musicology #546

Jamaica #26

(U Roy/Hopeton Lewis – Tom Drunk)

How does it go?…. ..”I’ve started…so I’ll finish”.

Up until the early 70’s, (in Jamaica), there were really no more than a handful of producers and musical styles to contend with, as far as the musicology is concerned), but as the 60’s rolled into the seventies wide ranging changes both musically and socially changed the game. First there was the music made for export to satisfy the English popular market, (loosely termed ‘Skinhead’), headed by, (among others), producers such as Lee Perry, Bunny Lee, Leslie Kong, Joe Gibbs, Rupie Edwards and then there was the Indigenous market that was at first dominated by the Sound System operators. It was in this arena that innovation flourished. That’s not to say that some of the producers mentioned, (especially Lee Perry and Bunny Lee), were not active in both arenas and let’s face it everyone wanted to make money but in truth it didn’t take long for the artists to realise that no matter how ‘popular’ their music was ‘up a foreign’ they still found themselves in the same position financially…..skint..(or for those among us whose dialects don’t recognise such terminology)..poor.

It was into this cauldron that the DeeJay took centre stage in tandem with the version or ‘Dub’, (both hugely influential on all urban music that followed), and the figure that stood tallest at the birth was none other than Ewart Beckford aka Hugh Roy. NO history of Jamaican music would be complete without him. Not the first or even, (in my opinion), the most eloquent but certainly the most important. Today’s cut is from 1971..produced by Duke Reid..Vocal by Hopeton Lewis.


musicology #534

Jamaica #14

(Pat Kelly – Dark End Of The Street)

Reggae…who were it’s early protaganists? First, as was always the case in Jamaica, there were the producers. Arguably the most influential were Lee Perry, Bunny Lee and Coxsone Dodd. Then came the musicians; Brothers Aston ‘Family Man’ and Carlton ‘Carly’ Barrett, Glen Adams, Lloyd Charmers, Alva Lewis and Ronny Bop recording both for Bunny Lee, (as The Bunny Lee All Stars), and Lee Perry, (as The Upsetters).

The Studio 1 sound was created by the Sound Dimension, (Jackie Mittoo, Leroy Sibbles, Cedric “Im’ Brooks, Vin Gordon, Ernest Ranglin and Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace). Of course there were other producers and musicians who are responsible for delivering seminal work but the above mentioned stand out consistently.

So…enough chat and on with the music..Todays cut is a Lee Perry production featuring the vocals of one of my favourite singers of the period Pat Kelly backed by the afore mentioned Upsetters.

musicology #529

Jamaica #9

(Larry Marshall – Money Girl)

Moving out of the Derrick Harriott and into yet another fine piece but this time it’s courtesy of producer George Phillips better known as Phil Pratt..a name bestowed on him by Caltone founder Blondel Keith Calneck, (Ken Lack).

You may have noticed that one of the things about Jamaican music is the significance of the producer in musical proceedings and Phil Pratt is certainly one of them. Horace ‘Andy’ Hinds, (cousin of Justin), The Heptones and Bunny Lee all begun their journey beside the Cat at Caltone so its, (and his), importance in the development of Reggae deserves wider recognition.

The cut today is courtesy of singer Larry Marshall, (who would go on to find a place at Coxsone’s Studio 1), and features the talents of Rocksteady’s core protagonists that include Lynn Taitt, Gladstone Anderson, Winston Wright, Clifton Jackson, and one from Winston Grennan, Hugh Malcolm or Arkland Parks. From the sounds of it I would hazard a guess that it’s a 1967 recording but I could easily be mistaken and if so it would be early 1968. Whatever the year it was arranged by a name we have become familiar with over this week…Lynn Taitt.

Finally just like to praise the label Pressure Sounds for releasing the CD, (Safe Travel), from which today’s cut emerged. ESSENTIAL purchase…FULL of TOP Ranking Rocksteady that were you to try and buy the 45’s featured would cost you a small fortune, (if you were lucky enough to find them)


musicology #504

CoversWeek2 #1

(Hortense Ellis – Sitting In The Park)

This week I’m revisiting an earlier musicology theme concerning cover versions. Cat’s got my tongue a piece today and I have plenty to do regarding ‘the project’ so I’ll just get straight down to business and kick off the proceedings with  Hortense Ellis’s top ranking Studio1 version of Billy Stewart’s Soul classic ‘Sitting In The Park’. Always been a bit of a mystery to me why there are so few female singers to have emerged from Jamaica…The only three I can think of are Marcia Griffiths, Phyllis Dillon and Hortense Ellis?..During her career Hortense recorded for all the top producers Coxsone, Duke Reid, Lee Perry, Bunny Lee, Gussie Clarke but, (like 99% of all Jamaican artists), never had any great commercial success….shame.

musicology #332

DownbeatTheRuler #12

(Delroy Wilson – I Want Justice)

Penultimate cut of the Downbeat Tribute selection. Just like to make clear that for themusicologist Sir Coxsone’s Studio 1 is the Number 1 sound which is obviously a reason for paying a two week tribute to the musical legacy he laid down. Of course without the musicians, singers, producers and engineers who contributed it wouldn’t be. So even though this is a tribute to Downbeat it’s just as much a tribute to all who participated in delivering some of greatest music ever made and I hope the last two weeks have been as enjoyable for you as it has been for me.

Tomorrow I will be releasing part two of ‘The Project’ that has occupied an ever growing part of my heart and mind for more than 20 years and as always would appreciate your feedback/critique/opinions on it.

Today though it’s time for a slice from Mr Delroy Wilson who begun his career with Coxsone at the tender age of 13. Born in 1948 Delroy first enjoyed ‘success’ with his musical attacks on Dodd’s one time employee Prince Buster, ( ‘Joe Liges’), which I was going to lay down, but it was during the Rocksteady period, (and after), that his star truly shone with cuts like I’m Not A King, Dancing Mood, Riding For A Fall,  Keep On Trying etc, (all of which almost made it onto the tribute), At the tail end of the Sixties Delroy and Sir Coxsone parted ways and he drifted between various producers such as Bunny Lee, Gussie Clarke, Niney The Observer and the Hookim Brothers Channel 1 but as with many of Jamaica’s foundation artists the 80’s weren’t kind to him and his star begun it’s descent into almost obscurity by his untimely death in 1995.

So if you’re listening Delroy…this one’s for you….a top ranking slice of the Ska pie from 1965 originally released as a 45 on the Studio 1 label featuring, (unless my ears are deceiving me), what sounds like The Wailers on backup.

musicology #323

DownbeatTheRuler #3

(Alton & Hortense Ellis – Easy Squeeze)

Out all day yesterday working the tees so apologies for not dropping a next ‘Downbeat bomb’ through your speakers. Hopefully today’s slice of the Coxsone pie will make up for it.

A classic piece of Brentford Road Rock Steady that has trembled my marrow for many years. Could have thrown it down a few times on previous themes but for reason unbeknown to ‘mesang’ didn’t until today.

One of the most emotive, hard hitting, Rough & Tough cuts of the Rock Steady period in my humble opinion…lyrics, vocals, music all combining in soul searching harmony to communicate a message concerning  the quest for that most elusive of feelings, True Love.

Recorded and first released in 1966? for Dodd by the Godfather Of Rocksteady Alton Ellis alongside his younger Sister Hortense, both of whom are sadly no longer with us. What is however (and will be for as long as music like this is being loved and played), are their ‘works’ many of which sit comfortably at the very top of the musicology tree.

Hortense was Jamaica’s ‘first female vocalist’ cutting her teeth as early as 1959 on such legendary talent shows as Vere John’s Opportunity hour, (where many a ‘Jam Down’ legend begun their careers), but it wasn’t until a few years later in 1961 under the tutelage of Downbeat that she begun a recording career. For sure having Alton as a brother helped but anyone who has heard her sing would agree that merit was the foundation stone apoun which she built a career that stretched right up to her untimely death in 2000 AD. Recording for many of the greatest Jamaican producers such as Duke Reid, Bunny Lee, Harry Mudie and Gussie Clarke, (to name a few)

As regulars may be aware Alton has featured more than any other Jamaican artist on themusicologist over the preceeding two years so I won’t wax lyrical on the man and his music today other than to reiterate that it was he and the previous Artist, (Bob Andy), who first opened my ears and heart to Downbeat The Ruler’s output and for that I am eternally grateful..

So in Tribute to the memories of Alton, Hortense and Clement Seymour ‘Sir Coxsone / Downbeat The Ruler’ Dodd hold this…..

musicology #163

malevocals2 #1

(Cornell Campbell – My Country)

kicking off this weeks selection with a mighty cut from one of Jamaica’s finest, Cornell Campbell who has been dropping musical bombs like this for almost 50, (count ’em), years. the man has laid down so many top ranking pieces it beggers belief that he is not an international star.

there at the birth of Jamaican musicology Cornell Cambell began his career at the tender age of 11, (according to the man himself), for none other than Coxsone ‘Downbeat the ruler’ Dodd. after a financial dispute he moved on to King Edwards, then formed vocal group ‘The Sensations’ with Jimmy Riley.

back to Dodd as a solo artist and lead singer of ‘The Eternals’ before hooking up with Bunny Lee in the early 70’s…the cat has worked with all of the great Jamaican producers throughout his long career, (which is still going strong), covering almost all of the styles from R&B through to Dancehall so I’m not going to bore you with the ‘information’ …. i’m just going to throw this one down and leave it to you to decide.