Friday, March 13, 2009

A Tribute To Producer Leslie Kong

I know it has been awhile but I'm starting to see the "light at the end of the tunnel," so to speak, and will be able to post a little more frequently. To be honest with you all, I just haven't been able to find the motivation to get things rolling again and I hope this post will be the sign of better things to come.

I've been planning on doing a couple mixes to highlight two of Jamaican music's most important producers and two of my all-time favorites; Duke Reid and Leslie Kong. I have really been listening to a lot of both producers work over the last couple months and look forward to sharing my love for this music with you you. I actually did this as a coin-flip and because tails won Leslie Kong will go first.

Now I didn't do a bunch of research or compile all the hit songs into one mix, I just put some great tunes together for your listening pleasure. And... since I'm not doing a lot of research and sincerely fighting the urge to stay lazy I'll give you the Wikipedia biography...

"Leslie Kong and his brothers (Fats and Cecil) used to run a restaurant, ice cream parlor and record shop called Beverley's in Orange Street, Kingston. In 1961, he met Jimmy Cliff singing outside of his shop; this encounter led him to decide to launch his own record label, "Beverley's", and to record Cliff's first song "Dearest Beverley", thus launching his career.

In 1962, he recorded Bob Marley's first singles: "One Cup of Coffee" and "Judge Not," as well as Jimmy Cliff's hit, "Miss Jamaica". Kong, known in Jamaican music circles as "the Chinaman," quickly established himself as the island's leading producer of local popular music. Throughout the 1960s Kong kept recorded many Jamaican artists from ska to reggae through rocksteady and into reggae including Joe Higgs, Desmond Dekker, Toots & The Maytals, Derrick Morgan, John Holt and Stranger Cole. A wise businessman, Kong made from 1963 a license deal with Chris Blackwell's Island Records subdivision "Black Swan" label, then Graeme Goodall's Pyramid imprint and then with Trojan Records by the end of the 1960's.

Kong is also known for being the first Jamaican producer to get international hits with long-time collaborator Desmond Dekker, in 1967 with "007 (Shanty Town)" and above all in 1969 with "Israelites" which topped the UK Charts in April 1969 and went to number nine on the US charts in July 1969, selling over two million copies. During the early reggae period, he worked with Bob Marley again this time with his band The Wailers and enjoyed several successful hits with The Pioneers' "Long Shot Kick The Bucket," The Melodians' "Rivers of Babylon" and "Sweet Sensation". His work with The Maytals also led to many hits including "54-46 That's My Number" and UK top chart single "Monkey Man."

Throughout his career, Kong employed the best musicians in town as a session band under the name of "The Beverley's Allstars" including musical directors, Drumbago, in the ska era or Roland Alphonso during the rocksteady/early reggae times. Other artists who recorded at Beverley's include Ken Boothe, Bruce Ruffin, The Gaylads, Delroy Wilson and Peter Tosh.

Kong died of a heart attack at age 38 in August of 1971, after being allegedly 'cursed' by Bunny Livingston of The Wailers after a dispute over the release of an album entitled The Best Of The Wailers; the Wailers believed that the release of such an album was premature, saying that their best music was yet to come. Kong makes a cameo appearance in the film The Harder They Come, where he is seen overseeing a recording session with Toots & the Maytals."

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

1. Desmond Dekker - Pickney Gal
2. The Pioneers - Driven Back
3. Beverley's All Stars - Be Yours
4. Bruce Ruffin - Bitterness Of Life
5. Delroy Wilson - Show Me The Way
6. The Wailers - Caution
7. The Gaylads - Cold And Lonely Night
8. Ken Boothe - Keep My Love From Fading
9. The Melodians - It Took A Miracle
10. The Maytals - Peeping Tom
11. The Melodians - It's My Delight
12. Peter Tosh & The Wailers - Stop The Train
13. The Maytals - Walk With Love
14. Tyrone Evans - Let Them Say
15. Jimmy Cliff - Hard Road To Travel
16. The Pioneers - Money Day
17. The Wailers - Back Out
18. The Gaylads - Someday I Will Be Free
19. Ansel Collins - Sentimental Journey
20. Desmond Dekker - Ah It Mek
21. Delroy Wilson - Gave You My Love
22. Jimmy Cliff - Hello Sunshine
23. Ken Boothe - Now I Know
24. The Maytals - One Eyed Enos
25. The Wailers - Cheer Up



jeff said...

good to see you back....
all your hard work is truly appreciated.

Hunter said...

big up the return of the "producer"...have been listening to some of your past you are bringing happiness ...

Waskrijt said...

Glad to see you back, especially with such great tunes. Thanks!

PA said...

I came across at your blog and I find it very interesting. It was worth reading. Thanks for sharing this information. Keep it up!

Mike said...

just came across your blog...thanx for the excellent mixes!!!

is there any chance you can upload some of your old mixes...would love to download the Volcano version excursion mix but unfortunately the link is dead.

truely appreciate your blog - big up yourself!!!

Anonymous said...

I lived next door to Leslie for a number of years in Norbrook Acres.He was a quiet guy who chain smoked and was always working.Would bring home to me fresh 45s without in particular ,POOR ME ISRAELITES by Desmond Decker and the ACES.His wife Colleen and my Mum were friends and theywould drink pink Gins in the afternoons.I wonder how Quentin is.

Impress for Less said...

I too grew up on Norbrook Acres Drive and have often wondered where Quentin is now ...


Anonymous said...

Quentin Kong here for those who have asked I am living in Toronto. All is well!

Anonymous said...

It must have been the mid 70's when i used to go to Beverley record shop in Orange St with my uncle who owned it then. The Ice cream parlour later extended into a restaurant and i can remember the delicious curry goat and rice and peas that was served up. I remember helping myself in Beverleys to my first 45 which was David Souls Dont give up on us with Black bean soup on the B side. I think my uncle was related in some way to Leslie Kong because he soon managed the restaurant and record shop soon after Leslie's untimely death. I am too a Kong.

Anonymous said...

hey there i'm too a Kong must be a family link up! would love to link up and reason about family, beverleys in those day my new label... who knows let me know bless up all people and Uncle Les legacy

Camp Lucky Ten said...

Thanks for sharing. Respect from the only one Indonesian who admires late Mr Kong, Mr Blackwell and Jamaica. #onelove