Friday, December 22, 2006

A New Reggae Take On A Carpenters Classic...

I know I'm supposed to be on hiatus but I couldn't pass up sharing this with everyone! I was wandering around the web today looking for some Christmas mash-ups to round-out a wacky/varied genre Christmas mix I'd been working on when I came across the website of Mark Vidler. To be honest, I'd never heard of him until today but after giving this a listen I can honestly say I love the work he's doing! You have got to click-on or download this track - "Carpenters Christmas (Karen Meets Roots Radics Uptown)!" I never thought I'd live to see the day when Karen Carpenter was ridin' the "Love In The House" riddim! This one will definitely be making it into next year's mix. Merry Christmas all!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

As Promised... The Complete Distinctly Jamaican Sounds Christmas Mix

Here it is in its entirety for your Yuletide listening pleasure!

1. Carlene Davis – Santa Claus (Do You Ever Come To The Ghetto)
2. King Stitt – Christmas Tree
3. Johnny Osbourne – Christmas Stylee
4. The Joe Gibbs Family – We Three Kings
5. Gregory Isaacs – Christmas Behind The Bars
6. Yellowman – Where Is Santa Claus?
7. Eek A Mouse – Christmas A Come
8. Cocoa Tea - Christmas Is Coming
9. The Aggrovators – Santa Claus Dub
10. Ras Pidow – Winter Storm
11. The Wailers – White Christmas
12. Toots & The Maytals – Christmas Feeling Ska
13. Alton Ellis & The Lipsticks – Merry Merry Christmas
14. Jacob Miller – On The Twelve Days Of Ismas
15. Trinity – Video Christmas
16. Eek A Mouse – The Night Before Christmas
17. Michael Palmer – Happy Merry Christmas
18. The Granville Williams Orchestra – Santa Claus Is Ska-Ing To Town
19. Tiger – Tiger Claus
20. Freddie McGregor – O Come Let Us Adore Him
21. Dillinger – Hi Fashion Christmas
22. Jacob Miller – Deck The Halls
23. Trinity – All I Want For Christmas
24. The Ethiopians – Ding Dong Bell
25. Rico And His Boys – Silent Night

Friday, December 15, 2006

So Long For Now....

I'm glad everyone is enjoying the mix but... sadly I'm going to take this space to announce that I am taking some time away from Distinctly Jamaican Sounds. I initially started this blog in an effort to share my love of Jamaican music and I hoped that it would be a welcome place on the net for those who wanted to give this beloved and diverse music a listen. It's been a lot of work but I've enjoyed researching, writing and posting music for all to share over the last year and 2 months but it's starting to feel more like a job than something I enjoy doing. I don't mean to be a bummer at this festive time of year but in all honesty, I'm tired of not receiving feedback for my efforts. I appreciate all those who leave comments on a regular basis - you've kept me going throughout my time here but unfortunately this Christmas mix, that so many have taken the time to download, was the straw that broke the camel's back. I spent countless hours perfecting this holiday mix and posted it free of charge to spread a little Christmas good will and all I expected in return were comments - whether positive or negative - I just wanted people to tell me what they thought.

Obviously this blog is just another stop in the endless chain of free music downloads. What people forget is that MP3 blogs such as these aren't done my faceless corporations or record companies, they're done by actual people who have an appreciation for genres of music that stray beyond the mainstream only want to share their passion with others. If you get no reponse from your perceived "audience" it makes your life a lot easier just to keep the music and information to yourself.

It's been fun but now I definitely feel like a radio station whose signal never penetrates the studio walls - is anyone out there listening?

Again I apologize for being such a downer but it's been eating at me for a couple months now and I just needed to get it out in the open. Hopefully this time off will clear my mind and restore the pleasure I used to derive from posting here.

Merry Christmas And Happy New Year To All!

John AKA Reggaexx

Monday, December 11, 2006

Jamaican Christmas Mix - Part 3

Yes Ladies and Gentlemen, it has come down to this. Here is the third and final chapter in the 2006 Distinctly Jamaican Sounds Jamaican Christmas Mix. So without further fanfare let's get to what you're about to hear!

Starting off we've got Michael Palmer with the song "Happy Merry Christmas" from the 1985 Greensleeves 12" which also included the Yellowman track heard earlier in the mix. A nice selection with production courtesy of Linval Thompson and a riddim which some may be familiar with whose name escapes me right now.

The mix then takes a decidedly ska turn with the Granville Williams Orchestra doing their interpretation of the holiday classic "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town." Their version is called "Santa Claus Is Ska-Ing To Town" and it comes from the Trojan Christmas boxset. A wicked tune!!

Next we take a complete 180 with gruff voiced DJ Tiger and his song called "Tiger Claus" taken from the 1994 album on Profile Records called appropriately "Reggae Christmas." This is without a doubt the best track on the record and the newest track you'll hear in the mix.

Freddie McGregor takes the mic next and delivers a nice rendition of a Christmas Carol we all know. "O Come All Ye Faithful" is the fourth track and it's definitely a nice change of pace hearing it on a reggae riddim. This track appears on the RAS Records Christmas Album and it's one that I can listen to repeatedly during the season. Freddie has got such a sweet voice that the song just sounds very genuine and not something that was thrown together to get RAS's cash registers ringing.

Dillinger, The Brentford Harmonics and Coxsone Dodd take the next track called "Hi Fashion Christmas." This one is on the crucial Reggae Christmas From Studio One CD on the Heartbeat label. The songs is actually a medley of Christmas favorites performed by the Harmonics while Dillinger does his thing riding the riddim. Another favorite of mine!

I couldn't let this mix go with only one Jacob Miller track from "Natty Christmas" so up next is "Deck The Halls." But instead of "boughs of holly" Jacob is wishing for "lots of collie," which isn't necessarily bad if you dig that sorta thing!

From the album called "Yard Style Christmas" is another fun one by DJ Trinity. This one is called "All I Want For Christmas," and like Jacob he's gone beyond the traditional. Instead of his "two front teeth" our man Trinity is asking for a lover and some money to name a couple. This is a nice one and I think you'll like it!

The eighth track in our final chapter is from the Ethiopians and it's called "Ding Dong Bell," A superb rocksteady track that not only works well at this time of the year but remains pretty listenable year-round. In my opinion this is one of the best Jamaican Christmas tunes ever recorded because it gives you a distinctively Jamaican feel while relaying a worldwide sentiment that everyone can identify with.

Finally we've reached the end... the ninth track in this mix and the 25th in total if you but all three mixes back together is courtesy of Rico Rodriquez and His Boys taken from a 7" on the Fab label out of England. A nice mellow way to finish it all up.

Now that you've read all that below is the link...but before you go I want to wish everyone who's been following along over the last 3 weeks a Merry Christmas and more importantly a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. Be cool everyone see you again sometime.

Download Jamaican Christmas Mix Part 3

I'll be posting the complete unchopped mix the week of Christmas for those who might have happened across the mix late and at the last minute don't have time to download the individual chapters before packing the family up in the one horse open sleigh... or probably more accurately piling into the car and getting ready to do battle for last minute gifts at the local mall. Oh before I forget... the Distinctly Jamaican Sounds Christmas Mix makes a great Christmas gift for all those on your list! Grandma will love it!!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Jamaican Christmas Mix - Part 2

After much consideration I've decided to put a rush on the Jamaican Christmas Mix. Originally I was going to space it out so that the last part would be available right before Christmas Day but I discovered by chance that the mix goes great while doing online shopping and probably while going through the tedious chore of wrapping those purchases when they arrive in the 6-8 business day period that said online merchant specified. If I hold back until Christmas day a lot of those who downloaded the mix will not have time to enjoy it so here is the second part! Part 3 will be up next Monday!

Starting off part 2 are the Aggrovators with the dub version of Johnny Clarke's "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," a wicked track simply called "Santa Dub" from the Trojan Christmas boxset.

Now, the next track follows in a similar vein as "Let It Snow" and "Winter Wonderland," songs that don't necessarily mention Christmas outright but have become lumped in with the traditional Holiday tunes; songs about winter itself. This one is by the late Rastafarian Elder, turned solo artist/dub poet in the mid 90's, Ras Pidow and appeared on his album Modern Antique. The song is called "Winter Storm" and recounts how he left Jamaica when he was in his 60's and witnessed his first snow fall, something he had only read about. It's really a great song and to experience this weather occurrence, that many of us may be all too familiar with, through his eyes really gives it a unique perspective. The riddim should also be familiar to those who know Bob Marley.

Speaking of Bob Marley, the next track is "White Christmas" courtesy of The Wailers (Bob, Bunny & Peter) from the CD called Christmas Greetings From Studio One. Done more in the doo-wop style of the Drifters 1954 rendition than the traditional Bing Crosby version I think you'll dig it!

The fourth track is a little upbeat number called "Christmas Feeling Ska" from Toots & The Maytals and like the previous Wailers' song also borrowed from the Christmas Greetings From Studio One CD.

Alton Ellis is up next with "Merry Merry Christmas" a Christmas track from 1972 which is available on the aforementioned Trojan Christmas boxset.

Jacob Miller follows Alton with a wicked Christmas song called "On the Twelve Days Of Ismas" from his spectacular set called "Natty Christmas." Some serious messages inna lighthearted rockers style! If you own one reggae Christmas album this would be a good choice!

For the next track I need to send out a massive thank you to CaptainOT over at A Christmas Yuleblog who hooked me up with this tune. DJ Trinity's "Video Christmas" which originally appeared as a 7" on the Thunder Bolt label some time in the 80's. Thanks again Capt'n!!!

The final track in this part of the mix is from Eek A Mouse and originally appeared on the 1988 RAS Records A Reggae Christmas album. The song is "The Night Before Christmas" and is Hylton's take on the poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas" which was originally published in 1823 and later became known as "The Night Before Christmas." It's a little wacky but what would you expect anything less from Eek A Mouse, especially during this period in his career.


Wha' No Comments?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Jamaican Christmas Mix - Part 1

Whew! After a couple weeks of work I've finally completed the Distinctly Jamaican Sounds Christmas Mix! 25 tracks in all and a running time of close to an hour and a half I think it'll provide a nice sampling of decent Jamaican Christmas music to get you in the holiday spirit! I stand by what I said last year that Holiday music from JA tends to be on the cheesy side but I tried my best to avoid going there with this offering. So without further ado, here we go... Part 1 of the Distinctly Jamaican Sounds Christmas Mix!

I've split the entire mix into 3 separate chunks of 8 songs (the last has got 9 as an added bonus!) and once assembled back together either on your Ipod or MP3 player, I haven't been able to figure out how to fit it on a CDR yet, it'll create a continuous Christmas mix inna JA Style

Starting off the mix is Carlene Davis with the wicked track "Santa Claus (Do You Ever Come To The Ghetto)" from the CD Yard Style Christmas. Next is DJ originator King Stitt with a song called "Christmas Tree" from the essential Trojan Christmas boxset. Third up is Johnny Osbourne with "Christmas Stylee" from the Reggae Christmas From Studio One CD. The fourth song is a group of artists from Joe Gibbs' stable and the song "We Three Kings", which is one of only a couple traditional Christmas songs in the mix, from the CD called Reggae Christmas - Two In One. Gregory Isaacs follows that one with a sad track "Christmas Behind The Bars" from his non-Christmas album called Mek Me Prosper. Yellowman follows that one and no... it's not from his repulsive "A Very Yellow Christmas" album. This one is an awesome Junjo Lawes produced track called "Where Is Santa Claus?" and appeared as a Greensleeves 12" in 1985 credited to "Mr & Mrs. Yellowman." Eek A Mouse continues the mix with a Linval Thompson production called "Christmas A Come" taken from another Greensleeves 12" from 1981. Wrapping up the first part of the mix is another Junjo production courtesy of the man Cocoa Tea and taken from his album Rocking Dolly. The song is called "Christmas Is Coming" on one of my all-time favorite riddims! So grab a cup of egg nog and give it a listen!

Download Jamaican Christmas Mix Part 1

Please, please, please... leave a comment! I'm dying to know what you think thus far!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Christmas Is A Comin'... And So Is The Christmas Mix

With tomorrow being Thanksgiving here in the states the holiday season is creeping up on us quickly! For now I just wanted to share my intentions for the Christmas mix that I've had in the works for a week now... there is absolutely no way in the world that I'm going to try and recreate the Halloween effort by posting individual tracks on a daily basis. Instead I'm going to hack the mix into a few chunks and share them on a weekly basis. This way you'll get a few songs at a time to enjoy instead of individual tracks and once they're pieced together you'll have a complete Jamaican Christmas mix.

Happy Thanksgiving... stay tuned.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Little Off Topic... Saturday Night Live Skit

Take a look at this Eddie Murphy skit which aired on Saturday Night Live circa 1982. I have mixed emotions about this one. On one hand I can appreciate parody and I do find this clip extremely funny but on the otherhand I find it pretty offensive. No, the kill the white people lyrics don't offend as much as the negative image of Rasta and reggae musicians it presented.

This is one of those Saturday Night Live skits that I remember seeing as a child and to see it 20+ years later was pretty wild. Unfortunately the song is so catchy I haven't been able to get it out of my head since I watched it this afternoon. :-)

What do you think?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Politricks 2006 Mix

Tomorrow is election day and here's the little mix of reggae tunes I compiled to put you in a voting kinda mood. I'll keep my political leanings and hearfelt belief that politicians are generally corrupt regardless of which party they represent to a minimum and just tell you what you're going to hear... First off, we're going to go a little more modern that I've been known to do with this blog and start the mix off with Buju Banton's song "Politics Time" from 1996. Next we've got a superb political song from Johnny Osbourne called "Politician" taken from his album called Warrior. Third we've got a relatively light-hearted take on voting from Clint Eastwood and General Saint and the song is called "Vote For Me" which appeared on their 1986 Greensleeves LP Stop That Train. Next is a great song from Leonard Dillon and The Ethiopians called "Misleaders" from the 1999 CD Tougher Than Stone. The fifth song is from the man Lovindeer. The song which originally appeared on his album Government Boops and talks about empty campaign promises in a light-hearted manner is called "Political Boops." Barry Brown follows that one up with a wicked tracks called "Politician" from his Best Of album. The second to last track is also called "Politician" from the Big Belly Man himself Admiral Bailey coming from a 12" on the Jammy's label, which I was finally able to track down after about 10 years of fruitless searching. I bought this various artists CD that contained the track and was sent the wrong damn CD and when I tried to return it for the proper album was informed that it was no longer available. Ending up the mix we've got Bob Marley & The Wailers with the song "Slogans" which often seems to be the only thing politicians are good at supplying.

I hope you like the mix. I hope you'll also see the correlation between these Jamaican political songs and all the corrupt slimeball politicians around the globe. We're all in the same boat!

If you're in the United States be sure to cast your ballot tomorrow! Hopefully you'll be able to elect a decent person who has got the public's best interest in mind and not someone who's only interested in lining their pockets or using their new position as a stepping stone for future nominations, further power, benefits and all the cyber or real sex with young interns and pages they can manage.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Coming Up... Election Day Politricks Mix

Next Tuesday November 7th is Midterm Election Day here in the United States, as many are probably well aware, so in honor of this day I've started piecing together a mix. Now it's not going to be as involved as the Halloween mix (I just can't seem to find too many Election Day sound effects albums) and no where near as long - It's looking to be about 30-35 minutes and will be available for download next week.

Now if you're a regular reader you know I've never used this blog to espouse my political views and assuredly you never will... I detest politics and I'm completely disinterested in anything political so don't worry, you're not seeing the makings of Reggaexx's new and improved Democracy In Action Blog! I've been so disgusted with the situations both down in Washington and with the inner-workings in my home state of Maryland that I've turned off completely! But that is another story for another blog... since a lot of Jamaican music, especially reggae, deals with matters of political interest I thought this would be a perfect time to pull out a few songs to share with everyone. Of course the themes and issues explored within these songs are directly referencing concerns in Jamaican society but as is the case with most Jamaican music, there is a relevance and familiarity which transcends geographical boundaries.

So far the mix includes such diverse artists as Buju Banton, The Ethiopians, Admiral Bailey, Barry Brown, Johnny Osbourne, Lovindeer etc. and I think it'll put you in the mood to stand in line at the polls. Better yet, I hope it'll give you inspiration when you cast your ballot for which ever slimy, corrupt, hypocritical, thieving candidates you've perceived to be the lesser of the two evils. Check back next week!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween Wrap-Up

Thanks to all who downloaded the Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular and who posted positive comments, I appreciate all the interest and I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to share this music. Jamaican music, whether it is mento, ska, rocksteady or reggae, is a lot more diverse than people usually give it credit for and I hope I gave those with little exposure to the island's music a well-rounded sampling of the different subgenres while following the fun spooky theme!

Again, thanks for your interest and I'll be back soon with more music from the beloved island in the Caribbean, minus the Halloween theme, and I hope those who came along for this little adventure in October will stick around a while and give it a listen on a regular basis.

Blessings to all!
John AKA Reggaexx

Friday, October 27, 2006

Halloween Mix Part 21 - The Duppy Conqueror

The time of reckoning has come…don’t try to run, there is no escape! We have reached the end of the line my friends! Prepare to feast your ears on the final ghastly and grotesque chapter in this month long morbid spook show! A song that is so evil and macabre you’ll wonder how and if you’ll ever live to see the dawn! Yes, it’s been a gruesome month in the Crypt of Jamaican Sounds and it all ends right here on this spot… in bloodcurdling mindbending digital aural clarity!! The frantic screams you are about to hear will be your own!!!!

Okay… that’s enough – I had to get that Crypt Keeper spiel out of my system! I should have saved that huge introduction for after I announced the last track... hopefully no one will be disappointed. The final track is "Duppy Conqueror" by the Wailers, produced by "Scratch" Perry and released on his Upsetter label in 1970. Most people are probably familiar with this song so I won’t go into much detail but for those who are new to reggae or just stopping by to get a taste of Jamaica this Halloween, a duppy is a ghost. I happened across a great page on the The National Library of Jamaica's website that features nice little definitions/explanations of a few of the better-known supernatural Jamaican myths and folklore. That is where I borrowed the image of the duppy from. Originally it appeared in a book called "Jamaica Superstitions; or the Obeah Book" from 1894.

I'm quite happy with how the final track turned out... I added a snippet from Orson Welles, of all people, and his closing comments from his 1938 radio broadcast of War Of The Worlds. I've listened to that broadcast once every October for as long as I can remember and I'm a big fan so I figured I'd combine the two. Orson never sounded so tight on such a great riddim. Enjoy!

Comments on the complete mix are welcome and highly anticipated!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Halloween Mix Part 20 - Leo Graham's Voodooism

Leo Graham was originally a member of the harmony trio the Bleechers. The Bleechers cut a bunch of tracks for Lee Perry in the late 60’s and early 70’s and scored big with their hit song "Check Him Out" which happens to appear on numerous Scratch production compilations. "Check Him Out" served as a singing advertisement complete with directions, to a shop that Perry owned on Charles Street in Kingston. When the band split up Leo Graham remained with Perry at the Black Ark as a solo singer and continued to record with some minor success. Graham allegedly left the music business altogether at the dawn of the dancehall era in the early 80’s and hasn’t recorded since.

The next track in the Halloween Spooktacular is coming from the man Leo Graham and it's called "Voodooism" which was originally released as a 7" on the Black Art label in 1974. I’m sure you’ll agree that with the strong lyrics and the trademark Lee Perry sound this makes for an absolutely wicked track! I of course would kill to own any original Jamaican Upsetter vinyl but finances being what they are I’ve learned to just be satisfied when they’re eventually released on CD. This is the title track from a fantastic Scratch compilation on the Pressure Sounds label that I recommend highly!

Here it is… we’re only one away from the completed mix! To be honest with you I’m actually getting a little sad now that October is drawing to a close. Maybe I’ll just continue the Halloween mixes all year long and post a spooky song every day! I’m kidding!! This has been a lot of fun but it has also been as rough as holding down a second job. After Halloween I think I’m going to take some time off! See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Halloween Mix Part 19 - It's No Hole... It's Your Grave!

I’ve never been a fan of watered down reggae. You know what I mean, that silky smooth, poppy, generic sounding crap that comes from big label productions? I often point my finger at these over-produced monstrosities as the main reason reggae doesn't get the respect it deserves from mainstream audiences. I also believe that a lot of the reggae released by non-Jamaican musicians sounds so stereotypically reggae that it scares away potential new fans and bores away seasoned listeners. Sadly, the majority of stuff that is released by bands in the United States meets either one or both of those criteria. I had just about given up hope of finding an American reggae band I could really like until this summer. At a used CD store I’ve been know to frequent I happened across a CD in the reggae section by a group called the Aggrolites, the album was appropriately titled "The Aggrolites." At first I was reluctant to give it a try when I saw that it was released by the American based Epitaph label but because there was nothing else worthwhile to sample I walked it over to the listening station, donned the headphones, popped it in the player and hit play being prepared to lunge for the eject button as soon as I heard that trademark horrid Americanized rhythm… but it never came! So to make a long story short, it was the only CD I bought that day! Okay now we’re gonna get back on topic with the Halloween music… and we will momentarily.

The Aggrolites are based in Southern California and the musicians all got their start playing in the punk, hardcore and ska scene. But don’t worry you wouldn’t know it… (not that there's anything wrong with these genres of music!) the sound is definitely authentic sounding late 60’s "skinhead" reggae and I highly recommend this CD to anyone who is a fan of that era. I read on the Epitaph website that the group’s name was a combination of Jamaican names; The Aggrovators and The Crystalites. I also learned that the band has played with Derrick Morgan and Prince Buster. Buster even remarked after their performance at 2003’s Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, "It reminded me of the old days, I can’t believe this young band from America could play my music just as good as the day it was recorded." That’s a hell of a compliment!

As you can imagine, after that tremendous build-up. the next song in the Halloween mix is courtesy of the Aggrolites. The song is called "Grave Digger" and the graveside dialogue at the top of the song (after Alfred Hitchcock’s introduction) was taken directly from the CD… I only embellished it with the background cemetery sounds, the actual digging which is heard in and out throughout the song and the little snippet about being buried alive from a classic 70's era horror record called "Sounds Of Terror." I think you’ll dig it… Muwuhahahahahahaha!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Halloween Mix Part 18 - Frankenstein

Frankenstein, the story of the mad scientist that brought life to an inanimate monster of his own design, is probably the most recognizable movie monster that the world has ever known. The monster which Boris Karloff originally played in the 1931 James Whale classic is so iconographic that 70 plus years later the flat head, stitches and neck bolts are etched in our collective minds and still remain a popular Halloween costume for children whose great grandparents are probably too young to remember the original movie and obviously still too small to be allowed to even watch it on video. I know from experience because my 3-year-old son has been obsessing with Frankenstein for over a month and half now… I guess I only have myself to blame because I drew that cartoonish crayon representation of the famous creepy guy in a haunted house coloring book. Now when we’re in the car I have to recount the story of Frankenstein at least once a day and in order to keep the gory details at a minimum and make the story appropriate for him I’ve concocted a short G-rated explanation that seems to satisfy his curiosity. Of course he also wanted to dress up as Frank for trick or treating but after my mom went through all the trouble to make him a scarecrow costume so that he could go out with his cousins and little sister as the four main characters in the Wizard Of Oz it’s out of the question. My daughter is going as the Lion and I’ve reassured my son that next year he can go as Frankenstein.

Coming up next is the third and final track from Lone Ranger… at least for this Halloween. The track is “Frankinstine” on the Operation Radication riddim and like “Annie Palmer” and “Barnabas Collins” come from his album “Barnabas In Collins Wood.” I dedicate this one to my son and all the little Frankenstein’s that’ll be out roaming for treats next Tuesday. You’re keeping a Halloween institution alive and your parents should be very proud! I know I am!

Part 18 Download

This one is back at Rapidshare... unfortunately it looks like Savefile has gone all crazy now!

And by request I've uploaded parts 16 & 17 on Rapidshare for those who didn't get a chance to catch them on Savefile before it went down...
Parts 16 & 17

Monday, October 23, 2006

Halloween Mix Part 17 - 10 Till 12... The Bewitching Hour

Keeping it short today because time is limited... Lee Perry and the Upsetters released the album Return of Django on Trojan Records in 1969. It is in my opinion, one of the best early reggae albums that I have in my collection. One good track after another and this track in particular "Ten Till Twelve" tends to go well with the Halloween theme.

I've added the ususal creepy noises and it does serve as a good introduction to this final week of spooky music... the countdown has begun! Only 4 more tracks to go my friends... be sure to collect them all! Again Rapidshare is being nutty so this track is also available from Savefile!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Halloween Mix Part 16 - Bobby Aitken And The Rocksteady Vampire

Sticking with the "undead" theme we’ve got going this week I proudly present the next track in our little Halloween project. The next tune is by Bobby Aitken and comes from a great various artists rocksteady compilation called "Bobby Aitken Presents Rock Steady Original And Red Hot 1966/67." Bobby of course was the brother of the late Laurel Aitken and was originally the leader of a group called the Carib Beats.

This track doesn’t specifically touch on supernatural spookiness per se… it actually deals with a love gone wrong and the vampire reference is used to personify an unfaithful woman who roams the street instead of staying home with her mate. It’s a great song and I’m sure you’ll agree that it fits right in with what we’ve been hearing this month.

Next week we’re gonna wrap up the mix with five more songs to put you in a Jamaican Halloween kinda mood. It’s amazing how fast this month has been flying by! Have a great weekend!

Part 16 Download

Rapidshare is saying that all of its drives are full right now so the hell with 'em, this link is through Savefile - hopefully it works without a problem!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Halloween Mix Part 15 - Peter Tosh Encounters Dracula!

As Hollywood has done numerous times with Dracula… we’ll just think of today’s offering as a sequel! But this version of "Dracula" may go a little deeper than the simple title suggests. Peter Tosh was an outspoken critic of Jamaican politicians and policies and he suffered attacks at the hand of police and other assailants on numerous occasions after speaking his mind. And though these physical attacks resulted in stitches and broken bones they were mild compared to the war Tosh was waging against inconceivable supernatural evils that others couldn’t fathom.

I’m quoting from Roger Steffens 1986 interview/article "Rebel With A Cause" which is available in its entirety here. The second quote is an extremely concise article about Tosh that appears here at The Talking Drum.

"In the middle of the night, before daylight, I was attacked by evil forces, seen? Spiritual evil forces that cause my mouth to cease from function, cause my hands and legs to cease from moving. Is only my mind that was in function, and my two eyes. As close as four of my friends was to me, which was about 12 inches away, I could not tell a man nothing, or ask a man to do anything to help me; and I was on the brink of what you call "death." Seen? started with these three man here. Seen? Coming from the hospital I saw ghosts, three ghosts."

(Peter was taken to the hospital after an incident with a drunken man who attacked him with a bar stool left his hand severely lacerated. That night something very strange occurred.)

"…Is what they call duppies. Ghosts. 'Cause I can see them. Seen? I saw three of them. And I was the only person out of about 400 that saw them. And they become terrified because they don't like to know that people are, you know, interfering in their business. Seen?"

"The vampires which had been haunting Peter throughout his life finally caught up with him (when he was killed in his home on September 11th, 1987 by three intruders who supposedly were looking to rob him). In one interview he gave the year that he died he had this to say: "Vampires don't come out and bite your neck anymore. They cause...something destructive to happen that blood will spill and those invisible vampires will get their meals."

Pretty eerie stuff, but back to the music… Originally released in 1977 on Tosh’s own Intel-Diplo label, Dracula was the B-side version to the track appropriately called "Vampire." This song really hit me in 1992 when I first saw Nicholas Campbell's excellent Peter Tosh documentary
Stepping Razor: Red X. I’d heard the song before but when it was put in context with the shadowy images and ghostly whisper of Tosh’s own voice, taken from autobiographical mini-cassettes Tosh was recording around the time he was murdered, it gave me the creeps! To this day when I hear that wolf howl and that little drum roll just before the wicked bass line kicks in I get shivers up my spine. Not to mention that bloodcurdling moan/laugh provided by Bunny Wailer which if listened to at high volume will not only rattle the pictures off the walls but definitely put your nerves on edge.

Part 15 Download

Again... Comments are always welcome and appreciated.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Halloween Mix Part 14 - Dracula By The Vulcans

Run for your lives, part 14 is upon us!! This is the first of two days of ghastly encounters with the menacing Count Dracula. The character that emanated from Irish author Bram Stoker's pen in 1897 has become such a part of our collective psyche that it's nearly impossible to imagine classic literature and in some respects life itself without his creepy influence. Without recounting the seemingly endless retelling of the original story in 100's of motion pictures, books and comics, Dracula is in more places than you probably realize! Without his influence, would the lavender toned Count Von Count teach kiddies to count on Sesame Street? Absolutely not! Would breakfast be the same without Count Chocula and his hypnotic eyes entrancing us from the back of the cereal box, enticing us to sample of the taboo chocolaty goodness within? No! Would reggae fans be able to live without the Vulcans "Dracula" taken from their album "Star Trek"? Well... probably. But this Dracula goes well in the mix and remains just wacky enough to set itself apart from a lot of the other tracks.

I discovered some interesting information about The Vulcans when researching this track. The Vulcans weren't an actual band but the name given to a group of studio musicians, headed by keyboarder Ken Elliott, by the Trojan Records production team. You see, Trojan wanted to capitalize on the easy listening craze which took hold in Britain during the early 70s, by creating music which featured Moog, Arp and other assorted analog synthesizers over strong reggae rhythms. An interesting concept and one that fits this season pretty well. Enjoy! More Dracula tomorrow!

Part 14 Download

Comments are always welcome and appreciated!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Halloween Mix Part 13 - Night Of The Living Dead!!

Short and sweet today... Most of us are probably familiar with the classic/influential George Romero film, shot on a miniscule budget and released to horrified audiences in 1968 but... Are you prepared to witness the sadistic nightmarish terror when Scientist meets the Night Of The Living Dead inna combination style?

Inspired by one of the tracks that Jason over at Scar Stuff did for one of his masterful Halloween mixes... from the Scientist album "Rids the World Of The Evil Curse Of The Vampire" and featuring a few of the news reports that appeared in the film... I present "Night Of The Living Dead!"

If you're into Halloween music and sound effects pay Jason's site a visit... you'll be blown away!

We're going to get in a undead mood for the next two songs so be prepared for some bone chilling Dracula vibes straight from the blood soaked Crypt Of Jamaican Sounds... tomorrow. It's odd, the closer we get to Halloween the more I'm willing to start speaking like an announcer on one of those b-movie trailers. :-)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Halloween Mix Part 12 - Yellowman Versus The Evil Barnabas Collins

And now... the exciting conclusion as Winston "Yellowman" Foster battles the sinister Barnabas Collins in a struggle of near biblical proportions. Will good triumph over evil or will the undead challenger vanquish the DJ superstar? Stay tuned and hear!

Here it is... "Me Kill Barnie" or sometimes called "Death Of Barnabas" by King Yellowman. It was with this song that Yellowman grabbed the attention of fans in Jamaica and which helped him win the Tastee Talent Contest in Kingston, as the legend goes. It really was nothing more than a response to Lone Ranger's hit but it is so witty it's almost as good as the original... almost.

I've added a few effects to a couple "fight scenes" and they have been cracking me up at how well they go with the tune. I think stuck up against Barnabas these make a nice mix in themselves and the "I, Barnabas" sample at the end ties them up together nicely. I'd have to say, I was really pleased at how the Lone Ranger and Yellowman cuts went together and I hope you agree. Oh, the photo is obviously the cover from the Marvel comic "The Tomb Of Dracula" - I originally wanted to find a real photo of Abraham Van Helsing, portrayed by Christopher Lee, staking Dracula and wanted to Photoshop Yellowman's head on his body but my Photoshop skills are lacking and after about 5 hours of trying to get it right I said the hell with it!! Maybe next year!

Of note - We've got nine more tracks to go and I'm planning on wrapping them up by next week - just in time to have your entire "Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular" slapped together a couple days before Halloween!!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Halloween Mix Part 11 - Lone Ranger's Barnabas Collins

Barnabas Collins was America's favorite TV bloodsucker from 1966 until 1971, when Dark Shadows aired daily on ABC. Interestingly enough the soap opera began lacking in any supernatural content but when a ghost was written into an episode and proved to be popular the show's producer encouraged the writers to add more spookiness. As the story went, one of the characters was sent into the Collins' crypt in search of treasure and inadvertently unleashed the sleeping Barnabas into the modern world. Anyway, Barnabas discovers his reincarnated long lost love and spends the next four seasons lusting after her, professing his love, traveling back in time and all of the other usual crazy stuff that happens on a daily basis on daytime television.

Now I can't find any definitive written information about Dark Shadows in Jamaica but I "interviewed" my Jamaican friend Ingrid at work and she recalled that Dark Shadows used to air on the JBC late at night throughout the 70's. During this period JBC was the only television station on the island and a lot of their daily airtime was filled with older British and American programs and Ingrid remembered that before the station signed off on Saturday evenings they'd air two episodes of Dark Shadows. Thankfully that information helps explain why this "bizarre" American soap opera became public knowledge in Jamaica.

Anthony Waldron AKA Lone Ranger must have been a real TV fan... firstly because he took his stage name from the legendary Masked Man of black and white television fame and secondly because the song you're going to hear today pays hommage to ol' Barnabas. Regardless, this is probably one of my all-time favorite "rub-a-dub" tunes, bar none! This tune was recorded in 1979 by Alvin "GG" Ranglin and released in Jamaica on the GG label and internationally on Island records where it flew to the top of the reggae charts like a bloodthirsty vampire bat stuck in your hair. With a line like, "Barnie chew your neck like Wrigley's," I'd have been surprised if it hadn't?

Here is part 11 in our mix... complete with spoken word introduction courtesy of Jonathon Frid, who played Barnabas on the show, and borrowed from the track "I, Barnabas" on the Dark Shadow Soundtrack album which was released in 1969 and actually made it into the top 20 of the Billboard album chart. The usual creepy sounds and noises round the track out.

Now I'm leaving you with a real cliffhanger... tune in Monday to hear the exciting conclusion, when Yellowman kills Barnabas in cold blood right in front of your very ears! Now all I need to do is cue the cheesy soap opera organ!!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Halloween Mix Part 10 - The Flames "Scare Him"

Short and sweet today! I know this song is called "Scare Him" but when I think of being scared the shower scene from Psycho immediately comes to mind. In my opinion this single frame of film exemplifies what it means to be scared!

Anyway, up next in the mix is the song "Scare Him" courtesy of The Flames (yet another group who I can't find any information about and not to be confused with Winston Jarrett And The Righteous Flames) and it appeared on the Coxsone Dodd produced LP "Boss Reggae" which was released on the Pama label in 1969. This is a great early reggae track and its uptempo tempo helps to lighten the mood a bit after you've escaped from hell!

Now that we're half way through this experiment I need to warn you... you've got to keep up with all parts of this mix or once we're done the finished product is really gonna be outta whack! :-)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Halloween Mix Part 9 - Tappa Zukie & The Revolutionaries Escape From Hell!!!

Time is tight today so I've got to be quick... Tappa Zukie produced the dub album "Escape From Hell" with Sly & Robbie and the Revolutionaries in 1977 and released it on his own Stars label. This is the title track from said LP... I just added the sounds of hell - lots of screaming, flames, rumbling, evil laughter, etc. This is one track that I didn't use an existing background from a Halloween sound effects album - it took about 6 tracks of audio to get it right but I kept it low so it wouldn't be too distracting! It's a great song with lots of horns courtesy of Deadly Headly, Vin Gordon and Bobby Ellis and with hell added I think it works well with this month's theme. Of note - I just discovered a discrepancy with the Trojan boxset "Dub Rarities" - they have this track attributed to the Musical Intimidators and after double checking the Zukie album I realized that this is in fact the same song. I've heard how Trojan has the reputation for changing the titles and artists on their compilations to make buyers feel as if they're getting the chance to hear some long lost tracks when in fact they are buying something that they might already have elsewhere. I originally entitled this post the Musical Intimidators' Escape From Hell but now I'm just a little wiser - glad I looked into it!

Artwork is "Last Judgement" courtesy of Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516), a Dutch artist whose religious and biblical artwork achieved a surrealistic feel long before Salvador Dali. A 17th Century Dutch art historian described Bosch's paintings as "wondrous and strange fantasies... often less pleasant than gruesome to look at." You can view more of Bosch's works here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Halloween Mix Part 8 - Lone Ranger And Annie Palmer "The White Witch of Rose Hall"

Instead of trying to paraphrase the story of Annie Palmer I decided to share in its entirety a concise retelling of the tale...

"The frightening tales about Annie Palmer are too numerous to mention and sometimes difficult to imagine.

Born Annie Mae Patterson, to an English mother and an Irish father it is said that her family moved to Haiti to practice witchcraft. Her parents died when she was 10 years old causing her nanny, who was a voodoo priestess, to adopt her and teach her the art of voodoo. Eight years later, her nanny died.

Annie came to Jamaica and met John Palmer, who owned the plantation at the time and they got married. After playing the role of wife for six years, she found out that she was partial owner to all his possessions so she poisoned him and became full owner of the estate.

From there, Annie used her power to her advantage, manipulating every man she admired and luring them into her demanding arms. Whether it was just for one night, or for whatever reason, Annie had countless affairs with slaves and English men.

Slaves were used for various reasons from tilling the soil on the plantation to "warming" Annie in her bedroom. After satisfying her in bed, Annie would show her gratitude by killing them so they could not reveal their affairs.

Slaves that were caught trying to run away from the plantation had their legs severed and they were thrown into pits inside the dungeon that were 16ft deep. There was no medical help offered so they would bleed to death amidst the cold darkness.

These pits are now packed with stones and converted into two washrooms and a gift shop standing between them.

Of all the slaves, Annie was most drawn to Takoo, the "Black Lover" as it is said that he practiced witchcraft. As a result of his skill, he gained freedom before all the other slaves.

Continuing her killing ways, Annie killed her second husband was about to find out about her affairs so she thought the only way to keep him from finding out was to kill him. She stabbed him repeatedly with a knife and poured hot oil in his ear to make sure he was dead.

The third husband was said to have had a drinking problem and he would hit her so one night she went into his room and strangled him.

The bodies of her husbands were then taken underground down to the waterfront where they were buried.

In those days, it wasn't customary for husbands to sleep with their wives so Annie and her husbands didn't share the same room. She killed her husbands in different rooms and blamed it on the common disease yellow fever. At that time, English men were dying like flies due to this sickness so it was easy for the deaths to be overlooked by the authorities.

Annie was accustomed to getting her own way or whatever she wanted. She was in an affair with the plantation's bookkeeper, Robert but he did not love her. His love was for Millicent who was a free native and Takoo's granddaughter.

Realizing that she could not get Robert's love, she decided to get Millicent out of the way so she cast a spell on her and she withered and died in nine days. This made Takoo upset and when the rebellion started on the plantation, he went up to Annie's room, made love to her and strangled her.

Takoo went missing and Ashman, Annie's overseer, found her powerless body when he went to her room to check on her. According to history, he killed Takoo within nine days of finding Annie's body..."
Taken from the article "The White Witch's Cruelty Still Haunts The Greathouse Of Rosehall" which originally appeared on the excellent Go-Local Jamaica website on February 17, 2004.

The eighth track in the Halloween mix is inspired by this famous tale and is called "Annie Palmer" by DJ Lone Ranger. This song appeared on his 1979 album "Barnabas In Collins Wood" which contained a fair amount of spooky content and had the scary cover to go with it. A couple more tracks from this album will also be making their appearance during this project - it is a wicked album! I only added some background effects and I think you'll enjoy it. Have a listen!

And while we're on the topic of Rosehall and ghost stories check out Junior Dub's Irie Reggae Music Page and his account of a ghost hunting expedition to Rosehall, complete with scarrry photos!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Halloween Mix Part 7 - Voodoo Moon By Jackie Mittoo And The Soul Brothers

Straying away from the feel of the last track and almost straying beyond Jamaican music... next up in the mix is a tune by Jackie Mittoo And The Soul Brothers from the album called "Last Train To Skaville" (released on the Soul Jazz label) and as you'll notice it definitely has more of a Jazzy/Latin flavor than a ska feel. The album dates from the period 1965-1967 when the Soul Brothers, who got together in '65 when the Skatalites disbanded, and quickly became the number one band in Jamaica during the period when ska was transforming into rock steady. Original members of the Soul Brothers include not only Mittoo but Roland Alphonso, Johnny Moore and Lloyd Brevitt. Eventually the Soul Brothers would become the Soul Vendors in 1967 and aside from the Skatalites this would be the band that Mittoo would most often be associated with.

I've taken the cool, congo drum-driven, jazzy instrumental track "Voodoo Moon" and embellished it with a couple random pieces of zombie-related audio I've got floating around my hard drive. Hope you like it because I had a lot of fun putting this track together! The picture is that of a Haitian voodoo ritual and I think it works with the song. Don't get me wrong, I like gory horror movies as much as the next guy but the zombie pic I found on the net and was planning on using for this track was just a little too much for a mild-mannered reggae blog. :-)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Halloween Mix Part 6 - Early B Ain't 'Fraid Of No Ghost!

Unless you’ve been living on another planet, the logo you see above should be instantly recognizable and just as familiar as the Nike swoosh or the Volkswagen beetle. Okay I might be exaggerating a little…but when Ghostbusters hit theatres in the summer of ’84 this little guy was everywhere. Yes, I’m sure a lot of us remember the blockbuster comedy starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and one multi-story tall Marshmallow Man and I’ll admit that I even went trick or treating as a Ghostbuster for Halloween that year. Unfortunately what really dated the movie and spoiled a lot of young viewers memories of the film was the God awful theme song performed by Ray Parker Jr (I wouldn’t say he wrote it because I vaguely remember something about him getting sued for stealing the melody from Huey Lewis but this isn’t the forum for discussing that)… I’ll even admit I had the 45 but hey, I was only 13. Now the very prospect of ever having to hear that annoying call and response, "Who You Gonna Call? Ghostbusters!" turns my stomach. If only Ivan Reitman had recruited DJ Doctor Earlando "Early B" Neil to perform the title song for the movie it might still be bearable today. Besides, the tale Early B weaves in this song is far superior than Parker’s, "An invisible man sleeping in your bed. Ow! Who you gonna call." With only a couple haunted house effects added I offer the sixth chapter.

Halloween Mix Part 5 - King Horror's Loch Ness Monster

Little is known about the artist who called himself King Horror. I have done extensive research online and in the stack of reggae reference books I've got on my bookshelf at home and I have yet to find anything even remotely resembling a biography. But I did come across a piece of information regarding King Horror in relation to Cuban born ska pioneer and producer Laurel Aitken. The information came from the 2003 book called "Young Gifted And Black - The Story Of Trojan Records" by Michael de Koningh and Laurence Cane-Honeysett and it says...

"On King Horror Koningh writes: "Horror was actually Laurel on some sides but not others (it largely depended on which company he was leasing the material to and who was around in the studio at the time)."

Wow, that makes the matter that much more intriguing. You can check out the complete article about Laurel Aitken by following this link. Nonetheless, the next track in the mix is "Loch Ness Monster" by King Horror and it is without a doubt one of my favorite tracks so far and the bloodcurdling screams Horror/Aitken provides are some of the best shrieks ever. Crank this one up in the car and you'll definitely have people next to you at the red light staring at you in horror/disbelief. I did little to sweeten this track except provide the Alfred Hitchcock introduction (from his album called "Music To Be Murdered By") and background sea monster sound effects. If you've never heard it before get ready for some scary reggae at its best! Oh, I almost forgot, the awesome Loch Ness Monster painting is by fantasy artist Boris Vallejo - check his stuff out here!

Part 5 Download

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Halloween Mix Part 4 - The Wailers' Wanna Know Who... Is Mr. Brown

Quoting directly from Distinctly Jamaican Sounds October 25th, 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 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. The lyrics were mostly written by Glen Adams, the keyboard player in Aston “Familyman” Barrett’s Hippy Boys. Max Romeo of “Wet Dream” and “War Inna Babylon” fame was the Hippy Boys’ vocalist but I digress… The Wailers thought the subject matter would be appropriate material under Lee Perry’s slightly psychedelic control and recorded it. It was originally released on 7” single and because Lee Perry sold the rights to all the material the Wailers recorded over that 2 year period it’s available on hundreds of Bob Marley “Greatest Hits” cassettes and CDs you can pick up at a local gas station near you."

Damn that is some fine writing! Here is part four complete with crow calls and all...

Part 4 Download

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Halloween Mix Part 3 - "Rising From the Echoing Corridors of Hell...

...An Awesome Being of the Supernatural - With Satanic Power of Sheer Dread. Chained Forever to a Slavery More Vile Than Any Before Endured..."

Do I even need to say anything else? Wow, what a tagline!

Coming up next in the mix is the 1973 tune "Blacula" performed by Derrick Harriott's studio band, the Crystalites. I can't find any information on which musicians made up the Crystalites but this is an absolutely wicked track! The spoken intro is creepy as it stands and I had little to add to make it any better. Besides, once the rhythm kicks in you're too busy diggin' the bass line to notice much else!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Halloween Mix Part 2 - Lord Kitchener's Love In A Cemetery

I know Lord Kitchener (1922-2000) is Trinidadian and that this song is definitely classified as Calypso but its influence on Jamaican artists is evident if you take a listen to the track "Talk About Run" from Clint Eastwood & General Saint's 1981 album "Two Bad DJ." Eastwood and Saint borrowed many of the lyrics that Kitchener used decades before. Besides, this is such a fun tune I couldn't pass up using it.

Kitchener who was regarded as the "Grandmaster of Calypso" began performing in Trinidad in the 1930's. In 1948 he moved to England where he released a great wealth of material on the Parlophone, Melodisc and Lyragon labels, most of which was exported back to the Caribbean and even to West Africa where he had a considerable following. In 1963 he returned to Trinidad for Carnival and began a program to help hone the skills of up and coming Calypsonians.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Halloween Mix Part 1 - Scientist And Boris Karloff Inna Combination Style

Okay... here we go!! Starting off the mix we've got an awesome track "Blood On His Lips" by boy wonder/dub virtuoso Hopeton "Scientist" Brown from the album "Scientist Rids The World Of The Evil Curse Of The Vampire." An all together Halloween appropriate album, you'll be hearing a couple more from this album but you've probably never heard Scientist alongside legendary screen scary man Boris Karloff. The Karloff track is from a ghost story album called "Tales Of The Frightened." Combined they make for a good introduction to this project... Enjoy!!

Part 1 Download

Saturday, September 30, 2006

It's Almost October... Time For Halloween Music With A Jamaican Twist

I'm getting psyched that the Halloween season is upon us! I actually started this blog last October because I'd been admiring and enjoying the wealth of Halloween music that was being shared on so many great non-reggae blogs and I figured I'd jump in and share some of the creepy Jamaican songs that have been a part of my holiday celebrations for years! So... in order to make this year's celebration even better, I've been stockpiling as many Jamaican songs with spooky content that I could get my hands on. Now, I could easily compile these songs into one zip file, upload it to Rapidshare and be done with it but that would be way too easy. I've decided instead to do something a little different... I recently discovered this program on my Mac called Garage Band and I've been putting together some really cool mixes complete with sound effects and other fun audio snippets. Now here's what I'm going to do... I'm gonna make a complete mix of all the songs using traditional Halloween sound effects, creepy noises, etc. and then chop it into individual tracks which I will share whenever I get a chance throughout October (complete with a little blurb about each one) and when placed together in order on a CDR or on your Ipod they'll make a complete Jamaican Halloween Mix. Each track will stand alone but will be that much better when assembled with all of the others. I think this will be pretty cool - first track coming soon!! Oh... how cool is that Bob Marley pumpkin!?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A Little Off Topic... The Poster Art of Scrojo Donovan

First off thanks to my friend Leonard for forwarding me this link. Now before I climb on my soapbox and before you continue reading...check this site out! Had a look? Good, now read on... As you've probably noticed this is definitely not exclusively related to Jamaican music and after inspection those who take their reggae seriously may even consider a lot of these gig posters as verging on blasphemy. I have to admit... I was a little taken back by Donovan taking a lot of serious cultural reggae artists and associating or advertising them using such light-hearted, commercial, pop-art imagery.But after browsing through the images for quite a while, particularly searching for the reggae posters, I thought to myself that I was liking what I was seeing. True the majority of images used on the prints don't in any way represent what the music stands for or the deep meanings behind the vast majority of the subject matter but in a world where the mainstream audience cares little for roots reggae and knows even less, these posters might serve to draw someone in who doesn't know Dennis Brown from Bob Marley. Scrojo's artwork may have the ability to recruit unwitting new reggae fans...and judging by the last poorly attended roots show I saw... getting some new blood into real reggae music wouldn't be a bad thing. Maybe it's time for reggae to present itself with a modern image instead of relying on the ganja leaves and lion imagery. Or maybe reggae should stick with its roots and maintain that "old-school" imagery that those who are into reggae or Jamaican music in general are so familiar and comfortable with. What do you think? Let's discuss it amongst ourselves!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Joseph Hill 1949-2006

This has been a bad year for the loss of important Jamaican artists - Hearwax tipped me off to this and I thought I'd share it with those who haven't heard yet...

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) _ "Joseph Hill, lead vocalist and songwriter for the traditional "roots'' reggae group Culture, died Saturday. He was 57.

Hill abruptly fell ill and died in Berlin while the group were in the middle of a European tour, according to his daughter Andrea. She did not know the cause of death.

The group's Web site said the band will continue its summer concert tour as a tribute to the smooth-voiced tenor, with Hill's son Kenyatta taking on lead vocals.

One of reggae's most enduring bands, Culture was led by Hill for three decades. Hill penned the group's best known songs, including "Two Sevens Clash,'' "Natty Never Get Weary'' and "I'm Not Ashamed.''

Born in the rural Jamaican parish of St. Catherine in 1949, Hill began his musical career in the late 1960s as a percussionist.

As the Rastafarian influence on reggae grew in the 1970s, he formed Culture and remained its driving force through more than 30 albums.

Hill said "Two Sevens Clash,'' Culture's most influential record, was based on a prediction by Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey, who said there would be chaos on July 7, 1977, when the "sevens'' met. With its apocalyptic message, the song created a stir in his Caribbean homeland and many Jamaican businesses and schools shuttered their doors for the day.

In 2005, the singer, a devout Rastafarian, was honored by the Jamaican government for his contribution to the island nation's culture.

Andrea Hill, of Kingston, said funeral arrangements for her father had not been scheduled.", this just ruined my day. I got to see Culture live on 2 occassions and because of work wasn't able to make it to their last show when they made it to my area. Again it just reiterates the need for reggae fans to show their support for these veterans and if you've never had the chance to see them live you have to make every effort neccesary to see them when they tour before they're gone. I'm thankful I got to see Mr. Hill and Culture the times I did and I'll always be thankful to him for the decades of beautiful music he's bestowed upon the world. Rest in peace Joseph Hill.

I'm going to share a few of my favorite Culture tunes, taken from various releases, in honor of Joseph Hill. First is from the album Studio One Roots Volume 2 is Joseph Hill solo on a song he would later re-record with Culture called "Behold The Land." Second is the tune "Peace Love And Harmony" from the album Nuff Crisis. Next is "Behold I Come" from the Baldhead Bridge CD. The fourth song is "Natty Dread Nah Run" from the Cumbolo album. "Hand A Bowl" follows that from the album Good Things. Finally I want to leave everyone with one of the prettiest songs I know and one that I feel is a fitting tribute to Joseph Hill's songwriting talents and more importantly exemplifies his love for mankind as a whole, "Love Shine Bright" from the Harder Than The Rest CD.

Joseph Hill Tribute

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Junior Murvin, The Heptones And The Congos In The Black Ark

I never really got into the whole My Space thing so when I first starting hearing about Youtube I thought it too was going to be another site that required too much effort to enjoy... boy was I wrong. I've discovered so many cool reggae clips over the last couple weeks that I've been obsessed with finding more. But as I've been known to do, I'm not merely satisfied with getting to view it for free, I want to own these pieces of history on a more substantial format! But I digress...

This clip I came across last Friday was one that I never knew existed and after a bit of research I found that it was snatched from the 1977 documentary "Roots Rock Reggae" which is now readily available on DVD! I was absolutely floored when I saw this footage from inside the Black Ark! I was always under the impression that Lee Perry's studio was not photographically documented and therefore lost to time but getting to see this mythical/legendary interior in relatively vivid color finally completed the mental picture I had made in my mind when I was first intrigued by that unbelievable sound many years ago.

Have a look...

Of note... the song that's being recorded "Play On Mr. Music" was never released. I've been told the footage we get to see was staged to illustrate how reggae was recorded and not an actual recording session. Finally, the song was supposedly written in response to the attempted assassination of Bob Marley on December 3rd, 1976.

Also - after the Black Ark footage is some nice stuff with The Gladiators recording at Joe Gibbs Studio with Errol Thompson and Prince Tony at the controls and some awesome video of Joe Gibbs' record pressing operation - amazing!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Happy Independence Day!

"At midnight on August 5, 1962, Jamaica became a free independent nation within the British Commonwealth of Nations. A ceremony marking the event was held at the newly constructed National Stadium in Kingston, which was filled to its capacity of 35,000.

The chief persons taking part were Her Royal Highness Princess Margaret (representing Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II), her husband, the Earl of Snowdon, Sir Kenneth Blackburne, who had been nominated by the Queen on the recommendation of our then Premier to be Jamaica's first Governor-General, Sir Alexander Bustamante, Jamaica's first Prime Minister, and Mr. Norman Manley, Leader of the Opposition.

Prayers were offered by the Rt. Rev. Percival Gibson, Lord Bishop of Jamaica, His Lordship Bishop McEleney, Roman Catholic Bishop of Kingston, Bishop S. U. Hastings, Chairman of the Jamaica Christian Council,and Mr. Ernest H. DaSouza, Jr. as acting spiritual leader of the Jewish Community.

Hundreds of notable guests and visitors from many countries of the world attended, among them Mr. Lyndon Johnson, Vice-President of the United States of America, as the personal representative of President Kennedy. Precisely at midnight, the Union Jack- the British flag - was lowered and the Jamaican flag hoisted. The new National Anthem of Jamaica was sung by combined choirs. This was followed by a magnificent fireworks display at the Stadium.

In other parts of the Corporate Area, and in the country parishes, there were also displays of fireworks. There followed two Public Holidays which were given over to great rejoicing throughout the island. Kingston, the capital, and all other parish capitals were gaily decorated with flags and bunting, highly illuminated at nights. There were many civic and social events and there was public dancing in the streets. When the dust of the Independence celebrations had settled, Jamaica settled down to the business of establishing herself as one of the nations of the world."
Taken from The Geography And History Of Jamaica Number 7 as published by the Gleaner and appearing in its entirety online at Discover

I was going to upload a great mento track by Charlie Binger & His Quartet called "Jamaica Is The Place To Go" and follow it up with a couple ska tracks, a rocksteady tune and a bunch of other tunes from the roots and rub-a-dub era that all pay tribute to Jamaica. But being that I'm at work this afternoon actually working for a Jamaican co-worker and friend who is attending some local Independence Day festivities... it ain't happenin'.

So in honor of the holiday I'm going to share, for educational purposes only, the Early B song "History Of Jamaica" taken from the Sunday Dish album. It's a mini history lesson on the Answer riddim and if you've never heard it before I think you'll be impressed.

History Of Jamaica

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Yes M'Dear It's More Miss Lou

Now, due to underwhelming response or maybe because the visitors to this blog respond better to aural stimuli, I present 6 tracks taken from Miss Lou's Yes M'Dear CD that'll give those interested a little taste of her importance to Jamaican culture. I sadly have to admit that I purchased this album after I had learned of Mrs. Bennett's passing even though I've been aware of her work for close to 20 years. But oddly enough I found a true word of wisdom when I went to Amazon to find the CD. One particularly dim witted buyer had assumed it was a reggae CD and went on to ridicule the album...
"NOBODY TOLD ME THIS WAS A JAMAICAN COMEDY CD! I spent 16 bucks on it thinking it was reggae. It wasn't! It sucks! I can't understand her. The songs are 20 seconds long, followed by 5 minutes of Gabja wa loogado box o rum dum dum crap. DO NOT BUY THIS COMPACT DISC!"
The third reviewer from the Virgin Islands came to Miss Lou's defense and I thought it really made a valid point...
"As a West Indian I was offended by that last review. The same patois that Miss Lou tells her stories in and sings in is the same patois that Reggae legends Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley sang in and modern artists, Lady Saw, Sean Paul, Beanie Man and Elephant man chant in. So how can you claim to like reggae and insult Miss Lou. She's preaching about the mother culture that gave birth to Reggae. You can't love the child and kill its mother...that's harsh. Miss Lou is a Caribbean gem...she is beloved from Jamaica - her home right down to Trinidad."
Well said!

The first track is called "Long Time Gal" and is one of the three actual songs that I'm posting that definitely have more of a Mento feel. Second is a monologue called "Jamaica Language." Third is a reading of the poem I shared "Colonizing In Reverse." The fourth track is a lengthy monologue where Miss Lou discusses the legendary children's television show she did for nearly 20 years and it's called "Ring Ding." Of more interest to reggae fans, or more specifically for those fans of dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson is the second song I'm upping called "Coconut Tree." If you ever wanted to hear LKJ "sing" a Jamaican folk song here's your opportunity! It's pretty funny to hear Linton's delivery and the obvious reaction it got from the crowd - good stuff! Finally I end up this share with "Walk Good" as a fitting final tribute and as the song says... Walk good, Miss Lou.

Miss Lou

More familiar sounding Jamaican music coming soon... stay tuned.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Hon. Louise Bennett-Coverley AKA Miss Lou 1919 - 2006

I haven't seen this mentioned elsewhere in reggae blogdom so I figured I'd step up and give this story the exposure it deserves... I've been reading a lot of the obituaries and tributes that have appeared online and I have decided to share this article written by Gregory Lewis and Arlene Barochin which appeared on the Sun-Sentinel's website on Thursday. I think this does a fairly concise job explaining Miss Lou's importance to Jamaican culture...

Louise Bennett-Coverly, the Jamaican folklorist, actress, artist and writer who celebrated ordinary people and helped popularize Jamaican patois, died Wednesday in a Toronto hospital. She was 87.

Ms. Bennett-Coverly's death, reported by the Jamaica Gleaner on its Web site, was big news on the island and in South Florida, where generations of Jamaicans remembered growing up with the woman they affectionately called "Miss Lou."

"When you think of Jamaica and Jamaican culture's place in the world, you immediately think of Miss Lou," said Marlon Hill, a Miami attorney who is Jamaican-American.

During her more than 50-year career, Ms. Bennett-Coverly expressed herself in various art forms, including poetry, pantomime, movies and television.

Ms. Bennett-Coverly made it acceptable to speak the blend of languages called patois, which reflected the island's African roots. She helped Jamaicans understand that the unique dialect was part of their cultural heritage.

"She gave rural people a voice," said Junior Farquarson, a West Palm Beach attorney. "She uplifted people on radio and television. She gave us comedy. She was the first lady of comedy."

Lauderdale Lakes Commissioner Hazelle Rogers remembered her father taking her to plays on Sunday afternoons that featured that "iconic woman of culture" speaking patois.

"I loved Louise Bennett," Rogers said. "She contributed to the dialect as well as speaking the Queen's language."

Louise Bennett was born in Kingston in 1919 to Augustus Cornelius Bennett and his wife Kerene Robinson. She attended schools in Jamaica and in England. She married impresario Eric "Chalktalk" Coverly in 1954. He died before she did.

While her poetry was a source of pride for Jamaicans, she also was known for her television appearances.

"I remember as a young child watching her on Ringding," said Tanya Ragbeer, of Southwest Ranches. "Everyday, the kids would come home from school and watch TV to watch Miss Lou. They would always eat milk and cookies on the show. She would tell stories, and they would sing Caribbean songs. She would tell stories of Brer Anacy [a spider god]."

When Ms. Bennett-Coverly began writing and reciting her dialect poems in the 1930s and 1940s, some considered it embarrassing because they thought patois was the language of the poor and illiterate. Today, many say she elevated Jamaican patois to a fine art through style and wit.

"Jamaica's folklore was popularized and institutionalized by her work," Hill said. "Her work had a direct effect on the acceptance and legitimacy on the patois, not only in Jamaica, but also friends or people who were drawn to the culture of Jamaica. She translated our cultural identity to the world."

Ms. Bennett-Coverly spent most of the past two decades in Canada but still remained a hero to Jamaicans on the island and abroad.

"My regret is that the Jamaican government didn't see fit to take care of one of its greatest," Farquarson said. "A lady like that should have never been allowed to leave the country."

Jamaican folk singer Norma Darby, who lives in Miami, said she was influenced by Miss Lou. Darby said the folklorist passed the torch to all who wanted to preserve the island's culture.

"She's like the Bob Marley of folklore and her legend will live on," Darby said.

As a tribute to Mrs. Bennett-Coverley I present one of her best known poems called "Colonization in Reverse"

Wat a joyful news, miss Mattie,
I feel like me heart gwine burs
Jamaica people colonizin
Englan in Reverse

By de hundred, by de tousan
From country and from town,
By de ship-load, by de plane load
Jamica is Englan boun.

Dem a pour out a Jamaica,
Everybody future plan
Is fe get a big-time job
An settle in de mother lan.

What an islan! What a people!
Man an woman, old an young
Jus a pack dem bag an baggage
An turn history upside dung!

Some people doan like travel,
But fe show dem loyalty
Dem all a open up cheap-fare-
To-England agency.

An week by week dem shippin off
Dem countryman like fire,
Fe immigrate an populate
De seat a de Empire.

Oonoo see how life is funny,
Oonoo see da turnabout?
jamaica live fe box bread
Out a English people mout'.

For wen dem ketch a Englan,
An start play dem different role,
Some will settle down to work
An some will settle fe de dole.

Jane says de dole is not too bad
Because dey payin she
Two pounds a week fe seek a job
dat suit her dignity.

me say Jane will never fine work
At de rate how she dah look,
For all day she stay popn Aunt Fan couch
An read love-story book.

Wat a devilment a Englan!
Dem face war an brave de worse,
But me wonderin how dem gwine stan
Colonizin in reverse.