Reviews Zone

The Pioneers: Long Shot / Battle Of The Giants: Expanded Edition (Doctor Bird) Out Now




5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)





In the same year as the legendary Trojan record label is celebrating its 50th anniversary, Doctor Bird are dropping some cracking stuff on CD that originated on Trojan.

The latest is this little beauty…Two of the most popular original Trojan albums of the boss reggae era, from the Pioneers.

The “Battle Of The Giants” LP makes its CD debut here, and on this bumper 30 track single disc, we are also treated to the “Long Shot” album.

This set features seven rare and previously unissued bonus tracks, and it includes the major UK chart hit, “Long Shot Kick De Bucket”, which got to number 21 in the UK chart in 1969, seven years after the trio formed in Jamaica, and four years after their debut single.

“Long Shot Kick De Bucket” made global stars of the Pioneers and led to Trojan Records swiftly releasing the trio’s “Long Shot” LP, towards the close of the year.

The album became a best-seller, with the group’s popularity in the UK prompting a follow-up collection, “Battle Of The Giants”, which hit the record shops the following year. Both records produced by legendary Jamaican producer Leslie Kong.

The Pioneers were formed at the start of the 1960s by brothers Sydney and Derrick Crooks, and their friend Winston Hewitt. Their early recordings “Good Nanny” and “I’ll Never Come Running Back to You” were self-produced at the Treasure Isle studio, using money lent to the Crooks brothers by their mother, and appeared on the Caltone label.

Several other singles followed, none of them hits, before Hewitt emigrated to Canada in 1966. Hewitt was replaced for around a year by former Heptone Glen Adams.

The Pioneers’ early singles were not successful, and Sydney began promoting concerts, while Derrick took up a full time job, and the group broke up in mid-1967.

But Sydney returned to recording a short time afterwards, and there has been various line-ups over the years, and they occasionally perform live today. They have worked with various producers since Kong, including Lee Scratch Perry.

“Long Shot Kick de Bucket” was covered by The Specials on their The Special AKA Live! EP, a UK #1 hit in 1980 – which resulted in The Pioneers’ original version being reissued (as a double A-side with “The Liquidator” by Harry J Allstars) and reaching #42 in the UK singles chart.

The Pioneers song “Starvation” was covered on the “Starvation/Tam Tam Pour L’Ethiopie” charity single released in 1985, which peaked at number 33 in the UK. The Pioneers shared lead vocal duties on the single with members of UB40, with backing vocals by General Public (ex-members of The Beat).

The Pioneers released around 80 singles between 1965 and the late 1990s, and circa 17 albums, plus various compilations; and a four-track EP with The Maytals, The Skatalites, and Jimmy Cliff, which made the lower reaches of the UK chart in 1989.

This set is a wonderful reminder of how good this outfit were, how infectious their sun-drenched reggae and ska sounds are and what cracking value these re-issues on CD are. Let’s have more and soon please. Just what the Doctor ordered, eh?



By Sally Fox



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