Thursday, December 25, 2008

Yes, Virginia, There Is A Reggae Santa Claus!

Just like Santa Claus, I've pulled through the frigid winds, drifting snow and near blizzard like conditions and pulled off the seemingly impossible! I honestly didn't think I would be able to do it this year with the bullshit I've got going on outside this blog and I definitely didn't want anyone to think I was terminally ill or anything so I did it anyway! Distinctly Jamaican Sounds has become like the mafia to me... every time I think I'm out it keeps dragging me back in! And all of the warm wishes from those of you out there who take the time to read and listen to the things I post are my inspiration for keeping this Yuletide tradition alive... hold on I think I've got something in my eye. :)

Let me tell you... this was a marathon! But I got it done on a whim over the course of the last two days and I hope it is as well received as previous year's installments! To save valuable time I didn't split it up this year and now you can get the entire Distinctly Jamaican Christmas Mix 2008 with one download!

Here's what you're gonna hear...

We start off with the man Nigger Kojak AKA Floyd Perch and a wicked tune called "Christmas Style" taken from a 1978 7" on the Joe Gibbs label and riding the classic "Still In Love" riddim.

Bunny and Skully follow it up with their version of "White Christmas" borrowed from a various artists Christmas CD called Vintage Christmas on the Sonic Sounds label. They don't do it like Bing either, it's more in the classic Drifters doo-wop style; a real nice interpretation.

We then take a turn for the calypso with Lord Nelson and one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs, regardless of genre, called "Party For Santa Claus." It was originally released as a 7" in 1963 on the Jump Up label and I got it off a CD called Mas! A Caribbean Christmas Party on Rykodisc.

The Wailers, with Peter Tosh doing the lead vocals, are up next with "Go, Tell It On The Mountains" from a generic Best Of The Wailers compilation CD featuring a nice sampling of music recorded for Leslie Kong at Beverly's circa 1969. The song's lyrics have been modified from the traditional versions we usually associate with Christmas but nonetheless it goes with the Christmas vibe we've got goin' on!

Frankie Paul is up next with the song "Merry Christmas" from the 1985 various artists Rub-A-Dub Christmas LP on the Black Solidarity label and recorded at Tuff Gong.

It pains me to say this but... the late great Alton Ellis is up next with the song "Christmas Coming" taken from the Heartbeat CD Reggae Christmas From Studio One.

Glen Adams follows it up with a nice rockin' organ driven tune called "Xmas Rock" and it comes from a 7" on the Gem label.

The DJ duo of Papa Michigan and General Smiley give us the next tune... it's called "Little Drummer Boy" and comes from the 1984 LP RAS Records Presents A Reggae Christmas. Not exactly comparable with their best non-holiday work from the same era and even before that at Studio One but a decent reggae interpretation of a Christmas classic.

Slipping out of the reggae groove completely with the next tune... Desmond Dekker And The Aces give us "Christmas Day" originally released as a 7" on the Pyramid label in 1968 and lifted for our purposes from the crucial Trojan Christmas CD boxset. You might get to this track and think that I've tried to slip in some R & B but I guarantee you that it's Desmond Dekker!

Up next we've got "Natty Dread Christmas" from the group Iron Phoenix and backed by the Revolutionaries and it comes from a late 70's 45 on the Thing label. This is an absolutely killer roots tune regardless of the holiday subject matter and I've also included the B-side version "The Rise And Fall Of The South African Regime" for your skanking pleasure.

Gregory Isaacs gives us "It's Christmas Time Again" a mid-80's King Tubby's digital production released on the Taurus label. Not one of my favorites but since I used my favorite Gregory Christmas tune last year when I gave you "White Christmas" so this will have to suffice.

Following that up we've got Johnny Clarke and his smooth adaptation of the song popularized by Jimmy Boyd in 1952 and actually commissioned by the department store Neiman Marcus to promote their Christmas cards designed by New Yorker magazine's artist Perry Barlow. The song is "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" and the version you're gonna hear was produced by Bunny Lee and released on the Total Sounds label in 1975.

Winston Groovy is up next with an early reggae tune appropriately titled "Merry Christmas" and lifted from the 2005 Pulse various artist CD The Reggae Christmas Collection.

The fourteenth tune in the mix is from the classic Jacob "again not to be confused with Jacob Marley of Christmas Carol fame" Miller album Natty Christmas (alongside DJ Ray I) originally released on the Jamaican Top Ranking label in 1978 and eventually made available to a larger worldwide audience by RAS Records in the 80's. The song is "Silver Bells" and as Miller has been known to do with all his holiday interpretations he strays far from the originals lyrics but stays miraculously dead-on with the original melody. I think I probably said this in years past but I'll say it again... if you're in the market to buy one reggae Christmas album in your lifetime, this is the one to get!

That brings us to the next tune... from the same album and this time we give Ray I the mic. He gives us a little number called "Natty No Santa Claus" on the same riddim as the aforementioned "Silver Bells" and sounds nearly as wicked. If you're in the market to buy one reggae Christmas album... oh wait! I already told you that! Sorry...

Staying with the DJ stylee... we've got a smooth cut by Jah Walton called "DJ Christmas" and it comes to us from a 1983 Carlton Patterson produced 7" on the Black And White label and riding the Weather Balloon riddim.

The soulful sound of Toots & The Maytals are up next with a tune called "Happy Christmas" and no it's not a rendition of that annoying John Lennon song either. This one comes from the late Byron Lee's Christmas album Christmas Party Time In The Tropics on the VP label. One of the real gems hidden on this release.

Horace Andy gives us his sweet toned rendition of "Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem" and in my opinion, this is one of the best tunes in this year's mix. Horace Andy's voice really does this classic Christmas carol justice and the Joe Gibbs production make it a real killer! This is borrowed from the VP CD reissue of the 1979 Joe Gibbs Family Wishes You A Merry Rockers Christmas originally pressed on his namesake label and at one time featuring a festive ganja Christmas tree on the sleeve. "Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem" was never released on previous pressings of the same album and thankfully came to light when VP got ahold of it.

Up next we've got the Silvertones from the 2002 Heartbeat Christmas Greeting From Studio One CD with a little number called "Bling Bling Christmas." I know what you're thinking... "first he snuck in that Desmond Dekker R&B song and now he's slipping in some hip-hop!?" But no it's not the "bling bling" that popular culture stole from gangsta rap lyrics and adopted a couple years back making it a household expression that even Grandma added to her vocabulary. Believe me, Studio One and the Silvertones weren't hyping up diamond and platinum jewelery.

Sticking with Studio One for the next track... Freddie McGregor follows up the bling with another smooth Coxsone production called "Irie Christmas." This is a nice mellow one and it comes from the other Heartbeat Christmas album; Reggae Christmas From Studio One from 1992.

And yet another Studio One tune! This time from the man named Charley Fresh and its called "Jam Down Christmas," and is taken from the 1993 Studio One Christmas CD called Christmas Vibes. This is not the best Studio One Christmas release and to be quite honest with you aside from a couple classics made available on the Heartbeat releases and Half Pint's title track which I shared last year, the majority of it is un-listenable digital style... definitely not my cup of egg nog.

DJ duo Tippa Lee and Rappa Roberts are up next with a song called "Christmas Is Coming" from a 1986 7" on the Moodisc Records International label and produced by the man Harry Mudie. I'm actually kinda surprised that I like this record as much as I do but Lee & Roberts do a good job delivering the festive lyrics.

The first lady of Jamaican song, Hortense Ellis, gave us her interpretation of the 1940 Irving Berlin Christmas favorite "White Christmas" but hers is a little more in keeping with positive Afrocentric vibes instead of sentimentality. As you've probably guessed by now it's called "Black Christmas"... let's see Bing Crosby wrap his lips around this version! It's from the Top Ranking International LP African Christmas featuring Hortense and DJ Trinity circa 1979-80.

Speaking of Trinity he's up next. He gives us the title track from the aforementioned album "African Christmas" and he chats over the same Black Christmas riddim that Hortense Ellis utilized. Another nice tune!

Finally... we've reached the end! The 25th and final track in 2008's Distinctly Jamaican Sounds Christmas Mix and it is from yet another Studio One Christmas album. This is a funky organ instrumental by the man Richard Ace and it wraps it up on a nice up-note! This is lifted from the Studio One LP Christmas In Jamaica and was recorded somewhere between 1965-1970.

Distinctly Jamaican Sounds Christmas Mix 2008

I hope you enjoy this year's mix! I'm confident that it will add a bit of welcome Caribbean spice to your holiday season and give you a break from the well-worn Christmas music that you're accustomed to hearing since the day after Halloween... man it's so clique to say it but the retailers do start earlier and earlier each year!

I want to thank everyone ahead of time for your comments and I wish anyone who reads this a very Merry Christmas and a healthy New Year... I know right now the world seems like it's on the brink of a major meltdown with all the violence, financial crap, terrorism in India, recessions, suffering, unemployment, wars, etc. But keep your head up, hope for the best, stay strong, remember to tell those you love how much you love them and spend quality time with those people because they are the glue that keeps our sanity in place!

Also, every now and then do yourself a favor and listen to some Jamaican music... because like Bob Marley sang, "one good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain!" Lots of love everyone!


2007's Christmas Mix

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I hate to be the bearer of bad news...

...but I'm not going to be able to put together the Christmas mix this year. I'm in the middle of taking care of some serious personal business and there is no way I can find the time to get it started... the fact that I've yet to receive music I ordered for the mix nearly two months ago is another story in itself.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween From Distinctly Jamaican Sounds!

Happy Halloween everyone! Below you'll find links to the final Halloween treats from Distinctly Jamaican Sounds this year...

The Complete Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008

And for those of you who haven't taken the leap with an Ipod...

The Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 - CD Size!

But wait! There's more! My 2008 distinctively non-Jamaican Halloween Mix that I've entitled, "Satan Takes A Holiday." This mix is chock full of mostly surf and rockabilly (with two reggae tracks thrown in for good measure) and it was the first time I've ever devoted the entire Halloween mix to one subject; all the songs are about Satan, hell and the devil. I know it sounds frightening and uncharacteristically far removed from the usual vibes I try and create with my Jamaican mixes but I've taken on the subject with a relatively light-hearted approach... on second thought maybe I should save this one for election day! It may be just me but when I think of politricks, McCain & Obama, the sorry state of the international economy, lying, stealing and cheating politicians I immediately start thinking of Satan. Nah, I've got something else in the works for election day.

Non-Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 - Satan Takes A Holiday

Here's the tracklist...

1. Los Tiki Phantoms – Satan’s
2. Ghoultown – Fistful Of Demons
3. Anton LaVey – Satan Takes A Holiday (vocal)
4. Langhorns – The Sinner
5. Deadbolt – Devil Took Mrs. Jenkins To Hell
6. The Chop Tops – El Diablo
7. Steve King – Satan Is Her Name
8. Misfits – Devil’s Whorehouse
9. Bauhaus – Party Of The First Part
10. Satan’s Cheerleaders – Satan’s Stomp
11. Reverend Horton Heat – The Devil’s Chasing Me
12. The Success All Stars – Dr. Satan Echo Chamber
13. Mable John – Sweet Devil
14. Messer Chups – Go Satan Go!
15. Gein & The Graverobbers – The Devil’s Skin
16. Southern Culture On The Skids – Devil’s Stompin’ Ground
17. Rocky Velvet – Lou Siffer
18. The Cramps – Papa Satan Sang Louie
19. Screaming Jay Hawkins – Little Demon
20. Nekromantix – Demons Are A Girls Best Friend
21. Satan’s Pilgrims – Satan’s Theme
22. Rosengarden & Kraus – Satan Takes A Holiday
23. Lee “Scratch” Perry – Seven Devils Dead

Whatever you're doing or not doing tonight be sure to have fun and I hope to see you on Tuesday! After trick-or-treating with the kids I'll be down in Washington DC for DC Soundclash where I'll be getting the opportunity to play some of these Halloween tunes for a live audience! Needless to say, I'm pretty psyched!

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 Track 23 - Vampire Initiative

Holy shit! We've reached the end of the road and here it is... the final track of the Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008!

This one is called "Vampire Initiative" by Scientist, with the Roots Radics providing the drum and bass of course, and comes from the excellent 1983 Greensleeves LP Scientist Encounters Pac-Man that you see pictured on the right.

Now this cover may not be as Halloween appropriate as Scientist Rids The World Of The Evil Curse Of The Vampires but if you look behind the glass you see all of Scientist's vanquished foes from previous albums; Prince Jammy, the Space Invaders and a few of the monsters from the Rids the World album as well laughing with fiendish glee as Pac-Man proceeds to devour our hero. I'm not usually one to discuss album covers in detail but Tony McDermott's illustration for this one is absolutely killer!

Music wise, there's very little to say... I'll put it to you in the form of an equation - Scientist+Roots Radics= F*%^ing Wicked!!!

Again I used the audio from "The Vampire Speaks" throughout "Vampire Initiative" because it's just too good to only use the opening snippet in yesterday track!

Track 23

And on that note... I'll close the creaking door to the vault of haunted Jamaican music for another year. I hoped you've enjoyed the mix and as always I've appreciated the comments along the way. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 Track 22 - Beware Of The Vampire

Here we are a day away from Halloween and I can't believe how quick this month has blown by! I hope you've been enjoying listening to the mix as much as I enjoyed putting it together... this yearly marathon is truly a labor of love because if I didn't have such a weak spot for Halloween I wouldn't bother. But enough of that...

We're going back to visit Count Dracula this time with the help of Denzel Laing and an early Lee Perry production recorded somewhere around 1968-69 and it's called "Beware Of The Vampire." The track comes from the 1998 Trojan compilation CD of Perry productions, from the aforementioned late sixties period, and it's called Dry Acid.

Denzel Laing is probably better known for his percussion work for artists such as Toots & The Maytals, The Heptones and the Gladiators than for his vocals but nonetheless this is a great song. The subject matter is more of a warning to single young men about the "vampires" that they may encounter when looking for love than of the supernatural variety.

I added audio from a 7" by a man named Al Zanino called "The Vampire Speaks" and originally released on a record label called Al-Stan in 1957. Very few copies of the record exist today and "The Vampire Speaks" has been known to fetch as much as $200 at record shows worldwide... but luckily it was limitedly repressed in 1997 and also made available on a various artists CD featuring music recorded by artists from in and around the town of Reading Pennsylvania called Al-Stan Masters: The Best Of Reading's Oldies.

Track 22

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 Track 21 - The Thing

We're moving into the homestretch now with only 2 more tracks to go! I hope you've been following along thus far and if you haven't, shame on you! But don't despair... I gotta another trick up my sleeves come Friday for all you slackers! But we'll get to that on Halloween... right now, we'll get to today's terrifying track...

The Thing
is a 1982 science fiction/horror film directed by John Carpenter which is loosely based on the 1951 film The Thing From Another World. Wikipedia says, "The story centers around a shape-shifting alien that is revived after being frozen in ice and infiltrates a scientific research station in the Antarctic and kills a Norwegian research team. A nearby American research team investigates the incident and is in turn attacked by the alien."

"The Thing" is also an early reggae tune performed by the Sound Dimension, produced by the legendary Coxsone Dodd and taken from a 1969 various artists LP called Swing Easy on the Coxsone label. It doesn't include the same shape-shifting alien as the movie but it does include some pretty groovy Hammond organ that I hope you'll dig! Also... I think you'll prefer getting up and moving your feet while listening to the reggae version instead of cowering in the fetal position beneath your sofa after watching the film.

Track 21

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 Track 20 - Lon Chaney

Leonidas Frank Chaney, better known to cinema fans simply as Lon Chaney, was born on April 1, 1883. Nicknamed "The Man Of A Thousand Faces" and one of the silver screen's first actors synonymous with special effects make-up and for playing grotesque monsters, he was a truly a horror film groundbreaker.

Between 1912 and 1917, Chaney worked under contract for Universal Studios where his previous vaudeville experience with creative theatrical make-up made him a hot commodity when tales of the macabre were concerned. But unfortunately for Universal they didn't think his ability was worthy of a higher salary so he left the studio.

Chaney's breakthrough performance, playing the decidedly un-monster roll of The Frog in 1919's gangster film The Miracle Man, which grossed a hefty $2 million dollars at the box office, garnered him praise throughout the industry and earned him the title of "America's foremost character actor."

Most well known for his portrayals of Quasidmodo in Tod Browning's 1923 Hunchback Of Notre Dame and for Erik, the horribly disfigured phantom, in Browning's 1925 Phantom Of The Opera, Lon Chaney firmly planted himself into the mind of horror fans who to this day revere him for his contributions to the genre!

Speaking of contributing to a genre... Sir Lord Comic was one of the first deejays and a real pioneer in Jamaican music. Comic got his start initially as a dancer or "legs man" for the Admiral Deans soundsystem and once he heard Sir Coxsone Downbeat's selector, the legendary Count Machuki, chatting on the mic he was inspired to become a deejay as well. He got his first break in December of 1959 when he filled in for Admiral Deans regular sound man when he was too drunk to function and the rest is history.

Now... you may be asking yourself what does this have to do with the Halloween Spooktacular and I'll tell you... The 20th track in the Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 is of course by Sir Lord Comic backed by the Skatalites and it's a scorching ska number called appropriately "Lon Chaney." It comes off the various artists CD What A Skandal - King Edwards The Giant on the British King Edwards label.

Track 20

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 Track 19 - Back To Back

We're up to the last week of Jamaican Halloween Spooktacularness for 2008 and we're doing it up right by giving you a tune inna Ska-lipso style!

Track 19 in the mix is called "Back To Back" AKA "Jumbie Jamboree" by accomplished mento singer Count Owen and comes from his album Come Let's Go Ska-lipso on the Kentone label.

Count Owen, born Owen Emanuel was born in the parish of St. Mary in 1933 and started out at 19 years old by singing ballads and blues on the RJR Talent Parade Show and the Vere Johns Opportunity Hour. He initially recorded some tracks for Stanley Motta that were released on his MRS label in the 1950's and also for Ken Khouri's Kalypso around the same time.

This album from the early 1960's had Owen doing revamped ska versions of traditional mento and calypso classics and with great success I should add. If you're a fan of the mento and ska eras of Jamaican music this is a very enjoyable slab o'vinyl from start to finish!

The song "Back To Back" is exactly like the countless versions of "Zombie Jamboree," performed by artists such as Lord Jellicoe, Harry Belafonte and even the American folk group the Kingston Trio, except zombie is replaced with jumbie in the lyrics and the feisty ska beat replaces the mento/calypso instrumentation one usually expects! According to Caribbean folklore and legend a Jumbie is a black ghost... Westerner's often associate ghosts and spirits with a misty white form the jumbie is a dark shadowy figure. It should also be noted, that in Jamaica and some other islands in the Caribbean, "duppy" is usually used to denote any ghostly presence and in islands where duppy isn't the common operative word, "jumbie" is usually substituted.

Track 19

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Couple Of Brain Eaters For Your Halloween Listening Pleasure!

In an effort to eat a little more of your brains, in a good way of course, I've uploaded both the 2006 and 2007 Halloween Spooktaculars! Tracklists are available by checking out the Distinctly Jamaican Sounds archives for October 2006 and October 2007 because I'm feeling particularly lazy this afternoon! Be sure to listen with the lights out... it tends to add to the macabre mood!

If you play these at high volume next Friday that time honored tradition of playing scary sound effects for the trick-or-treaters when they approach your house will be turned on its ear! Think about it this way... you'll either have children shrieking in fear as those distinctive Jamaican basslines riddled with spooky sound effects thump through the crisp night air or you'll have the cops busting down your door thinking there's a Halloween party inside that's getting out of control! Whatever you choose to do with them is up to you but I only have one request... enjoy!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 Track 18 - Phantom Meets Spooks-A-Poppin'

Let me preface this comment with a foreword... I sincerely appreciate all of those who have left kind comments regarding the Halloween mix but... judging by the lack of response this week it seems that it isn't being received as well as I had hoped. So instead of wasting time writing long-winded posts I'm just going to keep it simple from now on out and get this over with for those of you have been following along this month. Don't get me wrong, I love doing these mixes and I've got nuff "duppy tunes" left for a couple more years worth of Spooktaculars but I'll just do it through e-mail instead or posting them here.

Today's tune is "Phantom" by producer Clancy Eccles' studio band The Dynamites and was originally released in 1970 as a 7" on the Clandisc label. The Dynamites were Winston Wright on organ, Hucks Brown on guitar, Gladstone Anderson on piano, Jackie Jackson on bass and Paul Douglas on drums.

Phantom artwork courtesy of Ryan Heshka's book ABC Spook Show.

Track 18

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 Track 17 - I'm A Witchcraft Man!

Short and sweet today. Partially because, as hard as it may be to believe, I'm kind of pressed on time with real life obligations outside the blogging world and partially because I can't find any real biographical information about the artists responsible for the scary song we're going to hear today.

Track 17 in the Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular is by Blue Rivers And The Maroons and it's called "Witchcraft Man." I took it from 1992's The History Of Ska, Blue Beat & Reggae Vol.1 CD on the Lagoon label. Here's what I do know... Blue Rivers, who was a "star artist and prolific composer," or so I've read without further alliteration... recorded three tracks for London based record producer Siggy Jackson and his fledgling Blue Beat label sometime between 1966-1968. The story goes that Jackson was so impressed with the new "Jamaican Blues" which immigrating Jamaicans were bringing with them to England around the time that he decided that he wanted to take a part in forwarding and promoting this new genre of music to English ears. These records were often played alongside soul music and added a new and important component to the emerging skinhead and Mod cultures of the 1960's.

The three songs Blue Rivers initially recorded, "Guns Of Navarone," "Seven Steps To Power," and of course in keeping with the frightening festivities, today's tune "Witchcraft Man," on a Phillips 3-track recorder! Thunderstorm embellishments are kept to a minimal on this one and when you listen I defy you to keep your feet still. I need to warn you, this is a super "dance-able" tune and as a public service to those who may be so inclined to get up and do so, I've provided a couple fairly concise diagrams illustrating the proper technique for doing "The Ska." Because if you're gonna do it, you gotta do it right!

Track 17

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 Track 16 - Dub It Inna Black Cat Stylee

We're up to track sixteen with only seven more to go! This time we're tackling one of those quintessential icons of the spooky Halloween Season... of course you can tell by the image you see on the left, that I'm talking about the ubiquitous black cat.

For thousands of years, the black cat has been regarded as a mysterious creature with supernatural powers and were always closely associated with witchcraft and death. Folklore says that witches are able to turn into black cats, in fact, legends say they are only able to do so nine times which may account for the belief in the cat having nine lives.

The list of black cat superstitions is extensive and usually quite different depending on where you live in the world so instead of trying to paraphrase I found a great article on a website devoted to cat owners and those interested in cats in general and am quoting directly from that piece...

"If you live in the United States, or most European countries, then black cats passing in front of you will likely make you believe that no matter how dismal things are now, things are going to get worse. If however you live in the United Kingdom, or in Japan, black cats crossing your path will probably make you smile, and think that good fortune is on its way.

Live in Germany and you will probably believe that black cats crossing your path from right to left, is a bad omen. But from left to right, and the cat is granting favorable times for you.

In Italy many hold the superstition that if an inky feline lays on a sick persons bed, death will follow. In China there are those that believe black cats to be harbingers of famine and poverty. Latvian farmers, that find black kitties in their grain silos, dance with joy. They believe these felines to be the spirit of Rungis, a god of harvests.

Crossing the path of a black cat, as opposed to it crossing yours, is generally thought of as inviting the very worst of luck. In Scotland folks believe finding black kittens sitting in their porch is a sure sign of riches, and happiness to come.

In most parts of the world it is thought that a black cat walking towards you is a certainty of good luck coming your way. Should the cat stop and turn away, before it reaches you, then don't take any risks or place any bets, fair fortune is not to be yours.

Chasing black cats out of your house is a certain way to ensure that yours will not be a lucky house. Stroking the fur of black felines will bring you both health, and wealth. In some fishing communities, the fishermen's wives keep their cats indoors, believing that this will keep their men folk safe from peril whilst at sea.

Many people around the world believe that there is a single white hair to be found, on even the blackest of cats. Pull out the hair, without getting a scratch, and yours will be a long, happy and prosperous marriage."

With that in mind, let's get to the music. This one is called "Black Cat Version" mixed by Errol Brown and comes from the 1996 Heartbeat double CD set called Dub Over Dub: 27 Track Dub Extravaganza. Errol Brown is the nephew of the legendary Duke Reid who started and operated the Treasure Isle Recording Studio. He attended Kingston Technical High School where he concentrated on radio and television but received his real world training under the tutelage of Duke Reid himself. When Duke Reid died in 1974, his long-time friend Sonia Pottinger, bought the Treasure Isle label and continued operations. It was during that time that Errol Brown, with Mrs. Pottinger's encouragement, became a full-fledged engineer for the seminal High Note label working on albums for Culture, Marcia Griffiths and many others. This set captures some of Brown's masterful High Note dubs and if you're a fan of dub and haven't given this one a try yet you're really missing out on some great stuff... it ranks right up there as one of my all-time favorites!

I have embellished "Black Cat Version" with audio borrowed from the 1963 Boris Karloff LP on Mercury Records called Tales Of The Frightened Volume 2 and as you would imagine I concentrated on Karloff's tale "Never Kick A Black Cat" and I think it works great with the tune! And of course I couldn't help myself and added some echoey cat shrieks to the mix just to keep it fun. Enjoy!

I dedicate this one to my first childhood pet... the black cat my family named Felix. I'm not a cat person, but Felix is the reason I've always liked black cats and why I haven't entirely ruled-out the idea of ever having another. :)

Track 16

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 Track 15 - Black Magic Woman

"Black Magic Woman" was a song written by Peter Green, first released as a single by Fleetwood Mac in 1968 and eventually made its way onto their album English Rose the following year. In 1970, "Black Magic Woman" became a hit for Santana, reaching as high as #4 on the American pop charts and from that point on became closely associated with the group.

Okay, so you're probably thinking to yourself, "that's all well and good but what does this have to do with Jamaican music?" If you'll read on I'll fill you in...

In 1972 the song was covered again by the late great Dennis Brown and the results were, in my humble opinion, outstanding! "Black Magic Woman" was produced by Phil Pratt and originally released as a 7"on the Sunshot label. I think once you give this one a listen you'll be even more amazed that when this song was recorded Dennis Brown was only 15 years old!

Dennis Emmanuel Brown, sometimes called the Crown Prince Of Reggae was born February 1, 1957 and died July 1, 1999, and was one of reggae's most prolific artists and one of Jamaican music's all-time greats. Brown started his career recording for Derrick Harriott and Coxsone Dodd's Studio One, who released his first hit single "No Man Is An Island" in 1969. Dennis spent the majority of time in the 70's freelancing for any producer who was lucky enough to get him in the studio before settling into a contract with Joe Gibbs where he recorded countless classic tunes such as "Money In My Pocket," "Sitting And Watching" and "Ain't That Loving You," to name a few.

To be honest with you, when I look through all the great stuff Dennis Brown recorded and realize that I've yet to do a complete mix with his material I'm disappointed in myself. Look for that in the near future... once we get done with the Spooktacular, of course.

Track 15

Monday, October 20, 2008

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 Track 14 - It Came From Outer Space!

Welcome back to the Halloween Spooktacular! We're starting off our second complete week of creepy tunes in this year's Halloween Countdown with another Lone Ranger track. But... this track is unique because unlike any of the previous year's mixes this one touches on a genre that is even rarer than the tunes of duppies and vampires in Jamaican music... yes, we're gonna go Sci-Fi!

Taken from Lone Ranger's classic 1979 Barnabas In Collins Wood LP on the GG label, you're going to hear the one called "U.F.O." on the A Yah We Deh riddim. In the song Ranger recounts how he was out on a camping trip minding his own business when he came across a flying saucer and some invaders from Mars! Luckily for you and I and all of mankind for that matter...the spacemen are just on Earth vacationing and have no intention of harming anyone. Lone Ranger swears that the story he tells is true but doesn't want anyone to know because he's afraid he may end up being committed to the Bellvue Mental Hospital. It's a great song and it fits in nicely with our spooky Halloween theme!

I of course added the great, melodramatic trailer for the 1953 3-D film It Came From Outer Space to get you in Science Fiction mode! I also kept it simple by just adding some flying saucer beeps and bleeps to liven it up a little... Enjoy!

Track 14

Friday, October 17, 2008

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 Track 13 - For The Love Of God!! Barnabas Rises Yet Again!!

Will this blood-sucking bastard ever stay dead?!!? Yes, it's the thirteenth track in our Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular and I've saved him especially for today! For the third consecutive year Barnabas Collins is back to haunt us with his insatiable lust for blood.

In all seriousness... I love Lone Ranger's "Barnabas Collins," it's probably my all-time favorite spooky reggae tune and it was in fact the first song that got me wondering if there were more similarly themed tunes in the genre and I take great pleasure in being able to include it in all of my mixes. I'm just kinda nervous now because I don't know if there is another version to include next year.

In 2006 we had the best known version of the tune; the 1979 hit produced by Alvin Ranglin and originally released as a 7" on the GG label. In 2007 we had the lesser known Barnabas; the version he recorded for Coxsone Dodd which didn't originally appear on the 1979 Studio One LP On The Other Side Of Dub but was recorded in New York in '85 or '86 and added to the repress of the same album when Heartbeat released it in 1991. Now, in 2008, we've got "Barnabas Collins" from the 1994 RAS/Grapevine CD called Collections which is basically a digitalization of the tunes Ranger cut for Studio One close to a decade before. According to
Lone Ranger's discography website, all of the tunes on this release were recorded between 1985-1989.

To put it simply, Lone Ranger must have been quite the fan of the soap opera Dark Shadows!

Have a great weekend and I'll see you on Monday!

Track 13

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 Track 12 - Frankinstine

Keeping it inna DJ fashion for this Thursday we've got one from the man Johnny Ringo. This one is called "Frankinstine" and comes from a 1979 7" on the Please Be True riddim and released on the Greedy Puppy label.
Ringo, who's real name was Bradley Miller, was born in 1961 in Kingston Jamaica and died July 2, 2005. The story goes that Johnny Ringo was working in a record shop in the late 70's where he met Welton Irie, another DJ breaking into the scene around the same time, and the two formed an association that carried them throughout the heyday of the rub-a-dub era. Both Ringo and Irie were heavily influenced by the style of the often under appreciated Ranking Trevor and they modeled some of their styles of phrasing and delivery after him.
Ringo was the operator for two sound systems Soul Express and Rippa-Tone, and eventually made the leap to vinyl in 1979 with the song "Trouble Never Set Like Rain" backed by the Revolutionaries and released on the Reggae Vibes label. The record which you are about to hear is from that same era, when dancehall was just beginning to distinguish itself from the foundation style of DJing made popular by U-Roy, Big Youth, etc., and though the spelling is a little off, it does talk about that madman created monster that has become synonymous with Halloween.
I have added some slight embellishment with Frankenstein groans, rattling chains and electrical laboratory equipment noise but have kinda kept it to a minimal.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 Track 11 - 2 Bad DJ Versus 2 Bad Duppy

After yesterday's epic I'm going to go short and sweet today... I hope you don't mind. The eleventh track in our Halloween Spooktacular, "Two Bad DJ" is from the two guys you see on the right... don't mind the ghost. I'll now go the lazy route and quote from this very blog from October 27th 2005...

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

One would assume that this would be the title track from the duo's 1981 Greensleeves LP Two Bad D.J. but in fact, you'd be wrong. This tune was the B-side to their massive "Tribute To General Echo" which was also released on Greensleeves as a 12" the same year. The track was eventually included on the CD remaster of the same album years later and it's a good thing because this song is absolutely wicked! Besides with Henry "Junjo" Lawes at the helm it's got to be good. But you should probably take that with a grain of salt because, you long-time readers may already be aware that I'm extremely biased toward anything Junjo had his hands in! Besides with Barnabas doing the engineering at either Channel One or King Tubby's (neither is specified specifically) you know it's got to be top-notch!

"Two Bad D.J." should have been entitled "Two Bad Duppy" because it recounts an encounter with two duppies in a cemetery, complete with their trademark nasally duppy voices, and then leads into a super smooth dub version that was positively ripe for embellishments, as you'll soon hear. Underneath the tune is the cut "Nightmare Of Lost Souls" from my all-time favorite kiddie Halloween record, Sounds Of Terror! released on the Pickwick label in 1974. Enjoy!

Track 11 - NEW LINK

Hey! Why not leave a comment?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 Track 10 - Font Hill Duppy

"Have you got the latest bill about the duppy 'pon Font Hill?"

I remember when I first heard a snippet of Count Lasher's "Font Hill Duppy" a few years ago and thought to myself, "Damn I wish I could find out more about this song!" For one, I couldn't figure out if the song was recounting a real life ghost story or just spinning a fictitious yarn and two, the website that featured the clip had claimed that the song served as an artistic metaphor for the Jamaican dollar's poor exchange rate and wasn't directly related to duppies at all.

Needless to say my interest was piqued and the record was thrown into my massive yet thoroughly unorganized wants list in my head and eventually slipped from memory. A couple years later the title surfaced again when I started getting stuff together for the first Halloween Spooktacular and I immediately went online, found the record and bought it. I was gratified to finally hold the long illusive single in my hands and I assumed that because I now had the ability to listen to the song in its entirety, I would be able to answer the lingering questions about its potentially spooky subject matter... but it didn't. I got the gist of what Count Lasher was getting at but without some tangible clarification or substantiation on the background I just felt like I was missing something. I tried searching online hoping to find further information but eventually I resigned myself to never fully understanding what "Font Hill Duppy" was really about.

So fast forward to early this September... I'm cruising around on Ebay and I came across thee most informative record auction listing, I've ever had the pleasure to read. The auction listing was written by long-time reggae aficionado, historian and musician Luke Ehrlich and lo and behold my questions were immediately answered!

Ehrlich wrote rather succinctly...

"Font Hill Duppy" is a humorous look at a sinister haunting that occurred in eastern Jamaica, in mid-summer of 1974. At Font Hill, a rural village in the parish of St. Thomas, elderly Mr. Isaac Brown and his wife Adina began experiencing alarming supernatural events in their house including unpleasant poltergeist activity. The ghost, known in Jamaica as a "duppy" or "jumbie", called himself Copie and spoke to the Browns, Font Hill townspeople and curiosity-seekers, never sparing use of the foulest language."

After I had absorbed the new found knowledge about the tune I immediately set out and e-mailed the seller and thanked him for the effort he put into his listing and asked for his approval to use the article written by Manfred Hampton-Nelson from the June 23rd, 1974 edition of the Jamaica Daily News you see above.

So you want to know more about the Font Hill duppy? Instead of paraphrasing and leaving you squinting trying to read the JPG of the newspaper article I'll give it to you verbatim...
"A filthy-mouthed duppy who says he wears a baggy has been drawing crowds to the remote St. Thomas village of Font Hill. Lacing his utterances with a choice array of Jamaican bad words, whom people say has given his name as "Copie," has manifested himself at the home of farmer Isaac Brown, 71, and his wife Adina, 68, over the last six or seven weeks.

Copie has so far defied the efforts of thousands of people who have traveled from far and near to get him to make an appearance. But hundreds say they have heard him speak. And all of those remark at his capabilities with badwords. "You think any of you can curse like him?" Mrs. Brown asked a crowd of 50 people who had gathered outside her fence as usual Wednesday afternoon.

Of course, Copie has been quite active apart from spouting obscenities. He has been burning fences, untying the donkey, silencing the dogs and drinking aerated waters. The first time Mrs. Brown says she knew something was amiss was one night when she heard a knocking at the door. Neither she nor her husband answered the knocking but she did not say why. Instead they started singing a hymn. At this, a voice which has since become familiar said, "me know that one." But the voice did not join with the singing, Mrs. Brown said. They then raised another hymn, and the voice said, "me don't know that one."

The activity then moved to the side of the house with Copie making
some furious noises. At this the Browns did get up and go to their veranda to get a look at what if anything was happening. Seeing nothing they began reciting the Lord's Prayer. At this a stream of profanity rent the night air in the voice they have now come to associate with Copie. At the top of his voice he reeled off every badword he knew.

From that time on he seemed to have taken up residence under the cellar at the rear of the house. And the people who gather there daily focus their attention at this spot.

Shortly after he first made his presence felt, Copie silenced the dogs. Apparently, they barked at him. Offended, he told them to bark no more. People who frequent the place say they have heard no sound from any one of the three dogs since then.

When the Daily News visited on Wednesday afternoon there was the usual weekday afternoon crowd of 50 people or so. Mr. Brown who was just about to leave to attend a JAS meeting stopped for a while to talk with the News. Mr.Brown said he travelled to Cuba in 1921, returned home in 1929, went to England with his wife in 1961 and came back here with her in 1964. On their return they bought the house in which they now live, a house which they had occupied as tenants some ten years before. They then bought some of the land surrounding the home. Mr. Brown expressed the view that the present situation was the result of envy on the part of other people in the district who want to get him to leave his house and land.

Mrs. Brown's grandchildren, Yvette, 11, Barbara, 9, and Joe, 7, live with the couple in the house. Mrs. Brown said quite definitely that she had no intention of leaving the house and those who wanted to get her out would have to kill her. "Him can do me anything, " she said, "I am not leaving my house." "Then Mrs. Brown, are you not frightened?" the Daily News asked. She said she was not at all frightened and turned again to the crowd to explain her faith in God.

While some stalwart men in the crowd confessed that they would experience fear under similar circumstances, others asked her about a story that Copie, like Mary's lamb, had followed her to Church on Saturday. (She is a member of the Seventh Day church)

Was it true that Copie carried on so badly in the church that congregation members chased her out, they asked. Mrs. Brown said that nobody had chased her from church on Saturday. She had gone to church and left early. She was not very clear as to whether in fact there was any duppy-type behavior in the precincts of the church that day.

She turned again without disrelish to Copie's carryings-on. That very day she said he had told her that he had taken away her condensed milk. The milk was in fact missing but later reappeared and he advised that

he had brought it back because he couldn't get through the tin.

She was not so lucky with other things. Her change-purse was taken and not returned. A soft drink bottle was emptied and the bottle thrown away. Fires have been lit at her fence and then have been put out. She, however, got back a traveling bag which contained her sister's clothing. When the bag came back, it contained her Bible and four stones. But things are even worse than
that. If Mrs. Brown attempts to scold or chastise the children, Copie objects and stones are thrown by unseen hands.

She sent the children to fetch water and Copie, objecting, told them "don't go a blast!" Once she was throwing water away and the voice said, "mind you wet up me baggy!" Copie also took Mr. Brown's wrist watch during an operation in which he "spread the table with sugar, flour and rice and baked a meal," apparently making sure the timing was correct. The voice told the Daily News Wednesday it was intruding. "What you come here for? You too fast!" it said.

Copie has told his own story of his coming. He said he had come from England on a boat that docked at Bowden. He had come to stay for six months to get his Ten Pounds and he was not interested in dollars and cents.

Mrs. Brown said the voice told her he would kill her grandchildren then her husband and herself. She is not afraid, she said, only embarrassed. Some nights the bust that passes the Brown's home, has to terminate its journey at that point, because of scores of vehicles which park blocking the road.

The Trinityville police, hearing about the matter, have gone to investigate on several occasions. And they told the Daily News that some members of the force had heard the voice. The police believe the whole thing is a hoax arranged to "deceive somebody." They are convinced something is fishy. But they have no evidence of criminal activity. They have found no implements of obeah, neither has there been any report of any breach of any law. The police say, however that they were old some six week ago, that a couple was seen at midnight in long black gowns "casting spells" in the presence of the Brown's home.

And the people in the area believe that whoever is responsible is a follower of DeLaurence, infamous writers and publishers of literature that is still on the banned list in Jamaica. The question now being asked are whether Copie will get his Ten Pounds, whether this will appease him sufficiently to cease his haunting, whether he will stay his six months anyway, whether any hard will befall the Browns or anybody else, or whether anybody will take the advise of a man in the crowd Wednesday who suggested they call Father. For, he said, Roman Catholic was the "highest science" that exists.

Meanwhile, the crowds still gather around the Brown's cottage at Font Hill."

Count Lasher, born Terence Parkins, is considered by many to be one if not thee greatest mento talents from the music's heyday of the 1950's. He was an accomplished singer and songwriter and his charisma and presence elevated him to a level of popularity that rivaled only that of King Flea. Interestingly enough, Lasher didn't hang it up when mento morphed into ska and as the years passed even recorded reggae tunes in the 1970's, like the one you'll hear today.

"Font Hill Duppy" was recorded in 1974, right in the midst of the duppy stir that had people all over Jamaica talking, by the legendary Clement "Coxsone" Dodd and released on his Bongo Man label. I hope by providing this additional background you'll have a better appreciation for this tune and thanks again to Luke Ehrlich for providing the historical information!

Track 10 - NEW LINK

Monday, October 13, 2008

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 Track 9 - Alfred Hitchcock

Good evening...welcome back to the 2008 Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular... this is your ghost host Reggaexx and again I've got another great Jamaican sweet for your trick-or-treat!

Alfred Hitchcock, born August 13, 1899 and died April 29, 1980, was probably one of the most enigmatic and recognizable figures of the 20th Century. Not withstanding his pioneering talents in the director's chair, he just had a personality you couldn't help but like. On his long running television show Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Hitchcock would deliver his trademark "Good evening" and then go on to introduce each episode in his usual droll fashion... to me those opening monologue were even better than the show itself. I never realized but there were actually two introductions shot for each episode; one for the American market which would poke fun at either a recent commercial or a sponsor and the other for the European market which would poke fun at Americans in general. Later when the show aired in non-English speaking countries, Hitchcock would record his introductions in French and Spanish as well. Pretty impressive!

It is with Alfred Hitchcock Presents on my mind that I put together this track for the Spooktacular. I borrowed the introduction from his 1960 Ghost Stories For Young People LP on the Golden label and set it to a pretty rockin' early reggae tune by Bobby Ellis & The Crystalites called, appropriately enough, "Alfred Hitchcock" and taken from the 1991 LP Blockbuster Reggae Instrumentals on the Crystal imprint. The album, produced by Derrick Harriott, is a various artist collection of rocksteady and reggae songs with different performers teaming up with the Crystalites and recorded throughout the late 60's and early 70's.

Track 9

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Alton Ellis 1938-2008

I hate to interrupt the Spooktacular with sad reality but I just heard the news this morning about the passing of Alton Ellis and I was deeply saddened...

"LONDON (AFP) — Jamaican reggae star Alton Ellis, known as the "Godfather of Rocksteady", died overnight of cancer in London, a hospital spokeswoman said Saturday. He was 70 years old.

Ellis passed away peacefully at Hammersmith Hospital, the spokeswoman said.

The singer-songwriter was diagnosed with multiple myeloma last year. He underwent chemotherapy and returned to the stage before he collapsed during his final performance in central London in August.

Ellis, who moved to Britain in the 1970s, had a string of hits in a career spanning more than 50 years, including "I'm Still In Love", "Dance Crasher" and "I'm Just A Guy".

He was awarded the Order of Distinction medal by Jamaica in 1994.

His manager and agent Trish De Rosa, of Roots-Rockers Promotions, said he was a key figure in Jamaican music.

"His life was the music and the stage," she said.

"He was getting a tremendous amount of work right up to the end -- it was very difficult to get him to slow down.

"He wanted to do as much as he could and leave a strong legacy."

She said Jamaican authorities were considering the possibility of giving Ellis a state funeral.

Laurence Cane-Honeysett, Jamaican music consultant for Trojan Records, said the label had been associated with Ellis throughout his career.

"He was a genuinely lovely man and his songs were heartfelt," he said.

"He was a seminal figure in terms of popularising Jamaican reggae music.

"His death is a terrible loss."

Jamaican reggae singer Delroy Williams, a friend and colleague since the 1960s, described his voice as "the sweetest in the reggae world".

"He was very humble," he said.

"His music is the reason for a lot of babies -- that's how sweet and warm and loving it is.

"It's just a shame that he didn't get the big world hit that he deserved."

Ellis, who lived in the northwest London suburb of Northolt, is survived by his wife and more than 20 children."

As a tribute, I've provided the link to the Alton Ellis mix I did when I first heard that he was very ill and undergoing chemotherapy... Once we get out of October I will definitely be putting together another mix in Alton's honor.

First we're going to hear "Cry Tough" from the 1992 Heartbeat various artists compilation set Duke Reid's Treasure Chest. Next is the tune "You Make Me Happy" from Ellis' 1967 debut album on Treasure Isle "Mr Soul Of Jamaica." Up third is another big tune borrowed from Duke Reid's Treasure Chest and its the timeless, "Girl I've Got A Date." The fourth track is "Sh-Boom (Life Could Be A Dream)" from the Alton Ellis CD compilation called Arise Blackman on the Moll Selekta label. The next tune we're gonna hear is called "We Need Love" from the Studio One LP called Showcase from the mid 70's. Taking a turn for the rub-a-dub next with the Junjo Lawes produced "Skateland Girl" from a Volcano 7" - one of my all-time favorites. The next track is "Willow Tree" lifted from the double CD set The Story Of Treasure Isle on the Metro Music label. Returning to the Arise Blackman set for the next song, it's a good one called "Sun Of Man." Our ninth tune in the mix is "Remember That Sunday" from the Trojan various artists sampler Moonwalk - Treasure Isle Skinhead Reggae Anthems. We follow that up with "How Can I" also from Arise Blackman. "La La Means I Love You," another outstanding Alton Ellis classic, lifted from The Story Of Treasure Isle set, is the next tune. "Stronger Than Before" taken from the Abraham Records LP Slummin' is the twelfth song in the mix. Going back to Studio One we've got "Can I Change My Mind" from the Heartbeat release The Best Of Studio One. We're heading back to Africa with the song "Back To Africa" from the 1992 Heartbeat various artists compilation called Lloyd Daley's Matador Productions 1968-1972. Getting toward the end we're going to hear "It's A Shame" from Blood & Fire's excellent 2001 compilation Darker Than Blue - Soul From Jamdown. Finally we wrap it up with "Loving Mood," Alton's take on Delroy Wilson's hit "Dancing Mood" from the 2005 Moll Selekta various artists CD called The Bunny Lee Rocksteady Years.

Alton Ellis Tribute

Re-Up of the Volcano 7" "Skateland Girl"

Friday, October 10, 2008

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 Track 8 - Run For Your Life!!

Run for your life!! It's the 8th track in our 2008 Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular and it's coming your way!! The tune is called "Run For Your Life" by the Jamaican reggae artist Jackie Paris, not the American jazz singer and guitarist of the same name. Track 8 is lifted from a 1978 7" on the very Halloween appropriate Mummy label and produced by Winston Riley. Though it's not mentioning any specific monsters it does warn you to "run for your life, he's behind you with a knife" and works quite well with the Halloween trailer introduction. The odd thing about this record, it's sung to a tune that was very familiar and had me guessing for days where I knew it from... after a couple days I made the connection. "Run For Your Life" is sung to the tune of Disney's Snow White classic "Hi Ho" of all things. Luckily I have solved this little dilemma and you can just stop driving yourself crazy wondering where you know this song from and enjoy it on its own very un-Disney merits. I mean the song is basically talking about escaping from the clutches of someone trying to kill you and if that isn't completely un-Disney I don't know what is!

I originally wanted to fill this tune with audio from John Carpenter's classic 1978 film Halloween but instead I went the easier route by just adding some mad Dr. Frankenstein and his rampaging monster. Besides, Michael Myers doesn't utter a word in any of the movies so it would have been hard to convey what exactly was going on behind the tune.

I had to include a picture of the record label because I think it is the coolest spooky designed labels to ever come out of Jamaica... on second thought it is most likely the only label to come out of Jamaica with a monster so prominently featured. Have a great weekend... see you on Monday!

Track 8

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 Track 7 - The Monster, a Blood Banshee To Be Exact!!

Before I begin talking about today's tune I want to thank Jason at Scar Stuff for providing an important component to what you're about to hear. If you look over to the left, you'll see an add that has been stuck in my subconcious for nearly 30 years. You see, this ad from a company by the name of Gayle House, encouraging you to "Invite your friends over for a haunting," appeared in countless comic books in my youth and every time I cracked open an issue of whatever I was reading back then, I always took the liberty of fully absorbing this spirited 4 color sales pitch. With copy like, "this record creates a real atmosphere of terror with sounds that can almost be seen!" you could definitely understand why a boy of my age would have been intrigued. But I don't know if it was the exorbitant $1.00 (plus $.25 postage and handling!) asking price or the fear that I would be the "next victim" of the evil demons contained on this 7 inch slab of vinyl which kept me from ever ordering it.

Last October when I saw that Jason had uploaded this record I couldn't believe my eyes! The instant I layed eyes on that seemingly forgotten ad the memories of its well written copy came flooding back just like I had just read it yesterday! And what was even more astounding was the fact that I was mere moments away from gratifying my 30 year curiosity of what was actually contained on the record and I didn't have to spend the $1.25 to do so!

To quote Jason, " you'll soon be able to discover, not only are the sounds on the Gayle House single unique, the record has a freakishly lame and astoundingly perfect charm all its own. It even manages to scrupulously follow the rules of the mighty Rip-Off Halloween Record genre (those being: a totally half-assed "story telling" side, and a banded "sound effects" side using most of the same audio library just without the narration), while still happily amplifying both their cheapest AND most exploitive qualities!"

He went on to write, "Threadbare plot! Terrible narrator! One sound effect repeated ad nauseam! Children in peril!), but believe me, as far as I'm concerned it was more than worth the 30+ year wait." I couldn't agree more.

So here it is almost in its entirety... the Gayle House Horror Record riding on a dub tune from 1978 by the group W.J.W And Roots Trunk & Branches called "The Monster" and it's taken off the LP called The Weak Will Be Strong on the Splendour Heights label. I haven't been able to find any substantial information about the group itself but, after doing some research I found a name that is AKA'd with them and that name is Joe White.

Joe White started off his musical career in the 1960's as a member of the vocal group The Leaders, alongside such big names as Ken Boothe and Roy Shirley, that surprisingly never took off. He went on to release occassional solo records throughout the ska, rocksteady and reggae eras for Studio One and Sonia Pottinger's High Note label before deciding to give up singing in favor of playing the melodica. He recorded a solo album for producer Harry J in 1975 entitled Jah Jah Dub and released on the Roosevelt label.

So here it is, track seven... I like to call it W.J.W. And Roots Trunk & Branches Meet The Blood Banshee In A Gayle House 7" Haunting Fashion! Enjoy!

Track 7

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 Track 6 - Vampire Rockin' With The GG All Stars

We're on to the next tune in our round-up of creepy tunes from the "loudest island in the world" and its another good one and actually one I never even knew existed until late last month. I was online doing some research and trying to dig up some more "duppy tunes" for this years mix when I came across an Ebay listing for the 1978 12" of Lone Ranger's "Barnabas Collins." Now I've got multiple copies of Ranger's tune on various formats but I didn't have the 12" on the GG Hits label. On the flip side was a song I had never heard and one that I initially believed was probably only a retitled instrumental version which oftentimes occupies the B-side on most Jamaican vinyl but I soon found out that I was very wrong.

I found a shared copy of the 12" online posted by a real nice guy who goes my the name of Willyguttz and he was kind enough to re-upload it for me. I was blown away by what was improperly credited to the GG All Stars because it's a completely independent spooky themed reggae tune on the classic "My Conversation" riddim (just like Dillinger's tune from yesterday). I immediately sought out and bought the record because it had everything I love about a Halloween appropriate reggae track... straightforward supernatural subject matter discussing haunted houses, vampires and even Frankenstein and a great riddim that I never tire of.

I hope you can appreciate and enjoy this one as much as I do because to me, its been like uncovering a long-lost treasure. And though the real vocalist's identity may have been lost to time or Earnest Ranglin's shoddy record keeping, this is a near perfect reggae tune for the Halloween season!

Track 6

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 Track 5 - Dillinger And His Unquenchable Thirst

Next up in the mix is Dillinger with a tune called "I Thirst" which is taken from his album Cup Of Tea orginally released in 1980 on the Jamaica Sound label. If you're a regular reader and this ain't your first time here at the annual October Spookshow, you'll immediately recognize the My Conversation riddim. Even with the added synthesized alterations at the beginning it will immediately put you in mind of the classic reggae Halloween staple "Barnabas Collins" by Lone Ranger... now if you suddenly find yourself thinking of Ol' Barnabas and dark, spooky Collinwood estate then you should probably just remain in that mindset because Dillinger revisits the familiar Dark Shadows subject matter. Maybe this tune was an effort to perhaps capitalize on Ranger's success by making a follow-up on the same riddim with similar "gothic" subject matters or perhaps back in 1979-80 Jamaica was in the midst of a Dark Shadows frenzy... I really can't tell. Dillinger even goes so far as to recite a couple lines from Yellowman's "Mi Kill Barnie." It doesn't really matter because all in all, this an enjoyably creepy reggae tune!

After the mention of Barnabas Collins, I imagine some long-time readers were wondering if he was going to surface again this year. But I can confidently say that Ol' Barnie has finally met his doom and will not be haunting us again this year with another version....... or is he? Mwuhahahahahahaha!

Track 5

Monday, October 06, 2008

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2008 Track 4 - Dark Shadows

Welcome back to the first full week of Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular tunes for this October, and we're starting off this Monday with a great one by Charles Hanna & The Graduates. The song is called "Dark Shadows," was released as a 7" on the Graduates label in 1973 and is in fact a reggae cover of ABC's daytime soap opera Dark Shadows' theme song. And after a 4 year search for this tune it is with great pleasure that I finally present it here in this year's Spooktacular!

I haven't been able to find out any background information on Charles Hanna other than the fact that a couple artists have stated that they performed with the band in the early 1970's. Now here's where it gets weird... I did a search for Charles Hanna & The Graduates and up popped this website called Band Mix with a listing for the group now based in Lenexa Kansas of all places! I looked at the accompanying photo and grew even more intrigued... could this be the same person? How did a band that was cutting records in Jamaica, on their own label no less, during the early years of reggae, wind up in Kansas of all places? I signed up for a free account on the site in hopes that I would be able to get an e-mail address and get the story from Charles Hanna himself, but they of course wanted me to pay $9.99 just to contact anyone... so unlike American Express, I guess the free membership has absolutely no privileges. And don't get me wrong, I would have paid the ten bucks just in hopes of getting a chance to learn some more but the Band Mix website looked a little sketchy with no secure server to properly handle my credit card number... oh well.

Well let's get to the music... I have embellished "Dark Shadows" with audio borrowed from the 1973 kiddie record Scary Spooky Stories on Troll Records. I used the piece called "Dark, Dark, Dark" and I think it goes great with the spooky organ driven reggae rhythm!

I'll leave you with one question... is this the same Charles Hanna?? The world may never know...

Track 4