Been Rockin’ Steady these past few weeks with the sweet sounds of Jamaica as the, (primary), soundtrack and the writings of one of my most cherished and respected guides and companions on the journey; Jean Baudrillardwhose insights I featured a selection of last year, (Fragments), on themusicologist.
Inspiration is the key for themusicologist to rise up to throw down and often the seed is sown by music and literature and this theme is no exception..
The quotes in this series, (beginning today), belong to Baudrillard…highlited from a collection of his speeches and essays entitled‘The Agony Of Power’
The musical wisdom is courtesy of Hemsley Morris, (Vocals), a collection of the cream of Jamaica’s instrumentalists from a pool of Cats such as Lynn Taitt, Tommy Mc Cook, Winston Wright, Gladdy Anderson, Vincent Gordon, Johnny Moore, Hugh Malcolm, ‘Easy Snappin’, Clifton ‘Jackie Jackson’, Drumbago, Herman Marquis…and the producer, (none other than one of the great Jamaican musicologists), George ‘Phil Pratt’ Phillips who is also harmonising on this wicked cut.
So without further delay hold this quote and listen tune…
“In order to grasp how globalization and global antagonism works, we should distinguish carefully between domination and hegemony. Domination is characterised by the master/slave relation, which is still a dual relation with potential alienation, a relationship of force and conflicts. It has a violent history of oppression and liberation. There are the dominators and the dominated-it remains a symbolic relationship. Everything changes with the emancipation of the slave and the internalisation of the master by the emancipated slave”
FAR too nice a day out there to spend it slaving over a hot keyboard so I’ll keep it brief..Today’s cut is one from the stable of the Kong Brothers whose Beverley’s Label was an important part of Jamaican recording history from the earliest days of Ska right through to Leslie Kong’s death in 1971.
The arrangements were mainly in the hands of Derrick Morgan and Roland Alphonso with most of the musicians moonlighting from Tommy McCook’s band the Supersonics who together with the Bunny Lee All Stars and The Sound Dimension pretty much played on everything that came out of the Studios in Jamaica. Not sure if they have all been namechecked yet on the theme so I’ll do it here.
The Supersonics were made up of Jackie Jackson, Gladstone Anderson, Theo Beckford, Lynn Tait, Hux Brown, Ronnie Bop, Douggie Bryan, Paul Douglas, Drumbago, Hugh Malcolm and the man cited by many as the cat who gave Reggae it’s defining character Organist supreme Winston Wright.
The vocals on today’s cut are provided by a vocal group we are all familiar with, (if only by name), The Wailers featuring, (of course), Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. One of my favourites of theirs from the period..Thankfully they require no background information so I’ll just let the music speak.Enough…I’m gone to soak up the sunrays..
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)
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