Tuesday, December 22, 2009
We start it off with the man Triston Palma and the tune called "Christmas Jamboree." It's one of the few songs that I could actually get to play off the temperamental Merry Christmas From Black Roots LP that I griped about in November! A nice tune and I mixed in a bit of the version by Dickie Roots called "Christmas Rock."
Roman Stewart is up next with a wicked little number called "Christmas Affair" and it comes directly from good ol' 7" Jamaican vinyl on the Well Charge label. I love this tune!
We step back in time for a little ska number by Frank Cosmo called "Greeting From Beverley's" from 1963. It's taken from the Trojan Christmas CD boxset and it is definitely festive!
Next up is the DJ General Trees and his warning to children everywhere... "Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town" a 7" from 1985 on Maurice Johnson's Black Scorpio label. A smooth tune that I think you'll dig!
Jackie Edward gives us his interpretation of Irving Berlin's classic "White Christmas" and it comes from the various artists Christmas compilation CD called The Meaning Of Christmas released on the Jetstar imprint. A nice mellow vibe here and the sax work by Ossie Scott is fantastic!
The next song in the mix is by the DJ Shorty The President and it comes from his 1976 LP on the Cactus label called Presenting. The tune is called "Christmas Fair."
Norman T. Washington is up next with the tune "It's Christmas Time Again," from a 1970 7" on the Gas label.
Colin Roach and Anthony Malvo liven it up next with their tune "Merry Christmas" and it's taken off the 1989 King Jammy's Christmas Party LP on the Jammy's label.
The sweet voiced, June "J.C." Lodge gives us a reggae version of the classic Christmas carol "Joy To The World." It's from the 1984 RAS Records Presents A Reggae Christmas LP and has always been, in my opinion, one of the strongest tunes on the album.
Lloyd Seivright gives us his interpretation of the song "Mary's Boy Child" originally recorded and released in 1956 by Harry Belafonte. It is borrowed from the 2005 Pulse Records CD The Reggae Christmas Collection.
Massive respect to Bunnycounta for the next tune! "Christmas Season" by the DJ Lui Lepke and taken from his copy of the Merry Christmas From Black Roots LP, amazingly his copy plays through the tune without skipping and jumping 1000 times!! This is a nice rub-a-dub tune and I hope you like it. I've developed a love/hate relationship with this song... I love the song but the aggravation from trying to get it to play has kinda spoiled my appreciation.
Winston Francis, sounding a lot like Nat King Cole, with the twelfth song in the mix called "Here Comes Santa" and it comes from the aforementioned Reggae Christmas Collection on Pulse.
Verna Lee Powell is up next with a tune called "He Is My Santa Claus" and it's from a 7" on the Jama label... one of those tunes that grows on you the more you hear it. I ripped this record, put in the mix, removed it twice and finally just decided to put it back in. I'm glad I did!
Sandra Robinson and Lee "Scratch" Perry give us the song "Merry Christmas, Happy New Year" taken from the Trojan Christmas boxset mentioned above. This is a nice tune, kinda reminds me of Charles Brown's "Please Come Home For Christmas" because it deals with a relationship in trouble that's hoping to use the joyous time time of year to make amends.
The man Ringo drops his tune "Never Forget Christmas" and it comes from the 1970's era Dobby Dobson LP Sweet Christmas on the Top Ranking label. It's odd, I love the Ringo tunes on this album but Dobby's stuff is virtually unlistenable and he gets the star billing... go figure.
The late great (sadly, he just passed away in April of this year) Sonny Bradshaw, the dean of Jamaican music, is up next with a real rockin' take on "Little Drummer Boy" and it is awesome! It's actually called "Peace And Love" and is also from the Trojan boxset.
Barry Brown gives us his tune "Christmas Christmas" and it comes from a 1982 7" on the Hitbound label. Wicked Rub-a-dub Christmas stylee here!!
The man named Anthony Selassie is up next with the tune "Rub A Dub Christmas" from a 1989 LP called Youth Promotion Christmas Jamboree on the Youth Promotion label. A nice digital tune that kinda goes along with the Barry Brown song that preceded it.
Sliding back a few years for the next couple tunes... Hopeton & Primo give us "Peace On Earth" a wicked organ driven early reggae number and it's from the 2001 Trojan CD called Reggae Christmas - 21 Christmas Classic...Jamaican Style.
Taking a step to Studio One with the twentieth song in this year's mix... Tennessee Brown And The Silvertones give us their take of "Jingle Bells." It comes from the 1992 Heartbeat release Reggae Christmas From Studio One CD. Very Calypso styled and extremely festive!
Don Cornel (AKA Cornell Campbell) and the Eternals are up next with the song "Christmas Joy." It comes from a 7" on Harry Mudie's Moodisc label and to be completely honest, it is my favorite song in the entire mix. I hope you dig this one as much as I do.
Gettin' a little cheesy here with the next tune, The Gable School Choir's "Reggae Christmas" is up in the mix. I don't know why but I have always loved this song and I always get a little tear in my eye when the kids hit that final "Merry Christmas and Happy New Yearrrrrrr." But that's just me. :)
Neville Willoughby, longtime Jamaican broadcaster and journalist, with a little help from Clark Griswold is up with "Christmas In JA" and it comes from the Reggae Christmas CD on Trojan mentioned above. A nice tune if you don't mind a little whistlin'!
A nice dubby instrumental called "Christmas Rush" by producer Rupie Edwards is bringing up the rear. It comes from a various artists CD called "Let There Be Version"
Finally, we wrap it all up with a mash-up of all things... the Roots Radics meet Karen Carpenter, of all people, and it's absolutely wicked! It's from producer/DJ Mark Vidler and it has been a favorite of mine since he introduced it a couple years back. A nice upbeat way to wrap it all up.
Hope everyone enjoys the mix and has time to enjoy it! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!!!
The Complete 2009 Jamaican Christmas Mix
Monday, November 30, 2009
The 2009 Jamaican Christmas mix rises from the ashes of annoyance! Thanks again goes to Bunnycounta for providing me with the two tracks I had my heart set on to use from the Merry Christmas From Black Roots LP and thanks to the US Postal service which delivered 5 more Christmas 45s this afternoon! Let the mixing begin! I'll post the mix as soon as I get it finished!
Sunday, November 01, 2009
But as the years have gone by I have realized that by doing these Spooktaculars I am in fact doing what I originally started this blog to accomplish. I wanted to show to everyone that Jamaican music is not all the same sounding, one-sided music only discussing topics of oppression and struggle that only appeals to a select few. It is a vibrant well-rounded complex musical genre capable of discussing anything and everything! Bob Marley may be well known by casual reggae fans for "Jammin'" and "3 Little Birds" but I think I have shown that he was just as capable of talking about conquering duppies or retelling the tale of Mr. Brown and the crows riding on his coffin.
I hope I have inspired discovery. I hope I have inspired re-discovery. I hope I have entertained and most of all I hope I have educated. Its been a good run and I'll miss Distinctly Jamaican Sounds but I'll leave here feeling like I've accomplished my mission.
Best Wishes and One Love Always,
I think I have finally figured out what my intentions are with DJS... read the comment I left below.
Friday, October 30, 2009
I originally heard this song inside the mix LP released by VP in 1996 called Cool Ragga Mix and had tried for years to locate a copy of Barkey's tune in its entirety. Last year I eventually came across the 12" online and I wouldn't say I overpaid for it but it wasn't exactly dirt cheap... a week after I received it I did a search on Ernie B's Reggae and came across the same single for $.89!! Ugh, it made me sick!
Regardless, I was happy to finally put it in the collection and I'm happy to share it with everyone... besides my expensive copy sounds better than one that costs under a dollar! :)
Well, I guess that means we've got nothing left but the "Big Night." It has been a great month and I've enjoyed presenting this mix to those who have shown their appreciation for what I do here. Enjoy!
Spooktacular Track Twenty Two
Thursday, October 29, 2009
And we've got a kick-ass tune by the man Sancho... an artist who as far as I know only had this one hit. Supposedly this riddim, Chase Vampire, was originally created by an unknown producer named Antonio Gilbert and it was versioned by bigger names such as Donovan Germain, King Jammy and Black Scorpio but I can't find any definitive proof to confirm or deny such rumors.
This is a fantastic Halloween/Duppy dancehall tune! Not only does Sancho go on to describe a frightening late night encounter but he rambles off names of some real horror favorites such as Barnabas Collins, Herman Munster, Frankenstein, Werewolf and Dracula.
It comes to us from a 12" on the Ikus label and I'm hoping that you dig this one as much as I do because I've been holding back on using this tune for a couple years now!
I really put a lot of effort into the backing sound effects, it's subtle but extremely involved and I was half tempted just to post the "tapestry" of effects so you could play it at loud volume on Halloween night and scare the trick or treaters.
Spooktacular Track Twenty One
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Roland Alphonso (born January 12, 1931, Havana, Cuba) moved to Jamaica at the age of 2 and started out in the music business in 1948 when he left school to join Eric Dean's Orchestra and first started recording for Stanley Motta's MRS label in 1952 during the heyday of mento music. He went on to record for Clement "Coxsone" Dodd in 1956 but sadly the master tapes were lost and never made it to mastering. In 1959 he joined up with Cluett Johnson and his band Clue J and His Blues Blasters all while recording for producers such as Duke Reid, Lloyd Daley and King Edwards, playing alto, tenor and baritone sax as well as the occasional flute. He went on to become a founding member of the legendary Skatalites, the first session band at Coxsone's newly opened Studio One studio in 1963.
When the Skatalites disbanded in 1965, Alphonso formed his own band The Soul Brothers with Dizzy Moore and Jackie Mittoo and who would later become known as The Soul Vendors in 1967. He continued working throughout the 60's and 70's and received official recognition for his contributions to music in 1977 when Jamaica awarded him the Officer Of The Order Of Distinction.
Amazingly Roland Alphonso continued to record throughout the 80's and the 90's until his death on November 20, 1998.
Spooktacular Track Twenty
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Massive Dread (born Dennis James, 1960, Trenchtown, Jamaica) started recording in the late 70's for Tappa Zukie and gained notoriety in the 80's while touring with, of all people, Byron Lee & The Dragonaires. To quote from Wikipedia...
"He introduced the "bubbling" style of delivery, which was well received by audiences at events such as Reggae Sunsplash and his album Strictly...Bubbling (produced by Tommy Cowan's wife Velerie) capitalized on his popularity, including Jamaican chart-toppers such as "This Is Massive."
Spooktacular Track Nineteen
Monday, October 26, 2009
We're jumping back in with a song called "Jamaican Hammer Horror" from the 1982 album called DC Dub Connection on the Tele-Tech label. This album contains work from a veritable who's who of dub and I would assume the Dub Connection name is easier than listing all those involved as the primary artists. That being said, the two key players here are Scientist and Prince Jammy... with recording engineering by Perry, recording at both the Black Ark and King Tubby's and the mixing being done at Tubby's. The musician roster includes... Mikey Boo Richards, Sly Dunbar, Horsemouth Wallace, Bertram Ranchie McLean, Leroy Sibbles, Lloyd Parks, Flabba Holt, Boris Gardiner, Bingy Bunny, Ronnie Bop, Bo Peep, Eric Flater, Willie Lindo, Ansel Collins, Winston Wright, Keith Sterling, David Madden, Bobby Ellis, Headley Bennett, Glen Da Costa, Vin Gordon, Uziah Sticky Thompson and Skully! A dream line-up! It was produced by the man Earl Morgan.
But let's get to the song, "Jamaican Hammer Horror." If you are familiar with horror films you know the name Hammer Studios. If you're not than you ought to be ashamed of yourself! To be honest with you I'd always been familiar with their films and wasn't a real fan until earlier this year. I started off watching their Dracula films starring Christopher Lee and usually served with a helping of Peter Cushing and I got hooked.
Now it would have been easy for me to take one of Hammer's better known productions of Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, etc. and mix it in with the Jamaican flavor but I decided to go a little more obscure.
As the photo at the top of this posting suggests, I went with The Reptile... one of my favorites. Now here's where I slip into my Robert Graves/Turner Classic Movies host persona... An efficient chiller from Hammer, absorbing and atmospheric and directed by John Gilling. Featuring a cast of Noel Willman, Jennifer Daniel and Ray Barrett... from 1966... The Reptile Meets The DC Dub Connection Inna Jamaican Hammer Horror Fashion. Enjoy!
Spooktacular Track Eighteen
Friday, October 23, 2009
This comes from a 1974 7" on the Mighty Cloud label produced by George McLean and backed by a studio band who called themselves the Mighty Cloud Band.
Interestingly enough the veteran reggae singer Al Campbell was a one time member of the "Mighty Cloud Band." I found an interview online with Campbell on the website Reggae-vibes.com and this is what he said about Duppy Jamboree...
"Q: What about the bands you used to play with in the seventies, like the Mighty Cloud Band for instance?
A: Yeah, me used to play with Mighty Cloud, me an' Ernest Wilson's bredda, Leonard Wilson.
Q: And the leader for that band was George McLean, also known as Bobby Mack.
A: Yeah. George McLean, 'Bobby Mack', yeh. Me used to sing with the band, vocalist, an' one day we're going to the studio an' I was always bangin' the piano. So when I going to the studio in the morning now, the keyboard player never turn up. So when the keyboard player never turn up, them call me an' seh, "Al, come here. All the while I hear yu bangin' the piano, come now an' ting, see if yu can hold this riddim ya for me". So me say, "Well, me is a one-hand player, yunno, me cyaan play with two hand". So him seh all right. So, him show me the key an' how the intro start an' the firs' song whe we play is a tune like 'If yu waan hear the duppy laugh, come a riverside Sunday morning...'. And the song was a number one in a Jamaica for weeks!
Q: That was this guy called Levi Williams.
Spooktacular Track Seventeen
Thursday, October 22, 2009
If you've been following the Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular over the last four years you'll know that the King Horror tunes are some of the best! In years past he's given us his screaming tribute to the "Loch Ness Monster," his foreboding warning from the undead "Dracula Prince Of Darkness" and now his honor to the sinister laboratory created Frankenstein monster!
God, do I wish he had recorded more! All three songs mentioned are fantastic early reggae tunes in a late night horror host stylee and as an added bonus don't require much embellishment to get their point across.
What we're going to hear today is taken from a 1969 7" on the Nu Beat label and is definitely my favorite track in this years Spooktacular! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
If I was Count Dracula I'd sure hate to meet King Horror's Frankenstein in a dark alley... judging by the delivery and intensity of this tune he's gotta serious ass kickin' comin' his way!
Spooktacular Track Sixteen
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The tune for today has a name in common with the morbid definition above and that's where the similarities end. This is an upbeat dub tune by the Revolutionaries from the 1978 Ballistic LP called Rasta Fire (A Channel One Experience) featuring the DJ Errol Scorcher on 8 tunes and the Revolutionaries doing their thing on the following 4 tracks. You're gonna wanna get up and move, stiffness ain't what this tune's about! An excellent early rub-a-dub Joseph Hoo Kim production from the legendary Channel One!
The intro was taken from the trailer of the 1973 Bob Clark (of Porky's and Christmas Story fame) cult classic "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things." One of my favorite low budget horror films and one that is actually succeeds in being scary in parts... must see low brow viewing for Halloween!
Spooktacular Track Fifteen
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Boris Gardiner (born January 13, 1943, Kingston, Jamaica) aside from having an appropriate Halloween sounding name, is a singer, songwriter and bassist started out in the music biz in the 1960's touring with Carlos Malcolm And The Afro Caribs and Byron Lee And The Dragonaires. Later in the decade he became a session musician for The Upsetters, The Crystalites and the Aggrovators.
His first album Reggae Happening was released in 1970 and achieved moderate success by selling relatively well in England. But in 1986 Boris Gardiner had real chart success when the tune "I Want To Wake Up With You," went to number one on the UK charts and remained there for nearly two months!
Boris is straying away from the lovey dovey today and getting a little spooky with this organ driven tune that goes well with the 1950's "spook show"radio ad. Kinda like it was meant to be there!
Spooktacular Track Fourteen
Monday, October 19, 2009
"If ever there was a case of a songwriter starting a song with the opposite of the real life situation which inspired it, it is Ernie Smith and Duppy Gunman.
Written one Saturday night in 1974, recorded the following Monday at Federal Studios, released that same mid-week and soaring to the top of the charts ("in those days everything I did went to number one except Power and the Glory. Michael banned that," Smith told The Sunday Gleaner), Duppy Gunman tells the tale of a romantic liaison that could have been. It opens:
I an I man forward
Pon a different scene
I an I man collie weed
I an I man queen
Everything was irie
Getting in the groove
We jus' a come dung to movement
When someone sey don't move
However, while there was a 'queen', there was no getting down to movements.
"I had just played a gig. In those days I had a friend who used to help me lift the equipment. Coming home from the gig I got a girl to go home with. I dropped him home. Me and the girl going on a liaison. I got the feeling like my friend is sitting there," Smith said.The friend had been in the back of the VW van he was driving.
"I said 'It feels like Robbie is still sitting there. I said 'It must be a duppy'. Then I thought about the violence and I said 'or a gunman'. I said 'It is a song'," a laughing Ernie Smith told The Sunday Gleaner.
Hence the chorus:
It mus be a duppy or a gunman
I man no fin' out yet
I an I did so frighten
All de daughter name I feget
He may or may not have forgotten the 'daughter's' name by now, but he did forget whatever intentions were at hand before the song came. "I never bothered to go home with the girl. I went to my real home and wrote the song. She was very upset," he said.
There is some similarity to that real life anger in the fictional musical tale, as Smith sings "The nex' day de daughter ask me, what happen to yu las' night, jus' when yu ready fi work de show, yu ketch stage fright".
And one line that was definitely taken from something that really happened was when Smith sings "One ting me know fe certain, spread it round the town, it no mek no no sense yu run before yu foot touch the ground".
"There was a guy who described sitting in his living room and watching a thief in his pear tree. All he said was 'hi sah' and the man started running in mid-air. When the man hit the ground his feet were like a car burning rubber. That is where that line came from," Smith said. He was told that story a couple weeks before the song was written.
Sometimes Smith changes the name of the speedster recorded as the point of reference for fleetness of foot in 1974 ("Quarrie was a bway to I man las' night, him coulden falla me") to Asafa Powell and he says no other outstanding Jamaican sprinters have been used in between. And on occasion he adjusts the chorus and sings "I an I did so frighten all me underwear I feget". "Sometimes I sing it like that if there are not too many children around," he said.
The distinctive trombone featured on Duppy Gunman is the work of Trinidadian Jerome Francique and the Now Generation Band supplied the music.
Smith laughs as he says he hopes non-Jamaicans who jam to the song understand the lyrics and adds that "A lot of non-Jamaicans who are into reggae understand the song".
And a song that was "an instant hit" has been a lasting one as well. "These days when I do that song anywhere I ask the audience to join in and sing the chorus. They know every word," Smith said."Spooktacular Track Thirteen
Friday, October 16, 2009
Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 - Track Twelve - Aston "Family Man" Barrett's "Duppy Conqueror"
Spooktacular Track Twelve
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Spooktacular Track Eleven
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Here's the playlist... download links are below!
1. The Creepniks - Zombie Stomp
2. Frankie Stein & His Ghouls - A Hearse Is Not A Home
3. Misfits - Bloodfeast
4. Southern Culture On The Skids - Swamp Thing
5. King Horror - Dracula Prince Of Darkness
6. The Upperclassmen - Cha Cha With The Zombies
7. Don Hinson & The Rigamorticians - Riboflavin Flavored, Non-Carbonated, Polyunsaturated Blood
8. Hasil Adkins - Haunted House
9. Satan's Pilgrims - Creature Feature
10. Gene Moss & The Monsters - I Want To Bite Your Hand
11. Contrails - Mummy Walk (Walking Death)
12. The Meteors - Graveyard Stomp
13. Vin Gordon - Red Blood
14. Moontrekkers - Night Of The Vampire
15. Captain Clegg & The Night Creatures - Transylvania Terror Train
16. The Mellowmen - Trick Or Treat
17. Messer Chups - Little Blood Sucker
18. Screaming Lord Sutch - Big Black Coffin
19. The Ghastly Ones - Fuzzy & Wild
20. The Memphis Morticians - Devil's Rain
21. The Ghouls - Shake Rattle & Rot
22. Nightmares - Headless Ghost
Carlton Livingston started out in the music biz as a singer, went on to DJ alongside Lone Ranger for a local soundsystem in the early 70's and eventually reverted back to singing by the time the decade came to a close. His first recording was "The Tale Of Two Cities" produced and released on Channel One's Hitbound label. Livingston released hits for Sly & Robbie, Jah Life and Clive Jarrett's Dynamite imprint. He is probably best known for the tune "100 Weight Of Collie Weed," one of the baddest tunes from the rub-a-dub era.
I've read that "Are You Afraid" was recorded and released in the 90's but definitely has a very "old school" minimalistic rub-a-dub approach.
Spooktacular Track Ten
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Spooktacular Track Nine
Monday, October 12, 2009
A real nice dub tune and one that I feel works well to compliment the trailer audio for Italian filmmaker Dario Argento's 1985 film Creepers AKA Phenomena... Creepers is the story of a girl named Jennifer whose ability to communicate with insects gets her enlisted to help solve a series of serial killings. As you can imagine lots of scariness ensues.
Spooktacular Track Eight
Friday, October 09, 2009
Okay, enough about the picture let's get to the music! What clearly appears as the tune "Duppy Serenade" and credited to the Inn Keepers is actually one of the originators of the early DJ style, Dennis Alcapone. The song touches again on the theme popularized in The Wailers' classic "Mr. Brown."
If you are unfamiliar with the story of Mr. Brown I'll fill you in by quoting from what I wrote about the legend of Mr. Brown in October of 2005...
"...in 1969 or ’70 the Wailers who were working with Lee Perry at the time, caught wind of a strange story involving a crow. This crow was somehow given the name “Mr. Brown” and the story went that he had been observed traveling around Kingston on a coffin on its way to the cemetery. Days later the same crow, wearing a shirt and tie, was seen in a courtroom. The general populace was scared stiff thinking that the evil powers of obeah (or voodoo) had been unleashed and had even gotten to the point that many were afraid to leave their houses at night. The story was even reported in the Jamaican newspaper the Daily Gleaner and added more fuel to the fire."
Now Alcapone goes on to make the story a little more interesting by claiming that three crows are riding around on the coffin now singing in unison, "John Brown, John Brown, John Brown, John Brown" but oddly not everyone can see them. To be honest with you, I don't really get the inside story to what's going on here... every time I listen to this tune I can't help but feeling like I'm missing an important insider piece of information.
Regardless, it's a good "duppy song" and with the crow embellishments I added I think you'll get the gist.
Spooktacular Track Seven
Thursday, October 08, 2009
So much has been written about the legendary Upsetters and the work they did under Lee Perry's tutelage that it's not necessary for me to get into a long winded dissertation about their history. If you want to know more I recommend the excellent People Funny Boy: The Genius Of Lee "Scratch" Perry by David Katz... it's chock full of information!
"Touch Of Fire" comes from the Upsetters 1969 album on the Trojan label Return Of Django and I've added minimal monster and maniacal laughter to sweeten it up a bit. I've noticed that most of the Upsetter tracks I've used throughout the years always give me a feeling of lunacy and I think that's what makes them nice additions to any Spooktacular.
As for The She Beast you ask? I've had that trailer on my hard drive for years and I've never had the proper tune to which to use it. I figured since "Touch Of Fire" was kinda out on a limb to begin with I'd use it now or forever hold my She Beast.
The She Beast (AKA Revenge Of The Blood Beast, AKA Satan's Sister, AKA Sister Of Satan) is a 1966 British-Italian horror film about a witch who gets attacked and executed by a angry mob of 18th century villagers and swears revenge on the descendants of those who murdered her. We flash forward to "present day" 1966 Romania and the trouble that befalls a British couple vacationing there...they have an accident and their car ends up in the very same lake where the witch was murdered 200 years before and the pretty young wife, played by the pretty young Barbara Steele, is transformed into her evilly hideous reincarnation.
I actually think I prefer the trailer's proclamation of the She Beast being "Deadlier than Dracula, wilder than the Werewolf, more frightening than Frankenstein!" to the film itself but Barbara Steele makes Barbara Steele worth watching... oops, I meant the She Beast worth watching. Though she could have spent a little more time on screen without the monster make-up!
Spooktacular Track Six
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Case in point... today's tune is from the man Windew (sometimes Windel) Haye. I've explored all of my resources and the best I can come up with is this... Windew/Windel Haye recorded two songs for Coxsone Dodd's Studio One in 1979. The first was the "Flood Victim," with another unknown DJ by the name of Captain Morgan, riding the Real Rock riddim and was located on the B-Side of Johnny Osbourne's "Water More Than Flour" The second is the tune you're going to hear today, "Haunted House," on the My Conversation riddim and served as the flip side to Cornell Campbell's cover of the Uniques "My Conversation."
The thing is, if you've spend other Halloween's here with me, the rhythm is going to seem very familiar. Barnabas Collins, the television vampire who wouldn't stay dead here on the Spooktacular even after Yellowman had seemingly killed him back in 2007, and who was immortalized in the classic Jamaican Halloween tune Barnabas Collins by the DJ Lone Ranger, rides this riddim as well. I was kind of disappointed I couldn't come up with another obscure version of Barnabas Collins to continue the yearly tradition but "Haunted House" is pretty damn close.
Windew Haye pays tribute to ol' Barnie in the lyrics by proclaiming that "Barnabas live inna haunted house." He even steals a couple lines of Lone Ranger's lyrics elsewhere in the tune and since I can't confirm anything because there is no recorded history on this topic we'll have to take a stab at hypothesis. Here's my rub... Coxsone was floored by the popularity of Lone Ranger's tune and took the unknown DJ Windew Haye into the studio to have him recreate a Studio One version of the song with the same riddim and a different bunch of different lyrics that still followed the same spooky theme. It's quite possible... because years later Coxsone re-recorded Lone Ranger doing "Barnabas Collins" at Studio One but was dropped from the vinyl release of On The Other Side Of Dub most likely because of limited space. It really released until 1991 when Heartbeat records re-issued the album on CD and included the lost track.
The photo you see of Ideal's Haunted House is probably familiar to a lot of us... I didn't have Tomy's Haunted House when I was a kid... since it was released in 1962, nine years before I was born, I missed out. But... my older cousins did! With that distinctive and amazingly illustrated box how could I forget! If you want to read more about the Haunted House game follow this link to HauntedHouseParts.com... I'll leave the discussion of the board game to people who know more than I do about such topics! Add this to the list of things to buy when that Megamillions money starts rolling in! See you all tomorrow!
Spooktacular Track Five
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Charmers moved on to a solo career in 1970 releasing two mainstream albums and simultaneously ventured into the risque, adult only realm of slack or x-rated content with the tune "Birth Control" and a complete album called Censored, using either his real name or Lloydie And The Lowbites.
Charmers started his Splash record label in the early 70's and began producing other artists like B.B. Seaton, Lloyd Parks, The Gaylads and Ken Boothe. With his studio band, The Now Generation, doing the backing Lloyd Charmers attained a reputation for sophisticated arrangements and in turn scored some fairly big hits during the era.
What we're going to hear today, in a Halloween stylee of course, is an instrumental tune called "Bone Yard Skank" and comes from a 2000 compilation CD on the West Side label titled "Highlights And Lowbites." The ghostly introduction on "Bone Yard Skank" had me hooked the first time I heard it and the smooth flowing tune that follows is absolutely wicked! I tried to run this down as a vinyl single and came up with the identical tune on the Federal label that credited the Bone Yard Belly Dancers instead of Mr. Charmers... go figure.
The Haunt Of Fear issue you see above really has nothing to do with the song but being that I have always enjoyed EC's imagery and the cemetery on the cover perfectly depicts the boneyard I see in my mind's eye.
Spooktacular Track Four
Monday, October 05, 2009
Starting off our first complete week of October merriment is an artist by the name of Murphy Romeo... now here's where I'd give you a little biographical write-up but sadly I was unable to come up with anything to share aside from the fact that Romeo recorded a couple other singles besides the one you're going to hear shortly.
The song is called "Ghost Affair" and comes off a 1975 7" single on the World Wide label and tells the tale of a woman being haunted by a ghost and the trouble that ensues after she hires an Obeah man to rid her home of the spirit... it would probably be correct to say that the Obeah man is the one who meets the most trouble. This is a fun tune and I only did a little embellishing to sweeten it up a bit.
The image of the sad ghost you see above was a cardboard cut-out originally manufactured by the Beistel Company, circa 1975 and borrowed from The Haunted Closet blog. I have fond memories of these ghosts from elementary school and I just found a reproduction set at a local supermarket for $2.99 and best of all... they glow in the dark!!
Spooktacular Track Three
Sunday, October 04, 2009
I popped the tape into my boombox moments after tearing it open that late summer afternoon and sat down to give it a listen. Moments later I surmised that Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark was fantastic! It was genuinely scary and Alvin Schwartz's storytelling abilities were astounding... how could a bunch of stories spelled out in a book and retold exactly as printed be so effective? Immediately my favorite Scary Story was "Mi Ti Dough-ty Walker" and it was one of those things that stuck in the back of my brain without even realizing at had done so.
So fast forward about 25 years... I was in the car one day last October with my son who was 5 at the time and my daughter who had just turned 4. We were deeply involved in our daily conversation about Halloween; what I want to be this year, the plan of attack for trick or treating, would you rather be a vampire or a werewolf, etc. The kids were chattering away when I suddenly sang out...
"Mi Ti Dough-ty Walker." Suddenly the noise in the backseat came to a screeching halt. There was this look of astonishment on my son's face.
"What is that Dad?" he asked.
I didn't give him an answer.
I simply replied with "Lynchee kinchy colly molly dingo dingo." More looks of bewilderment. Had the morning commute to school suddenly driven Dad over the edge and was he now speaking in tongues?
"What is that?" they both replied in unison.
Okay, it looked like the gig was up and I had to spill... I told them it was a scary story I remember from when I was a kid. They immediately pleaded with me to tell them the story and I hesitated. I knew it probably wasn't the most appropriate story to tell two small children but I could edit around the scary parts and keep it relatively tame. Besides, it was the middle of the afternoon, the sun was in the sky and the autumn chill had yet to dig its claws into the warm breeze flapping through the open car windows. So I told them the story of "Mi Ti Dough-ty Walker" and they seemed pleased.
My daughter got a kick out of the talking dog and my son went on to question the viability of a bloody head falling down a chimney but the tale was told and it was time for their drop-off at school. Ian, my son, told me as a parting word, that Mi Ti Dough-ty Walker was a ridiculous and goofy story. And to be honest, I was kind of hurt that he didn't at least give me credit for my oratory abilities.
I got a phone call at work that night from their mother and judging by the abrupt and angry tone in her voice she wasn't pleased about something.
"What story did you tell the kids today?" she asked.
"Uh, this story I heard when I was a kid called "Mi Ti Dough-ty Walker."
"Ian is crying and saying that he's afraid to go to sleep because he thinks a head is going to roll out of the attic and into his room! Do you think it's appropriate to be telling kids stories about chopped off heads?"
"Obviously not," was all I could answer.
There were a couple rough nights that followed but Ian got over the story, or so I thought.
Ian didn't have school last Monday but my daughter did and we got to spend the afternoon together just father and son. We stopped by one of the pop-up Halloween superstores and picked up accessories for his costume (he's going as the Grim Reaper, a decision he made entirely on his own) and afterwards we stopped at Burger King for lunch before I had to drop him off to his Grandmother's before heading to work.
In between a bite of his chicken tenders and apple slices Ian asked, "Hey Dad, how was the head able to talk?"
Mi Ti Dough-ty Walker lives on for another generation!
I have the MP3 of Alvin Schwartz's tale but while I was looking for an easy way to host it here on Blogger without requiring a download I came across this...
Fantastic! Back to the Spooktacular tomorrow!
Saturday, October 03, 2009
I'm quoting from a write-up about this gorgeous piece of wood, metal, black light, circuit boards and Halloweenie goodness from a short write-up on the excellent website Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum...
"Description: Haunted House, Midway #553, 1/72, gun game with two cats, a witch, and a grave robbing monster. Blacklight lighting, 8-track player sound loop 2 minutes 42 seconds long, uses a special 4-channel 8-track player (one track is used for background "spooky" sounds, and three other tracks have sound effects for specific targets - the monster, the cats and the witch). Gun has recoil and there are two circuit boards in the back of the game for amplification and motor speed control. The target motor speed increases at 1000, 2000 and 3000 point levels making them harder to hit. Game gives 20 shots with unlimited time. If a certain score is reached, 10 more shots are awarded. Haunted House's theme is a good one, and the sound affects are very good, but it's not that great of a target shooting game. The biggest selling point of the game is the theme and the sounds."
...plain and simple, I want it!
Click play to hear the background sound effects...
Marvin's Museum also shared a bunch of pictures and the actual sound effects that were featured in Haunted House and aside from the fact that I've used them as background effects for an upcoming Spooktacular track in this years mix, they brought back some odd deja vous moments.
I don't fully understand why they sound so familiar... I was a year old when Midway rolled this baby out but I have memories of playing it years later.
Check it out!!
Friday, October 02, 2009
Mittoo started his career as one of the founding members of the legendary Skatalites and served as a mentor to many up and coming artists when he served as musical director at Coxsone Dodd's Studio One.
Today Mittoo provides sensational musical accompaniment for the wonderfully melodramatic alarmist trailer to the 1963 low-budget, cult film Blood Feast directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis and considered by many to be the first splatter film. Blood Feast is the story of a Fuad Ramses, the deranged Egyptian caterer who takes to brutally murdering people so that he can use their body parts in his cooking and satisfy his desire to offer sacrifices to his goddess Ishtar.
Blood Feast's direction, acting, camerawork, screenplay and even its musical composition were all attacked by critics but future slashers like Jason Vorhees and Michael Meyers had a lot to owe to Fuad Ramses. Maybe if the director had hired Jackie Mittoo to score Blood Feast they could have guaranteed one aspect of the film would have been well received... I know I would've loved it!
I'll be back on Monday with more of the Spooktacular but unlike years before I am attempting to post something non-reggae related on the weekends as well! So cruise on by Saturday and take a look at what I come up with!
Spooktacular Track Two
Thursday, October 01, 2009
The album was originally released on Mikey Dread's Dread At The Controls label and re-released on Island and Cruise over the course of the last 20 years. It's no wonder it has been re-pressed so often because it's a fantastic dub album and one in which I never tire of listening.
This is a great dub tune and already comes complete with ear splitting screams, odd creaking noises and even the occasional goat "bleat" all while immersed in Mikey Dread's trademark far-out echo and reverb... I have only embellished Pre Dawn Dub with the prerequisite thunderstorm background effects.
Spooktacular Track One
Monday, September 28, 2009
"Haunted sounds of Jamaican music?" you may ask. Yes, just like any mainstream genre of music, Jamaican musicians and artists, ranging from calypso styled mento of the 1950's to ska to rocksteady to reggae and all of its various incarnations in between until today, are capable of recording material that explores themes and subject matters outside the stereotypical notions of what a lot of people think reggae "is about." Over the last 5 years I have researched and sought recordings in any of the aforementioned subgenres of Jamaican music that explore subjects and use titles that would be best suited for late night horror movies.
Yes, I know many will find this hard to believe but there is a dark side to this music and though it doesn't begin to compare in intensity to death metal, slasher films or any other genres that people closely associate with black eyeliner and body piercings, I believe it holds its own with the rock and roll styled Halloween novelty music everyone knows and loves.
I should probably back up a bit and let you know why I've been doing this for the past 4 years... Aside from my 20+ year obsession with Jamaican music, I love Halloween, horror movies, EC horror comics, monsters and all that scary shit that goes bump in the night and I have ever since I was a kid. I mean I grew up in the safe confines of suburban America in the late 70's and early 80's... watching the same Saturday morning cartoons while eating the same Count Chocula, listening to the same Top 40 Music and being your typical American kid.
I initially got into reggae music when I was about 15 and there was that teen stage where I tried to identify with the patchouli/hippy crowd that many associated with reggae but I just didn't fit in. Sure I had the long hair and the goatee but my love of this music went far beyond trying to look hip and working to be a part of a scene. I completely immersed myself in discovering 50 years of Jamaican music instead... all in between skateboarding, watching horror films, making horror movies about my murderous elderly neighbors, driving my 1951 Ford and getting my ass in gear to prepare for community college ... now that I think about it... maybe I should have devoted more of that time to experimenting with drugs and getting laid but that's probably something I need to discuss at length with a therapist (lol). I have very clear recollections of a long awaited box of records from RAS Records arriving on Halloween and my friend Nick and I listening to them before gearing up for whatever Halloween festivities followed that evening. I guess the long and short of it is that I don't see anything odd about the peaceful coexistence of reggae and Halloween... to me they've been that way for as long as I can remember.
So please, give the Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular a chance. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by what you hear! Keep tabs on the blog throughout the month of October and whatever you do please leave some feedback.
If you're into Halloween, like I am, you're gonna have a fun month ahead... and be sure to check out the gargantuan listing of blogs and sites that'll also be doing Halloween countdowns of their own!
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Some sad news in the reggae world... taken from the Jamaica Gleaner dated September 2nd and quoting directly from the write-up by staff writer Howard Campbell...
"Wycliffe "Steely" Johnson, half of the influential production duo Steely and Clevie, has died. The keyboardist, who was in his early 50s, passed away in a New York City hospital yesterday (Tuesday) morning.
The Gleaner has learnt that Johnson suffered heart failure around 5 a.m. yesterday and died at 10:32 a.m. at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital in Long Island, New York.
Below you'll find the tracklisting for the Steely Tribute Mix...
His medical problems began last December when he was being treated for kidney failure at the University Hospital of the West Indies. He went to New York for further medical treatment, where it was discovered he had a benign tumour on his brain the size of an orange. It was successfully removed at Brookhaven but he later contracted pneumonia.
Johnson also suffered from diabetes.
Although the Trench Town-born Johnson was best known for creating some of dancehall's biggest techno jams of the 1980s and 1990s with drummer Cleveland Browne, he started his career as a studio musician.
He worked with several producers, including Augustus Pablo, and was a founding member of the Roots Radics studio band for producer Henry 'Junjo' Lawes, owner of the Volcano label.
Johnson and Browne became an official unit during the 1980s, after playing on Bob Marley and the Wailers' Confrontation album. They were members of producer Lloyd 'King Jammys' James red-hot team that played on a flood of hit songs by Admiral Bailey, Shabba Ranks and Nitty Gritty.
While they were one of the most in-demand producers in 1990s dancehall, Steely and Clevie said one of their most cherished projects was a Studio One tribute album they recorded in 1992.
The set featured covers of 10 songs from the legendary studio. One of them, Dawn Penn's "No, No, No" became an international hit two years after the album was released by Heartbeat Records and resurrected the career of Penn, who first recorded the song at Studio One in 1969.
"The first song I played on a piano was "No, No, No." I always wanted to do the song, it's something Clevie and I premeditated for years," he said in a 2001 interview.
The following year, the duo hit it big again when their production of Sean Paul and Sasha's "I'm Still In Love With You" entered Billboard magazine's pop chart. The song was originally done in the 1960s by Alton Ellis and his sister Hortense.
Culture Minister Olivia Grange paid tribute to Johnson, saying in a statement, "Jamaica has lost another brilliant musician but we must give thanks for Steely's creativity and abundance of talent which enriched our music immeasurably.""
1. Freddie McGregor - Prophecy - The Anthology CD - VP
2. Flourgon - Bounce - King Jammy's Selectors Choice Vol. 3 CD - VP
3. Shabba Ranks - Caan Dun - Strictly The Best Vol.3 CD - VP
4. Supercat, Nicodemus & Junior Demus - Cabin Stabbing - Cabin Stabbing CD - VP
5. Foxy Brown - Fast Car - Fast Car CD - VP
6. Barrington Levy - Here I Come - Here I Come LP - Profile Records
7. Garnett Silk - Love Is The Answer - The Definitive Collection CD - Atlantic
8. Dawn Penn - No, No, No (You Don't Love Me) - Strictly The Best Vol.12 CD - VP
9. Beres Hammond - Double Trouble - Can't Stop A Man CD - VP
10. Cutty Ranks & Beres Hammond - Love Me Have Fi Get - Lethal Weapon CD - VP
11. Red Dragon - Duck Dance - King Jammy's Selectors Choice Vol. 3 CD - VP
12. Clement Irie - Live Good - Real Rock Style LP - VP
13. Captain Barkey - Do The Poco - Soundboy Clash CD - Profile Records
14. Anthony Malvo & Daddy Lizard - Take You To The Dance - Strictly The Best Vol. 1 CD - VP
15. Bionic Steve - How Dem A Go Manage - Soundboy Clash CD - Profile Records
STEELY TRIBUTE MIX
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
I'm not going to bore anyone with my details so let's get to the music...
We start it off with the King Yellowman and his classic tune "Getting Divorce" from the 1982 Junjo Lawes produced album Just Cool on the Jah Guidance label.
Next up is the man Errol Brown and the appropriately titled tune "The Attorney" lifted from the album Pleasure Dub on the classic Treasure Isle imprint... a great album with Brown doing his dub interpretations of a bunch of Treasure Isle classic instrumentals.
Taking a step over to Studio One with a song called "Big Mistake" by the Bassies from the 1987 CD on the Heartbeat label Full Up: The Best Of Studio One Volume 2.
Dr. Alimantado gives us "Marriage License" from the 1981 Greensleeves LP Sons Of Thunder... "I wish that a marriage license was just like a drivers license, that expires every two years..." truer words have never been spoken!
Barrington Levy and Lui Lepki follow up the Good Doctor with the tune "Quick Divorce/Mek You Lie" taken from a 1980 12" on the Joe Gibbs label. A wicked set of tunes that obviously inspired this mix!
The vocal trio of Ansel Cridland, Danny Clarke and Winston Watson better known as the Meditations, give us "Marriage" taken from a 2003 Makasounds CD re-release of their 1978 album Guidance which was originally pressed on the Tad's label. Another fitting discussion of the subject matter at hand... "marriage is like a trap that's set for a rat."
Jah Thomas and the Roots Radics are up with a tune called "Lawyer Dub" borrowed from the 1999 Trojan CD Jah Thomas Meets The Roots Radics Dubbing. I added some audio from the 1940's radio show Suspense which deals with divorce and honestly really had little to do with my situation it just sounded cool hidden in the mix.
Dobby Dobson gives us his interpretation of the Burt Bacharach and the Drifters' 1961 tune "Mexican Divorce" and it comes from a 1978 anthology LP on the United Artists label called Oh God, Are You Satisfied.
The Cool Ruler Gregory Isaacs is up next with the song "Mistake" and it comes from his 1980 album Showcase AKA Sly & Robbie Present Gregory Isaacs on the Taxi label... mine was from the 1988 RAS re-issue.
We wrap it up with the late South African reggae great Lucky Dube and his tune "Divorce Party" which comes from his 2003 CD The Other Side released on the Rounder label.
Enjoy... or check with your lawyer, sign here on this line and initial where specified, get three notarized copies, enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope and get it in the mail by Thursday... then if you're lucky you might be able to get down to listening!