Jackie Mittoo and Winston Wright – Guiding Light
“Be like a branch of a tree; flex your body to face ‘wind of sorrow’; flex little harder to dance in the ‘wind of happiness’.” – Santosh Kalwar
“There exists no more difficult art than living. For other arts and sciences, numerous teachers are to be found everywhere. Even young people believe that they have acquired these in such a way, that they can teach them to others. Throughout the whole of life, one must continue to learn to live and, what will amaze you even more, throughout life one must learn to die.” – SENECA –
the Wailers – Sinner Man
what more can I say about the ‘Wailing Wailers’…the trio who went on to internationalise the music of Jamaica that has since had such a BIG impact on contemporary music especially ‘Hip Hop’ and ‘House’ both of which owe a great debt to the artists, producers and engineers who were always innovating and showing what was possible with limited technology. EVERY 21st ‘bedroom producer’, whether consciously or unconsciously, takes inspiration from Jamaican Urbanmusicology.
From the early 1950’s the Sound System pioneers helped to blaze the trail for what was to follow, chatting on the mic, selecting in the dance etc but it was in the 1960’s and particularly with Sir Coxsone Downbeat’s Brentford Road powerhouse, appropriately named ‘Studio 1’ that the music really took shape. Of course there were other BIG and influential producers at the time notably Duke Reid, Leslie Kong, Justin Yap, King Edwards, Prince Buster but Coxsone was the one who truly moved the focus out of the dance and into the Studio with artists such as the Wailers. Coxsone was a businessman but also a vanguard AND music lover who knew how to pick a winner and without him the musical landscape of not only Jamaica but, (in my opinion) the world would be a different place.
DOWNBEAT THE RULER will ALWAYS be the CHAMPION sound for me.
Wailing Wailers TributeTees designed and produced by themusicologist available EXCLUSIVELY at
the Wailers – Freedom Time
More Ska from the Wailers, who were first introduced to Studio 1 by percussionist Alvin ‘Seeco’ Patterson and went by the name ‘the Teenagers’. Bob had already recorded a tune for Leslie Kong before arriving at Coxsone’s Brentford Road gate but as a (5 piece), group they were yet to record. Lee Perry was assigned the task of making the ‘Wailers’ the islands #1 group and encouraged them to work at their original material rather than the covers that Coxsone, (who was a fan of the group), was forwarding. This SUPERB piece is one of those original compositions..Jackie Mittoo on the keys leading the Studio 1 band, (formerly known as the Skatalites)
If you only listen to ONE tune from the(urban)musicologist’s Upsetter tribute it HAS to be this one from the Ethiopians. Leonard Dillon, Stephen Taylor and Aston Morrison. KILLER piece from the early days, (1974), of the Black Ark released in JA on theUpsetter’s Justice League Label.
Leonard Dillon’s career first hooked up with Lee Perry at his Studio 1 audition in the 60’s when he cut 4 tunes for Sir Coxsone…on the strength of his connection to the Wailers. Those present at the audition were Downbeat, Jackie Mittoo, Peter Tosh and Lee Perry. It was here where he got his nickname…
Leonard Dillon….Rest In Peace
Sound Dimension – Tricky (Just Say Who)
round 2 of the(urban)musicologist’s audio/video combos highlights a tune from the ‘Mellow Sounds & System Dub’ LP.
Dubwise to Horace Andy’s KILLER ‘Just Say Who’. One of my FAVOURITE pieces that drifts like the scent of honeysuckle on a summer breeze and never fails to move me.
The eagle eyed amongst you may notice my blatant product placement of the mellow sounds tee on the video…but if a man can’t mix, blend and share theUrbanMusicologyProject (tUMp) on here then where else !
Just to let you know that I won’t be making themusicologist an advert for bloOdsweatandteeS…it’s just how I’m rolling right now and the ‘project’ is what it is.
(Sound Dimension – Baby Face)
As far as the music of Jamaica is concerned for themusicologist there is only one studio that stands above all others..Coxsone Dodd’s legendary Studio 1. Almost every singer, instrumentalist, songwriter, arranger has at one time passed through the Brentford Road gates. Far too many to list or even mention so I won’t even try, suffice to say that if you pick a name he will have a connection. Coxsone was a visionary…and as such allowed others far more suited to the creative process to express themselves. He opened the doors for Jamaican music to carve itself a unique sound that finally arrived during the period now in question…(late 60’s early 70’s), known globally as Reggae. To wax a tune at Studio 1 meant that, as an artist, you had made it to the top. Not financially but artistically. No matter how much the sound was crafted by others, (and it most certainly was), it was Coxsone who drove it. His greatest skill was in his ability to see the wider picture and create a platform to realise it. Ideas are the lifeblood of innovation but on their own they are no more than talk….when you check it no one person did more than Coxsone to establish Jamaican music as a global force and the music stands as witness to such a claim.
So with that in mind hold this wicked instrumental cut from the previously mentioned Studio 1 house band..Sound Dimension. One listen, (for those who don’t know it), should be enough to realise why Studio 1 is the Don Sound. 1969 Release, (in the UK), on the English Bamboo label. BIG Tune.
(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.
(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
(Jackie Opel – You’re Too Bad)
Various Cats have laid claim to ‘inventing’ the Ska but as far as I can hear it seems to have been more of an evolution. In an attempt to provide a little insight for those who are not clued up on the historicity of Jamaican musicology before Ska there was what’s known as ‘Shuffle’ which to be brutal was more of a home grown version of American Jump/Rhythm & Blues so popular in the dance. Early Operators such as Tom The Great Sebastian and Count Nick were followed by hungrier Cats such as Duke Reid, Coxsone Dodd and Prince Buster who needed a constant source of new material to ‘mash up the dance’ and ‘Kill’ opposing Sound Systems. The competition was ferocious and it was this more than anything that fed the emerging scene for home grown talent. Combine such a need for a constant supply of fresh cuts, (Concurrent with the decline of Rhythm and Blues and looming Independence from colonial rule), with Jamaica’s strong sense of ‘national’ pride and identity and the stage was set for ‘Ska’
Coxsone led the way by setting up the legendary Studio 1 recording studio in 1963 and the icing on the cake was a collective of the hottest musicologists on the island coming together in 1964 as the Skatalites. As previously mentioned on themusicologist Jackie Mittoo was Coxsone’s musical director and as such is as responsible as anyone for defining Ska.
Today’s cut is a prime slice of the Skatalites pie from 1964? featuring the majestic Jackie Opel on vocals and the combined talents of any number of Tommy McCook, Roland Alphonso, Lloyd Brevett, Lloyd Knibb, Lester Sterling, Don Drummond, Jah Jerry, Jackie Mittoo, Johnny Moore and Percival Dillon…in a word..BOSS
(The Wailers – Do It Right)
Final cut of the Coxsone Tribute. Have to finish up with this 1965 piece of rip roaring Ska sung by the Wailers. Featuring not only Jamaica’s premier band the Skatalites but also no less than Sir Coxsone Dodd himself on ‘Beer Bottle Percussion’ Duties !! Just like to add that many a deserved artist didn’t get a spot on the Downbeat Tribute most notably The Heptones, Jackie Mittoo, Dennis Brown, Sugar Minott, Ken Parker, Cornell Campbell, The Clarendonians..(too long a list to name them all). Some of them have already featured on themusicologist and I imagine that all will eventually..
In addition, the Second in the Tribute Tee series is to communicate my appreciation, (in more ways than one), for the man who made it all possible. Clement Seymour ‘Sir Coxsone/Downbeat The Ruler’ Dodd whose musical legacy is, for themusicologist, second to none. For more information click on the images below
(Ken Boothe – Just A Little Bit Of You)
Short but sweet today as I’m out early morning back late afternoon and then out playing football in the evening. Today’s slice of the Downbeat pie is one of my absolute favourites from what, for themusicologist is Studio 1’s Golden age. Delivered by a Cat who has already featured on this theme but, in true musicology style, the axiom “as in music so in life” comes through loud and clear on this one…so this one it had to be.
I’m gambling that it’s Leroy Sibbles on Bass? with full Sound Dimension crew locked tightly in the groove….
(Mighty Diamonds – Have A Little Mercy)
Penultimate cut of the Jamaican Vocal Group selection…listening back over the proceedings I can’t help noticing that it has been heavily weighted in favour of the 60’s and with hindsight perhaps I should have called it ‘Sixties Jamaican Vocal Group Action’…still, hindsight is not all it’s cracked up to be as “too much thought spoils the action” in my opinion so even though there’s only two cuts from outside of the ’60’s, (make that 3 with todays), I hope this hasn’t dulled your enjoyment over the last couple of weeks.
Today’s outing on themusicologist is one from the Channel One stable which ruled the dancehalls, turntables and airwaves back in the mid 70’s after Coxsone lost the crown following major departures such as Jackie Mittoo, Leroy Sibbles and most of his big selling artists in search of a fairer deal. Channel One was set up by the Hookim Brothers and had the premier ‘Lab’ on the Island as well as the hottest young engineers and musicians such as Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace, Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespere and Don D Junior as well as stalwarts such as ‘Marquis’, Sticky and Tommy Mc Cook.
This cut features the vocal abilities of Donald ‘Tabby’ Shaw, Fitzroy ‘Bunny’ Simpson and Lloyd ‘Judge’ Ferguson known collectivley as ‘The Mighty Diamonds’ making a heartfelt plea to the establishment to ‘Have A Little Mercy’
(The Heptones – One Love)
Today’s cut is from the mighty Heptones, (Leroy Sibbles, Barry Llewelyn and Earl Morgan). One of the top ranking Jamaican vocal groups throughout the sixties and seventies. Not only that but Leroy Sibbles, (as mentioned previously on themusicologist), was an important part of Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One production team as Bass player, Musical director and all round musicologist during it’s ‘Golden Age’ until his departure for Canada in 1973. With Jackie Mittoo and Leroy gone Studio 1 began to lose it’s edge until younger Cats like Sugar Minott took up the baton a few years later. This, (1971?), piece is a slice from them glorious, Golden days off the album Freedom Line
tribute to alton #2
(Alton Ellis – Pearls)
round two of the Alton Ellis tribute….another fine piece from his days at Studio1.
(Beres Hammond & Marcia Griffiths – Live On)
I had planned on throwing this one down yesterday but for some unknown reason my internet connection was playing tricks and locked me out of the ‘information highway’
so i’m taking this opportunity to fling it now in case it happens again.
day two of the duets selection is one of the tunes that drew me back to the sweet sounds of Jamaica in 1993 after a year spent in the musical wilderness waiting to be inspired after 5 years listening, playing and DJ’ing ‘house’ which by then had made the transition from under to overground and was being used to to sell cat food, yoghurt, etc …
the male vocal comes from the pipes of the mighty Beres Hammond whose career stretches back to the early 70’s but for themusicologist it was throughout the 90’s that he established himself as one of Reggae’s greats. one of those rare artists who rarely seem to put a foot wrong, (Bobby Bland is another who springs to mind), this cat could charm the birds out of the trees with his blend of harmony, sincerity and effortless timing.
the female vocal is courtesy of the queen of Jamaican music .. Marcia Griffiths. whose career stretches way back into the sixties, first as solo singer, (1964), then in tandem with Bob Andy, (musicology #37), then as member of Bob Marley & the Wailers backing group the I-Threes.
this piece, (which I never tire of hearing), produced by Donovan Germain for his trend setting Penthouse label is a slice of the ‘College Rock’ rhythm from 1992/3, a ‘digital’ reworking of Jackie Mittoo’s late 60’s Studio1 cut ‘Freak Out’…
beautiful song sung expertly by two of Jamaica’s premier vocalists….one especially for all the couples out there who understand what it takes to hold on when the road is rough and rocky.
sixartist, sixtune, sixweekspecial #35
(Wailers – Rude Boy)
penultimate slice of musicology on the six/six/six and one from Jamaica’s most famous vocal group, The Wailers.
Not sure whether this had a UK release at the time? the one we are hearing is taken from the Coxsone Import 45. But with a title like ‘Rude Boy’ it wouldn’t have got much promotion on these English shores. As we all know the Wailers went on, (certainley Marley anyway), to become a household name. Jackie Mittoo on the other hand didn’t receive anywhere near the recognition that he deserved for all the musicology he brought to each and every Studio1 session from 1963 up to his emigration to Canada in 1969? which is, unfortunately, an all too common story when it comes to the cats who played the instruments.
Arranger, Piano player session leader and all round musicologist it would have been Jackie, (as much as any single artist), that drove the music towards the Spaghetti Western influenced, Gun Man Style that was to become more popular as the times got tougher and the rudies got ruder in Kingston, Jamaica.
for themusicologist Jamaican music is still the ‘voice of the people’….how long will it last? only time will tell but from 1962 to today it has always reflected and communicated the thoughts and feelings of the ‘man on the street’ .. and this one is no exception.
sixartist, sixtune, sixweekspecial #16
(Alton Ellis – I’m Still In Love)
a piece of Valentines day musicology delivered by Mr Soul of Jamaica…Alton Ellis.
if it sounds familiar but you can’t quite place it this is the original cut to Trinity’s top ranking Saturday night special ‘Three Peice Suit’ which in turn spawned the more well known cut by Althea & Donna ..’Uptown Top Ranking’
sixartist, sixtune, sixweekspecial #15
(Alton Ellis – Hurting Me)
next piece from Mr Ellis…yet another Brentford Road, (Studio1), diamond.
one from out of the top drawer..with what sounds like the Heptones on backing vocals..definately Leroy Sibbles on the ‘four string’ delivering the essential bassline vibes.
Studio1, (and Leroy Sibbles in particular), pioneered the bass as an essential reggae ingredient. before him the bass was almost inaudible..maybe it was due to the fact that not only was Leroy Sibbles an all round musicologist in charge of arrangement, production, (after Jackie Mittoo left for Canada), and vocal duties but he was also resident bass player at the peak of the Studio1 sound.
stands to reason that he would favour the bass drenched approach, (although the ‘ganja’ must have had something to do with it too !!), anyway hold this top ranking cut sung by Alton with all the soul a man can muster…no wonder he was known as Mr Soul Of Jamaica…a richly deserved title…one of themusicologists favourite reggae cuts, slides into the dubwise..dancehall, discomix style.
sixartist, sixtune, sixweekspecial #14
(Alton Ellis – You Make Me Happy)
day two of the Alton selection is a piece from the early 70’s cut for Jamaica’s dominant production house, Coxsone Dodd’s Studio1. After a succesfull spell at rival Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle singing rocksteady classics Alton returned to Studio1, (I imagine), as the sweet and heavy sounds coming out of Brentford Road at that time were second to none, (Treasure Isle was also on it’s last legs)
With musicologists such as Jackie Mitto and Leroy Sibbles, (to name but two), at the controls the Studio1 sound had evolved into something special as well as unique and no studio could contest Dodd’s during this period. (it would take Channel 1, structured on the Studio1 sound, to try and wrest control from Coxsone in the mid 70’s),
Alton and Coxsone collaborated successfully at the birth of the Jamaican music industry in 1959 and although there would have been no love lost due to their previous financial dealings both knew their musical ‘onions’ inside out and had great respect for each others musical knowledge so a reunion was always on the cards…Alton Ellis had a very special quality that few possess, namely to make any tune sound like his own..
this song, (extended dancehall ‘discomix’), co written by Brenda Holloway and Frank Wilson, was made ‘famous’ by the group Blood, Sweat & Tears but for themusicologist Alton’s is the one that does it most justice…
for another example of the man’s special quality check Alton’s rendition of the Bee Gees song Massachusetts, (musicology #60), thrown down during ‘coversweek’