I've been planning on doing a couple mixes to highlight two of Jamaican music's most important producers and two of my all-time favorites; Duke Reid and Leslie Kong. I have really been listening to a lot of both producers work over the last couple months and look forward to sharing my love for this music with you you. I actually did this as a coin-flip and because tails won Leslie Kong will go first.
Now I didn't do a bunch of research or compile all the hit songs into one mix, I just put some great tunes together for your listening pleasure. And... since I'm not doing a lot of research and sincerely fighting the urge to stay lazy I'll give you the Wikipedia biography...
Here's what you're gonna hear..."Leslie Kong and his brothers (Fats and Cecil) used to run a restaurant, ice cream parlor and record shop called Beverley's in Orange Street, Kingston. In 1961, he met Jimmy Cliff singing outside of his shop; this encounter led him to decide to launch his own record label, "Beverley's", and to record Cliff's first song "Dearest Beverley", thus launching his career.
In 1962, he recorded Bob Marley's first singles: "One Cup of Coffee" and "Judge Not," as well as Jimmy Cliff's hit, "Miss Jamaica". Kong, known in Jamaican music circles as "the Chinaman," quickly established himself as the island's leading producer of local popular music. Throughout the 1960s Kong kept recorded many Jamaican artists from ska to reggae through rocksteady and into reggae including Joe Higgs, Desmond Dekker, Toots & The Maytals, Derrick Morgan, John Holt and Stranger Cole. A wise businessman, Kong made from 1963 a license deal with Chris Blackwell's Island Records subdivision "Black Swan" label, then Graeme Goodall's Pyramid imprint and then with Trojan Records by the end of the 1960's.
Kong is also known for being the first Jamaican producer to get international hits with long-time collaborator Desmond Dekker, in 1967 with "007 (Shanty Town)" and above all in 1969 with "Israelites" which topped the UK Charts in April 1969 and went to number nine on the US charts in July 1969, selling over two million copies. During the early reggae period, he worked with Bob Marley again this time with his band The Wailers and enjoyed several successful hits with The Pioneers' "Long Shot Kick The Bucket," The Melodians' "Rivers of Babylon" and "Sweet Sensation". His work with The Maytals also led to many hits including "54-46 That's My Number" and UK top chart single "Monkey Man."
Throughout his career, Kong employed the best musicians in town as a session band under the name of "The Beverley's Allstars" including musical directors, Drumbago, in the ska era or Roland Alphonso during the rocksteady/early reggae times. Other artists who recorded at Beverley's include Ken Boothe, Bruce Ruffin, The Gaylads, Delroy Wilson and Peter Tosh.
Kong died of a heart attack at age 38 in August of 1971, after being allegedly 'cursed' by Bunny Livingston of The Wailers after a dispute over the release of an album entitled The Best Of The Wailers; the Wailers believed that the release of such an album was premature, saying that their best music was yet to come. Kong makes a cameo appearance in the film The Harder They Come, where he is seen overseeing a recording session with Toots & the Maytals."
1. Desmond Dekker - Pickney Gal
2. The Pioneers - Driven Back
3. Beverley's All Stars - Be Yours
4. Bruce Ruffin - Bitterness Of Life
5. Delroy Wilson - Show Me The Way
6. The Wailers - Caution
7. The Gaylads - Cold And Lonely Night
8. Ken Boothe - Keep My Love From Fading
9. The Melodians - It Took A Miracle
10. The Maytals - Peeping Tom
11. The Melodians - It's My Delight
12. Peter Tosh & The Wailers - Stop The Train
13. The Maytals - Walk With Love
14. Tyrone Evans - Let Them Say
15. Jimmy Cliff - Hard Road To Travel
16. The Pioneers - Money Day
17. The Wailers - Back Out
18. The Gaylads - Someday I Will Be Free
19. Ansel Collins - Sentimental Journey
20. Desmond Dekker - Ah It Mek
21. Delroy Wilson - Gave You My Love
22. Jimmy Cliff - Hello Sunshine
23. Ken Boothe - Now I Know
24. The Maytals - One Eyed Enos
25. The Wailers - Cheer Up