A Little “Door Peep” Knowledge

Burning SpearHere’s an article recently published in the Gleaner about Burning Spear’s track “Door Peep” and it’s importance to the artist. It always talks a bit with Trumpeter David Madden who was part of the trio that played the memorable horn line on the original Studio One cut.

Hard work to put in ‘Door Peep’ introduction
Published: Sunday | August 16, 2009 by Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer

When Burning Spear’s Door Peep was first included on an album, it did not get title billing. Still, its position as the first song on side ‘B’ of the 1973 Studio One Presents Burning Spear suggested that it was very important.

And the title was actually Door Peep Shall Not Enter.

Always a favorite, the song’s importance in Burning Spear’s catalogue was underscored when it was used for the title of the collection of his work in the Island Anthology series in 1996. The actual title, Door Peep, was not the pair of words that graced the cover of the 35-song collection from Spear’s work with Island Records in the 1970s.

The title Chant Down Babylon came from a phrase which bore Spear’s hallmark of concise repetition and stated his musical intentions as he sang:

“Door peep shall not enter/
This ya holy land/
Where the wise and the true man stand
Sipping from the cup of peace/
We chant down Babylon/
We chant down Babylon/ …”

As engaging as the song is, though, it took sometime for the lyrics to hit. Not in terms of the song striking a chord with the public, but to actually begin as there is a substantial introduction (including Spear speaking the first two lines of the lyrics). And fusing that introduction with the rest of Door Peep took some doing.

Trumpeter David Madden, who recently released the album Long Live Reggae Music, was part of the trio that played the memorable horn line on the original Studio One cut of Door Peep. He compared the process of getting the future Burning Spear classic to gel to a field far removed from the music studio.

“It’s like you want to put in a car engine. You’re putting in the crankshaft. If it not lined up properly it can’t go in,” he said. In this analogy, the singer is the crankshaft, so when the song is not organized as it should “the vocalist can’t start. When it is lined up properly, the crankshaft just goes in easily. Everything is fine”.

Door Peep appeared on the 1973 album, ‘Studio One Presents Burning Spear’.

It took a master musician to organize the placement of all the components to get Burning Spear’s vocals in right. Guitarist Ernie Ranglin worked out just how all the elements should fit together.

“In that situation he had to do it from a musical point of view,” Madden told The Sunday Gleaner. Normally the music is done somewhat spontaneously, but “this one was a bit more difficult. He had to draw for pen and paper to work out progressions, to where the vocals could come in with ease. It made it easier for us playing the horns to play what we were playing”.

“It was getting the introduction in a way that the vocalist could come in easily and nobody gets thrown out,” Madden said.

There were no thoughts about playing on a hit record then, Madden saying “then time we no know bout no superstar or anything like that. You are an instrumentalist, you learn to play music at (Up Park) Camp. You get a chance to play music, not like at Camp with sheet music. You glad to know you can get into that level of music”.

Ironically, although Madden toured with Spear for seven weeks during 1984/1985, he never played Door Peep live.

He played on other Burning Spear studio recordings, including Marcus Garvey which was recorded at Randy’s, North Parade, downtown Kingston, and became a huge hit.

David Madden played the trumpet on ‘Door Peep’.

Originally appeared on www.jamaica-gleaner.com

I've been involved in the Los Angeles music scene since at least 1995 going to shows, promoting, spinning records and running labels. Ska and Early Reggae are my passion among other things of course.