Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Complete Jamaican Halloween Mix 2007

The big day has arrived! I want to thank everyone who gave me all the positive feedback and hopefully now that you've all got the entire mix on your hard drive I'll be hearing more... what's that you say? You missed track 12 & 23? Well no need to despair... here is my little Halloween treat to those who may have missed something or joined us late and due to real life concerns were unable to download each individual track and even to those who'd prefer to hear the Spooktacular in all of its unedited glory...

The Complete Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2007

Last year I was able to put together a five song add-on mix as a final holiday offering but because of the insane demands of my full-time job I wasn't able to get one done this year. So instead... I have upped my Non-Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2007 for your listening pleasure or if you're exclusively a fan of Jamaican music, your displeasure. You'd never know it by reading this blog but I actually do have musical interests outside of the Caribbean and this mix should prove it. The mix is done in the same style as the Jamaican Spooktacular with lots of layered sound effects, movie clips, Halloween record snippets, etc. but aside from 2 tracks it's decidedly Non-Jamaican.

The Complete Non-Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2007

Give it a listen and read on for the tracklisting

1. The Ghastly Ones – Dr. Diablo
2. Big Bee Kornegay – At The House Of Frankenstein
3. Billy Strange – Theme From The Munsters
4. Gein & The Graverobbers – The Haunted House
5. The Surfaris – Jack The Ripper
6. Harvey Midnight - Denny Vs. Disney – Grim Grinning Ghostly Voodoo Dreams
7. Gene Moss & The Monsters – Drac The Knife
8. Big Ray & The Futuras – Horrorscope
9. Griz Green – Jam At The Mortuary
10. The Gravestone Four – Rigor Mortis
11. Southern Culture On The Skids – Werewolf
12. The Upsetters – The Wolfman
13. Fifty Foot Combo – It’s Alive
14. Los Plantronics – Evil Tiki
15. Mr. Gasser & The Weirdos – Hearse With A Curse
16. Bobby “Boris” Pickett – Monster Motion
17. HorrorPops – Walk Like A Zombie
18. The Krontjong Devils – Twilight Zone
19. Cult Of The Psychic Fetus – Zombie Waltz
20. The Gravediggers – The Witch
21. Byron Lee & The Dragonaires – Frankenstein Ska
22. Leroy Bowman – Graveyard
23. Zacherle – Happy Halloween

Of note... track six is courtesy of fellow blogger Harvey Midnight and his delightful mash-up of Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion and the late great exotica pioneer Martin Denny. One of the best Halloween tracks I've heard in years!

Enjoy! And... Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 22 - The Cool Ghoul Meets The Chuckles

Muhahahahaha! We've reached the end of the line kiddies, prepare to feast your ears on the ghastly, ghoulish delights of the final morbid melody in our Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2007. Your blood will run cold as a celebrated creepshow host rides an equally bone chilling reggae track and I believe it'll wrap up this season pretty succinctly. So listen... if you dare!

The frightening figure you see on the right is John Zacherle AKA The Cool Ghoul (born 1918) one, if not the most, famous of the late night television horror hosts. Zacherle started his career as a stage actor in the early 50's after being discharged from the army after World War II. He eventually began appearing in small bit rolls in television westerns and when Universal Studios announced that it was releasing its classic & b grade horror films of the 30's and 40's for broadcast, which the studio had labeled Shock Theatre, Zacherle auditioned to be the wacky host for the movies on WCAU in Philadelphia.

Quoting from his official website...

Shock Theatre debuted in September of 1957 with Zach appearing as Roland, a crazy character who lived in a crypt. Charlie Vanda, the president of WCAU came up with the name and as Zach is quick to point out, the accent was on the second syllable -- Ro-LAND. Roland had an assistant named Igor, and his wife lived in a coffin. The wife was referred to as "my dear" and occasionally Roland would make her day with a well-placed thrust of a wooden stake. (The stake was actually driven into a bucket of dirt). Other times he would join her in the coffin while watching the evening's film with the audience. Another character was Gasport, Roland's son who hung formlessly from the wall in a burlap bag and moaned...

Roland opened each program by walking down the staircase and then reciting some little bits of info in a ghoulish voice. People who were regular Roland followers have said that Zacherle's performance at WCAU was usually more gory than broadcasts on WABC or WOR. For example, he would occasionally carry a basket down the stairs with him and reveal to the viewers that it contained a severed head complete dripping blood, which was actually, chocolate syrup.

...Originally, the program was aired in the 11:15 late night movie slot on Monday and Tuesday. However, the show was popular not only among adults but among children as well. Therefore, the program was moved to Friday and Saturday and Roland's popularity increased in leaps and bounds. At one point, there were in excess of 800 Roland Fan clubs in Philadelphia and kids could be spotted all over the city wearing large black buttons that said "Roland" or "l like Igor." Zach was even the subject of a feature article in the August 16, 1958, issue of Saturday Evening Post called "T.V.'s Midnight Madness."

... One of the more famous incidents at WCAU was the open house held at the studio, so that, all of Roland's fans could meet their hero. The executives at the station expected 1200-1300 people but realized that as many as 2,000 might show up. In actuality, 14,000 people showed up, stopping traffic throughout Philadelphia and damaging the WCAU facility. Needless to say, WCAU executives vowed to never hold another!"

Well to make a long story short, Zacherley, as he was then known after he left WCAU and went on to work as horror host at WABC, did it all. He appeared in a movie in 1957, recorded crazy horror themed records where he half-sang half-recited the lyrics, wrote introductions for a series of ghost story paperbacks, ran for President (though not seriously), was a radio host... I could go on but I think you get the picture.

The poem featured on this track is called "Happy Halloween" and it's taken from a Halloween various artists CD produced by Rob Zombie and was released by his Zombie A G0-Go Records called Halloween Hootenanny. Zach does two recitations on the album and even teams up with the group Southern Culture On The Skids for a wacky tune called "Sinister Purpose."

The spooky reggae track that the Cool Ghoul is riding is by Keith Hudson's studio band The Chuckles and its called "Darkest Night Version." It comes from the 2004 Trojan double CD set called The Hudson Affair which features music originally recorded and released in the 70's. Sadly, not much is written about the Chuckles so I can't give you any real information about who was in the group but the track speaks for itself. It's the perfect combination of title and sound - it just sound sinister.

So before I spend the rest of the afternoon writing this post I'll just give you the link...

Track 22

Check back tomorrow for one last treat before the ghosts and goblins come out to play.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 21 - Peter Tosh's Vampire

We're nearing the end... the big day is only 2 days away and here we are with the second to last track. This one is "Vampire" and comes from Peter Tosh's final album No Nuclear War on EMI. To be honest with you this wasn't the version of "Vampire" that I wanted to include but I've spent nearly a year searching for the 1977 Intel Diplo single with "Dracula" on the flip side with no avail. It's gotten to be a morning ritual... get up, make the kids breakfast and do an Ebay search for Peter Tosh Vampire, see nothing available, then get back to the rest of my day. I know it was also repressed on the Shock label and that one has been just as illusive. But anyway, this version does hold some significance when it came to my initial idea of compiling a reggae Halloween mix and though Tosh's bloodsucker is also of the real life downpressor variety, the spooky wolf howling, chains and screaming woman opened my eyes nearly 20 years ago that there might be more Jamaican music following a similar scary theme. I have always envisioned "Vampire" playing as the end credits roll in a Caribbean based, good versus evil vampire film, that's yet to be written. I'll get to work on that as soon as I get the time.

We discussed how Peter Tosh had been fighting vampires in the final years of his life last October. You can click here to read my post from October 19th, 2006. There was also an episode where Tosh claimed he was held down by evil spirits and was unable to move and only after he invoked the power of the word "Bumboclaat" was he able to free himself. You see in Jamaica the word Bumboclaat is one of the worst expletives you can mutter... it's along the lines of vulgarities go like mother ----er, which has kind of lost its edge since it's been embraced by a few popular hip-hop artists and used ad nauseam but is still considered highly offensive in other circles. You can hear Tosh recounting how the cuss word saved him from the forces of evil by clicking here... it's a bit of an interview borrowed from the JAD Records CD I Am That I Am.

See you tomorrow!

Track 21

Friday, October 26, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 20 - Woman Ghost Fool Man Inna Mento Style

We've reached the final Friday in this year's creepy countdown and it's a good one. I still have two songs left in the mix that'll be posted on Monday and Tuesday and on Wednesday, Halloween, a treat for all those who have been sticking around this month. But anyway... we'll get to that when the time comes.

Track 20 is a departure from the reggae sounds we've been hearing rather consistently throughout the mix. This one is called "Woman Ghost Fool Man" and it's a mento tune recorded by Alert Bedasse and Chin's Calypso Sextet, circa 1957 and originally released as a 78 RPM single by Ivan Chin and it makes its way to the mix via the CD Chin's Calypso Sextet CD 5.

Ivan Chin ran a radio repair service out of his shop at 48 Church Street in Kingston and started recording
mento originally as a way to make a little extra money. And to hear the rest of Ivan's story, which is interesting in itself, we defer to his personal recollections which originally appeared when his entire catalog of music was self-released on CD in 2004 and available to read in its entirety from Michael Garnice's superb Mento Music website.

"...the floor was concrete and the ceiling Gypsum. There were no (sound) acoustic rooms. We rehearsed and recorded in a section of the store at nights, after the store was closed.

I discovered Everard Williams and Alert Bedasse in 1955 after they recorded Night Food, I invited them along with their small Quintet to record exclusively for me. I then changed the name from Calypso Quintet to Chin's Calypso Sextet.

My recording machine used a cutting needle to cut groves into 78 RPM 10 inch vinyl resin discs. at that time 45s and LPs were not yet invented. The microphones I used were the large old ribbon types, RCA and Shure, they were very good, in those days there were no cassette, reel to reel, or eight track recorders, ceramic or crystal microphones, available in Jamaica. We were just leaving the gramophone behind, to play a 78 record in those early days on a Gramophone, you had to wind it up with a crank handle, then put a heavy metal head with a steel needle, which you put into it, on to the record.

The band consisted of a rumba box a bamboo saxophone, a Bamboo Flute a Banjo, a guitar, a floor bass guitar with four strings, a maracas and two heavy sticks called clave, which they knock together. All the instruments were made in Jamaica with local wood, bamboo and other things.

Bedasse was the song composer and singer, Williams was the lyrics composer, Williams also played the maracas and sticks as extra duty in the band, the saxophone player played the bamboo sax, and the bamboo flute, Bedasse played his guitar.

Most of my records were sent to Decca in England for mastering and pressing, some were done by the late Ken Khouri of the then Federal Records Ltd., some of my records went to Melodisc and marketed through Kalypso."

"Woman Ghost Fool Man" is the story of a man who does nothing but complain about the women in Kingston. One night he sees a tall, well dressed girl in white and for once instead of griping he hopes to get the chance to meet her so he follows her home... to the cemetery gate. The horrified man suddenly realizes he's been chasing a ghost! Mwuhahahahahahaha! See you Monday - have a great weekend!

Track 20

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 19 - Ghost Dance

Taking the cue from a clip of audio from The Uninvited, one of my favorite haunted house films, we jump right in to the next song in the mix. And though the audio from the movie has very little to do with the music I thought it would serve as a nice segue. Today's terrorific tune comes to us from Cecil Bustamante Campbell... or Prince Buster as he's better known. It's called "Ghost Dance" and is a recitation of his letter to the dead where he ponders the question, "how is the music down there in bone yard?" Now I'm not really a Prince Buster afficianado and I'm not really versed in this era's sound systems so I can't tell if Buster is actually speaking praises to the music men that came before or if he's ridiculing the sound systems his own music "killed." Nonetheless it's a clever song and there is one line that has always alarmed me... "I hear they can't get any Red Stripe beer to sell at the dance at night." Oh the horror!! If that's what it's like in the afterworld then I'm definitely not going!

"Ghost Dance" is taken from a 1993 Prince Buster greatest hits CD called appropriately FABulous Greatest Hits on the Sequel label.

Now this is the space where I usually do a little bio on the artist but, I'm running late today so I won't be able to get to it... work has been kicking my ass this week! See you tomorrow!

Track 19

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 18 - Elroy Bailey's Moving Creatures

Run for your lives! The 18th installment in our spooky series walks among us! Keeping it short today... the next track comes to us from bass player Elroy Bailey, often known as Ras Elroy, and his 1979 release called Red Hot Dub on the Burning Vibrations label. This is the only album Bailey ever released and like "Moving Creatures," which you're about to hear, the rest of the album follows in a similar fashion that makes for some mellow listening. And though "Moving Creatures" does a decent enough job of creating the impression they're in the midst of something horrifying lurking right outside your moonlit window, I have added some appropriate sound effects for accentuation.

On the other hand since I've never seen the film and judging by some of the reviews I've read, The Creature Walks Among Us, is nowhere near as effective as Ras Elroy's tune in eliciting thrills and chills. The third sequel to the classic Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954) was released in 1956 and was the only "Creature" film not shown in 3-D. Personally, it sounds like this one might be right up my alley... a wild beast terrorizing and rampaging through the streets of San Francisco leaving destruction in its path kind of like a man-sized Godzilla! It sounds like perfect Halloween viewing so how could it be all bad?

Track 18

How about leaving a comment if you've been diggin' what you've been hearing... it'll make my day.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 17 - Doctor Jekyll

We're on to the next tune in our little Spooktacular and this one is straight from the mind of Robert Louis Stevenson and his 1886 novella The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr. Hyde. To quote from Wikipedia, "The work is known for its vivid portrayal of the psychopathology of a split personality; in mainstream culture the very phrase "Jekyll and Hyde" has come to signify wild or bipolar behavior." The story became so popular that a stage adaptation followed in Boston the next year and went on to London where it ran for the next 20 years. Eventually, when technology caught up that is, 3 films appeared in the silent era alone. Two American versions debuted in 1912 and 1920 and a German film named Der Januskopf, or "The Janus-Head," Janus being a Roman God usually depicted with two faces, also in 1920. The sad thing about Der Januskopf is that the film has been lost and with it the performance of Bela Lugosi, in one of his earliest films, playing the roll of Dr. Jekyll's butler. The poster you see on the right was for director Rouben Mamoulian's 1931 film that many regard as the classic cinematic adaptation of Stevenson's work. I could go on for the next three hours recapping all the movies that followed the storyline but I think I'll stop right there and get to the music.

Dave Barker (born David Crooks, 1948) was raised by his grandparents and uncles in Jamaica when his mother moved to England in 1952. Eventually Barker would hone his voice and start a singing career, at one time serving as a temporary replacement for Pat Kelly when he left the Techniques, that was until he met Lee "Scratch" Perry in 1969. Perry encouraged Barker to abandon his tenor and to exclusively perform using his American-styled radio DJ "shtick" that was garnering him more attention anyway. Barker teamed up with veteran organist Ansel Collins and their 1971 single "Double Barrel" topped the charts in London and miraculously just missed the top 20 in the U.S. Dave and Ansel Collins went on to record an album originally called Heavy Heavy Monsters Sound (and repackaged in the 90's on CD by RAS Records as Double Barrel) which did quite well and to this day remains just as wacky and upbeat as the day it was recorded.

The Doctor Jekyll track we're going to hear today is from the Trojan Mod Reggae Volume 2 CD boxset and features Barker performing in his trademark hyper style alongside vocalist/producer Lloyd Charmers. I have sweetened the tune with even more audio from the previously mentioned Pickwick Sounds Of Terror album and I hope you like it.

Track 17

Monday, October 22, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 16 - The Upsetters' Vampire

Despite the extremely sad news in the world of reggae, the show must go on...

Starting off the third week in the 2007 Halloween Spooktacular with a wicked tune straight outta the legendary Blark Ark. This one is called "Vampire (Horns)" and comes from the excellent 1999 compilation of Lee "Scratch" Perry productions dating from the early to mid 70's called Black Arkives released on the Justice League label.

To serve as a proper introduction to the tune I used a portion of audio from the 1931 Universal Studios adaptation of Dracula starring in my opinion, the real Drac himself Bela Lugosi. I have watched the many retellings and variations of Bram Stoker's 1897 novel and I have enjoyed many of them but Lugosi's portrayal will always be my favorite. He is the epitome of what Dracula is supposed to look and sound like and if you consider that the multitude of Dracula impersonations you see or hear every Halloween season are based on Lugosi's original performance, it makes you realize the importance of this film to Trick Or Treaters and our collective nightmares the world over.

I think you'll dig what I've done with the track... give it a listen!

Track 16

Your Blood Will Run Cold As 2006's Halloween Monster Returns!!

As another holiday offering to those who are following along and patiently waiting for each track to this years Halloween Mix... I have re-upped the complete spooky mix from last year to give you something to enjoy in the meantime.

1. Scientist - Blood On His Lips
2. Lord Kitchener – Love In A Cemetery
3. The Crystalites – Blacula
4. The Wailers – Mr. Brown
5. King Horror – Loch Ness Monster
6. Early B – Ghost Buster
7. Jackie Mittoo & The Soul Brothers – Voodoo Moon
8. Lone Ranger – Annie Palmer (The White Witch Of Rose Hall)
9. Tappa Zukie & The Revolutionaries – Escape From Hell
10. The Flames – Scare Him
11. Lone Ranger – Barnabas Collins
12. Yellowman – Me Kill Barnie
13. Scientist – Night Of The Living Dead
14. The Vulcans – Dracula
15. Peter Tosh – Dracula
16. Bobby Aitken – Vampire
17. The Upsetters – 10 Till 12
18. Lone Ranger – Frankenstein
19. The Aggrolites – Grave Digger
20. Leo Graham – Voodooism
21. The Wailers – Duppy Conqueror

The Complete Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2006

Friday, October 19, 2007

Lucky Dube - 1964-2007

I just received some terrible news. Quoting from the International Herald Tribune article by Michael Wines...

"JOHANNESBURG: A team of gunmen shot and killed Lucky Dube (pronounced Doo-Bay), an international reggae star and one of South Africa's best-known musicians, in an apparent carjacking attempt late Thursday that underscored the continuing peril of violent crime here.

Dube, 43, what shot by three hijackers in Rosettenville, just south of downtown Johannesburg, as he dropped off his teenage son at his brother's house. Another child, a 16-year-old daughter, was in the car at the time, the police said.

The hijackers fled after Dube crashed his car into a tree. He died at the scene.

As the provincial police commissioner appointed seven veteran investigators to chase down the attackers, President Thabo Mbeki called on the nation "to confront this terrible scourge of crime, which has taken the lives of too many of our people, and does so every day."

The principal opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, said that "the circumstances surrounding his murder again illustrate that violent crime in South Africa is out of control, and that the government's remedies to address this scourge have failed."

Below you will find the link to a 15 track mix of Lucky Dube's music that I have put together in honor of him. I started playing his music after I got the sad news and it has been a little tough. I've been finding tragic new meanings in Dube's lyrics that I've never contemplated before and I found myself getting choked up on more than one occassion. I hope you'll give this a listen.

1. "Can't Blame You" from the 1991 CD House Of Exile on the Shanachie label
2. "Let Jah Be Praised" from the 1987 CD Slave also on the Shanachie label
3. "False Prophets" from the 1989 Shanachie release Prisoner
4. "On My Own" from his 1988 release Together As One on the South African Gallo label
5. "Lovers In A Dangerous Time" from the 1993 Shanachie CD Victims
6. "Reggae Strong" from 1996's Serious Reggae Business on Shanachie
7. "Crime And Corruption" from 1999's The Way It Is CD again on Shanachie
8. "Victims" the title track from the '93 album
9. "Don't Cry" also from the Prisoner album
10. "Number In The Book" from the 2004 Heartbeat release The Other Side
11. "House Of Exile" the title track from the '91 CD
12. "The Hand That Giveth" from the Slave album
13. "Different Colours/One People" again from the Victims CD
14. "Remember Me" again from the Serious Reggae Business CD
15. "Never Leave You" from his 2007 release Respect on the Australian MSI Music label

Rest in peace Lucky Dube.

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 15 - Oh No! The Duppy Has Come Again!

Here we are on another Friday and this week's final installment of the Spooktacular... racing forward from early reggae sounds to the digital era and the distinctive voice of the man known as Nitty Gritty. Nitty Gritty (born Glen Augustus Holness, August, 1957, Kingston, JA died June 24, 1991, Brooklyn, NY) began his musical career in 1973 with Joe Gibbs singing a song called "Let The Power Fall On I" with Dennis Brown, George Nooks and the Mighty Diamonds. But Nitty Gritty didn't release another record until nearly a decade later and eventually achieved notable success in 1985 when he teamed up with super producer King Jammy. The tune "Hog In A Minty" was his first big hit and hit first album Turbo Charged came soon after. Sadly his life was cut short when he was shot and killed outside the Super Power record shop in New York in 1991.

Today's tune is called "Duppy Come Again" and comes from a 2002 double CD various artists compilation called Ready When You Ready on the Smugg Label. "Duppy Come Again" isn't as much a ghost story as the name would have you believe but in the song Nitty Gritty professes his faith in the Almighty that protects him from the spirits of evil. I hope you like what I've done with it and hey, if you're planning on visiting a real haunted house or a spooky cemetery this Halloween season you might want to take some notes on which biblical psalms and passages he references... that way you can be prepared to protect yourself when the ghostly spirits start running amuck.

See you Monday! We've got seven more tunes to go!

Track 15

Oh, I wanted to mention... Monday I'll be uploading the complete 2006 Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular for your listening pleasure! If you missed it last year you'll now have a chance to hear it in its entirety with no commercial or daily interruptions!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 14 - Dennis Alcapone's Mr. Brown's Coffin

Staying in the cemetery for today's track... or at least on our way there. Today's tune is called "Mr. Brown's Coffin" by Dennis Alcapone (born Dennis Smith, August 6 1947, Clarendon, JA) and comes from the double CD set called Black Magic Reggae on the Castle Pulse label. When I found out about this collection last November I couldn't believe my luck, 40 spooky tunes in one place! To me it validated what I'd been doing in October because themes of the horrific and supernatural reoccur often enough in Jamaican music that it obviously warranted its own compilation! But anyway...

I recounted the story of the crow Mr. Brown two years ago when I presented the Wailers "Mr. Brown." Legend has it that this crow, that somehow picked up the moniker Mr. Brown, was observed riding around Kingston on top of a coffin as it was being taken to the cemetery. Now following with Jamaican superstition it was widely accepted that the event wasn't just coincidental it was actually the duppy (or ghost) of the deceased who had taken the form of the bird. Now a couple days passed until the same crow, dressed in a shirt and tie no less, was seen in a local courtroom. This seemingly unbelievable event convinced the general populace that the evil powers of obeah had been released and the fact that the Daily Gleaner, the local newspaper, had even run an article about it, made the final confirmation and scared the superstitious segment of the population even more. People were afraid to leave their "yard" (or homes) at night thinking they might fall victim to the demonic powers that were running rampant.

Dennis Alcapone started his musical career in 1969 DJing for a soundsystem called the El Paso Hi-Fi. He was the initially inspired to start recording when he witnessed the rising success of U Roy but Alcapone was so good that some of his earliest records began challenging the supremacy of the "Godfather" who he sought to emulate. He started out with producer and late reggae legend Keith Hudson before moving on to record with Duke Reid, Bunny Lee, Coxsone Dodd, Lee Perry, Sir JJ, Winston Riley, Joe Gibbs, Randy's and Prince Buster... to name a few.

But enough history for today... let's get to the music.

Track 14

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 13 - The Reburial

Taking a turn from the corny to the downright creepy... aurally that is. With church bell tolling and a minister preparing for interment we are graveside for the next tune in our Spooktacular. But is the poor soul lying still and cold in his coffin ready to be laid to rest? You'll have to listen to today's chapter to discover the fate of the "deceased."

While we've got that macabre scene playing out in the background we're then treated to the odd juxtaposition of a seemingly upbeat ska number called "Reburial" by the Skatalites. It comes from a 1998 CD release of ska era tracks produced by the relatively unknown Justin Yap called Ska Boo-Da-Ba: Top Sounds From Top Deck, Vol. 3 on the WestSide label. I read elsewhere that unlike Duke Reid or Coxsone Dodd, Yap gave the Skatalites enough time and money to let them get creative and really hone their craft. The same source went on to say that Justin Yap freely allowed ganja smoking in house therefore making the musicians content... but I digress.

Before I used the term "seemingly" when describing "Reburial" because though it has that quick tempo ska trademark it's lacking in a light-hearted melody that many perceive is also mandatory. "Reburial" has a bit of a sinister, uneasy side courtesy of the horn section lead by the legendary Don Drummond. To me the horns just seem to add an urgency that makes the title of the track make complete sense. It's a race against time as the coffin's occupant tries to free himself from his entombment... but wait... I'm giving away the ending to the little spooky yarn I began weaving at the top of the post. Oh well, you probably already knew the fate of the deceased from the get-go. Besides it's getting closer to Halloween would you expect anything less?

I have always had a fear of being buried alive and I know my phobia can be owed to the aforementioned Halloween Sounds Of Terror record I had as a kid. I used the kiddie album's "Buried Alive" track last October to accompany the Aggrolites "Grave Digger" and of all the vignettes on the LP that one always scared me the most. Thanks go out to the seemingly innocent Pickwick Records and their horrific "child friendly" album for scarring me for life! Good job fellas!

Track 13

Oh I wanted to mention... the artwork for this post is by Harry Clarke (1889-1931) and was originally published in 1916 and appeared alongside the Edgar Allen Poe short story "Premature Burial" in a 1919 book called Tales Of Mystery And Imagination. Frightening stuff!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 12 - He's Baaaaaack!!!

For the love of God... he's back!! Just when we thought it was safe to venture back into Collinswood he returns with a vengeance. Last year we all hoped that Barnabas Collins had met his demise at the hands of the fearless vampire killer King Yellowman but he has arisen once more to terrify the readers of this blog with his cheesy style of un-dead, blood sucking horror! Yes, for the third year in a row the DJ Lone Ranger (born Anthony Waldron) is back with the infamous tune that made him notorious.

Last year through first hand accounts we learned what may have inspired Waldron to come up with these lyrics... if you missed it you can revisit my post from October 13th, 2006.

I had forgotten about this Studio One version of "Barnabas Collins" until Heartbeat re-released Lone Ranger - On The Other Side Of Dub this year and I gave my 1991 issue a repeated listen. I immediately decided to include it in the mix considering it has been one of the most requested songs, usually by fans of Dark Shadows, year round. This version rides the Grave Yard Skank riddim that we heard yesterday and in my opinion isn't as good as the GG's version from 1979 but it's perfect for giving fans of the vampire soap opera their Jamaican crossover fix.

So here, by request, is the 12th chapter in our mix... the unstoppable "Barnabas Collins." Now I just need to dig up another version for next Halloween... perhaps a live version?

Track 12

Monday, October 15, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 11 - Skankin' In The Grave Yard

Here we are again with another spooky tune to put you in the Halloween mood... this is in fact the half way point in our creepy countdown and I'm hoping you've been keeping up and enjoying what you've been hearing!

We're keeping it short today because unfortunately real life always has a way of interfering with my blogging time. Today it's a dub track from Studio One produced by the man himself Coxsone Dodd and would have come from the 1977 album called The Lone Ranger - On The Other Side Of Dub, if it had been included, and it's called "Grave Yard Skank." Interestingly enough this song only reappeared when it was digitally revived. My copy comes from the Heartbeat CD reissue from 1991 and it's perfect material for this time of year. I really wouldn't say this is dub as much as a straight forward instrumental since it does lack in any of the echo and wacky effects that one often identifies in dub.

I have embellished this track with a track called "Entering The Graveyard" from a Halloween CD called A Night In A Haunted House/A Night In A Graveyard - Spine-Tingling Tales Of Haunted Houses & Ghostly Graveyards - wow that's a mouthful. I think it turned out pretty cool and I hope you dig it. It'll serve as a nice segue into tomorrow's track as you'll see...

Track 11

Friday, October 12, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 10 - Obeah Man Does Battle With A Duppy

Joseph, the man pictured on the left, is one of the most feared and respected men in Manchester Jamaica and all of its outlying parish. You see, Joseph is an obeah man. What is obeah you may ask? Obeah is a term used in the West Indies to refer to folk magic, sorcery, and religious practices derived from Central African and West African origins. Or as Joseph explains, "I know about obeah, voodoo, Arabic and Kabbalah. White magic is what it is called..."

In an excellent and informative article in the Jamaica Gleaner from June 28th of this year, staff writer Joseph Lalah paid the obeah man a visit and with utmost respect I shall henceforth quote directly from the article... which is available online in its entirety here.

"...I asked Joseph about the services he performs for his clients.

"You name it man. Anything you want done for you I will do it. If you want a visa I have something for that. If you woman leave you I can get her back for you. If you have a court case I will deal with that too," Joseph pounded his fist into his palm as he spoke and his eyes widened with excitement. He explained that $14,000 will get you a visa to any place in the world you'd like to visit and if the love of your life was silly enough to think she could leave you and go cavorting around town with another, he would get her back for you for a measly $7,000.

I asked Joseph how he got into the white magic business in the first place.

"Well, when I was 15 somebody try work science on me. Dem put a powder in my hymn book at church and it make my head feel like it was going to tear off! I was sick bad. I decide that I wouldn't want anybody to have that power over me again so I start to read all kind ofbooks. My father was a great science man himself as well so I learn from him and carry on the tradition. I was the only one of his children who carry on the teaching and the work for him," Joseph said.

He reached behind his bed and pulled out a small, black plastic bag. "These are some of the herbs I use," he said.

Joseph showed us bottles containing liquids that he said could cure cancer and mend broken relationships. "I perform any task the people want. If you sick I have something to heal you. Once you come here and I read you up then I can tell you how to proceed," he said."

Now you may be asking where am I going with this... read on and it'll all start making sense.

"Well you know I will take out duppy and demon out anybody because I am also an exorcist. Well, one day dem tell me that a duppy was in a young boy up the road so I take up my crystal ball and go up there. Well, when I reach I see about 70 people gather around and tell them to move. I look at the boy with the demon and realise that is the duppy of a Indian stillborn baby was in him. Anyway, I chant it out of him and when the people who gather around see what I do dem nearly faint! Dem know dat anybody who conquer a coolie (a Jamaican slang word for East Indians) duppy must powerful!" Joseph said."

Now that you're up to speed on what an obeah man does you'll have a better appreciation of the tenth track in our mix. It's a rocksteady tune, circa 1965, by legendary Jamaican music pioneer Derrick Morgan (born March 1940, Stewarton JA) and its called "Father Killam" from an excellent retrospective compilation on Heartbeat Records called Time Marches On. It is the story of an obeah man who is called on to exorcise a duppy from a woman who has suddenly fallen ill and it's perfect material for this month's theme. Unfortunately for Father Killam when he attempts to hit the duppy with a stick the evil spirit fires back. Killam ends up on the receiving end of a half a brick and to add insult to injury the duppy laughs so hard that he nearly died twice. Maybe he should have used a can of Go Away Evil.

Have a great weekend everybody... see you Monday!

Track 10

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 9 - The Upsetters' Vampire

Lee "Scratch" Perry and the Upsetters are next in the mix... the tune is called "The Vampire" from the Trojan various artists CD Loch Ness Monster. The early organ driven reggae track has always given me a feeling more of lunacy than of actual vampirism. It doesn't hurt that the wacky intro, on the tale end of yesterday's track, involving the conversation between a patient, a doctor and a nurse seems to serve as a segue from reality to the "trippy" after effects of the injection that the delusional patient desperately needs. I have enhanced the track with some maniacal laughter that would seem so appropriate in not just this song but in so many of Perry's later works as well.

Today's image is a still of Max Schreck in the roll of the evil vampire Count Orlok from the 1922 German film Nosferatu. This F.W. Murnau adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula has got to be one of my all-time favorite horror films regardless of its historical significance and artistry. Schreck's ghastly bat-like appearance is the stuff that nightmares are made of and its nice to see that nightmares haven't changed much in eighty five years. Where some casual viewers might complain that the movie is silent and "crudely" made I see pure delight. The creepy images are enhanced by the grainy black & white and the silence helps alleviate the distraction of your other senses while you soak in the visual terror. Put it on, turn down the sound to drown out the added musical accompaniment, turn out the lights and prepare to be horrified... now that I think about it, a Jamaican Halloween mix might make Nosferatu all the better!

Track 9

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 8 - Pablo Gad's Blood Suckers

On to the next tune... up next we've got Pablo Gad's "Blood Sucker" from his 1979 LP of the same name on the Celluloid label. Pablo Gad was an English singer/DJ who began recording in London in the late 70's and was renowned for his militant and politically charged lyrics during the late roots era. Sadly Gad disappeared from the music industry for over 20 years but came out of "retirement" in the new century to record again.

The eighth song in our mix, as you probably already imagined, deals with vampires... in the figurative sense that a lot of reggae does. In the Jamaican/Rastafarian reasoning a vampire is not necessarily a mythical creature who awakens when the sun goes down to seek human blood, he is in fact someone in the place of power that sucks the life from those who are suffering and unable to defend themselves. A vampire could be a corrupt power tripping politician (aren't they all?), a heavy-handed police force, a heartless landlord or even a sleazy self-righteous religious leader. Simply put vampires are people and corrupt systems which wield their power to hurt those who they are supposed to be helping. Pablo Gad's "Blood Sucker" speaks of this everyday monster.

Now you might ask why would I go and throw a "political" song into our maddening mix of macabre musings? My answer would be two-fold... First, even though "Blood Sucker" doesn't directly speak about the Transylvanian Count we've come to expect when the leaves start to change and the brisk wind begins to blow but I think it does a good job of re-connecting some of those ideals so prevalent in reggae music that I asked everyone to suspend when we started this last week. I'm hoping it gives the new or un-seasoned Jamaican music listener the chance to hear what makes roots reggae so powerful. Second, unlike our fond childhood memories and appreciation and fascination with all "things that go bump in the night," the creatures of Halloween are products of folklore, literature, cinema and usually our own overactive imaginations... thankfully this allows us to safely revisit them anytime we're looking for a fright in a controlled, sane environment. We don't have that option with Pablo Gad's bloodsucker. We can't stop listening, reading, watching or imagining this evil... it's lurking in the dark shadows of corruption and greed waiting to drain us of our spirits and our abilities to live a happy life. What could be more scary?

Don't worry I'm not getting all political and the Halloween mix isn't going to take a turn for the serious. "Blood Sucker" is completely in tune with the rest of the songs you've heard thus far and will continue to hear until Halloween. I've included the trailer to the 1960 Hammer classic Brides Of Dracula, hence the photo, and even give a "shout-out" to Peter Cushing about halfway through so I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Track 8

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 7 - Eastwood & Saint's Talk About Run!

Artist background info. borrowed from my October 2005 post here...

"Jamaican born Clint Eastwood had a few solo successes with British reggae fans in the late 70’s when he teamed up with London’s Front Line International DJ General Saint. The duo became instrumental in introducing Jamaican DJ Style to a wider pop audience and this track should prove why..."

This track is called "Talk About Run" and comes from the duos 1981 Junjo Lawes/Chris Cracknell produced album Two Bad DJ's on the Greensleeves label. It deals with Saint's duppy encounter after he decided that the peaceful late night graveyard would make the perfect place for romance. "Saint yu brave, yu kissin' yu girlfriend pon toppa mi grave?!" An absolutely classic rub-a-dub interpretation of a Lord Kitchener calypso favorite! I know you'll dig this one... if you'll pardon the pun.

Regardless of genre, this is one of my all-time favorite Halloween songs... a straight forward ghost story inna rub a dub style. I get requests to re-up this one throughout the year but I never did because I wanted to save it for this years mix complete with enhanced spooky cemetery sounds.

Track 7

Monday, October 08, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 6 - Bewitching Organ!

You wouldn't know it by following this blog but I've been a fan of vintage pin-up art for nearly as long as I've been a fan of Jamaican music. So I thought this bewitching witch would be great for the next tune in the mix...

As you probably guessed the song is called "Bewitched" and its by the artist known as Johnny Organ, who as you would also probably guess was an organ player. This is an awesome early reggae tune and its taken from the 1970 Winston Riley produced Trojan LP called Come Back Darling by Johnny (Osbourne) and the Sensations. It of course features plenty of witchy background sounds for your enhanced listening pleasure.

Now that we've brought up the topic of witches it would be a perfect time for me to recount another famous Jamaican witch story... I told you about Annie "The White Witch of Rose Hall" Palmer last year now we've got another to thrill and horrify you... seriously it's not that scary so there's no need to worry.

One of the most popular tourist attractions near Montego Bay is a winding three mile river named the Martha Brae. Taking a scenic ride on one of the 30 foot long piloted bamboo rafts has been a "must do" for first time Jamaican visitors for decades. But here's where it gets a little supernatural... Now I'm quoting verbatim from the information placard posted alongside the river itself...

"The legend tells of an old Arawak witch, who lived on the bank of the River Matibereon (which was translated into English and twisted into being pronounced as Martha Brae). Having heard tales of the Arawak gold, Spanish treasure hunters captured the witch to lead them to the treasure. Pretending to comply she led them into a cave, then suddenly disappeared. Frightened, the Spaniards ran out of the cave but the river engulfed them. The witch then changed the course of the river forever..."

...not nearly as juicy as the Annie Palmer story but a witch tale nonetheless.

Track 6

Friday, October 05, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 5 - Harry J All-Stars' Jack The Ripper

Okay, this is as gory as I'm gonna get... image wise that is. Mwuhahahahahahaha!!

Quoting from Wikipedia...
"Jack the Ripper is an alias given to an unidentified serial killer (or killers) active in the largely impoverished Whitechapel area and adjacent districts of London, England in the latter half of 1888. The name is taken from a letter to the Central News Agency by someone claiming to be the murderer, published at the time of the killings. The legends surrounding the Ripper murders have become a combination of genuine historical research, conspiracy theory and folklore. The lack of a confirmed identity for the killer has allowed Ripperologists — the term used within the field for the authors, historians and amateur detectives who study the case — to accuse a wide variety of individuals of being the Ripper. Newspapers, whose circulation had been growing during this era, bestowed widespread and enduring notoriety on the killer owing to the savagery of the attacks and the failure of the police in their attempts to capture the Ripper, sometimes missing the murderer at his crime scenes by mere minutes."

Now, you're probably thinking that this musical installment is going to be as gruesome as the series of events across the pond over 100 years ago but it's not. The man Harry Johnson (born in Kingston circa 1945), or Harry J as he became to be known, was a Jamaican record producer from the early reggae era. Harry J first achieved success in 1969 when his session band's track "The Liquidator" hit it big in London. Johnson went on to set up his own recording studio in 1972, where Bob Marley & The Wailers recorded a bunch of their albums from 1973 to 1976, prior to Bob building his own Tuff Gong studio. Harry J went on to produce music for a slew of other reggae including Burning Spear, Augustus Pablo and Ken Boothe to name a few. But back to "Jack The Ripper." This is an upbeat, danceable, organ driven early instrumental reggae track that I borrowed from the Trojan CD Liquidator - The Best Of The Harry J All Stars and without enhancement would seem completely out of place with the subject matter at hand. I enhanced this track with the "Jack The Ripper" cut from my all-time favorite kiddie Halloween record Sounds Of Terror on the Pickwick label from 1974. As you can see from the image below I still own this record even though time hasn't been kind to the sleeve or the vinyl for that matter. Through the marvels of the internet I was able to reconnect with this creepy piece of my childhood last October thanks to Jason over at Scar Stuff. This record scared the hell out of me as a child and I still have fond memories of my Mom buying this for me at Woolworths so we could play it at our Halloween party. I remember shreading the cellophane off the sleeve, dropping the needle and scaring my little sister so bad that she ran out of the room screaming and I turned down the volume so low in hopes that it would somehow deaden the terrifying images that were seeping into my impressionable mind. How this ever got released as a children's record I'll never know... you definitely couldn't get away with this stuff nowadays!

I'll Be back on Monday with another weeks worth of spooky tunes, have a great weekend!

Track 5

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 4 - Lord Jellicoe's Zombie Jamboree

Short and sweet today... I've probably got four different versions of "Zombie Jamboree" and they all are pretty good but Lord Jellicoe and the Calypso Monarchs' take is my all-time favorite. I've tried to do some research on Lord Jellicoe but I've come up blank so I can't give you any background on the artist. I also tried to determine if Jellicoe's record was the first recorded version but again... nothing. Anyway here it "Zombie Jamboree (Back To Back)" and if you've never heard it you're in for a treat. A great song that always puts me in the Halloween mood anytime I hear it. I embellished this one with the "They're coming to get you Barbara" audio from the 1968 George Romero classic "Night Of The Living Dead." And though I love the movie I'd admit I'd rather come across Jellicoe's brand of partying, festive undead any day as opposed to Romero's grainy, black and white flesh devourers.

Oh, thanks to Michael Garnice and his excellent Mento Music website for the label scan! Like last year, image searches for zombies were a little too graphic for the blog and I didn't want to scare anyone off or more appropriately gross them out.

Track 4

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 3 - Who Want To See A Midnight Movie?

With a blood curdling shriek we’re off to track number three… an instrumental scorcher from Joe Gibbs and the Professionals called "Midnight Movie" from the LP African Dub All-Mighty on Gibbs’ own label and embellished with audio from the classic 1959 William Castle film "The House On Haunted Hill." I thought long and hard about what film I was going to blend with this track and I finally made the decision when I posed myself the question, "What horror movie would you most want to see at a midnight screening on Halloween?"

The House On Haunted Hill would never be considered the best film ever made and it's full of those time-honored comic book style haunted house cliches that we've known since childhood which makes it that much more enjoyable. Besides, being a fan of vintage/campy horror I've always wished I could see the film complete with the original theatrical gimmick that Castle had devised for the House On Haunted Hill's theatrical release which he called "Emergo." Emergo was an elaborate pulley system that allowed for a plastic skeleton to be flown over the heads of the audience at the appropriate times in the film. As you can imagine the film was a box office success and it has been said that Alfred Hitchcock was so inspired by the mighty performance of the low-budget thriller that he created Psycho in 1960. An interesting side note and on a completely unrelated topic, the house that cameos as the House On Haunted Hill was a 1923 Frank Lloyd Wright designed home in Los Angeles called Ennis House. But enough about that let's get back to Jamaica for Joe Gibbs' "Midnight Movie." Take your seat, the show is starting soon.

Track 3

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 2 - Dillinger's Duppy Boasty

This wacky picture that I found on the web on a Japanese blog, that I couldn't decipher, does a good job at visually illustrating to those who are unfamiliar with the duppy... a fairly common reoccuring theme in a bunch of these spooky tunes from the little island in the Caribbean.

To quote from my post in October of 2005...

"Jamaican society has long been steeped in superstition by way of its aural folklore rooted in ancestral Africa. The concept of the “duppy” or ghost comes from a West African belief that each human holds 2 souls. Upon departure from the living, the first soul goes to heaven for judgment; the second remains here among the living. In order to summon a duppy someone would have to perform an “obeah” or voodoo ritual that involves tossing rum and coins onto a grave. The spirit would then rise from its grave and go out causing mayhem. In Jamaican folklore the breath of a duppy is said to cause disease and its touch causes fits. The duppy is “considered the personification of all the evil found in men.”

In "Duppy Boasty," taken from a 1988 7" on the Romantic label, DJ legend Dillinger (born Lester Bullocks in 1953) disagrees that the duppy is the personificaton of all evil and argues that in fact being a duppy isn't really as bad as its cracked up to be and that there are some things attainable being dead that the common person in Jamaica would never be able to aquire in life. First, Dillinger reasons that the duppy has reason to boast because he owns his own "home" in the cemetery that no living person would ever be able to rent or steal from him; a snide comment on the antiquated housing/land ownership system in JA. He then goes on to explain that because a duppy is technically dead he can look as rank, nasty, fat or slim as he wants and he has to answer to no one; a crack at vanity amongst the living. The other points Dillinger raises in the song are not as satirical so I won't go any further with my explanation of the content.

Towards the end of the song the duppy gets to speak his mind and his ghostly reasoning that a living man claiming to be fresh (or clean) when the duppy is a ghost and therefore wears no flesh makes complete sense... at least around Halloween.

Track 2

Monday, October 01, 2007

Halloween Mix 2007 Track 1 - The Crystalites' Ghost Rider

The Headless Horseman, he's the ghostly rider we all know and love and he starts off this year's Jamaican Halloween Mix... kinda. To those who are new visitors to the blog and or Jamaican music in general, you may find it odd that I've juxtaposed an 1820 Washington Irving short story with a fairly wicked early 1970's instrumental reggae song but I offer a word of advice... in order to really enjoy this mix some may need to suspend their pre-conceived beliefs that reggae all sound the same and that those who perform this music are only capable of revisiting the same similar subjects adnauseum. Give it a chance I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. Well enough about the disclaimer...

The first song we're going to hear is called "Ghost Rider" by Derrick Harriot's studio band the Crystalites. I've added some embellishments that enhance the spooky aspects of the tune as well as an introduction from Alfred Hitchcock from a 1960 kiddie album called Ghost Stories For Young People, just to get us off in the right direction.

Track 1