Friday, May 27, 2016
Okay let's switch things up because it's Friday and here in the States we're gearing up for the long Memorial Day weekend which to many marks the official start of summer. And while the weather here has been absolute crap leading to countless days of gray, rain, cooler than average temperatures, seasonal depression usually exclusively relegated solely to winter, cabin fever and rowdy kids that have no where to expend their energy, here's hoping that things will make the change for the better starting now! Today's track "Hello Sunshine" was originally recorded by Jimmy Cliff in 1969 at Beverley's and has gone on to enjoy countless successes via its incessant usage in commercials but it's still a good song. Happy Friday folks!
Thursday, May 26, 2016
The late Tyrone Taylor recorded his first solo song "Delilah" in 1968 before teaming up with singer Vince Brown to form the Soul Menders, but after meeting with little success contemplated giving up music all together. He decided to stick it out by stepping away from the mic and learning to play a variety of instruments instead but in 1972 he joined up with Soul Twins and recorded a couple tunes that achieved moderate success. In 1975 he finally got some airplay as a solo artist with the track "Fight It Blackman" that he recorded for Jack Ruby. He followed it up with a couple more successful records for Ruby before scoring with "Sufferation" a tune he cut for Winston "Niney" Holness in 1977 which also received the full-on King Tubby dub treatment. In 1981 he recorded and self-produced "Cottage In Negril," the worldwide hit tune in which he would become synonymous and which earning Tyrone an international recording deal with MCA Records. When his follow-up bombed, MCA shelved a proposed album and let him go. Sadly, Tyrone Taylor was fighting a drug addiction and in the decade that followed recorded only sporadically. In 1994 he teamed up with producer Clive Hunt for what was to be his final hit, "Rainy Sunset" an absolutely soulful gem originally released as a 7" and on his subsequent album Totally Tyrone on the Tuff Gong label. And while I'm not really a big fan of the "lovers" style of "easy-listening" reggae, "Rainy Sunset" always puts me in a warm mellow mood. Unfortunately Tyrone Taylor passed away in 2007, but this tune serves as a testament to an artist with a truly great voice.
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
When Garnett Silk died tragically in December of 1994 it really broke my heart. He was the up and coming voice in reggae and his music was both uplifting, powerful and positive and I, and hosts of reggae fans, really believed he was going to lead this beloved music into the twenty-first century. It was almost as if Garnett Silk was holding back that forces of negativity in the music during the era and once he was gone the floodgates let loose. But I don't necessarily want to get into the philosophical today so we'll talk about the 206th tune in the 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge... "Place In Your Heart" was produced by Bobby "Digital" Dixon, originally released as a 7" in 1992 on the Digital B label and rides the updated relick of the "Won't You Come Home" riddim originally created in 1966 and used by Delroy Wilson at Studio One. While this may be considered a simple love song, it really highlights the abilities of Garnett Silk's voice and will put a smile on your face! RIP Garnett Silk you will never be forgotten!
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
I absolutely love Marcia Griffiths and this tune perked up my ears back in 1996 when I first heard her cover of the Heptones tunes "Land Of Love" originally recorded in 1967 for Coxsone Dodd and released on their self-titled album on Studio One. Donovan Germain over at Penthouse took a seemingly forgotten tune, provided an updated and infectious digital riddim, added Marcia's wonderful voice and created an absolutely killer track! And while Marcia is the highlight of the song; her heartfelt delivery makes you too long for this "Land of Love" of which she sings, I went nuts for this riddim and the few tracks that followed on it remain some of my favorites from the era. Ras Shiloh's "Child Of A Slave" in particular is beautiful in its own right and the combination style of Marcia and Tony Rebel re-titled "Ready To Go" are damn sweet but let's get back to today's tune... originally released in 1996 on Marcia's album Land Of Love on the Penthouse label, give it a listen!
Monday, May 23, 2016
A few months back at our first Reggae Spin Cycle my life-long friend Nick whipped a tune into his set that had me floored... you see he is more attuned to newer music and anytime we get together it's always a learning experience for me because I am so out of the loop with anything newer than 1993. This song is called "Reggae Lives On" by longtime British deejay Christopher MacFarlane AKA Macka B and it is an absolute thing of beauty. Macka B pays tribute to all the Jamaican music legends who have passed away and name-drops nearly all of 'em! It's odd that my appreciation for newer reggae has a lot to do with its acknowledgment of its past and this one does just that! This one comes from a various artists CD called Live & Love Riddim by Mafia & Fluxy from 2012... dig it!
Sunday, May 22, 2016
Judging by the past history of Distinctly Jamaican Sounds you'd think that reggae as a genre didn't produce anything worthwhile after 1985 but nothing could be farther than the truth. The fact of the matter is that with a backlog of musical history still being discovered on a daily basis by yours truly, I personally have not had the time to keep in touch with "what's hot" and "what's new." Personally a lot of it can be traced to the general downturn in dancehall which happened in the mid 90s when the music went from upbeat lyrics discussing a multitude of topics, to Jamaican deejays emulating American rappers with nearly continual gangsta talk of guns, violence, murder and punanny... no longer were artists content with "killing a sound" they wanted to literally pump a few bullets into an actual living human being and I for one found it both disturbing and unlistenable. But while dancehall took a trip to the gutter, there were the occasional gems in reggae that I wanted to highlight this week. Take for example Beres Hammond's "Rock Away" from 2001... his homage to the "way life used to be" is both beautiful and bittersweet. Taken from his album Music Is Life on VP this is a great tune! Score points for Beres for taking a stand against the disposable, heartless music that marked so much of the 90s and early 2000s and which left a bad taste in many reggae fan's mouths.
Saturday, May 21, 2016
Here it is... the 29th Week Mix, complete and uninterrupted for your listening pleasure. What you're gonna hear...
1. Lynn Taitt & The Jets - Nice Time
2. Augustus Pablo - African Queen
3. Ernie Smith - Duppy Gunman
4. Ian Gardiner - Father's Call
5. Ronnie Davis - Tradition
6. Little Joe - Tradition Skank
7. U Roy - Rightful Reggae
Let's wrap up this week with a tune from the Godfather, the great Daddy U-Roy! This one is called "Rightful Reggae" and it comes from his album Right Time Rockers recorded at Channel One in 1976 but never released to the general public until it was put out as a CD in 1998 on the Sound System label. The story was that the tunes on the album were recorded as "specials" for exclusive use on Jamaican sound systems and weren't ever intended to be pressed and sold but I'm glad they were; U-Roy was in top-form! Happy Saturday folks!
Friday, May 20, 2016
Settling into Day 201 in the 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge! This is one is a direct follow-up of yesterday's Ronnie Davis track and it's the deejay version by the man Joseph Jackson AKA Little Joe AKA Ranking Joe and just like the day before it is pure joy! "Tradition Skank" was cut in 1976 and originally released as a 7" on the Hot Stuff label... I lifted it from the classic 1994 Blood & Fire CD compilation If Deejay Was Your Trade (The Dreads At King Tubby's 1974-1977)!
Thursday, May 19, 2016
We have reached the big 2-0-0 and the train keeps on rollin'! Ronnie Davis started his singing career by entering talent contests in the early 1960s and by the end of the decade was singing in the vocal group the Tennors. The group achieved some success by Ronnie Davis really wanted to pursue a solo career, and in 1975 he realized that dream by recording the classic song "Won't You Come Home" for producer Lloyd Campbell. By 1977, he released his first solo LP Hard Times for Bunny Lee before working with Scratch Perry and Phil Pratt. Today's tune "Tradition" was one of the songs Ronnie Davis recorded for Lee in 1975 and with its super upbeat, horn-driven rhythm it is a song that always puts a smile on my face!
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Today's tune, the 199th in the 365 Day Challenge, is "Father's Call" and it is one that is shrouded in mystery. On countless releases this song has been incorrectly attributed to Little Roy when it was actually sung by a singer from a duo known as Ian & Rock which featured Ewan "Ian" Gardiner and Anthony "Rocky" Ellis. It seems Gardiner was a 12 Tribes Bredren and a musician not known for his singing but regardless he did an absolutely killer job with this one! I had originally written this up as a Little Roy tune but when I realized the mysterious backstory I had to start over again. It comes from the excellent compilation album of early 70s Glen Brown productions called Boat To Progress: The Original Pantomine Vocal Collection originally released in 1989 on Greensleeves. It is a helluva tune!
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Let's do a "duppy tune" in mid May! Ernie Smith, born Glenroy Anthony Michael Archangelo Smith, had aspirations of being a radio announcer but soon showed an interest in songwriting and eventually began recording the songs he had written. When the first tracks didn't go anywhere he resorted to selling life insurance. In the late 60s, Ernie Smith got back in the studio and what followed were a string of "easy-listening" style hits for producer Richard Khouri at Federal that cemented his career as a singer. Today's track "Duppy Gunman," recorded in 1974 and released on the Wild Flower label in Jamaica and Attack in the UK, was featured in the 2009 Spooktacular... you can click on the link to read about the tune's backstory. I love this one, regardless of the season!
Monday, May 16, 2016
Keeping it short today... today's track in the 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge is from the late great Augustus Pablo and it's called "African Queen." Produced by Joe Gibbs and originally released in Jamaica on his Jogibs label in 1973, I lifted this track from an excellent 2002 CD named Skanking With Pablo (Melodica For Hire) on the Trojan label. A nice upbeat tune for the most depressing day of the week, Happy Monday folks!
Sunday, May 15, 2016
Born Nerlynn Taitt in San Fernando Trinidad in 1934, Lynn Taitt got started playing in steel drum bands before picking up the guitar at age 14. In 1962, Taitt formed his own band and came to Jamaica to join-in with the independence celebrations, afterward he decided to stay in Jamaica. He worked with a handful of groups throughout the ska era and in 1966 he formed The Jets along with Hux Brown, Headley Bennett, Hopeton Lewis, Gladstone Anderson and Winston Wright, the group in which his name would become synonymous. It was during the rocksteady age that Lynn Taitt & The Jets became some of the busiest musicians in Jamaica, sometime performing up to five sessions a day for producers like Coxsone Dodd, Duke Reid, Sonia Pottinger, Joe Gibbs and Bunny Lee. It's interesting to note that fans of rocksteady have pondered which song was actually the first of the new genre... some say it was Hopeton Lewis' "Take It Easy," Alton Ellis' "Girl I've Got A Date" or Derrick Morgan's "Tougher Than Tough" but regardless of which track holds the distinction one thing is certain; Lynn Taitt played guitar on all three of them! Today's track "Nice Time," an instrumental version of the Bob Marley classic, originally came as a 7" on the Merritone label in 1967 and it serves as a nice showcase of Taitt's unconventional though highly in-demand rhythmic guitar playing that made rocksteady sound so damn good.
Saturday, May 14, 2016
The 28th Week Mix in all its uninterrupted glory... here's what you're gonna hear!!
1. The Ethiopians - Mother's Tender Care
2. Phyllis Dillon - Don't Stay Away
3. The Pioneers - Give Me A Little Loving
4. Rudy Mills - I'm Trapped
5. The Wrigglers - The Cooler
6. Roy Shirley - Get On The Ball
7. The Three Tops - It's Raining
Happy Saturday! If you're like me, living in the mid-Atlantic region here in the States, the month of May hasn't been particularly helpful in allowing us to embrace the end of winter. It has been raining here continually nearly every day this month and I won't even go into complaining about April because it sucked too. So today's song "It's Raining" by the Three Tops and originally released in 1967 on the Treasure Isle label, is dedicated to the lousy start of 2016's spring... the hope is that this sweet tune, which really has less to do with inclement weather than with navigating those "muddy ruts" in our daily lives, will soothe Mother Nature a bit and allow the sadly absent sun to shine through those gray, inhospitable and ugly clouds. Dig it!
Friday, May 13, 2016
Ainsworth Roy Rushton Shirley AKA Roy Shirley, with his distinctive style and delivery, was definitely one of Jamaica's greatest voices... starting out in talent contests in Kingston when he was a teenager, Roy Shirley was discovered by Byron Lee who got him work with his band in the early 1960s. His first tune "Oh Shirley," produced by Leslie Kong and co-mixed by his friend Jimmy Cliff, was released in 1965 and became a hit. The next year he recorded "Hold Them," which many consider to be one of the first rocksteady records, for Joe Gibbs and again he had another huge hit. Well to make a long story short, Roy Shirley's career lasted from the ska era, through rocksteady and well into reggae... in fact all the way up until his final performance at the Sierra Nevada Music Festival in June of 2008, a month before he passed away. Today's tune, the 194th in the 365 Jamaican Music Challenge, is "Get On The Ball," originally recorded and released in 1967 as a single on the Caltone label.
Thursday, May 12, 2016
Produced by Coxsone Dodd in 1968 and originally released as a 7” on the Giant label, today’s tune by The Wrigglers called “The Cooler” is one of the baddest rocksteady tunes to come out of Brentford Road! And as you probably already know, Studio One produced tons of timeless music during the era so that is actually saying a lot! The 7" record itself is one of those tunes that commands a huge price tag and one that I wish I could claim to have nestled in my collection but I am just as satisfied having it on the various artists collection Rock Steady Scorchers on the Coxsone label. Dig it!
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Rudy Mills was part of Derrick Harriott's stable in the late 60s and early 70s and today's tune "I'm Trapped" comes from the rocksteady era and was originally recorded and released as a blank single in Jamaica and internationally on both Island and Crab in 1968. This is a great song and while it's unfortunate that I don't own any of the aforementioned vinyl copies I do have a great various artists CD compilation from 1993 called From Chariot's Vault Volume 1 - 16 Rocksteady Hits on the Jamaican Gold label which includes this track.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Brothers Sydney and Derrick Crooks and Winston Hewitt formed the Pioneers in 1962. Their first recordings were self-produced at Treasure Isle and made their way onto vinyl on Ken Lack's Caltone label. Unfortunately the songs and a few other they had cut were not successful and by 1966 Hewitt had left the group and emigrated to the United States. The Crooks Brothers replaced him with former Heptone Glen Adams but even that didn't improve things and by 1967 the Pioneers had disbanded; Sydney taking a job as a concert promoter and brother Derrick getting a gig with the Alcoa Bauxite Company. A year later while Sydney Crooks was working at Joe Gibbs' record shop he got a chance to get back into the studio and since the other members had gone their separate ways he "recruited" a young singer by the name of Jackie Robinson mere moments before he was due to step into the studio. Today's track "Give Me A Little Loving" was recorded in that first session and released on Gibbs' Amalgamated label and it is an absolute scorcher!
Monday, May 09, 2016
Hopping into another week of tunes and we're starting off with a rocksteady classic... Discovered by Duke Reid's session guitarist Lynn Taitt, Phyllis Dillon recorded her first song and today's featured track "Don't Stay Away" in 1966. Her singing of this tune has been described as "perhaps the finest female performance in Jamaican music," and I would tend to say that I may wholeheartedly agree. In my opinion, "Don't Stay Away" is one of the sweetest love songs ever recorded regardless of genre, Dillon's voice is absolute perfection and the soothingly smooth backing by Tommy McCook & The Supersonics makes for an all-around amazing tune!
Sunday, May 08, 2016
Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there! When I saw Mother's Day on the calendar I didn't even have to think about which song I was going to use, this was the only song I could think of using! An all time favorite tune and one of the Ethiopian's greatest, recorded and released in 1970 on Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label... a classic early reggae rhythm coupled with Leonard Dillon and crew delivering some absolutely beautiful heartfelt lyrics, a near perfect tune! Happy Mother's Day Mom, I love you!
Saturday, May 07, 2016
Here it is... the 27th Week Mix for your listening pleasure! What you're gonna hear...
1. The Gaylads - May Be For Long
2. Morwells - Let Me Remind You
3. Winston Jarrett & The Righteous Flames - Chuky Hark & The Shark
4. King Tubby & Harry Mudie - Drifting Dub
5. Lee Perry & Augustus Pablo - Mexican Skank
6. Well Pleased & Satisfied - Walla Walla
7. Junior Reid - There Will Be No Darkness
Short and sweet today... Junior Reid, born Delroy "Junior" Reid, recorded his first song "Speak The Truth," at the age of thirteen for Hugh Mundell and had it released on Augustus Pablo's Rockers label. By the time the 80s rolled around Reid was in the studio with Sugar Minott, Junjo Lawes and Prince Jammy before starting his own label Jr Productions which even released three of the first tunes by Black Uhuru... the band in which Junior Reid's name would almost become synonymous. Today's tune is called "There Will Be No Darkness," which comes from the album Boom Shack A Lack, produced by Prince Jammy and released on Greensleeves in 1985. Enjoy, and happy Saturday!
Friday, May 06, 2016
Founded by Ephraim "Jerry" Baxter in the early 70s, Well Pleased And Satisfied recorded for Sonia Pottinger's High Note label and scored a hit in the UK with the tune "Pickney A Have Pickney" in 1977. Comprised of Baxter, Hugh Lewis and David Paul Johnson, the trio had a sound that I have admired for decades! Jerry Baxter's voice is one of the most distinctive in the roots era of reggae... so much emotion put into every song and always with a pleasant upbeat/uplifting quality no matter how harsh the subject matter at hand, makes me feel at ease every time I hear a Well Pleased And Satisfied tune! Today's tune "Walla Walla" was released on the aforementioned High Note label and in my opinion it is an absolute classic!