Jacob Miller was an underground roots singer searching for that big radio hit in 1975. Months earlier, he had met Inner Circle, one of Jamaica’s leading show bands.

Their association paid instant dividends with the song Tenement Yard, a humorous take on lack of privacy in Jamaican ‘big yards’.

Released in 1975, Tenement Yard is one of Miller/Inner Circle’s greatest hits. Recently, the band covered the song with hot neo-roots singer Chronixx on lead vocals.

The song is released Tuesday on iTunes, one week before Inner Circle performs at the January 16-17 Rebel Salute at Richmond Estate in Priory, St Ann.

According to Inner Circle guitarist and co-founder Roger Lewis, linking with Chronixx to put new sheen on a classic is a “big, big deal”.

“We wanted Jamaican people and reggae fans who didn’t know Jacob Miller to get a touch of him and learn about him more, and what better way than with one of the hottest new young reggae stars,” said Lewis. “We’re bridging the gap, the past and the future.”

A video for Tenement Yard was shot in the Little Haiti section of Miami last summer.

The Manchester-born Miller had a hit song as a teenager in 1968 with Love is a Message for Clement ‘Coxson’ Dodd. He had a presence on the Kingston show scene in the early 1970s and recorded several strong sides for dub visionary Augustus Pablo.

Tenement Yard was the breakthrough hit for Miller and Inner Circle which Lewis started in 1968 with his younger brother and bass player Ian; guitarist Stephen ‘Cat’ Coore, and keyboardist Michael (later ‘Ibo’) Cooper.

Miller and Inner Circle had a number of hits in the 1970s including Tired fi Lick Weed ina Bush and Mixed up Moods. They were working on a new album when he died in an auto accident in March 1980 at age 27.

Based in Miami for the past 30 years, Inner Circle have collaborated with other contemporary reggae acts, including Khago and I-Octane and producer Don Corleon.

Jamaica Observer