Friday, October 30, 2009

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 - Track Twenty Two - Captain Barkey's "Vampire"

Here we are at the final tune and what a long trip it has been! I hope you've been enjoying what you've been hearing and I hope this last song doesn't disappoint. It's another dancehall tune and it comes from the man Captain Barkey and it comes from a 12" on the Joe Frasier label... it's called appropriately "Vampire."

I originally heard this song inside the mix LP released by VP in 1996 called Cool Ragga Mix and had tried for years to locate a copy of Barkey's tune in its entirety. Last year I eventually came across the 12" online and I wouldn't say I overpaid for it but it wasn't exactly dirt cheap... a week after I received it I did a search on Ernie B's Reggae and came across the same single for $.89!! Ugh, it made me sick!

Regardless, I was happy to finally put it in the collection and I'm happy to share it with everyone... besides my expensive copy sounds better than one that costs under a dollar! :)

Well, I guess that means we've got nothing left but the "Big Night." It has been a great month and I've enjoyed presenting this mix to those who have shown their appreciation for what I do here. Enjoy!

Spooktacular Track Twenty Two

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 - Track Twenty One - Sancho's "Chase Vampire"

We're dropping the second to last tune in the 2009 Spooktacular inna dancehall style!

And we've got a kick-ass tune by the man Sancho... an artist who as far as I know only had this one hit. Supposedly this riddim, Chase Vampire, was originally created by an unknown producer named Antonio Gilbert and it was versioned by bigger names such as Donovan Germain, King Jammy and Black Scorpio but I can't find any definitive proof to confirm or deny such rumors.

This is a fantastic Halloween/Duppy dancehall tune! Not only does Sancho go on to describe a frightening late night encounter but he rambles off names of some real horror favorites such as Barnabas Collins, Herman Munster, Frankenstein, Werewolf and Dracula.

It comes to us from a 12" on the Ikus label and I'm hoping that you dig this one as much as I do because I've been holding back on using this tune for a couple years now!

I really put a lot of effort into the backing sound effects, it's subtle but extremely involved and I was half tempted just to post the "tapestry" of effects so you could play it at loud volume on Halloween night and scare the trick or treaters.

Spooktacular Track Twenty One

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 - Track Twenty - Roland Alphonso's "Devils Disciple"

Roland Alphonso & The Bunny Lee Allstars are up next in the Spooktacular with a tune called "Devils Disciple" taken from the Black Magic Reggae CD set on the Sanctuary label.

Roland Alphonso (born January 12, 1931, Havana, Cuba) moved to Jamaica at the age of 2 and started out in the music business in 1948 when he left school to join Eric Dean's Orchestra and first started recording for Stanley Motta's MRS label in 1952 during the heyday of mento music. He went on to record for Clement "Coxsone" Dodd in 1956 but sadly the master tapes were lost and never made it to mastering. In 1959 he joined up with Cluett Johnson and his band Clue J and His Blues Blasters all while recording for producers such as Duke Reid, Lloyd Daley and King Edwards, playing alto, tenor and baritone sax as well as the occasional flute. He went on to become a founding member of the legendary Skatalites, the first session band at Coxsone's newly opened Studio One studio in 1963.

When the Skatalites disbanded in 1965, Alphonso formed his own band The Soul Brothers with Dizzy Moore and Jackie Mittoo and who would later become known as The Soul Vendors in 1967. He continued working throughout the 60's and 70's and received official recognition for his contributions to music in 1977 when Jamaica awarded him the Officer Of The Order Of Distinction.

Amazingly Roland Alphonso continued to record throughout the 80's and the 90's until his death on November 20, 1998.

Spooktacular Track Twenty

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 - Track Nineteen - Massive Dread's "Vamps On The Corner"

Tune nineteen comes from the man Massive Dread and it's a song called "Vamps On The Corner" taken from his 1982 album Strictly...Bubbling on the Wailing Souls' own Up Front Organization label.

Massive Dread (born Dennis James, 1960, Trenchtown, Jamaica) started recording in the late 70's for Tappa Zukie and gained notoriety in the 80's while touring with, of all people, Byron Lee & The Dragonaires. To quote from Wikipedia...

"He introduced the "bubbling" style of delivery, which was well received by audiences at events such as Reggae Sunsplash and his album Strictly...Bubbling (produced by Tommy Cowan's wife Velerie) capitalized on his popularity, including Jamaican chart-toppers such as "This Is Massive."


Spooktacular Track Nineteen

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 - Track Eighteen - Dub Connection's "Jamaican Hammer Horror"

Back again for more? Well... I've got five more tunes to wrap-up the 2009 Spooktacular and I hope you'll stick with me!

We're jumping back in with a song called "Jamaican Hammer Horror" from the 1982 album called DC Dub Connection on the Tele-Tech label. This album contains work from a veritable who's who of dub and I would assume the Dub Connection name is easier than listing all those involved as the primary artists. That being said, the two key players here are Scientist and Prince Jammy... with recording engineering by Perry, recording at both the Black Ark and King Tubby's and the mixing being done at Tubby's. The musician roster includes... Mikey Boo Richards, Sly Dunbar, Horsemouth Wallace, Bertram Ranchie McLean, Leroy Sibbles, Lloyd Parks, Flabba Holt, Boris Gardiner, Bingy Bunny, Ronnie Bop, Bo Peep, Eric Flater, Willie Lindo, Ansel Collins, Winston Wright, Keith Sterling, David Madden, Bobby Ellis, Headley Bennett, Glen Da Costa, Vin Gordon, Uziah Sticky Thompson and Skully! A dream line-up! It was produced by the man Earl Morgan.

But let's get to the song, "Jamaican Hammer Horror." If you are familiar with horror films you know the name Hammer Studios. If you're not than you ought to be ashamed of yourself! To be honest with you I'd always been familiar with their films and wasn't a real fan until earlier this year. I started off watching their Dracula films starring Christopher Lee and usually served with a helping of Peter Cushing and I got hooked.

Now it would have been easy for me to take one of Hammer's better known productions of Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, etc. and mix it in with the Jamaican flavor but I decided to go a little more obscure.

As the photo at the top of this posting suggests, I went with The Reptile... one of my favorites. Now here's where I slip into my Robert Graves/Turner Classic Movies host persona... An efficient chiller from Hammer, absorbing and atmospheric and directed by John Gilling. Featuring a cast of Noel Willman, Jennifer Daniel and Ray Barrett... from 1966... The Reptile Meets The DC Dub Connection Inna Jamaican Hammer Horror Fashion. Enjoy!

Spooktacular Track Eighteen

Friday, October 23, 2009

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 - Track Seventeen - Levi Williams' "Duppy Jamboree"

Last year I gave you a cover of "Duppy Jamboree" by the man Flip Kay and this year I give you the original hit by Levi Williams!

This comes from a 1974 7" on the Mighty Cloud label produced by George McLean and backed by a studio band who called themselves the Mighty Cloud Band.

Interestingly enough the veteran reggae singer Al Campbell was a one time member of the "Mighty Cloud Band." I found an interview online with Campbell on the website and this is what he said about Duppy Jamboree...

"Q: What about the bands you used to play with in the seventies, like the Mighty Cloud Band for instance?

A: Yeah, me used to play with Mighty Cloud, me an' Ernest Wilson's bredda, Leonard Wilson.

Q: And the leader for that band was George McLean, also known as Bobby Mack.

A: Yeah. George McLean, 'Bobby Mack', yeh. Me used to sing with the band, vocalist, an' one day we're going to the studio an' I was always bangin' the piano. So when I going to the studio in the morning now, the keyboard player never turn up. So when the keyboard player never turn up, them call me an' seh, "Al, come here. All the while I hear yu bangin' the piano, come now an' ting, see if yu can hold this riddim ya for me". So me say, "Well, me is a one-hand player, yunno, me cyaan play with two hand". So him seh all right. So, him show me the key an' how the intro start an' the firs' song whe we play is a tune like 'If yu waan hear the duppy laugh, come a riverside Sunday morning...'. And the song was a number one in a Jamaica for weeks!

Q: That was this guy called Levi Williams.

A: Yeah."

Spooktacular Track Seventeen

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 - Track Sixteen - King Horror's "Frankenstein"

Much to our delight, Laurel Aitken assumes his evil alter ego King Horror once again and this time channels Frankenstein.

If you've been following the Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular over the last four years you'll know that the King Horror tunes are some of the best! In years past he's given us his screaming tribute to the "Loch Ness Monster," his foreboding warning from the undead "Dracula Prince Of Darkness" and now his honor to the sinister laboratory created Frankenstein monster!

God, do I wish he had recorded more! All three songs mentioned are fantastic early reggae tunes in a late night horror host stylee and as an added bonus don't require much embellishment to get their point across.

What we're going to hear today is taken from a 1969 7" on the Nu Beat label and is definitely my favorite track in this years Spooktacular! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

If I was Count Dracula I'd sure hate to meet King Horror's Frankenstein in a dark alley... judging by the delivery and intensity of this tune he's gotta serious ass kickin' comin' his way!

Spooktacular Track Sixteen

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 - Track Fifteen - The Revolutionaries' "Rigor Mortis"

rigor mor·tis (rig ər môr tis; occas.' gôr)
the progressive stiffening of the muscles that occurs several hours after death as a result of the coagulation of the muscle protein

The tune for today has a name in common with the morbid definition above and that's where the similarities end. This is an upbeat dub tune by the Revolutionaries from the 1978 Ballistic LP called Rasta Fire (A Channel One Experience) featuring the DJ Errol Scorcher on 8 tunes and the Revolutionaries doing their thing on the following 4 tracks. You're gonna wanna get up and move, stiffness ain't what this tune's about! An excellent early rub-a-dub Joseph Hoo Kim production from the legendary Channel One!

The intro was taken from the trailer of the 1973 Bob Clark (of Porky's and Christmas Story fame) cult classic "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things." One of my favorite low budget horror films and one that is actually succeeds in being scary in parts... must see low brow viewing for Halloween!

Spooktacular Track Fifteen

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 - Track Fourteen - Boris Gardiner's "Darkness"

Today's tune "Darkness" comes from Boris Gardiner And The Love People and is taken from the crucial 2006 double CD set of "duppy tunes" called Black Magic Reggae on the Castle Pulse label.

Boris Gardiner (born January 13, 1943, Kingston, Jamaica) aside from having an appropriate Halloween sounding name, is a singer, songwriter and bassist started out in the music biz in the 1960's touring with Carlos Malcolm And The Afro Caribs and Byron Lee And The Dragonaires. Later in the decade he became a session musician for The Upsetters, The Crystalites and the Aggrovators.

His first album Reggae Happening was released in 1970 and achieved moderate success by selling relatively well in England. But in 1986 Boris Gardiner had real chart success when the tune "I Want To Wake Up With You," went to number one on the UK charts and remained there for nearly two months!

Boris is straying away from the lovey dovey today and getting a little spooky with this organ driven tune that goes well with the 1950's "spook show"radio ad. Kinda like it was meant to be there!

Spooktacular Track Fourteen

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Spooktaculars From Halloweens Past

Hello all! I've had a lot of requests for re-ups of previous Jamaican and Non-Jamaican Spooktaculars from years past... I have uploaded them all again and am providing the download links you see below. Hope you enjoy them!

The Jamaican Spooktaculars
2006, 2007, 2008

The Non-Jamaican Spooktaculars
2006, 2007, 2008

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 - Track Thirteen - Ernie Smith's "Duppy Gunman"

The classic 1974 duppy tune by Ernie Smith and taken from a 7" on the Wild Flower label. Here's a little write-up about the story behind the tune that appeared on the Jamaica Gleaners website on October 28, 2007 and written by Mel Cooke.

"If ever there was a case of a songwriter starting a song with the opposite of the real life situation which inspired it, it is Ernie Smith and Duppy Gunman.

Written one Saturday night in 1974, recorded the following Monday at Federal Studios, released that same mid-week and soaring to the top of the charts ("in those days everything I did went to number one except Power and the Glory. Michael banned that," Smith told The Sunday Gleaner), Duppy Gunman tells the tale of a romantic liaison that could have been. It opens:

I an I man forward

Pon a different scene

I an I man collie weed

I an I man queen

Everything was irie

Getting in the groove

We jus' a come dung to movement

When someone sey don't move

However, while there was a 'queen', there was no getting down to movements.

"I had just played a gig. In those days I had a friend who used to help me lift the equipment. Coming home from the gig I got a girl to go home with. I dropped him home. Me and the girl going on a liaison. I got the feeling like my friend is sitting there," Smith said.

The friend had been in the back of the VW van he was driving.

"I said 'It feels like Robbie is still sitting there. I said 'It must be a duppy'. Then I thought about the violence and I said 'or a gunman'. I said 'It is a song'," a laughing Ernie Smith told The Sunday Gleaner.

Hence the chorus:

It mus be a duppy or a gunman

I man no fin' out yet

I an I did so frighten

All de daughter name I feget

He may or may not have forgotten the 'daughter's' name by now, but he did forget whatever intentions were at hand before the song came. "I never bothered to go home with the girl. I went to my real home and wrote the song. She was very upset," he said.

There is some similarity to that real life anger in the fictional musical tale, as Smith sings "The nex' day de daughter ask me, what happen to yu las' night, jus' when yu ready fi work de show, yu ketch stage fright".

And one line that was definitely taken from something that really happened was when Smith sings "One ting me know fe certain, spread it round the town, it no mek no no sense yu run before yu foot touch the ground".

"There was a guy who described sitting in his living room and watching a thief in his pear tree. All he said was 'hi sah' and the man started running in mid-air. When the man hit the ground his feet were like a car burning rubber. That is where that line came from," Smith said. He was told that story a couple weeks before the song was written.

Sometimes Smith changes the name of the speedster recorded as the point of reference for fleetness of foot in 1974 ("Quarrie was a bway to I man las' night, him coulden falla me") to Asafa Powell and he says no other outstanding Jamaican sprinters have been used in between. And on occasion he adjusts the chorus and sings "I an I did so frighten all me underwear I feget". "Sometimes I sing it like that if there are not too many children around," he said.

The distinctive trombone featured on Duppy Gunman is the work of Trinidadian Jerome Francique and the Now Generation Band supplied the music.

Smith laughs as he says he hopes non-Jamaicans who jam to the song understand the lyrics and adds that "A lot of non-Jamaicans who are into reggae understand the song".

And a song that was "an instant hit" has been a lasting one as well. "These days when I do that song anywhere I ask the audience to join in and sing the chorus. They know every word," Smith said."

Spooktacular Track Thirteen

Friday, October 16, 2009

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 - Track Twelve - Aston "Family Man" Barrett's "Duppy Conqueror"

One time Wailers bass player Aston "Family Man" Barrett and his interpretation of Bob's classic. A more modern approach to a timeless tune.

Spooktacular Track Twelve

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 - Track Eleven - Pampidoo's "Ghost Buster"

Pampidoo's "Ghost Buster" from his album The Governor General on the Freedom Sounds label and produced by the late great Bertram Brown.

Spooktacular Track Eleven

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The (Non-Jamaican) Halloween Spooktacular 2009

Here's the playlist... download links are below!
1. The Creepniks - Zombie Stomp

2. Frankie Stein & His Ghouls - A Hearse Is Not A Home

3. Misfits - Bloodfeast

4. Southern Culture On The Skids - Swamp Thing

5. King Horror - Dracula Prince Of Darkness
6. The Upperclassmen - Cha Cha With The Zombies
7. Don Hinson & The Rigamorticians - Riboflavin Flavored, Non-Carbonated, Polyunsaturated Blood

8. Hasil Adkins - Haunted House

9. Satan's Pilgrims - Creature Feature

10. Gene Moss & The Monsters - I Want To Bite Your Hand

11. Contrails - Mummy Walk (Walking Death)

12. The Meteors - Graveyard Stomp
13. Vin Gordon - Red Blood
14. Moontrekkers - Night Of The Vampire

15. Captain Clegg & The Night Creatures - Transylvania Terror Train

16. The Mellowmen - Trick Or Treat
17. Messer Chups - Little Blood Sucker

18. Screaming Lord Sutch - Big Black Coffin
19. The Ghastly Ones - Fuzzy & Wild

20. The Memphis Morticians - Devil's Rain

21. The Ghouls - Shake Rattle & Rot

22. Nightmares - Headless Ghost

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 - Track Ten - Carlton Livingston's "Are You Afraid"

Carlton Livingston's 7" "Are You Afraid" on the Cookie Jar label.

Carlton Livingston started out in the music biz as a singer, went on to DJ alongside Lone Ranger for a local soundsystem in the early 70's and eventually reverted back to singing by the time the decade came to a close. His first recording was "The Tale Of Two Cities" produced and released on Channel One's Hitbound label. Livingston released hits for Sly & Robbie, Jah Life and Clive Jarrett's Dynamite imprint. He is probably best known for the tune "100 Weight Of Collie Weed," one of the baddest tunes from the rub-a-dub era.

I've read that "Are You Afraid" was recorded and released in the 90's but definitely has a very "old school" minimalistic rub-a-dub approach.

Spooktacular Track Ten

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 - Track Nine - Buster's All Stars' "Seven Duppy"

Buster's All Stars with the song "Seven Duppy" from the CD called Rock A Shacka on the Japanese Rock A Shacka label.

Spooktacular Track Nine

Monday, October 12, 2009

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 - Track Eight - Bag-O-Wire's "Creeper"

I've bagged the weekend posts but the Halloween Spooktacular rolls on... the next song is called "Creeper" and comes from the band Bag-O-Wire and their self-titled 1975 album on the Klik label.

A real nice dub tune and one that I feel works well to compliment the trailer audio for Italian filmmaker Dario Argento's 1985 film Creepers AKA Phenomena... Creepers is the story of a girl named Jennifer whose ability to communicate with insects gets her enlisted to help solve a series of serial killings. As you can imagine lots of scariness ensues.

Spooktacular Track Eight

Friday, October 09, 2009

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 - Track Seven - The Innkeepers' "Duppy Serenade"

Welcome back... as you can see I've got yet another tune up my sleeve for this years Spooktacular and it comes directly from good ol' Jamaican vinyl. Though technically the pic you see on the right over there is not a picture of the record I own it serves its purpose... I would have gladly scanned my copy which features the Supreme label in a vibrant shade of blue but that wonderful piece of technology was left behind in my divorce.

Okay, enough about the picture let's get to the music! What clearly appears as the tune "Duppy Serenade" and credited to the Inn Keepers is actually one of the originators of the early DJ style, Dennis Alcapone. The song touches again on the theme popularized in The Wailers' classic "Mr. Brown."

If you are unfamiliar with the story of Mr. Brown I'll fill you in by quoting from what I wrote about the legend of Mr. Brown in October of 2005...

" 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 (or voodoo) 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."

Now Alcapone goes on to make the story a little more interesting by claiming that three crows are riding around on the coffin now singing in unison, "John Brown, John Brown, John Brown, John Brown" but oddly not everyone can see them. To be honest with you, I don't really get the inside story to what's going on here... every time I listen to this tune I can't help but feeling like I'm missing an important insider piece of information.

Regardless, it's a good "duppy song" and with the crow embellishments I added I think you'll get the gist.

Spooktacular Track Seven

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 - Track Six - The Upsetters' "Touch Of Fire"

We're on to track six and it comes to us courtesy of Lee "Scratch" Perry's band the Upsetters and it's a little tune called "Touch Of Fire." I know "Touch Of Fire" isn't exactly a full fledged "duppy tune" but it has a definite creepy appeal. For me, I can't decided if it's Glen Adams' sinister sounding organ at the beginning or if it's when the evil organ loses its sanity and digresses into seemingly tuneless dementia where its establishes its charm.

So much has been written about the legendary Upsetters and the work they did under Lee Perry's tutelage that it's not necessary for me to get into a long winded dissertation about their history. If you want to know more I recommend the excellent People Funny Boy: The Genius Of Lee "Scratch" Perry by David Katz... it's chock full of information!

"Touch Of Fire" comes from the Upsetters 1969 album on the Trojan label Return Of Django and I've added minimal monster and maniacal laughter to sweeten it up a bit. I've noticed that most of the Upsetter tracks I've used throughout the years always give me a feeling of lunacy and I think that's what makes them nice additions to any Spooktacular.

As for The She Beast you ask? I've had that trailer on my hard drive for years and I've never had the proper tune to which to use it. I figured since "Touch Of Fire" was kinda out on a limb to begin with I'd use it now or forever hold my She Beast.

The She Beast (AKA Revenge Of The Blood Beast, AKA Satan's Sister, AKA Sister Of Satan) is a 1966 British-Italian horror film about a witch who gets attacked and executed by a angry mob of 18th century villagers and swears revenge on the descendants of those who murdered her. We flash forward to "present day" 1966 Romania and the trouble that befalls a British couple vacationing there...they have an accident and their car ends up in the very same lake where the witch was murdered 200 years before and the pretty young wife, played by the pretty young Barbara Steele, is transformed into her evilly hideous reincarnation.

I actually think I prefer the trailer's proclamation of the She Beast being "Deadlier than Dracula, wilder than the Werewolf, more frightening than Frankenstein!" to the film itself but Barbara Steele makes Barbara Steele worth watching... oops, I meant the She Beast worth watching. Though she could have spent a little more time on screen without the monster make-up!

Spooktacular Track Six

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 Track Five - Windew Haye's "Haunted House"

I'm starting to notice a pattern here as the Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular's have evolved over the last four year... the first year was pretty easy writing biographical information about the artists involved because by reggae standards they were all pretty mainstream. Now I'm four years in, the artists are more obscure and thusly I'm unable to give any real background on the singers or DJs involved.

Case in point... today's tune is from the man Windew (sometimes Windel) Haye. I've explored all of my resources and the best I can come up with is this... Windew/Windel Haye recorded two songs for Coxsone Dodd's Studio One in 1979. The first was the "Flood Victim," with another unknown DJ by the name of Captain Morgan, riding the Real Rock riddim and was located on the B-Side of Johnny Osbourne's "Water More Than Flour" The second is the tune you're going to hear today, "Haunted House," on the My Conversation riddim and served as the flip side to Cornell Campbell's cover of the Uniques "My Conversation."

The thing is, if you've spend other Halloween's here with me, the rhythm is going to seem very familiar. Barnabas Collins, the television vampire who wouldn't stay dead here on the Spooktacular even after Yellowman had seemingly killed him back in 2007, and who was immortalized in the classic Jamaican Halloween tune Barnabas Collins by the DJ Lone Ranger, rides this riddim as well. I was kind of disappointed I couldn't come up with another obscure version of Barnabas Collins to continue the yearly tradition but "Haunted House" is pretty damn close.

Windew Haye pays tribute to ol' Barnie in the lyrics by proclaiming that "Barnabas live inna haunted house." He even steals a couple lines of Lone Ranger's lyrics elsewhere in the tune and since I can't confirm anything because there is no recorded history on this topic we'll have to take a stab at hypothesis. Here's my rub... Coxsone was floored by the popularity of Lone Ranger's tune and took the unknown DJ Windew Haye into the studio to have him recreate a Studio One version of the song with the same riddim and a different bunch of different lyrics that still followed the same spooky theme. It's quite possible... because years later Coxsone re-recorded Lone Ranger doing "Barnabas Collins" at Studio One but was dropped from the vinyl release of On The Other Side Of Dub most likely because of limited space. It really released until 1991 when Heartbeat records re-issued the album on CD and included the lost track.

The photo you see of Ideal's Haunted House is probably familiar to a lot of us... I didn't have Tomy's Haunted House when I was a kid... since it was released in 1962, nine years before I was born, I missed out. But... my older cousins did! With that distinctive and amazingly illustrated box how could I forget! If you want to read more about the Haunted House game follow this link to I'll leave the discussion of the board game to people who know more than I do about such topics! Add this to the list of things to buy when that Megamillions money starts rolling in! See you all tomorrow!

Spooktacular Track Five

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 Track Four - Lloyd Charmers' "Bone Yard Skank"

Lloyd Charmers (born Lloyd Tyrell, 1938 Kingston Jamaica) started his career in music in 1962 while performing on the Vere Johns' radio talent show on Jamaica's RJR network. He started recording soon after but when his first group, The Charmers, disbanded he joined forces with Slim Smith and Jimmy Riley in the second incarnation of The Uniques in 1967.
Charmers moved on to a solo career in 1970 releasing two mainstream albums and simultaneously ventured into the risque, adult only realm of slack or x-rated content with the tune "Birth Control" and a complete album called Censored, using either his real name or Lloydie And The Lowbites.

Charmers started his Splash record label in the early 70's and began producing other artists like B.B. Seaton, Lloyd Parks, The Gaylads and Ken Boothe. With his studio band, The Now Generation, doing the backing Lloyd Charmers attained a reputation for sophisticated arrangements and in turn scored some fairly big hits during the era.

What we're going to hear today, in a Halloween stylee of course, is an instrumental tune called "Bone Yard Skank" and comes from a 2000 compilation CD on the West Side label titled "Highlights And Lowbites." The ghostly introduction on "Bone Yard Skank" had me hooked the first time I heard it and the smooth flowing tune that follows is absolutely wicked! I tried to run this down as a vinyl single and came up with the identical tune on the Federal label that credited the Bone Yard Belly Dancers instead of Mr. Charmers... go figure.

The Haunt Of Fear issue you see above really has nothing to do with the song but being that I have always enjoyed EC's imagery and the cemetery on the cover perfectly depicts the boneyard I see in my mind's eye.

Spooktacular Track Four

Monday, October 05, 2009

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 Track Three - Murphy Romeo's "Ghost Affair"

Welcome back to the Spooktacular! I hope everyone had a great weekend and is looking forward to hearing some more spooky Jamaican tunes to help get you in the Halloween spirit!

Starting off our first complete week of October merriment is an artist by the name of Murphy Romeo... now here's where I'd give you a little biographical write-up but sadly I was unable to come up with anything to share aside from the fact that Romeo recorded a couple other singles besides the one you're going to hear shortly.

The song is called "Ghost Affair" and comes off a 1975 7" single on the World Wide label and tells the tale of a woman being haunted by a ghost and the trouble that ensues after she hires an Obeah man to rid her home of the spirit... it would probably be correct to say that the Obeah man is the one who meets the most trouble. This is a fun tune and I only did a little embellishing to sweeten it up a bit.

The image of the sad ghost you see above was a cardboard cut-out originally manufactured by the Beistel Company, circa 1975 and borrowed from The Haunted Closet blog. I have fond memories of these ghosts from elementary school and I just found a reproduction set at a local supermarket for $2.99 and best of all... they glow in the dark!!

Spooktacular Track Three

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Mi Ti Dough-ty Walker... Weekend Filler

I remember I was in middle school when my Mom brought this home from somewhere... the book was great with all kinds of spooky illustrations for each story but it was the enclosed cassette tape of Alvin Schwartz's retelling of the stories that really struck my curiosity. I was under the impression that this was going to be a lame bunch of stories for elementary school kids and the retelling was going to be humorous at best.

I popped the tape into my boombox moments after tearing it open that late summer afternoon and sat down to give it a listen. Moments later I surmised that Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark was fantastic! It was genuinely scary and Alvin Schwartz's storytelling abilities were astounding... how could a bunch of stories spelled out in a book and retold exactly as printed be so effective?
Immediately my favorite Scary Story was "Mi Ti Dough-ty Walker" and it was one of those things that stuck in the back of my brain without even realizing at had done so.

So fast forward about 25 years... I was in the car one day last October with my son who was 5 at the time and my daughter who had just turned 4. We were deeply involved in our daily conversation about Halloween; what I want to be this year, the plan of attack for trick or treating, would you rather be a vampire or a werewolf, etc. The kids were chattering away when I suddenly sang out...

"Mi Ti Dough-ty Walker."
Suddenly the noise in the backseat came to a screeching halt. There was this look of astonishment on my son's face.

"What is that Dad?" he asked.

I didn't give him an answer.

I simply replied with "Lynchee kinchy colly molly dingo dingo."
More looks of bewilderment. Had the morning commute to school suddenly driven Dad over the edge and was he now speaking in tongues?

"What is that?" they both replied in unison.

Okay, it looked like the gig was up and I had to spill... I told them it was a scary story I remember from when I was a kid. They immediately pleaded with me to tell them the story and I hesitated. I knew it probably wasn't the most appropriate story to tell two small children but I could edit around the scary parts and keep it relatively tame. Besides, it was the middle of the afternoon, the sun was in the sky and the autumn chill had yet to dig its claws into the warm breeze flapping through the open car windows.
So I told them the story of "Mi Ti Dough-ty Walker" and they seemed pleased.

My daughter got a kick out of the talking dog and my son went on to question the viability of a bloody head falling down a chimney but the tale was told and it was time for their drop-off at school. Ian, my son, told me as a parting word, that Mi Ti Dough-ty Walker was a ridiculous and goofy story. And to be honest, I was kind of hurt that he didn't at least give me credit for my oratory abilities.

I got a phone call at work that night from their mother and judging by the abrupt and angry tone in her voice she wasn't pleased about something.

"What story did you tell the kids today?" she asked.

"Uh, this story I heard when I was a kid called "Mi Ti Dough-ty Walker."

"Ian is crying and saying that he's afraid to go to sleep because he thinks a head is going to roll out of the attic and into his room! Do you think it's appropriate to be telling kids stories about chopped off heads?"

"Obviously not," was all I could answer.

There were a couple rough nights that followed but Ian got over the story, or so I thought.

Ian didn't have school last Monday but my daughter did and we got to spend the afternoon together just father and son. We stopped by one of the pop-up Halloween superstores and picked up accessories for his costume (he's going as the Grim Reaper, a decision he made entirely on his own) and afterwards we stopped at Burger King for lunch before I had to drop him off to his Grandmother's before heading to work.

In between a bite of his chicken tenders and apple slices Ian asked, "Hey Dad, how was the head able to talk?"

Mi Ti Dough-ty Walker lives on for another generation!

I have the MP3 of Alvin Schwartz's tale but while I was looking for an easy way to host it here on Blogger without requiring a download I came across this...

Fantastic! Back to the Spooktacular tomorrow!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Midway's Spine-Tingling Haunted House... Weekend Filler

I don't know if I'm going to be able to keep up this pace all October but I wanted to share something completely non-Jamaica related but very Halloween appropriate. Last weekend my friend Tom was refreshing my memory about a conversation we had sometime last year regarding an ol' school arcade game from 1972 that for some reason we both remember; Midway's Haunted House gun game!

I'm quoting from a write-up about this gorgeous piece of wood, metal, black light, circuit boards and Halloweenie goodness from a short write-up on the excellent website Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum...

"Description: Haunted House, Midway #553, 1/72, gun game with two cats, a witch, and a grave robbing monster. Blacklight lighting, 8-track player sound loop 2 minutes 42 seconds long, uses a special 4-channel 8-track player (one track is used for background "spooky" sounds, and three other tracks have sound effects for specific targets - the monster, the cats and the witch). Gun has recoil and there are two circuit boards in the back of the game for amplification and motor speed control. The target motor speed increases at 1000, 2000 and 3000 point levels making them harder to hit. Game gives 20 shots with unlimited time. If a certain score is reached, 10 more shots are awarded. Haunted House's theme is a good one, and the sound affects are very good, but it's not that great of a target shooting game. The biggest selling point of the game is the theme and the sounds."

...plain and simple, I want it!

Click play to hear the background sound effects...

Marvin's Museum also shared a bunch of pictures and the actual sound effects that were featured in Haunted House and aside from the fact that I've used them as background effects for an upcoming Spooktacular track in this years mix, they brought back some odd deja vous moments.

I don't fully understand why they sound so familiar... I was a year old when Midway rolled this baby out but I have memories of playing it years later.

Check it out!!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 Track Two - Jackie Mittoo's "Hot Blood"

Welcome back to the Spooktacular! Today's groovin' spooky tune comes to us from the Keyboard King Jackie Mittoo and it's called "Hot Blood" and comes from his 1977 album of the same name released on the Third World label.

Mittoo started his career as one of the founding members of the legendary Skatalites and served as a mentor to many up and coming artists when he served as musical director at Coxsone Dodd's Studio One.

Today Mittoo provides sensational musical accompaniment for the wonderfully melodramatic alarmist trailer to the 1963 low-budget, cult film Blood Feast directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis and considered by many to be the first splatter film. Blood Feast is the story of a Fuad Ramses, the deranged Egyptian caterer who takes to brutally murdering people so that he can use their body parts in his cooking and satisfy his desire to offer sacrifices to his goddess Ishtar.

Blood Feast's direction, acting, camerawork, screenplay and even its musical composition were all attacked by critics but future slashers like Jason Vorhees and Michael Meyers had a lot to owe to Fuad Ramses.
Maybe if the director had hired Jackie Mittoo to score Blood Feast they could have guaranteed one aspect of the film would have been well received... I know I would've loved it!

I'll be back on Monday with more of the Spooktacular but unlike years before I am attempting to post something non-reggae related on the weekends as well! So cruise on by Saturday and take a look at what I come up with!

Spooktacular Track Two

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2009 Track One - Mikey Dread's "Pre-Dawn Dub"

And we're off! We start this year's Spooktacular with a track from the late great artist, producer and broadcaster Michael Campbell AKA Mikey "The Dread At The Controls" Dread and it's called "Pre Dawn Dub" and is taken from his 1978 album African Anthem (The Mikey Dread Show Dubwise).

The album was originally released on Mikey Dread's Dread At The Controls label and re-released on Island and Cruise over the course of the last 20 years. It's no wonder it has been re-pressed so often because it's a fantastic dub album
and one in which I never tire of listening.

This is a great dub tune and already comes complete with ear splitting screams, odd creaking noises and even the occasional goat "bleat" all while immersed in Mikey Dread's trademark far-out echo and reverb... I have only embellished Pre Dawn Dub with the prerequisite thunderstorm background effects.

Spooktacular Track One