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

Advertisements

musicology #383

Modernist #11

(Chris Kenner – Land Of 1000 Dances)

Sliding out of the Jamaican selection into one from New Orleans featuring a Cat who is perhaps best known to Mod/ernists for his 1961 cut ‘I Like It Like That’.

Popularised by Wilson Pickett in 1966 this, the 1963 original, speaks volumes for what distinquished the Mod/ernist from the Mods. Hold this quote from an ‘information panel’ on the subject by musicologist Johnny Spencer, (he of the magnificent project)

“By 1964 the Mods had arrived and it was all over for the Modernists, the faces that had piloted this new paradigm of liberty for British youth, a liberation that was carried in the mind from generation to generation. Mods, generally the younger siblings of the Modernists, could not claim the originality of their predecessors, although they shared many of their preferences, smart clothes, Soul music etc, they came to a ready made situation, the territory had been won, what they chose to do was enjoy it. They were more casual and this led to a lack of vigilance, a dropping of the guard, and soon the media and corporate interests were in there, bleeding, filleting and gutting this new market and threat to the status quo. Masses of newer converts, ‘tickets’, were soon sold the concept of Mod: an outfit, pop idols and an attitude, it was small wonder that by 1965 the entire movement was dead, and with the age of the ‘Skinhead’, who also shared a subtle common bond with an emerging, oppressed black culture, the first real and enduring anti-fashion movement started”.

Nailed on..

Today’s cut is based on a spiritual entitled ‘Children Go Where I Send You’, further evidence of the debt owed to the Gospel tradition by the new music emerging out of the urban experience of big cities such as New Orleans, Chicago, New York, Detroit and Memphis where migration had a major impact. Recorded for and released on the fabulous Minit label which had already scored with Mod/ernists by releasing cuts like the above mentioned ‘I Like It Like That’, Ernie K Doe’s ‘Mother In Law’ and Benny Spellman’s ‘Fortune Teller’, (To name but Three)..written by Chris Kenner and Fats Domino.

musicology #382

Modernist #10

(Derrick & Patsy – Housewife’s Choice)

Sticking with the Jamaican selection with a next piece that was spun back in the day. The quote below from a cat named Ian Hebditch confirms conversations about them days that I have had with a good friend of mine’s Dad, (hold this one Don), who is Jamaican, born in 1947 and was there on the London scene at the time in question.

“There was a great degree of respect between the Mods and the West Indian Community. I personally found that. Within the Mod movement I don’t recollect any element of racism at all and by racism I mean anti-black feeling”.

Many a reason for this but one I would like to add is that in my experience Jamaicans have much of the mod/ernist attitude. Confident, Proud, Defiant, Dynamic are all attributes I have come across in my friends and their familys over the years and often have I witnessed this being interpreted as them having ‘a chip on their shoulder’ a misinterpretation that lingers on to this day.

Today’s cut is a 1962 slice from early Ska proponent Derrick Morgan in combination with a female singer by the name of Patsy Todd and I’ll leave it to Johnny Spencer to give you the details of the cut, a picture of the label and an informative piece of writing on it here on his magnificent project

musicology #375

Modernist #3

(Major Lance – The Monkey Time)

Following yesterday’s dynamic duo of, (an extract from), Johnny Spencer’s excellent ‘Mod/ernist’ critique combined with the equally inspirational Miracles cut I would like to continue by quoting from a piece by Dick Hebdige who wrote a paper, (presumably for a thesis), in 1974 called ‘Style Of The Mods’. The majority of it, (as the title suggests), involves ‘Mods’ which is a different subject but obviously connected.

“All youth styles are threatened with the eventual neutralisation of any oppositional meaning. Mods were particularly susceptible to this combination of limited acceptance and full blooded commercial exploitation. According to George Melly the progenitors of this style appear to have been a group of working class dandies, possibly descended from the devotees of the Italianate style known through the rag trade world as ‘modern’ who were dedicated to clothes and lived in London. Only gradually and with popularisation did this group accumulate other distinctive identity symbols, (The Scooter, Pills and music). By 1963, the all night R&B clubs held this group firmly to Soho and Central London”.

In my personal experience the ‘Modernist’ of the early 1960’s steadfastedly refuses to align themselves with the ‘Mod’ movement that followed even though between 1962-1965, they shared many of the same clubs, dancehalls, venues and of course music. The ‘Modernist’ was not all all interested in imitation and therefore the music had to be Authentic. Be it Modern Jazz, Early Soul, Rhythm & Blues, Blues or the sounds of Jamaica that were beginning to be heard in and around London’s clubs at the time so NO English band imitating R&B would ever have been taken seriously. An exception may have been Georgie Fame’s Blue Fames who were BIG downstairs at the Flamingo but NEVER groups like The Animals, The Who, The Stones, Small Faces etc..they would be considered MOD bands.

Today’s slice of modernist musicology is courtesy of Major Lance whose vocal sound helped revitalise the sound of Black America. Mainly it must be said down to one man…Curtis Mayfield who in 1963 was at the forefront of the OKeh label’s re-emergance as a serious force to be reckoned with. This cut I know for a fact was a firm favourite downstairs at THE club for hip cats of the time ‘The Scene’ , (located in Ham Yard Soho). Arranged by Johnny Pate and produced by Carl Davis

Hold this quote on the cut from Robert Pruter’s definitive book on the subject ‘Chicago Soul’.

“On May 8th 1963, Lance went into the studio again and made what has to be considered recording history. He did three songs; ‘Monkey Time’, ‘Please Don’t Say No More’ and ‘Mama Didn’t Know’, the latter an answer to Curtis Mayfield’s Jan Bradley hit, (or the much more obscure Fascinations cut), from earlier in the year ‘Mama Didn’t Lie’. Monkey time was paired with ‘Mama Didn’t Know’ for Lance’s second release on OKeh, and the record became a monster hit during the summer and early fall, eventually selling more than a million copies. ‘Monkey Time’, featuring the classic brassy sound that distinguished later OKeh hits, launched the OKeh label and popularized a dance of the same name.”

musicology #374

Modernist #2

(The Miracles – Way Over There)

Today I would like to take the opportunity and quote from a top ranking piece of critique on the subject of Modernist by a Cat named Johnny Spencer who lived through as well as observed the changing face of London during the early Sixties.

“In London during the early sixties as in other parts of the British Isles a tiny minority of young, (mostly working class), boys and girls known only to themselves as ‘Modernists’ were walking, talking, dressing and dancing to a different song. These youngsters who were conceived in the heady and delirious optimism that marked the end of WW II had passed onto them in their genes a very real sense of supremecy, invincibility and confidence, a confidence that was fuelled and underpinned by the meta narrative of the western world, the concept of modernity, then at it’s zenith. By the early 1960’s the social fabric of cities in England had changed radically from the period before 1945, the war had dealt attitudes of authority and deference a mortal blow, conscription had ended, and the young en masse for the first time found themselves with a realistic disposable income. With history on their side this generation of independently minded teenagers felt able to think and act for themselves, not in a quasi-intellectual way as the ‘beatnicks’ had done, or to have to rebel, like the ‘Teddy Boys’, but as a truly autonomous entity.”

The musicology is courtesy of modernist icons ‘The Miracles’, (Smokey Robinson, Bobby Rogers, Marv Tarplin, Ronald White and Claudette Rogers), whose unique and distinctive sound epitomised the emerging sound that became known as Soul. The cut that was BIG on the London scene was in fact the second version, (with strings), but in the essence of ‘Modernist’ I had to lay this, (regional) one, (without strings), on you. Recorded for and released in 1960 on Motown.