musicology #528


Jamaica #8

(Derrick Harriott – Do I Worry)

So what is it about Rocksteady that is different? Musically Rocksteady is built on the ‘One Drop’, (3rd Beat), whereas Ska was built around the ‘after beat’. That and the pronounced Bass evident on the Rocksteady combined to deliver a rhythm that the dancers could sway and ‘Rock Steady’ to while holding up a beer, maybe a spliff and even a girl. While Rocking Steady a man could look nonchalant and slick whereas the ‘Ska’ was all about the wild swinging of arms…not slick and certainly no chance of winding, grinding, smoking and drinking.

In fact to make it clear..Hold this quote from the drummer who many credit with originating the ‘one drop’, Winston Grennan

‘I give a hard blow on the third..that would be a hard one drop and it would cut the beat in half”

Of course there were other key players involved such as the afore mentioned Lynn Taitt, Hugh Malcolm, Bobby Aitken, Gladstone Anderson as well as legends such as Jackie Mittoo, Roland Alphonso and the Soul Brothers and of course Tommy McCook and the Supersonics. Apologies If I have missed some…hopefullly some of you musicologists out there can ‘pipe up’ and let us know?

Right enough of the words and on with the music. I was going to drop cuts chronologically but on reflection I’ll just do my best to throw down cuts that for me define the genres. If I had planned it differently I would probably thrown down a week of Rude Boy cuts that were so prevalent in 1966 but I didn’t so I’ll just continue !!

Today’s piece is from one of Jamaica’s greatest talents the pioneering vanguard Derrick ‘One Stop’ Harriott, a Cat who was there at the birth of the Ska, Rocksteady and Reggae delivering sublime musicology. Have to say that this is one of my all time faves.

Finally…Just like to add that I continually get lost for hours, days and weeks in what I consider to be one of the most original, informative and all round TOP RANKING sites out there

Johnny Spencer’s

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7 thoughts on “musicology #528

  1. Finally the brass instruments are gone and the guitar takes centre stage. This suggests to me the retirement of the “old guard” and the ascendancy of younger musicians/producers to give a fresher more commercial sound that maybe appeals to a wider audience (the rest of the world). The sound is so neat concise. Less is more to be sure.

    Am I right or am I wrong?

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    1. Ian,
      100% right, (although the old guard would continue to control proceedings). Cats like Roland Alphonso, Tommy McCook, ‘Marquis’, Johhny Moore, (all brass players), would continue to maintain a strong influence but slip into the background while the guitars, (especially the Bass), keyboards and drums took as you so eloquently put it ‘centre stage’, (as well as the vocals of course)..As is always the case commercial interests were prominent but would only really come to the fore with the next evolution…Reggae. Also the Studios were stepping up in sophistication..the ‘two mikes’ of the Ska period were being replaced and the engineers were learning new techniques.

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  2. I loved so much about this track..the vocals, the instrumentals, the girls singer in the background and the fabulous Rocksteady beat bringing them
    all together…smooooth!

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  3. Although the sounds of Jamaica were and are unique, was there much American or European influence, in production techniques maybe? I certainly can’t detect any outside musical influences. It seems music flowed (or flooded) out, but not much went in. While Europeans couldn’t get enough of Blues in the sixties, I am surprised it didn’t have much, if any, influence in Jamaica. What would be the reason?

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    1. Ian..production techniques? not that I can hear. musical influence definitely. Soul was big news in Jamaica especially vocal groups such as The Impressions. The Rocksteady certainly paid tribute to the sound of urban America. Blues had no impact, other than the Rhythm & variety, which together with the sounds of Latin America and the traditional Caribbean flavours went into the Ska pot. Apologies for delay in replying…butterfly mind keeps on floating from flower to flower !

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  4. No problem with the delay, my mind has been elsewhere theses past few days anyhow. Seems like I am searching for links that either don’t exist or have taken dramatic twists.

    The early blues harked back to plantation work songs etc. Maybe I need to research Jamaican music of the 1920’s or before to find what I am seeking.

    This theme has produced some masterpieces, but how did we get here from the 20’s? I have heard of Mento but never heard the music . An idea for another theme maybe?

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  5. A Bank Holiday dedicated to research has unearthed some gems. Have you come across Siebe Thissen aka Dr Auratheft? An amazing collection of mixtapes of Jamaican music and other stuff, and I found some Mento, or at least it was advertised as such – Calypso Down Jamaica Way by Count Owen and his Calypsonians (1960). I am drowning in music, but like the man who drowned in the whiskey vat I am getting out occasionally to relieve myself. Many thanks for opening up a new world to me.

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