musicology #527

Jamaica #7

(The Techniques – Love Is A Gamble)

So what could have happened in 1966 to change the beat from the frenetic Ska to the laid back sound of the Rocksteady? Rumour and word has it that it was a combination of things that conspired..First of all popular information/knowledge has it that a heatwave swept the island forcing the dancers and musicians to slow the tempo..secondly as is often, (if not always), the case the time had come for the islands musicologists to evolve and in my experience slow follows quick. Thirdly, (and I’m guessing here), the Ganja may have influenced proceedings…

By 1966 many of the protaganists of the Ska were ‘Beardmen’ and were likely to have been ‘licking chalice’ Up Warika Hills with the legendary Count Ossie. I’m not suggesting that the Ganja was the chief reason for the shift..only one of many.

As for outside influences we only have to consider how Soul and the Vocal Group sound became dominant in America around this time and how much influence the likes of the Impressions subsequently had in Jamaica.

Finally and perhaps of most significance was the Skatalites splitting into two groups after the incarceration of Don Drummond in 1965…The Soul Brothers led by Roland Alphonso, (at Studio 1), and the Supersonics led by Tommy McCook, (resident at Treasure Isle). Notably Lynn Taitt is widely recognised as ‘Inventing’ the Rocksteady with the Hopeton Lewis cut ‘Take It Easy’ but other early pieces included Alton Ellis’s ‘Girl I’ve Got A Date’ and Derrick Morgan’s ‘Rougher Than Rough’, (all of which featured Lynn Taitt’s guitar).  Whatever the reasons for the emergence of Rocksteady it was at this junction that ‘Reggae’ began to take shape with the Bass rising to prominence and it must be said, (at least from my perspective), that Duke Reid wore the Rocksteady Crown.

So with that in mind the first cut has to go to the Duke and the Majestic Vocal Group known as the Techniques whose fluctuating line up included some of the great Jamaican vocalists; Slim Smith, Pat Kelly and Winston Riley as well as Junior Menz and original members Frederick Waite and Franklyn White. Clearly influenced by The Impressions this one epitomises Jamaican Vocal Group Harmony. 1967? recording on the Treasure Isle label.


musicology #461

TheManWithTheBag #11

(Jackie Wilson – O Come All Ye Faithful)

Just got back to the ‘Big Smoke’ after  a few days spent in natural paradise with two angels. The landscape up there, (North West England), never fails to inspire me and I always come back with a bit more of a ‘Tigger Bounce’ in my step. Knocking on the Christmas door now as we come down the home straight. Tree’s up, presents beneath it, kids excited. Just have a few more things to do and then it’s kick back time from tomorrow.

A question for you all out there..has the quality of song writing, (and singing come to that), gone downhill over the last few years or am I just not being exposed to the ‘right’ material? don’t know if you noticed but I listen to a LOT of music from as far back as the early 20’s all the way through to today and if the term ‘popular’ has any meaning/value as far as making judgement is concerned then the quality of pop today is, (generally), to my ears..poor. By NO means am I suggesting that quality music isn’t still being made as I don’t need to listen any further than Master Terry Callier, (for instance), to know that marrow trembling cuts are still being made but as I listen to the ‘charts’, (not out of choice but due to having two children over the age of ten), I can’t help but be disappointed. Where are the Dinahs, Arethas, Maxine Browns, Etta James’s? the Sam Cookes, Otis Reddings, Jackie Wilsons, Clyde McPhatters, Ben E Kings, Smokey Robinsons, Marvin Gayes, Curtis Mayfields, Bobby Womacks. The Gregory Issacs, Pat Kellys, Slim Smiths, Ken Boothes, John Holts, (the list could go on and on), who are the singers and songwriters kicking arse and trembling marrows in the 21st Century??

Today’s cut is courtesy of one of the afore mentioned legends, Jackie Wilson. A man who needs no introduction with his version of the hymn ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’

musicology #303

JamaicanVocalGroupAction #14

(The Paragons – The Tide Is High)

The end of the road for this theme. hard to pick a favourite but I’m going for the Wailers – Cry To Me. Tunes like that certainly don’t grow on trees and it resides in my top twenty of all time.

Today’s final slice of the ‘action’ is perhaps better known to many for the Blondie Version from the early 80’s. Or even the most recent version by Kardinal Offishal..My daughter reminds me that, (among others), there was also a poor pop version by The Atomic Kittens but thankfully I don’t know it. Blondie’s version was ok but not a scratch on this, the original from another one of the great J.A Vocal Groups led by John Holt, (who also wrote it)

The group also featured such luminaries as Bob Andy, Tyrone Evans, (who formed the group), and Junior Menz who, following Pat Kellys departure, sung lead for the Techniques most notably on Queen Majesty, (musicology #293), completing the trio on this cut was Howard Barret. A Duke Reid ‘Treasure Isle’ classic from 1967.

musicology #293

JamaicanVocalGroupAction #4

(The Techniques – Queen Majesty)

Fourth slice of the vocalgroup and the second outing, (link below), on themusicologist for a group of Cats known collectively as The Techniques with their unique rendition of the Curtis Mayfield / Impressions 1961 cut ‘Minstrel & Queen’. Recorded for the Trojan’s, (Duke Reid), outstanding set up, Treasure Isle.

If you don’t know it and you like your music sweet and soulful then as far as I’m concerned you’re in for a treat. Lead on this one is sung by Junior Menz, (previously of the Ambassadors), with backing by Winston Riley but not Pat Kelly, (who sung lead on ‘You Don’t Care’), as he had returned to America to continue with his education…

“Queen majesty, may I speak with thee,
So much I’ve longed , I’ve longed to speak to you alone,
True I agree, I’m not of your society,
I’m not a king just a minstrel,
With my song to you I sing,
Though just a minstrel in life we’re so far apart,
But royal queen I see love in your heart, your heart
I love you too, your majesty…….hmmmmm,

Isn’t this really true,
These things I ask of you…hmmmm,
Oh,oh majesty would you really care for me,
As long as you love me,
And it wont be so hard,
As long as I see love in your heart, (your heart),
I love you too, (honest I do),
Hmmmm..(your majesty), hmmmm..(your majesty)
Ohh I love you too, (your majesty)
Hmmmm queen majesty…”

musicology #142

SpectrumOfLove #2

(Johnny Mathis – 12th Of Never)

yesterday flew by without a post so today I’m getting this one in early.

what is Love? everyone has their own definition I suppose but for themusicologist this 1957 cut from well known singer Johnny Mathis goes a long way to providing an answer.

I read/heard somewhere that the music that touches us deeply gives us and others around us, (our ‘Loved’ Ones), an insight into how/who we would like to be in the ideal world, without the chains of our personal experiences that have shaped our lives. I don’t know about that but I do know that I gravitate towards songs about Love partly because It’s an emotion that I find very hard to express, (other than where my children are concerned), This is not because I haven’t received it, (thanks especially to my mum), and maybe therein lies the conundrum..for me the unconditional variety is the only one worthy of the name … but before this post gets too deep let’s return to the music.

This is the original version of a song first known to me sung by the magnificent Jamaican singer Pat Kelly who has already featured on themusicologist, (musicology #54), and I was going to lay down his top ranking reggae version but I feel that this one taken from the LP ‘Johnny’s Greatest Hits’ suits the SpectrumOfLove better….a beautiful ballad sung by a great singer that is all about the subject in question, LOVE

Listen Tune…

musicology #44

vocalgroup action day 3 (You Don’t Care – Techniques)

top ranking slice of Rock Steady from Duke Reid ‘the Trojan’s’ Treasure Isle stable.
a tune penned by father Curtis Mayfield, (a major influence on Jamaican musical direction)

lead vocal by the majestic Horatius ‘Pat’ Kelly.. backing by Winston Riley and Junior Menz, who went on to sing the equally heart wrenching lead on one of themusicologists favourite slices of Jamaican Soul..Queen Majesty.