Percy McLeod (left) and Ossie Samms were the driving force behind the Natural-Ites since the beginning.

The Natural-Ites started life in Nottingham, England in late 1982 and their music became known across the length and breadth of the reggae fraternity for its warmth and freshness throughout the Eighties. With the release of their first album in 1985, they quickly became well-respected throughout Britain and beyond and went onto release two more albums and a handful of classic singles before finally calling it a day in 1990. Whilst reggae fans mourned the passing of the band, singer-songwriter Ossie Gad continued to perform the band's classic numbers alongside his own material and reformed the Natural-Ites alongwith his partner Percy McLeod with plans to record and tour in 2001. There were positive vibes that a new album, recorded with Dub Judah, was due out in 2002 but it never materialised. Instead Percy Dread McLeod has been in the studio and is ready to release his first solo album in 2006.

Percy McLeod  (left) & Ossie Samms from the cover of 'Cry For You'.The band's first break occurred when they appeared on the television show Rockers Roadshow, hosted by Jamaican DJ Mikey Dread, which showcased Nottingham's finest talent. Their debut single, Picture On The Wall, penned by Ossie Samms (now known as Ossie Gad) was first released in 1983 on their own Realistics label, climbing to the top of the reggae charts and went onto become a roots anthem for years to come. Airplay on BBC Radio 1 in particular, widened the band's appeal and fan-base, combined with live sessions for top radio DJ's John Peel (aired on 13 June 1983 with Jah Love This, Jah Holy Hills, I Want Your Love and Suffer) and Janice Long. Further television appearances including Channel 4's The Tube, alongwith constant gigging around the country, helped the single to enter the mainstream British singles chart, no mean feat for an independent reggae outfit. The band's first album, also titled Picture On The Wall, was released to great critical acclaim in 1985. Lead vocals were shared between Ossie Samms, Percy 'JP' McLeod and Neil Foster, with an array of musicians, known as The Realistics, providing the rhythm and horn sections on the album.

The Picture album, released on the CSA label and produced by Johnny White, proved to be a major springboard for the group. Samms, McLeod (who also played rhythm guitar) and Foster shared the song-writing and lead vocal duties and were backed by band regulars Lenroy Guiste (bass), Paul Prince (lead guitar), Marcus Hodges and Winston Williams (keyboards), Alton Rickets and Chester Marzink (drums), Albert 'Eitiko' Barnes (trumpet) and Hugh Duffus (sax), amongst others. Recording took place in London and Nottingham, their home town, with mixing at the Aquarius Studios in Jamaica. The band's second single, Lion Inna Jungle, quickly followed their initial successful release and like Picture, became a roots classic amongst reggae followers worldwide. John Peel provided them with a second live session on his Radio 1 show on 11 June with the tracks Pull Together, Rastafari, Your Love and Guide Me With The Tide aired.

Marvellous - by The Natural-Ites, released in 1987.Within a year, a third single, Lately, was making an even bigger impact and remained at the number one spot in the UK Reggae charts for six weeks, forming the backbone of their second album, Marvellous, released in 1987. By this time, Neil Foster had departed leaving Samms and McLeod as the main pairing, alongwith the same Realistics core of Guiste, Prince, Hodges, Williams, Barnes and Duffus with Dennis Cole now on drums and Wil Fearon (percussion). The Marcus Garvey Studio in Nottingham was home to the recording, again under the control of producer Johnny White, with the album released on the Realistics Record label. Another single, Cry For You was released, followed up by a Temptations cover version, I Wish It Would Rain and Happen All Over Again.

The band's third and final album, Naturalites in Ites, was released in 1989. However, it failed to make the same impact as their previous releases and marked the beginning of the end for Nottingham's finest.The singer-songwriting duo, Ossie Samms (left) and JP McLeod (right). McLeod and Samms continued to share the writing and singing duties with familiar back-up from Guiste, Prince, Barnes, Duffus and Fearon, joined by Chris Whitely, Winston Squires and the return of Chester Marzink. Within a year the band's members had gone their separate ways and the British and worldwide reggae fraternity had lost one of its finest exponents.

With his partnership with McLeod in hibernation, Ossie Gad decided on a solo career which has taken him to the far corners of the world, performing his own material and Natural-Ites' classics in Africa, Europe, USA, Australia and New Zealand, the Caribbean and Hawaii. He's performed alongside some great names including Aswad, Burning Spear, Mighty Diamonds, Dennis Brown, Max Romeo, The Abbysinians and Israel Vibrations to name just a few and has released his own albums in the UK ('King David Offsprings' with Bobby Melody on Realistic Records), New Zealand ('Live in New Zealand' with the Jah Remnant Crew), Switzerland (4 tracks on a compilation album called 'Love Jah More' on Rootsman Productions label) and Hawaii (a lover's rock track called 'Year to Year' in collaboration with The Heartical Crew and released in July 2001 on a compilation album, Roots Music III by Quiet Storm Records).

Gad was keen to return to his roots and alongwith McLeod, they reformed the band in 2001. He said at the time, "people worldwide know the Natural-Ites name and songs, and having developed as a solo artist, it's time to work with other singers again to recapture the kind of unique sound we found with the original group." The Natural-Ites returned to Britain fresh from an appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival in July of that year and from a trip to Hawaii to promote their new release 'Year to Year.' Following a successful appearance at the Nottingham Carnival, they also appeared in Birmingham in September 2001. Joining Ossie Gad on stage was his original partner Percy McLeod, Marcus Hodges on keyboards and Dub Judah on bass. A festival appearance in Paris followed and there was talk at the time of releasing an album with updated versions of the band's most memorable tunes, however, it never materialised. Percy Dread, set to release a solo album in 2004.Ossie toured in Europe and recorded with the Manchester-based band Nucleus Roots in 2003, who included two of his tracks, Anything U Want and Together Again, on their Heart of the Matter album. He's also toured with Misty In Roots and again with Nucleus Roots in 2004, whilst performing in South Africa at the end of 2005.

In early 2005, Percy Dread McLeod (pictured right) sent me a copy of his new solo album, called Upside Downside, produced by his former Realistics compatriot Lenroy Guiste. The CD is excellent and includes a video of the album's title track. I've reviewed the CD below. Guiste himself is the bassist with the Royal Roots and Porcelain Dolls bands. I'll keep you informed of any developments, though you can keep in touch with the release by visiting Percy's website and listening to samples at Percy has continued to write and diversify himself into different musical styles such as hip-hop though as a rastafarian, reggae remains at his core and the new CD never strays far from his beliefs. He has worked as a vocal coach for youths as part of a life skills programme and made a series of personal appearances in the Midlands and the North West, culminating with a headline slot at the Nottingham Live Music Festival in August. Backed by an eight-piece band, Percy delivered seven tracks from his new CD, delighting the large Arboretum audience with a masterly performance. Next on the agenda is a foray into the popular reggae scene on the European mainland.

Here's my review of the new CD: 'Percy Dread has produced a solo CD of superior quality, combining together a heady mix of fresh new tunes and old classics, revamped and brought up to date, that demonstrate his voice has lost none of its exquisitely soulful qualities. He never strays far from his Rasta beliefs and engages the listener with a series of strong harmonies and catchy chorus lines that hook you into the moment. Fourteen tracks and fifty-five minutes of powerful roots music, kicks off in fine style with one of the album's strongest offerings in Pollution, followed by the title track (with video), Upside Downside. Percy Dread's strength is his stirring and emotional voice quality that surges through both of these songs. Black Roses is the first of three Natural Ites' classics, Love Jah (always one of my personal favourites) and Jah Works Mamma are the others, which recall the heady days of the '80s when the group were at the height of their success. These refreshers and other revival songs like Dungeon and Foggy Road which Percy Dread has breathed new life into, jockey for position alongside sturdy brand new offerings like Guide Me and Can't Look Back. My least favoured tune is Many Will Be Called, with its less rootsy, more mechanical vibe, though the rest of Percy Dread's gifts to us more than compensate. An impressive return to the fold for one of Britain's best-loved roots singers.'

Click to read : The Natural-Ites - Press Articles

Click to read : The Natural-Ites - Lyrics

The Natural-Ites and the Realistics Band at the time of their 1985 release, Picture On The Wall.



Picture On The Wall

Love and Understanding, Lion Inna Jungle, Gwan Go Do It, Sunshiny Days, Jah Works Mamma, Picture On The Wall, I Want Your Love, I'm In The Mood, Black Roses, Ain't Gonna Stop. Released 1985. Producer: Johnny White.


The Way I Feel, Back to Loving, Cry For You, Last Days, Rasta Youth, Jah Is Marvellous, Lately, Sweeter Than Wine, Someone Else, I Love Jah, What About The Africans? Released 1987. Producer: Johnny White.

Naturalites in Ites

I'll Be There, Begging You To Go, Happening All Over Again, Finding My Way, Coming Up Roses, This Love Affair, Dance Hall Queen, Wanna Love You Tonight, Like Fire, Show Me Your Heart. Released 1989. Producer: Johnny White.


(A) Picture On The Wall (B) Jah Works Mamma

(A) Lion Inna Jungle (UK Mix), Lion Inna Jungle (JA Mix) (B) Love and Understanding

(A) Black Roses (B) Gwan Go Do It

(A) Cry For You (B) Version

(A) I Wish It Would Rain (B) Instrumental, Rub A Dub

(A) Happen All Over Again (B) Like Fire

The Natural Ites & The Realistics in 1985 from the cover of their Picture album


King David Offsprings - Ossie Gad with Bobby Melody

Live In New Zealand - Ossie Gad with The Jah Remant Crew

Intro Medley - All Hail The Power - Lion Inna Jungle - Rasta Youth - Last Days - Rootman - Equal Rights - Hypocrites - Baby Babylon - Picture On The Wall - Jah Remnant Out. Released 2001.

Upside Downside - Percy Dread

Pollution (3:55) - Upside Downside (5:20) - Black Roses (4:20) - Babylon Rules (3:45) - Dungeon (3:15) - Foggy Road (3:30) - Guide Me (5:35) - Love Jah (4:19) - Jah Works Mamma (3:33) - Many Will Be Called (3:38) - Conquer (3:42) - So Jah Say (3:25) - Black Star Liner (2:56) - Can't Look Back (3:55) . Released 2005. Producer: Lenroy Guiste. Find out more here

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