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SunRay - Supa Hype

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Strumming good vibrations

EARL ‘Chinna’ Smith cradles his well-worn 1968 Telecaster guitar as a doting mother would her newborn child. Smith, 60, refers to the cherished instrument as ‘the reggae guitar of the world’, given the countless hit songs he has played on. Among its biggest gigs were the 1975 recording sessions for Rastaman Vibration, Bob Marley and The Wailers’ album that was released the following year by Island Records. That set was Marley’s third for Island Records. It is considered by many critics and fans as his best work. Smith was one of two guitarists in the Soul Syndicate Band at the time he was recruited by Marley for the sessions at Harry J’s and Joe Gibbs’ studios in Kingston. He played the Telecaster on the album’s title track, Rat Race and Want More. According to Smith, recording with Marley in 1975 was “a mad thing” and one of the highlights of his career. “It was a spiritual movement. Him was a man who tek him thing serious...eat right, excercise...it wasn’t a joke thing,” said Smith. He bought the Telecaster at Music Mart in Kingston in 1972. The following year he used it on songs like Dennis Brown’s No More Will I Roam. It can also be heard on Burning Spear’s seminal 1975 album Marcus Garvey.