musicology #524

Jamaica #4

(Don Drummond – Treasure Isle)

Looking to catch the earlier train with today’s cut otherwise I find myself too far behind the 8 Ball which is no place to be for the I. That and having too many plates up there spinning take too much of my time and energy which I haven’t got to spare. I would rather spend it with my children, listening to, finding and curating music or with my spars.

So on with the four of the Jamaican Musical History excursion and so far we have heard from two of the foremost producers of the period Downbeat the Ruler  and Prince Buster so today it’s the turn of Duke Reid aka The Trojan whose Soundclashes with Coxsone are the stuff of myth and legend. Of all the islands sound systems It was these two who contested with the most ferocity and passion both musically and physically leading to heated battles between them and their respective followers both in and out of the dance. Pitched battles were fought in an attempt to intimidate and lock off the opposing sound and in part it was out of this culture that the Rude Boy emerged. Combined with Jamaica’s violent and rebellious history as well as the abject poverty and general lawlessness especially in the ghettos of Kingston the ingredients were all there to light the fuse that would eventually blow up in all out political warfare in the 70’s but I’ll get to that later on in the theme when the right time come.

Back to the Ska and Duke Reid..for me what has always distinguished The Trojan’s Treasure Isle sound is it’s sweetness and light. As far as I know Reid never allowed Ganja to be smoked in the studio or entertained any kind of Rasta ideology whereas Coxsone turned a blind eye knowing that not only did it stir the creative juices, (which it does), but that Rasta was beginning to have a major impact in Jamaican ghetto life..Duke Reid was a traditionalist and considerably older than the young and visionary Coxsone but the music produced in his studio, (and he had a speaker wired up in his Liquor store so that he could hear what was being recorded), was as good as anything produced. It was with the Rocksteady that Duke Reid truly came into his own but he was also responsible for producing some BOSS Ska as witnessed with this piece courtesy of the legendary Don Drummond..Original Skatalite, Trombonist supreme and leading light in Jamaican musical history. No one rocked the instrument like the Don and although his story ended in violence and mental illness his music will forever stand as his legacy. Quite Simply..this is Ska



4 thoughts on “musicology #524

  1. In terms of the performance this is a much “tighter” sound than some that have gone before. Is this one of the differences between the two warring studios?
    Anyhow it is much to my liking. More of this please!


    1. Ian,
      Duke Reid was a stickler for perfection whereas Coxsone was much younger and therefore more flexible, allowing others to take charge of arrangements, production and musical matters. That’s not to say Coxsone wasn’t involved musically as he most certainly was but the Duke had complete control over Treasure Isle recordings. Also Coxsone was much more of a business man than Duke Reid so he understood that perfection takes time and that meant money. Both were musical connoisseurs and had their finger on the pulse but for me Coxsone was also a vanguard and trendsetter who had the vision to allow others to take charge… Duke Reid was considerably older than Coxsone so had a maturity that cant be denied.. Finally Don Drummond was leading the band on this one so would have been responsible for setting the tone of the piece.


  2. Another piece of useless information….

    back in the day, on ‘the scene’, the later it got (or earlier, depending on one’s coming or goings or internal clock) the ‘darker’ the music played i.e. songs with little more than ‘punch lines’ and/or instrumentals. Come five in the morning you could almost cut the atmosphere in and around all the ‘late-nighters’ with a knife.

    Beatles and Stones fans… eat yer hearts out!


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