to the package.

Featured on this expanded version of the best-selling Trojan LP from 1971, are the UK # 1 title track, “Double Barrel”, and the duo’s Top 10 follow-up, “Monkey Spanner”. Plus, some sought-after vocal and instrumental sides from the sessions with leading producer, Winston Riley.

In the Spring of 1971, the wildly exuberant 7” single, “Double Barrel” shot to the top of the British pop charts, resulting in Dave Barker and Ansel Collins becoming international celebrities almost overnight.

Their appearances on the BBC TV show Top Of The Pops have gone down in music history. The success of the disc was repeated throughout the world and was followed soon after by the best-selling LP of the same title.

Within weeks of its issue, the duo’s equally vigorous “Monkey Spanner” provided the pair with their second major global hit. “Double Barrel” the single, got to number one in the UK in 1971 and their album of the same name reached #41. The follow-up single “Monkey Spanner”, hit the Top 10, peaking at # 7, also in 1971.

Barker and Collins went back to working on their respective solo careers. While Barker, one of Jamaica’s most accomplished vocalists, relocated to Britain, Collins remained on the island, where his talents as a keyboard player remained heavily in demand throughout the remainder of the decade and into the next.

The dozen tracks on the original album, are added to with another 12 cuts. The bonus tracks give us a second version of the title track, and some other very fine cuts.

Dave Barker was born David John Crooks in 1947 in Kingston, Jamaica. A session vocalist. Ansel Collins also from Kingston, was born two years later than his partner. A keyboard player. They met while working sessions for producer Lee “Scratch” Perry.

“Double Barrel” was originally an instrumental, but the producer Winston Riley suggested that Dave do some DJ type rapping across the track, and it worked. It was the first record that superstar reggae drummer Sly Dunbar,  then aged 18, played on.

After cutting the one album, Collins and Barker parted company. Collins becoming a session player, and working with The Upsetters, Black Uhuru, The Mighty Diamonds, Barrington Levy, Gregory Isaacs, U-Roy, Pama International and Jimmy Cliff, and Barker, resident in the United Kingdom, singing with several soul groups.

They attempted a comeback in 1981 without success, but they did re-form in 2012 for some shows, including the Notting Hill Carnival in London. There has been talk of a new reunion for European activity this year.

Two of Barker’s spoken intros, “Don’t watch that, watch this!” from “Funky Funky Reggae”, and “This is the heavy, heavy monster sound!” from “Monkey Spanner”, were used by vocalist Chas Smash, in the introduction to the Madness single, “One Step Beyond”.



By Andy Faith



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