Thursday, November 03, 2005

Ska Circa 1963

When you mention ska to a younger uneducated music fan they automatically think of “The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.” If you mention it to a slightly older but still rather uneducated music fan they think of “Madness,” “The Specials” or any other Blue Beat band that gained a following during the ska revival in London in the 80’s. When I think of ska my thoughts turn to Kingston, Jamaica, 1963; the year the island nation gained its independence from England. I think of early soundsystems, especially Coxsone Dodd and Studio One who started recording Jamaican musicians for Jamaican ears to hear. I think of Roland Alphonso, Don Drummond, the Skatalites, Alton Ellis, Tommy McCook… I could go on but I think you get the idea. To me ska is the sound of a young independent Jamaica moving ahead on a light-hearted up-tempo beat. Now I don’t profess to know everything about ska and its history and my record collection contains very few actual ska LPs (damn they go for some big bucks!) but I do know that I like what I’ve accumulated. And since I’m not going to dig into the stacks for an ultra-rare Prince Buster 7” with a bad warp and continual hiss, I thought I’d share what I do have off CD. I’ve chosen 2 tracks; “Spred Satin” an instrumental by the Skatalites off Heartbeat Records’ 1991 Studio One compilation “Ska Bonanza” and “Strongman Sampson” by Eric “Monty” Morris off Heartbeat’s 1998 Duke Reid Treasure Isle sampler “Ska After Ska.” I hope you dig ‘em! If you do, be sure to pick up copies of these CDs – you won’t be disappointed! Props to Heartbeat for making all this rare music available to the masses – they’ve always done a top-notch job!

The Skatalites - Spred Satin

Eric "Monty" Morris - Strongman Sampson

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