Wednesday, May 04, 2016
Let's get into a sweet dub track... the 185th track in the 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge is from the 1977 album Harry Mudie Meets King Tubby's In Dub Conference Vol. 2 originally released on the Moodisc label. Mixed by the great Tubby and distributed by Mr. Mudie, this, inna combination with Volume One is in my opinion, two of the greatest dub albums from the '70s. Today's tune is called "Drifting Dub" and it is Tubby's badass take on the completely badass Drifter riddim... dig it!
Tuesday, May 03, 2016
Day 184 of 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge - Winston Jarrett & The Righteous Flames - Chuky Hark & The Shark
Winston Jarrett started out in music as one of Alton Ellis' The Flames in the early 1960s, when Ellis' original partner Eddie Perkins emigrated to the United States. In 1967 he parted ways with Ellis and formed The Righteous Flames and started recording for Duke Reid and Coxsone Dodd. In 1969 they got in the studio with Lee Perry and by that time they were generally billed as Winston Jarrett And The Righteous Flames. In the 1970s Jarrett grew tired of recording for others and began producing his own music on his own Attra, Human Rights and Humble labels. Today's track "Chuky Hark & The Shark" was produced by Tony Shabazz and comes from a 1978 7" on the Canadian Karazor label and it's a damn sweet roots tune!
Monday, May 02, 2016
The Morwells AKA Morwell Unlimited was put together by Maurice "Blacka Morwell" Wellington and Eric "Bingy Bunny" Lamont in 1973. They became a trio the next year later when they recruited arranger Louis Davis and in 1977 they added bassist Errol "Flabba" Holt. After some successful releases during the era, including the album Presenting The Morwells and its masterful dub counterpart mixed by King Tubby called Dub Me, but parted ways in 1980 when Lamont and Holt formed the Roots Radics. Today's track "Let Me Remind You" was taken from their 1979 album Cool Runnings produced by Blacka Morwell and recorded at Channel One.
Sunday, May 01, 2016
The Gaylads, originally comprised of Harris "B.B." Seaton, Winston Delano Stewart and Maurice Roberts, got their start in the early 1960s and after a brief hiatus in 1964 when Seaton decided to pursue a solo career, they started recording for Studio One in 1966... later they went on to work with Sonia Pottinger, Leslie Kong and Rupie Edwards. After Seaton and Stewart left the group in the early 70s, Maurice Roberts went on to recruit brothers Randall and Hopeton Thacker to keep the Gaylads alive. One would assume that today's track, serving as a roundabout tribute to the first day of May, "May Be For Long," likely contains the vocals of the Brothers Thacker and Maurice Roberts because it was simultaneously released in 1984 both on the Roy Cousins produced album on the Culture Press label Cornell Campbell Meets The Gaylads With Sly & Robbie and as a 7" on the Wambesi imprint. It's a good tune, dig it!
Saturday, April 30, 2016
What you're gonna hear in the 26th Week Mix...
1. Johnny Ringo - Rub A Dub Style
2. Lui Lepki - Bank Clerk
3. Brigadier Jerry - Home Guard Take Over
4. Lee Van Cleef - Bubble Reggae Music
5. Peter Metro - Calypso Calypso
6. Lord Sassafrass - ABC
7. Papa Tullo - Delaware
Everald Crawford AKA Papa Tullo was another of the early 80s deejay who doesn't have much written about him but was one hell of an artist! Tullo, like the rest of his contemporaries, spent a lot of time honing his skill in the dance by working with sound systems including Studio Mix and Arrows before making the jump to vinyl. He recorded a stack of singles for a bunch of producers and different labels before his debut album Tullo At Home was recorded and released on the Negus Roots label in 1982. His combination album with Purpleman; Purpleman Saves Papa Tullo In A Dancehall, released in '83 on the Vista label is one of the rub-a-dub era's greatest albums and one of the prized possessions in my record collection! Now it would have been easy for me to just go with one of the tracks on there and call it a day but I figured I'd dig one up that I hadn't heard in a long while... Today's tune and the 181st in the 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge I might add, was produced by the great Junjo Lawes and released in 1982 as a 12" on Greensleeves at the is called "Delaware." A smooth track by one of the sadly unsung heroes of early dancehall.
Friday, April 29, 2016
Prior to picking up the mic, Michael Johnson AKA Lord Sassafrass had dreamed of becoming a jockey and in turn worked in the riding stables at Jamaica's famous Caymans Park race track. Sassafrass began performing with a handful of sound systems in the early 80s and as a nod to his former career became known as the Horseman which also had a lot to due with his propensity for chatting lyrics about horse racing. He made the step from sound system to vinyl in 1982 when he recorded his album Horseman Connection backed by the Aggrovators, produced by Bunny Lee, featuring the talents of mixing engineer Prince Jammy and released on the Starlight label. Today's track "ABC" comes from Sassafrass' 1985 album Pocomania Jump produced by Jack Scorpio and released on the Black Scorpio label and it's a textbook example of the timeliness of the lyrics dropped by the early 80s deejays. "ABC" is a tribute to Michael Jackson during the height of his popularity and one that I included in the MJ tribute mix I put together nearly seven years ago. Also riding the Answer riddim like yesterday's Peter Metro tune, this song is a helluva lotta fun!
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Peter Clarke originally performed under the name Ranking Peter but after discovering the moniker had already been chosen by another deejay decided to go with a name that paid homage to his resident sound system Metromedia and hence became Peter Metro. Renowned for his use of Spanish and often acknowledged as the first multilingual deejay, Peter Metro developed a considerable following in South America. Today's tune "Calypso Calypso," which also features Metro's deejay spar Zu Zu providing the call and response and riding the timeless Answer riddim, was produced by Jah Thomas and released in Jamaica as a 7" on Midnight Rock and internationally at a 12" on the Greensleeves label in 1983, is one of my favorite Peter Metro tracks! Check it!
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Keeping with the deejays... up next is Devon Perkins AKA Lee Van Cleef, obviously taking his name from the western actor actor of the same name, was one of a host of early 80s that made the rounds with countless sound systems during the early dancehall era. Unfortunately little has been written about Van Cleef and aside from a stack of singles and the two albums; Reggae Sunsplash on the Revolutionary Sounds label which he recorded for Donovan Germain and Rock It To Me Twice for Scientist, I can't find any additional biographical info. Sadly, like Lui Lepki, he was shot and killed in Brooklyn New York in 1987. Today's track "Bubble Reggae Music" is taken from a 7" produced by Paul Campbell and Barry Clarke and released on the Afro Eagle label and it's a nice one!
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Brigadier Jerry, born Robert Russell, originally linked-up with U-Roy's King Stur-Gav Hi-Fi and got his first turn at the mic as, if you can believe this, a stand-up comedian. He switched gears by deejaying with a couple sound systems before becoming a member of the 12 Tribes of Israel in 1978 and performing with Jah Love Muzik. Unlike a lot of deejays from the era, Briggy's fame wasn't earned on vinyl, his cultural lyrics and ability to skillfully ride any riddim made him one of the most in-demand performers in Jamaica. He cut his first tracks at Studio One in the early 80s and had his first big hit "Pain" on Delroy Stansbury's Jwyanza label in 1982. Today's tune "Home Guard Take Over" recorded at Channel One and mixed at King Tubby's was also released in 1982 on the Isis label. Dig it!
Monday, April 25, 2016
Lui Lepki, sometimes spelled Louie, Loui, Lue, Luie, etc. is one of those artists with so many variations on the spelling of his name it makes it hard to locate his records when doing searches online. When I'm looking for a tune by Mr. Lepki (or is it Lepke or Lepkey) it takes some creativity in finding what I'm seeking. But regardless, Lui Lepki was one of those early 80s deejays who today is sadly underrated or appreciated. Aside from a multitude of singles for a multitude of producers during that time, his two albums Late Night Movie for Joe Gibbs and Willie Red for Channel One, remain in my opinion two top-notch records! But not only did Lui Lepki put some quality tracks to vinyl, he remained busy during the advent of the dancehall era by performing with a heap of soundsystems including King Gemini, Sturgav and Volcano. Sadly, Lepki died in 1987 when he was shot and killed outside of a nightclub in New York. Today's track, the 176th in the 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge is "Bank Clerk" which comes from the aforementioned 1982 album Willie Red.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Up next in the 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge is a nice tune by Bradley Miller AKA Johnny Ringo called "Rub A Dub Style" and it comes from a 12" on the Observers label... and it's the perfect track to start off an entire week of deejay tunes from the rub a dub era! Johnny Ringo was working in a record shop in the late 70's where he met Welton Irie, another DJ breaking into the scene around the same time, and the two formed an association that carried them throughout the heyday of the rub-a-dub era. Both Ringo and Irie were heavily influenced by the style of the often under appreciated Ranking Trevor and they modeled some of their styles of phrasing and delivery after him.
Ringo was the operator for two sound systems Soul Express and Rippa-Tone, and eventually made the leap to vinyl in 1979 with the song "Trouble Never Set Like Rain" backed by the Revolutionaries and released on the Reggae Vibes label.
Saturday, April 23, 2016
Here it is... the 25th Week Mix, complete and uninterrupted for your listening pleasure. What you're gonna hear...
1. Linton Kwesi Johnson - More Time
2. The Bluebells - Come Along
3. Barry Isaac - Mi Callie Tree
4. Rita Marley - One Draw
5. Rapper Roberts & Jim Brown - Minister For Ganja
6. Sister Nancy - Chalice
7. Yellowman - Sensemilla
We're gonna wrap up the week by giving King Yellowman his turn to drop some ganja lyrics on the Full Up riddim. This one is called "Sensemilla" and was produced by Gussie Clarke and released in 1982 on his Gussie's 80's label. It's quiet obvious in '82 there was a huge surge in recordings of ganja tunes and the majority of them were riding Full Up... it probably had a lot to do with the success of the Mighty Diamonds "Pass The Kouchie" recorded and released in 1981 and eventually culminated in the sanitized pop hit "Pass The Dutchie" by the group Musical Youth the following year. The way I see it, the Jamaican music industry was still desperately seeing to find an inroad to international pop success and they wanted to ride the coattails of a charted reggae hit by repackaging Full Up as quick as they could. I have even read that Gussie Clarke's "Gussie's 80's" label attempted to come off slicker and more professional than other Jamaican exports at the time in an effort to appeal to international tastes at the time. Unfortunately I don't think the world quite "got" the Jamaican tradition of reusing riddims and the heap of weed-centric deejay takes produced in hopes of capturing the fickle pop listeners never got traction... oh well, their loss. I love the introduction to the tune with the faux breaking news report and the keeping with the journalistic theme when some typewriter effects are throw in throughout, most notably when the version starts to roll! A massive Yellowman classic from the early days of his reign as DJ King! Dig it!
Friday, April 22, 2016
Sticking with the Full Up for another ganja tune but unlike yesterday's Studio One original take we're going with the Roots Radics reinterpretation coupled with some smooth lyrics by one of my favorites! This one is called "Chalice" by the greatest of all female deejays Sister Nancy and it comes from a 12" produced by Henry "Junjo" Lawes and released on the beloved Jah Guidance label. Nancy, born Ophlin Russell, was one of fifteen siblings and the younger sister to Robert Russell AKA Brigadier Jerry. She got into music by performing with the Jah Love Muzik sound system and by logging time with Stereophonic with General Echo. Sister Nancy got into the studio in 1980 and recorded "Papa Dean" for Winston Riley's Techniques label and went on to become the first female deejay to ever perform at Reggae Sunsplash and the first female deejay to ever tour internationally! In the early 80's after a handful of successful singles and her first solo LP, she started to work with Junjo and today's track is one of those... an absolute classic... ganja or not!
NOTE - This is the live version from the Heartbeat album A Dee-Jay Explosion Inna Dance Hall Style and it is pretty badass! The Jah Guidance 12" studio version will be included in the weekly mix. I'm amazed that no one has uploaded it to Youtube before!
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Stepping back over to Brentford Road and Studio One for the next tune and also keeping with the ganja-centric vibes, we've got deejays Rapper Roberts and Jim Brown with a little number called "Minister For Ganja" riding the "Full Up" riddim. Originally released as a 7" on the Studio One label circa 1985, in my opinion it's one of the smoothest combination-style deejay tracks ever. It's interesting to note that in the early days of Jamaican music, the Rastafari faith and its association with marijuana were generally frowned upon, but Coxsone Dodd was one of the only producers who accepted the culture and provided these artists with a safe haven. And as history has proven, Dodd in turn reaped the rewards by doing so but recording an extensive catalog of timeless music that sounds as good today as the day it was recorded.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Do I wish those who celebrate today with the consumption of mass quantities of cannabis a "Happy 420" or is a "Merry 420" the preferred salutation? You know, I actually have to laugh because I have become that square guy fruitlessly trying to sound "in the know" with Herbalist speak even though I wouldn't know Lamb's Bread from King's Hawaiian Bread... Let me put it to you this way, everything I've know about marijuana I learned from reggae music. But enough about that... let's get to today's tune. The 171st track in the 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge is one of my favorite ganja tunes; Rita Marley's "One Draw." Recorded at Tuff Gong and released in 1981 as a 12" on the Shanachie label and featuring a near dizzying array of musicians and personnel behind the scenes, it's a fun song with an upbeat rhythm that doesn't quit and for today, the lyrics couldn't be any more appropriate. Enjoy!
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
We're a day away from 4/20 and while I'm not one to partake in the herb I would be completely remiss in not acknowledging what so many of the unenlightened masses unfortunately think is absolutely synonymous with reggae music. And while there are a large catalog of tunes devoted to ganja, I have always intentionally avoided doing a straight-up mix of these to not feed into the stereotype but today, mainly because I've got 195 days left in the 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge, I'll give 'em some attention. We start off with Barry Isaac and his tune called "Mi Callie Tree" which comes from his album One Of The Emperor Sons released on the Twinkle Music label in 2003.
Monday, April 18, 2016
Hector Wright and Raphael Martin were the Blue Bells and today's tune "Come Along," which they recorded at Lee Perry's Black Ark and released in 1976 is an all-time classic. One of my favorite of all Black Ark recordings and one that always puts a smile on my face. Simply one of the greatest records from the era!
Sunday, April 17, 2016
Keeping it short today because I've been slacking when it comes to getting together tunes for my gig later this afternoon... Day 168 of 365 and it's the perfect sentiment for a Sunday as we stare down yet another work week... this one is by the great Linton Kwesi Johnson and is the title track from his 1998 album More Time.
Saturday, April 16, 2016
Here it is... the 24th Week Mix, complete and uninterrupted for your listening pleasure. What you're gonna hear...
1. The Wailers - Go Jimmy Go
2. Justin Hinds & The Dominoes - Carry Go Bring Come
3. Shenley Duffus - Digging A Ditch
4. Prince Buster - High Blood Pressure
5. Frank Anderson & The Skatalites - Musical Storeroom
6. Laurel Aitken - (Hey) Bartender
7. Ferdie Nelson & Ivan Yap - Ska Down Jamaica Way
Day 167 of 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge - Ferdie Nelson & Ivan Yap - Ska Down Jamaica Way (South Of The Border)
The producer of today's record, Phillip "Justin" Yap, was a true class-act in the heyday of unscrupulous and shady dealings behind the scenes of the Jamaican recording business. Justin Yap was committed to paying musicians a fair price for their services and his legendary 18-hour recording session with the Skatalites in 1964, who he had paid more than double their usual going rate, resulted in Ska-Boo-Da-Ba which some consider to be the greatest ska album ever recorded. Today we're going with one of Yap's productions and we're also gonna go with another "cover" or perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a "reinterpretation." "Ska Down Jamaica Way" was recorded by Ferdie Nelson and Ivan Yap circa 1965, with who I am assuming are the Skatalites doing the backing, and made available on a repressed 7" on the Top Deck label about 10 years ago. "South of the Border" was written in 1939 by Jimmy Kennedy and Michael Carr as a vehicle for famous singing cowboy Gene Autry for the film of the same name. It was famously covered later by Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby but instead of going "down Mexico way," Ferdie Nelson decided to bring us "Out of Jamaica down Kingston way - where the ska first began to play" and the results are glorious. A nice upbeat number to wrap-up the week of ska here... enjoy!
Friday, April 15, 2016
Short and sweet for Friday... "(Hey) Bartender" was originally written and recorded by American R&B singer and pianist Floyd Dixon in 1954 and re-recorded by Laurel Aitken in 1961. In keeping with the ska tunes this week and also the day of the week, nothing could be more appropriate! Aitken's take was first pressed on Blue Beat as "Bar Tender" and it contains all the soul and feel of the original but with a shufflin' ska beat on the refrain. One of the greatest drinking songs of all time in my honest opinion! Dig it folks and while you're at it, pour me another!
Thursday, April 14, 2016
Hopping over to Duke Reid's for the 165th track in the 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge and it is yet another premium slice of ska goodness. "Musical Storeroom," originally credited to Roland Alphonso and Frank Anderson due to their masterfully smooth saxophone and trumpet solos respectively, was originally released as the b-side to Stranger Cole's "He Who Feels It Knows It" in 1964 on Treasure Isle. This is one of those feel-good ska instrumentals that originally attracted me to the music many years ago. Ska is usually upbeat, uptempo and what some new listeners would even classify as frantic but in "Musical Storeroom" the Skatalites were able to keep the beat up while capturing all the melodic laid-back feel of a smooth jazz number... pure niceness!
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Cecil Bustamente Campbell AKA Prince Buster, was born in Kingston in 1938 but was sent to rural Jamaica to live with his grandmother to better embrace his families strong Christian faith. When he returned to the city just a few years later, he began singing rock n' roll a few times a week at a teenage social club called the Glass Bucket Club, which was the thing at the time in the 1950s. Once he graduated, Buster linked up with Tom the Great Sebastien, an early sound system that specialized in American rhythm and blues. But he didn't get into the behind-the-scenes operation of a sound system until he met Coxsone Dodd where he handled security, identified and located records and even collecting tickets, before eventually moving up to becoming Dodd's selector. But instead of sticking with Dodd he started his own Voice of the People sound system with financial backing from his family and a radio shop owner. Voice of the People quickly became a rival with the Island's two biggest sounds Coxsone and Duke Reid's and in order to compete he applied to become a seasonal farm laborer in the U.S. where he intended to spend his down-time seeking out new records for his sound system. But when his request was denied and he came to the realization that it was going to be virtually impossible for him to get music from the United States he decided to start recording his own. By the time the 60s rolled around Prince Buster had established himself as a well-rounded singer, producer, songwriter and arranger and when he established a deal with the UK-based Blue Beat label he quickly found an international following. What week of ska would be complete without a little Prince Buster? Today's tune "High Blood Pressure" recorded and released in 1965 on Buster's own Islam label and also sold to the UK market on Blue Beat, is yet another ska vocal classic. The video features the original vinyl, my track in the weekly mix comes from a 2003 CD compilation called Rock A Shacka Vol. 2 from Drum & Bass Records in Japan.