musicology #526

Jamaica #6

(The Skatalites – Confucius)

Finishing up Round one of the Jamaican Musical History selection with this piece courtesy of the Chinese/Jamaican producer Justin Yapp who for 3 years, (1962-65) produced and delivered Ska that is as good as anything ever waxed. Yet another piece led and written by the legendary Don Drummond. Of course it’s the Skatalites, (who else !!), providing the impeccable back up. Recorded and released on Yapp’s Top Deck Label in 1964.

musicology #524

Jamaica #4

(Don Drummond – Treasure Isle)

Looking to catch the earlier train with today’s cut otherwise I find myself too far behind the 8 Ball which is no place to be for the I. That and having too many plates up there spinning take too much of my time and energy which I haven’t got to spare. I would rather spend it with my children, listening to, finding and curating music or with my spars.

So on with the journey..day four of the Jamaican Musical History excursion and so far we have heard from two of the foremost producers of the period Downbeat the Ruler  and Prince Buster so today it’s the turn of Duke Reid aka The Trojan whose Soundclashes with Coxsone are the stuff of myth and legend. Of all the islands sound systems It was these two who contested with the most ferocity and passion both musically and physically leading to heated battles between them and their respective followers both in and out of the dance. Pitched battles were fought in an attempt to intimidate and lock off the opposing sound and in part it was out of this culture that the Rude Boy emerged. Combined with Jamaica’s violent and rebellious history as well as the abject poverty and general lawlessness especially in the ghettos of Kingston the ingredients were all there to light the fuse that would eventually blow up in all out political warfare in the 70’s but I’ll get to that later on in the theme when the right time come.

Back to the Ska and Duke Reid..for me what has always distinguished The Trojan’s Treasure Isle sound is it’s sweetness and light. As far as I know Reid never allowed Ganja to be smoked in the studio or entertained any kind of Rasta ideology whereas Coxsone turned a blind eye knowing that not only did it stir the creative juices, (which it does), but that Rasta was beginning to have a major impact in Jamaican ghetto life..Duke Reid was a traditionalist and considerably older than the young and visionary Coxsone but the music produced in his studio, (and he had a speaker wired up in his Liquor store so that he could hear what was being recorded), was as good as anything produced. It was with the Rocksteady that Duke Reid truly came into his own but he was also responsible for producing some BOSS Ska as witnessed with this piece courtesy of the legendary Don Drummond..Original Skatalite, Trombonist supreme and leading light in Jamaican musical history. No one rocked the instrument like the Don and although his story ended in violence and mental illness his music will forever stand as his legacy. Quite Simply..this is Ska

LISTEN TUNE

musicology #523

Jamaica #3

(Prince Buster – Linger On)

Moving out of the Studio 1, (before it threatens to consume the WHOLE theme), and into a cut from one of the other notable players in the development of Jamaican musicology…Cecil Bustamente Campbell who along with Sir Coxsone, Duke Reid, Justin Yap and King Edwards had a major impact on the Ska.

Prince Buster, (so named because of his boxing prowess), was a security man for Downbeat in the early 60’s but turned his talented hands to recording and producing in 1962 after leaving Coxsone. Today’s 1964? cut is a piece from the ‘Golden Age’ paying tribute to the legend known then as Cassius Clay. Note the innovative Reverb technique employed by Buster which at the time must have been well and truly ‘modern’. The musicians backing the man were known as Buster’s All Stars and included legends Val Bennet, Raymond Harper, Baba Brooks, Junior Nelson, Rico Rodriguez, Earnest Ranglin, Jerry Haynes, Gladstone Anderson and Arkland Parks.

musicology #522

Jamaica #2

(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

musicology #521

Jamaica #1

(Delroy Wilson – Joe Liges)

Right…been waiting, (impatiently), for inspiration regarding the next theme and I’m pleased to announce that it has arrived. Random cuts are all well and good but they have no direction which is something the butterfly mind is prone to suffer from in all honesty. I say suffer because direction is, at least for me, essential when travelling down satisfaction’s long and winding road.

So what is the theme I hear you ask? Obviously the title should  give you a clue…Jamaica and it’s RICH musical heritage. In fact I would go so far as to say that contemporary music owes a HUGE debt disproportionate  to the Country’s size and population. How was it that such a small and as far as many people are concerned, (me most definately NOT being one of them), insignificent island produced such a treasure trove of musicology? I’m not planning on transcribing Jamaica’s history as I don’t know enough about it but at the risk of sounding like I’m blowing my own trumpet…I do know about the islands musical historicity. A genuine love affair that stretches back to some of my earliest musical memories starting in the early 70’s and, (along with Soul), stretching up to today. Fact is I truly LOVE Jamaican music with a passion. So much it has given me that I would like to try and repay the debt in the only way I know how and that is by sharing it with youse Cats and Kittens.

For the officionados among you I doubt there will be anything you havent already heard but themusicologist is not in the business of unearthing cuts that nobody has heard rather I’m in the business of playing what I consider to be cuts from the top of the tree and lets face it those are sometimes the best known. That said you won’t be hearing the internationally known ‘popular’ tunes during this theme purely because they are not the ones that I know and love.

I have been listening to and collecting Reggae since the early 80’s from I was a teenager whereas before that it was only what I was introduced to by family members. Just like to give an extra nod to one of my Uncles whose debt I will always be in for introducing me to such profound musicology..

Before we begin I would just like to lay me cards on the table and confess my alliegance to what I consider to be the premier studio and sound system to hail from the land of wood and water none other than Sir Coxsone ‘Downbeat The Ruler’ Dodd’s CHAMPION sound..Studio 1. Above all others it’s the Coxsone sound that has hit me hardest but there have been far too many TOP RANKING artists and producers along the way to namecheck, rest assured I will do my best to represent as many as I can as the theme unfolds over the coming days and weeks.

The format will be linear starting not at the dawn, (the late 50’s), of the Island’s musicology but rather when Jamaican music found it’s own unique ‘voice’ after Independence in 1962. The sound was named ‘Ska’ a term many are already familiar with so I’m not going to get caught up in the why’s, who’s and wherefores of the terminology as I would rather let the music speak. Of course this is only one persons subjective evaluation of the music and I’m sure that others will have their own ‘favourites’ but that’s part of what makes ‘Reggae’ so special…’Every Man Does His Thing A Little Way Different’

Finally..before I begin the sessions proceedings I would just like to add that I may ‘double up’ on some of the cuts that I have already thrown over the preceding 3 years so forgive me if I do…

First up is a cut from 1963..featuring the 13 year old Delroy Wilson singing a piece written by Dodd employee and all round musicologist Lee Perry concerning former Coxsone Sound Man, Enforcer and ‘dance crasher’ Prince Buster who, (thank the stars for us music lovers), decided to step to his own beat…

45 released in England on the pioneering R&B Label.

musicology #417

AfterTheStorm #2

(Skatalites – The Reburial)

Stepping up the pace with this majestic piece of Jamaican musicology, (a tribute to Marcus Garvey), from the vaults. Recorded at Coxsone’s Brentford Road powerhouse, Studio 1 for Justin Yap and released on his top ranking Top Deck label.

musicology #332

DownbeatTheRuler #12

(Delroy Wilson – I Want Justice)

Penultimate cut of the Downbeat Tribute selection. Just like to make clear that for themusicologist Sir Coxsone’s Studio 1 is the Number 1 sound which is obviously a reason for paying a two week tribute to the musical legacy he laid down. Of course without the musicians, singers, producers and engineers who contributed it wouldn’t be. So even though this is a tribute to Downbeat it’s just as much a tribute to all who participated in delivering some of greatest music ever made and I hope the last two weeks have been as enjoyable for you as it has been for me.

Tomorrow I will be releasing part two of ‘The Project’ that has occupied an ever growing part of my heart and mind for more than 20 years and as always would appreciate your feedback/critique/opinions on it.

Today though it’s time for a slice from Mr Delroy Wilson who begun his career with Coxsone at the tender age of 13. Born in 1948 Delroy first enjoyed ‘success’ with his musical attacks on Dodd’s one time employee Prince Buster, ( ‘Joe Liges’), which I was going to lay down, but it was during the Rocksteady period, (and after), that his star truly shone with cuts like I’m Not A King, Dancing Mood, Riding For A Fall,  Keep On Trying etc, (all of which almost made it onto the tribute), At the tail end of the Sixties Delroy and Sir Coxsone parted ways and he drifted between various producers such as Bunny Lee, Gussie Clarke, Niney The Observer and the Hookim Brothers Channel 1 but as with many of Jamaica’s foundation artists the 80’s weren’t kind to him and his star begun it’s descent into almost obscurity by his untimely death in 1995.

So if you’re listening Delroy…this one’s for you….a top ranking slice of the Ska pie from 1965 originally released as a 45 on the Studio 1 label featuring, (unless my ears are deceiving me), what sounds like The Wailers on backup.