Kotch have been in existence since 1981, although only drummer Steven Lee and his guitarist uncle Pablo Stewart have remained constant. First called Psalms, the band offered straightforward roots reggae at a time when dancehall was starting to become popular. Their first single, GÇÿIn The HillsGÇÖ, produced by themselves and Third WorldGÇÖs Willie Stewart, flopped, but it was followed by the better-received GÇÿSka-baGÇÖ, produced by Ibo Cooper, also from Third World. By that time, in 1982, their lead singer, Parry Hinds, had been replaced by the distinctive, soulful baritone of Rueben GÇÿNormanGÇÖ Espuet and the line-up settled to Espuet, Lee, Pablo Stewart, Ian Heard (saxophone), Al Wilson (trombone), Earl Thorpe (bass) and Herbie Harris (keyboards). Four singles arrived in 1983, the last two, GÇÿHead Over HeelsGÇÖ and GÇÿJeanGÇÖ, charting in Jamaica. Their first album, Sticks And Stones, was also issued that year. Steven LeeGÇÖs other job, at his fatherGÇÖs Sonic Sounds record distribution company in Kingston, gave Kotch an important connection. Upstairs at Sonic Sounds was a tiny computerized studio, Megabyte, that Sly Dunbar rented. KotchGÇÖs keyboard player, Herbie Harris, became resident programmer and, with reggae changing in 1986 to a fully digital sound, Sly was looking for his Taxi label to follow suit. In 1988 it arrived: a rocking, woodblock snare, a subsonic, growling bass, and a simple keyboard and guitar arrangement that owed something to rocksteady. When Dunbar needed a voice, he simply called on the band downstairs, but KotchGÇÖs first new hit, GÇÿCruisingGÇÖ, caused confusion. Many believed that it was the work of a girl group, as EspuetGÇÖs baritone had been sidelined for a falsetto worthy of the Stylistics. An appearance at the Reggae Sunsplash festival in 1988 confirmed that it was Espuet with the high-rise larynx. GÇÿCruisingGÇÖ hit number 1 in Jamaica, and it was quickly followed by GÇÿTearsGÇÖ (a Top 10 hit) and a cover version of Smokey RobinsonGÇÖs GÇÿOoh Baby BabyGÇÖ, which Mango issued in England to considerable reggae chart success. GÇÿHeartbreakGÇÖ, a cover version of Eric ClaptonGÇÖs GÇÿWonderful TonightGÇÖ, and GÇÿTracks Of My TearsGÇÖ have all since sold well. The album Kotch was released internationally and to support it they toured Africa, South America and Europe and played extensively, backing singers and DJs in Jamaica - a facet of their work that success forced them to abandon. GÇÿDonGÇÖt Take AwayGÇÖ with U-Roy, and GÇÿClockGÇÖ maintained their profile into the 90s.Portions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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