Stop, start, start stop…themusicologist has writers block..you know it’s like that when the words don’t come easy but on the other hand it should come as no surprise to me as, (at least for the last few days/weeks/months), words are, (in my opinion), devoid of universal meaning so don’t really have much value? Where am I going with this? F**k knows so I’ll leave it there and just hitch a ride on the musicology train before I disappear into a semantic void.
First up is this Essential slice of the RockSteady pie from the Great Justin Hinds…
Final cut of the Rocksteady and then it’s on to the ‘Moonstomp’ Reggae. But before that it’s time to roll one out from Sir Coxsone ‘Downbeat’ Dodd’s Studio 1. A cut featuring the vocal talents of Barrington Spence who began singing in the early sixties but stepped out of Kingston for a few years and didnt return until around 1966 whereupon he hooked up with Naggo Morris and Sylvan Clarke, (as the Soul Boys), and cut a few tunes at Studio 1 and Treasure Isle?
Just like to finish by adding that even though Coxsone got left behind a small piece during the Rocksteady, in part due to the emergence of producers such as those featured over the last week as well as his less than fair business practices concerning artists and musicians, he was still ‘swinging’ and turning out top quality music, (as today’s cut bears witness to), but it would be in the next phase of Jamaican musical development that he began to take back the crown and deliver the ‘golden age’ of Studio 1.
on the previous cut I mentioned one of Jamaican musicology’s prime movers and shakers Edward ‘Bunny’ Lee, (aka Striker/Sir One Strike), and his skills as a record plugger, (originally for Duke Reid). Today though it’s the man himself’s turn to deliver but this time as producer…So many top ranking slices of the Rocksteady and later the Reggae have the Striker stamp that they could easily fill a theme on themusicologist and maybe one day they will but right now It has to be just the one from that long list.
But before throwing down I would just like to add that MANY of the great Jamaican artists have yet to be featured on the theme but what can a man do? I’m sure that over the years they will all be HEAVILY represented, (as some already have), all I can say is that, (at least in my book), every cut laid down on here is a gem so that will have to do.
So who’s up? has to be this one from the Uniques with a personal favourite that I first heard way back in the mid 80’s and has been etched into my consciousness ever since. Featuring the Sublime vocals of first Jimmy Riley then Slim Smith and finally Lloyd Charmers..each blessed with a voice that could ‘charm the monkeys from out of the trees’ On rhythm duty are Cats we are already more than familiar with (Lynn Taitt, Winston Grennan, Gladstone Anderson, Bobby Aitken, Val Bennett, Lester Sterling, Vin Gordon, Johnny Moore)…..MAJESTIC
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