The Abyssinians reggae group was formed in 1968 by Bernard Collins and Donald Manning.
The group is famous for their harmonies and the promotion of the Rastafari movement in most of their songs.
Their first song recorded was "Satta Massagana" in 1969.
Reports are that Satta Massagana" was first recorded for producer Clement "Coxsone" Dodd in March 1969, but he decided against releasing it, seeing no commercial potential for what he saw as a song constituting cultural subversion.
They purchase the master tape from Coxsone in 1971 and released the song on their own Clinch Label, the single became an instant success.
The group continued to record throughout the 1970s for producers including Lloyd Daley, Tommy Cowan, and Geoffrey Chung, and their debut album, Forward on to Zion was produced by Clive Hunt and released in 1976.
They have released a number of albums and Compilations.
1976 : Satta Massagana - Jam Sounds (reissued 1988 on Clinch, 1993, 2007 on Heartbeat, also released as Satta and Forward on to Zion)
1978 : Arise - Tuff Gong/Virgin/Clinch
1998 : Reunion - Artists Only
2002 : Live in San Francisco - 2b1 II
1982 : Forward - Alligator
1994 : Best of the Abyssinians - Musidisc
1996 : 19.95 + TAX
1998 : Satta Dub - Tabou 1
1998 : Declaration of Dub - Heartbeat
1999 : Last Days - Clinch (credited to Bernard Collins)
2003 : Abyssinians & Friends Tree of Satta vol. 1 - Blood & Fire
They were inactive during the mid-80s, because Linford Manning left Jamaica in 1980, and Donald left in 1984. Bernard Collins went to New York in 1986 to work on an album at Phillip Smart’s HC&F studio on Long Island. Many of those tracks would be used for the Last Days album.
The Abyssinians would play Sunsplash in Jamaica in 1989 and in Europe in 1990, and then Linford Manning left the group for good. The group performed again on Sunsplash 92 in Montego Bay.
During the 90s, the Forward album was released on CD (Musidisc), as well as set called Best Of (Musidisc), which features many hard to find singles from the early years of the group. Satta Dub (TABOU.1) and Declaration of Dub (Heartbeat) feature Karl Pitterson dub mixes of many tracks from the Clive Hunt sessions alongside other selected dubs. Virgin reissued Arise on CD in the early 90s.
Collins understands the struggle the Abyssinians still must endure to ensure the name is known and remembered. "In Jamaica here now, the Abyssinians do have a name, yes, in a certain area. If you call upon ‘Satta Massagana,’ ‘Declaration of Rights,’ everybody knows those songs, but if you say ‘Abyssinians’ to most of the young youths, they don’t know. Sometime them don’t even know what the word ‘Abyssinian’ mean. They never hear that word before.
But if you say ‘Satta Massagana’ or ‘Declaration of Rights,’ they know the song."
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