Few groups better captured the heart and soul of roots reggae than the Abyssinians; the vocal trio's heavenly close harmonies, dark melodies, and Rastafarian themes, all delivered with a deep spiritual feeling, were instrumental in defining and refining the genre. Bernard Collins and Donald Manning were longtime friends, and neither initially planned a career in music. That all changed one night in 1968, when during a creative burst, the pair composed "Satta Massa Gana" (also spelled "Satta Amassa Gana"). Proof of their Rastafarian devotion is found in the title, which is Amharic for "give thanks and praise", Amharic being the language of Ethiopia. The song itself was inspired by a Carlton & His Shoes B-side, "Happy Land." Carlton himself was Manning's brother, and a second sibling, Lynford, also sang with the Shoes. In any case, Collins and Donald Manning felt the power inherent in their own effort, and with a young third vocalist in tow, the newly formed Abyssinians sallied forth into the turbulence of Kingston's music scene. This unnamed young man, still at school, was soon replaced by Lynford Manning, and the new lineup approached producer Clement "Coxsone" Dodd in 1969. This made perfect sense as Dodd had produced "Happy Land," and he agreed to record the trio, but was unhappy with session's outcome. In Dodd's opinion, the Jamaican record-buying public would have little if any interest in the Abyssinians' revolutionary Rastafarian themes. Reggae was still a relatively new genre, and in its early days, it was brightly upbeat, yet the trio had perversely slowed the beat down and smothered it in plaintive melodies in a minor key. Who in their right mind would buy such music? Who, indeed? The answer came in 1971 when the trio finally bought back its tape (for a ludicrously inflated sum), and released "Satta Massa Gana" as a single on their own Clinch label. The song's deeply devotional message, its dreams of far-away Africa, its throbbing rhythm, and its melancholy melody struck a chord across the island, and the record was an instant classic. A label battle between Clinch and Dodd's Studio One label was now sparked. Belatedly realizing what he'd let slip away, Dodd quickly released "Satta Massa Gana" himself, backed with "Jerusalem," admittedly in very limited quantities. A rush of DJ versions inevitably followed. Dodd released two instrumental versions, "Night in Ethiopia" by pianist Jackie Mittoo and "Cool It" by saxophonist Tommy McCook. The latter recorded another instrumental version for Clinch, "Mandella," while the label also put out several DJ versions, including two by Big Youth and one by Dillinger. Other DJs soon followed suit, but the most innovative was the Abyssinians' own toasting take, "Mabrak," on which the trio recites passages from the Bible in Amharic.