Monday, February 29, 2016
It's February 29th; Leap Day... and today's tune clearly reflects this rare day on the calendar. Dennis Walks gives us the classic Harry Mudie produced "Heart Don't Leap" from 1969. One of the baddest rhythms ever and one of the greatest tune Walks ever put to vinyl. Born Dennis Vassell, Dennis Walks first recorded for Joe Gibbs in the late 60s but hit it big with back-to-back hits "The Drifter" and "Heart Don't Leap" when he jumped over to Mudie's. Originally released in 1969 as a 7" on Moodisc in Jamaica and Bullet in the UK, it eventually found its way onto his debut album Meet Dennis Walks in 1976! I love this one!
Sunday, February 28, 2016
Starting off the 18th week with a nice one by Dave Barker called "Funky Reggae." Born David John Crooks in 1948, Dave Barker first got his start with a trio named The Two Tones who unsuccessfully recorded for Duke Reid. He went on to a brief stint with Winston Riley's Techniques before teaming up with Glen Brown to form the duo Glen and Dave. It was when he met Lee "Scratch" Perry that his career took off, hitting the charts with "Shocks Of Mighty" and "Spinning Wheel." In 1971 he got together with Ansell Collins and had a number one hit on the UK charts with the classic "Double Barrel." Today's tune "Funky Reggae" was produced by Duke Reid and originally released in 1970 on the UK Duke label. Dig it!
Saturday, February 27, 2016
Here it is... week 17 in all of its uninterrupted glory! What you're gonna hear!
1. The Revolutionaries - Goldmine
2. Cultural Roots - Every Man Has A Right
3. Alpha Blondy - Cocody Rock
4. Lucky Dube - Lovers In A Dangerous Time
5. Nasio Fontaine - Black Tuesday
6. John Brown's Body - Satisfaction Feeling
7. Blue Riddim Band - Nancy Reagan (live)
One more "International" tune for the 119th day of the 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge and it's an absolute thing of beauty... The Blue Riddim Band's "Nancy Reagan!" Years ago here on the blog I brought up the Blue Riddim Band from Kansas City and I got a ton of response... it seems there were a lot of people in the late 70s and early 80s that absolutely loved this band and were happy to hear them once again. Today's track comes from their 1984 live album Alive In Jamaica, recorded at Reggae Sunsplash in Montego Bay in 1982, and released on the Flying Fish label. It is an absolute classic tune and one that I've loved for 20+ years! A little side note... Blue Riddim's Alive In Jamaica holds the distinction of being the only reggae record I ever stole! Years ago I was a student at a local community college and was studying broadcasting and one Saturday afternoon my friend Nick and I decided that we would take advantage of the facilities and record our own DJ session... I booked Studio B for a couple hours earlier in the week and that Saturday, when the hallways surrounding the radio station were empty except for the elderly lady playing Classical music in the air studio, we covertly smuggled in a few King Jammy's versions on vinyl and set to work recording a bunch of nonsensically humorous but surprisingly smooth sounding lyrics over the Kuff riddim. While I was rewinding the reel to reel tape I got up and started perusing the dusty shelf of mostly promo records that had been sitting dormant in the studio for years and lo and behold there was Alive In Jamaica. It quickly made it into my bag and into my record collection. A year later, as CDs really took over the radio station, this shelf and any other container containing vinyl lying around the Mass Comm department were put up for sale at dirt cheap prices... so in fact, I had rescued the album from someone who probably wouldn't have appreciated this sweet slice of reggae and would have probably ended up tossing it in the garbage. Today's video is the performance that was captured on vinyl 34 years ago!
Friday, February 26, 2016
Are you pickin' up on the International theme we've had going on this week? Today we're going with something a little closer to home but still outside the realm of the usual spots one would expect to find reggae... this time we're talking Boston! John Brown's Body got together in the mid 90s and even though a lot of their music incorporates elements of ska, funk, hip-hop, etc, today's song is pure reggae and it is absolutely joyful. "Satisfaction Feeling" comes from their 2000 release This Day on the Shanachie label. Lots of horns, an upbeat message and a nice bassline; a great tune! Who would have thought a city in the northeast United States that's home to the hated Red Sox would produce such a great sounding reggae band?
Thursday, February 25, 2016
Nasio Fontaine, was born in Dominica and one of seven children. At an early age he began singing in school and the local Catholic choir and at the age of 8 made his own instrument by using a board and pieces of fishing line for strings. In 1981 he moved to the island of St. Maarten and discovered both reggae music and Rastafari. He released his first single "Born To Be Free" in 1986, which sold over 5,000 copies and became the biggest selling record in the island's history. After that he recorded a handful of albums, including an album for RAS Records and Greensleeves in the early 2000s... unfortunately Nasio has remained quiet since then but I remain hopeful that he'll reemerge with something new sometime soon because in all honesty, I'm a big fan. Today's tune "Black Tuesday" comes from his 1999 CD Revolution and it is awesome!
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Speaking of African reggae I would be remiss if I didn't mention Lucky Dube, one of the true greats of reggae, regardless of geographical location. He started recording reggae in 1984 and released a multitude of albums during his lifetime until his senseless and tragic murder in 2007. Today's track "Lovers In A Dangerous Time" was borrowed from Lucky Dube's 1993 album Victims, which I put right up there as one of the greatest albums ever.
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
While going through a stack of music looking for the next track in the 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge, I came across one of the first used albums I remember buying when I my interest in reggae started reaching beyond Bob and the Wailers... Alpha Blondy's 1984 album Cocody Rock. At the time I was unaware that Alpha Blondy hailed from Ivory Coast but I quickly learned it didn't matter where he came from and that I didn't understand many of the lyrics, the music sounded great! Which brings us to track 115, the title track from the aforementioned album, that I later discovered was recorded in Jamaica and backed by the Wailers themselves. Dig it!
Monday, February 22, 2016
Cultural Roots was one of the few vocal quartets recording during the onset of the dancehall era. With bass heavy rhythm tracks produced by Donovan Germain and later Junjo Lawes, you would have thought that the band would have flourished but popular tastes during the early 80s dictated less emphasis on culturally aware subject matter and they unfortunately didn't achieve the success they deserved. Today's track "Every Man Has A Right" was taken from their 1983 Greensleeves release Hell A Go Pop, produced by Junjo and featuring the legendary Roots Radics, is a fine example of deep roots in the dancehall age.
Sunday, February 21, 2016
Day 113 of the 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge and we're starting the 17th week with the sweet sounds of the Revolutionaries. Channel One Studio's house band, the Revolutionaries came together in 1975 and with the great Sly and Robbie on drum and bass they helped revolutionize the sound of Jamaican music; when roots reggae became rockers. Today's tune "Goldmine" is actually the title track from their LP Goldmine Dub originally released on the Greensleeves label in 1979... produced by Jah Lloyd and mixed by Prince Jammy, it's a smooth flute-driven dub version of Dennis Brown's "Money In My Pocket." Enjoy!
Saturday, February 20, 2016
Here it is... week 16 in all of its uninterrupted glory! What you're gonna hear!
1. Bunny Scott - I Never Had It So Good
2. George Faith - To Be A Lover
3. Gregory Isaacs - My Only Lover
4. Jimmy Riley - Love And Devotion
5. George Nooks - Love At First Sight
6. John Holt - A Love I Can Feel
7. Bob & Marcia - Always Together
Stepping over to Brentford Road to wrap-up the last day of "love week" and it's an all-time favorite... Bob Andy and Marcia Griffiths AKA Bob & Marcia give us "Always Together" AKA "Really Together" and it was originally recorded and released in 1970. It was re-recorded in the late 70s and again in 1991 but in my opinion none of them successfully recaptured the feel of the original... it probably has a lot to do with my affinity with anything that came out of Studio One.
Friday, February 19, 2016
John Holt's catalog of hits could easily fill multiple days in the 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge but today, in keeping with the love theme we've had going on this week, we're going with one of his best. "A Love I Can Feel" was John Holt's cover of the 1963 Temptation's Motown single "I Want A Love I Can See" and originally recorded at Studio One and released in 1970. As one would expect, since this was one of Holt's signature tunes, he re-recorded a couple more times throughout the years... today's 111th track was done in 1976 for Channel One and included on the album Up Park Camp. I have always loved this particular version because the organ and the hand drumming really adds some nice dimension to the track.
Thursday, February 18, 2016
George Nooks got started as a reggae singer in a roundabout sort of way by first performing as deejay Prince Mohammed, most notably serving as the "toaster" on the Joe Gibbs produced Dennis Brown 12" Discomixes "Money In My Pocket" and "How Could I Leave." He went on to record with a few other producers before doing his version of Little Roy's classic "Tribal War" in retaliation to the rash of political violence gripping Jamaican in 1978 and using his real name. Today's track "Love At First Sight" was first released as a 12" on the Calabash label sometime in the early 80s and it is a nice love song to add to this week of the 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge!
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Sticking with another classic reggae love song for the 109th track... Martin James Ziggy Norman Riley AKA Jimmy Riley following on the success of former classmate Slim Smith and his group The Techniques formed The Sensations with Cornell Campbell, Buster Riley and Aaron "Dego" Davis. The Sensations auditioned for Duke Reid and after having some success with "Everyday Is Just A Holiday" and "Those Guys," in the mid-60s. In 1967 Riley jumped ship and joined up with the re-formed Uniques with Smith and Lloyd Charmers and recorded the classics "Watch This Sound" and "My Conversation." When the group parted ways Jimmy Riley went solo and the rest they say is history. Today's tune "Love And Devotion" was recorded for Sly & Robbie in 1981 and originally released on their Taxi label. Dig it!
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Track 108 in the 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge... what mention of love songs would be complete without a little Cool Ruler? "My Only Lover" first appeared on Gregory's 1981 album More Gregory, produced by Sly & Robbie and backed by the Roots Radics... it's a good tune!
Monday, February 15, 2016
Even though Valentine's Day is just one day on the calendar, I think I'm gonna keep the love songs going all week... and when you're talking about reggae love songs you can never go wrong with today's selection! From 1977 and produced by the great Upsetter himself, Earl George Lawrence AKA George Faith gives us one the ultra-smooth "To Be A Lover."
Sunday, February 14, 2016
But enough mushy stuff... Bunny Scott (born William Alexander Anthony Clarke) was better known as Bunny Rugs, the lead singer of the internationally acclaimed band Third World from 1976 until his death in 2014. "I've Never Had It So Good" was recorded and produced by Lee Perry at the Black Ark Studio some time in the late 70s and released on the Warrior Records label in 1979, and once you hear that signature echoey/spacey sound with your own ears and won't have to take my word for it. Years ago Bunny Rugs was asked where he got his nickname... he explained the Bunny part was given to him as a small child by his grandmother when he used to hop around the house like a rabbit... the Rugs part was provided by a member of Third World's road crew because of his propensity for sleeping on the floor. Happy Valentine's Day!
Saturday, February 13, 2016
Here it is... week 15 in all of its uninterrupted glory! What you're gonna hear!
1. Shorty The President - Forward On To Work
2. The Congos - Solid Foundation
3. The Maytones & I-Roy - Money Worries
4. Linval Thompson - Curfew
5. Johnny Osbourne - Have A Little Mercy
6. Lone Ranger - Love Affair Problem
7. Half Pint - Winsome
Lindon Andrew Roberts AKA Half Pint started singing when he was in primary school. After graduating he started working in the music business by touring around Jamaica and performing for a heap of sound systems including Black Scorpio, Jammys, Gemini, Lee's Unlimited and Killimanjaro. His first record "Sally" was released in 1983 and became his first hit and was quickly followed up with today's track "Winsome" later that same year. Interestingly, Half Pint's "Winsome" was later covered by the Rolling Stones on their album Dirty Work three years later, even though they changed the title to "Too Rude." Originally produced by Myrie Lewis and Errol "Johne" Marshall and released as a 7" on the Sunset label and on Half Pint's debut album In Fine Style in 1984. It's a helluva tune!
Friday, February 12, 2016
Anthony Alphanso Waldron AKA Lone Ranger cut his first tunes for Coxsone Dodd and had his first hit "Love Bump" shortly after. Often regarded as one of the most lyrically inventive DJs of the late 70s and early 80s he consistently put out some great tunes and today's track, "Love Affair Problem" is one of 'em! Lifted from his 1982 album, Hi-Yo, Silver, Away!, produced by Clive Jarrett and Lone Ranger and released on the Dynamite and Greensleeves label concurrently and riding "The Girls Is Mine" riddim. I picked today's tune simply because we're getting close to Valentine's Day, the next pain-in-the-ass holiday on the calendar, and this works just right!
Thursday, February 11, 2016
Errol Osbourne AKA Johnny Osbourne got into music in the late 1960s as the lead singer for The Wildcats who recorded for Winston Riley but never released anything. His first single "All I Have Is Love," for Coxsone Dodd lead to his first album Come Back Darling in 1969. He remained active throughout the 70s, recording for Studio One, Prince Jammy and at the dawn of the dancehall era he got involved with Henry "Junjo" Lawes and Volcano... today's tune, "Have A Little Mercy" AKA "Words Of The Ghetto" was one such tune and it is a good one. Originally appearing on the Jamaican Arrival label release Yo-Yo as "Have A Little Mercy" and on the UK Greensleeves album Never Stop Fighting as "Words Of The Ghetto," simultaneously in 1982, it's a powerfully conscious tune riding a smooth Roots Radics rhythm!
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Linval Thompson is a regular Jack Of All Trades when it comes to reggae music... He started his singing career in the mid-70s when he was 20 years old and after he had recorded some excellent stuff for Lee "Scratch" Perry, Phill Pratt and Bunny Lee, he decided to try his hand at producing. His 1978 self-produced album I Love Marijuana and its dub counterpart Negrea Love Dub for Trojan Records, are absolute killers. And while he continued to sing, his productions for artists such as Cornell Campbell, Barrington Levy, Eek A Mouse, etc. during the early days of the rub-a-dub/early dancehall era, many on his own Strong Like Sampson and Thompson Koos labels, stand the test of time as absolute classics! Today's track, "Curfew," originally pressed on the aforementioned Strong Like Sampson and the Jah Guidance labels simultaneously in 1980, is in my opinion one of the baddest reggae songs ever recorded! Just the deep rolling bassline with that odd sense of danger and foreboding, it's the kind of song you listen to at high volume and watch the ensuing goosebumps; the dub version following the vocal is one that I wish would never end.
"Stick it up, stick it up and put your hands in the air Sir! Stick it up, stick it up, put your back against the wall!" So badass!
"Stick it up, stick it up and put your hands in the air Sir! Stick it up, stick it up, put your back against the wall!" So badass!
Tuesday, February 09, 2016
Vernon Buckley and Gladstone Grant named their vocal group the Maytones because they both hailed from the town of May Pen in Clarendon Jamaica. They got together in the late 1960s, recorded two rocksteady tracks for Studio One which were never released and went over to Alvin Ranglin where they had their first successes and a string of hits over the decade. Following on the rising fame of the Mighty Diamonds during the late 70s they were re-branded the Mighty Maytones but unlike the latter they never got picked up by a big name British label which was scooping up Jamaican talent en masse during the era. In 1979, the Maytones contributed today's track, "Money Worries" to the soundtrack for the film Rockers... the film was an absolute classic; a realistic snapshot of Kingston during the height of the roots era and the soundtrack became just as legendary. "Money Worries" is one of my all-time favorite tunes ever. Obviously the song deals with the fixation people have with acquiring money and how it in turn becomes the root of all evil, heartache and stress and it is a universal message that cuts through all economic, financial and international boundaries regardless of you live in Kingston Jamaica or Bel Air Maryland. Many a week goes by when the bills have been paid and I get left with an empty bank account and wallet... and while I pray that no unforeseen expenses will rear their ugly head, the Maytones play on a loop in my head. Today's track is the extended mix which includes some monetary chatting by the great DJ I-Roy.
Monday, February 08, 2016
Going with an absolute Black Ark masterpiece for the 100th track! From the 1977 album Heart Of The Congos, produced and mixed by Lee "Scratch" Perry and originally released on the Black Art label, it's "Solid Foundation" and it is an absolute killer! With vocals by the Congos, Cedric Myton and Roy "Ashanti" Johnson, a veritable whose who of musicians and that trademark spacey, verging on the psychedelic sound that made the Black Ark legendary, "Solid Foundation" is roots reggae at its finest!
Sunday, February 07, 2016
Shorty the President, born Derek Thompson in 1949, first achieved notoriety as a deejay with his interpretation of Slim Smith's "My Conversation" called "President Mash Up The Resident" in 1972 for Bunny Lee. Notably the track was featured on Yamaha Skank one of the first rhythm compilation albums, a phenomenon that is distinctive to Jamaican music and most likely bordering on the bizarre for those unfamiliar with the practice of producing multiple tunes on the same riddim tracks. Shorty the President went on to never received the acclaim or the recording deal with a major label, like a heap of his DJ counterparts during the mid to late 70s, he did continue to record and have some notable success in Africa. Today's tune, the 99th in the 365 Day Challenge, is called "Forward On To Work" and it comes from Shorty the President's 1976 album Presenting on the Cactus label. Dig it!
Saturday, February 06, 2016
Here it is! The 14th Week Mix... in all its uninterrupted glory! What you're gonna hear...
1. Cynthia Richards - Forever
2. Johnny Moore - Tribute To Sir Alex
3. The Cobbs - Space Doctor
4. Derrick Morgan - Stand By Me
5. King Horror - Ghost Hour
6. Junior Byles - I've Got A Feeling
7. Bob Marley & The Wailers - Concrete Jungle
Week 15 starts tomorrow! Stop by and give it a listen!
So much has been said and written about Bob Marley that I won't even begin to delve into the story behind the man... it is almost become common knowledge among the masses, even those who aren't really into reggae. All I have to say today, on Bob's birthday, is that the man and his music have touched my life in ways that would be even hard to explain. Bob was my gateway, as he probably was and continues to be for countless reggae fans, into this music that I love with every fiber of my being. I won't rehash the story of how Bob came into my life and what he did for me during a rough time growing up when my older brother died suddenly but the love for him runs in my blood. With that said, here's the 98th tune in the 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge, in honor of Bob Marley and my brother Barry... you two will always be synonymous in my world.
Friday, February 05, 2016
Kerrie Byles AKA Junior Byles (born July 17, 1948) got started singing in church at an early age. In 1967 he formed the vocal group The Versatiles with Dudley Earl and Ben Davis, all while juggling his day-job as a firefighter. The group was scouted by Lee "Scratch" Perry, who was working for Joe Gibbs' Amalgamated label at the time, and signed to a contract. A couple years later the Versatiles went back to Perry, as well as trying their hands with Duke Reid and Laurel Aitken, and stayed together until 1970 when Junior Byles went solo where he recorded an impressive catalog of classic tunes. Sadly in 1975, Junior Byles' health began to decline and after being admitted to Bellevue Hospital for depression and an attempted suicide, his personal life began to fall apart. He attempted to carry on and continued recording sparingly but by the mid 80s, he was homeless and living on the streets. In the early 2000s he had some success with performing in Jamaica and in the UK but hasn't been active since. Regardless, he is a true legend of Jamaican music and today's song in a perfect reflection of his skill. "I've Got A Feeling" comes from Junior Byles' 1972 album Beat Down Babylon, produced by Lee Perry and originally released on the Dynamic Sounds label and it's a good one!
Thursday, February 04, 2016
Yesterday I mentioned "Death Rides A Horse" and today I'm taking it one step farther by actually featuring one of the most beloved of all the songs I ever featured in a Halloween Spooktacular. You may be checking your calendar or wondering what the hell is going on but King Horror's "Ghost Hour" is a thing of beauty regardless of the time of year! Now while I'm not touching on the true identity of King Horror, like I seem to do every time I feature one of his songs, we're all just gonna sit back and enjoy. Originally pressed in 1970 on a white labeled 7" by Reggae/Doctor Bird records, it is a true gem in my collection and always sounds sweet to me!
Wednesday, February 03, 2016
It's not very often that a cover of a song is better than the original but my perspective is a little skewed... almost everything done in a reggae style sounds sweeter to my ears. Case in point, today's tune by the great Derrick Morgan covering "Stand By Me." "Stand By Me," originally written and performed by the great American soul and R&B singer Ben E. King in 1961 and familiar to anyone born in the last 75 years... it's a nice song, a sweet message, a timeless ode to friendship and brotherhood but I've always thought it was a little somber. In my opinion, it was always missing something and that something was a reggae beat. Produced by Bunny Lee and released in 1969 with an upbeat, chugging and somewhat introspective rhythm; Derrick Morgan's rendition gets it right! Besides Roy Richards harmonica take on the same rhythm "Death Rides A Horse," which I featured years ago in a Spooktacular, is one of my all-time favorite early reggae songs so that doesn't hurt things either. But you might not want to just take my word for it because like I stated above, my opinion is a little skewed.
Tuesday, February 02, 2016
Short and sweet today... mainly because I can't find any background information on the Cobbs except that they featured Ansel Collins on keyboard, but also because today's tune is a fine example of early/skinhead reggae that speaks for itself. "Space Doctor" was produced by Joel/Joe Gibbs and released on his Amalgamated label in 1969. Killer electric organ-driven reggae niceness that is guaranteed to get your ass up on the dancefloor!
Monday, February 01, 2016
Johnny "Dizzy" Moore knew a guy. It seemed this guy was a student at the Alpha Boys School for wayward boys and Johnny Moore wanted to get in so that he could hone his musical skills. So he began intentionally misbehaving and after a lot of hard acting-up, pranks and general premeditated mischief he got admitted. After taking up the trumpet at Alpha he went into the military for a short three year stint to play with the Jamaica Military Band before he was discharged for being "not amenable to military service." In 1964 Moore joined the Skatalites with Jackie Mittoo, Lloyd Brevett, Lloyed Knibb and Tommy McCook and a year later, when the band split, he linked-up with the Soul Vendors which were led by Roland Alphonso. He went back to the Skatalites when they reformed in 1983 and sadly died in 2008 from colon cancer. Today's tune, and the 93rd in the 365 Day Jamaican Music Challenge, is from a 1968 7" on the Pama label called "Tribute To Sir Alex." A fine example of Dizzy Moore's trumpeting ability and a song that clearly blurs the lines in Jamaican music when rocksteady evolved into reggae.