Archive for the ‘Duane Sherwood’ Category

Joyce Bond

Monday, January 25th, 2010


Listen: Do The Teasy / Joyce Bond
Do The Teasy / Joyce Bond

I’m actually looking for information about Joyce Bond. My ska collector friend Duane thinks she may have been based in the UK, and recorded a few lightweight rock steady style covers, including ‘Ob La Di, Ob La Da’, actually making yet another Beatles amusement park novelty song sound passable. This track though, is bordering on greatness. Please send along details on her if you have any. And if you have a copy of her ’67 album, SOUL AND SKA, name your price.

The Mindbenders

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

mindbendersgroovyusa, The Mindbenders, Fontana, 10CC, Wayne Fontana

Listen: A Groovy Kind Of Love / The Mindbenders

Listening to BBC2 a few weeks back, I was loving that ‘Days’ by The Kinks just normally got a spin. Immediately followed by The Mindbenders ‘A Groovy Kind Of Love’, I realized once again, England was always a natural habitat for me. Had I been a native, I could’ve simply turned on the radio in the car for musical bliss.

Despite ‘A Groovy Kind Of Love’ becoming a massive mainstream hit, reaching #2 in both the US and England, it still sounds freaking great every time. Talk about an intro. I was on the phone with Duane when the above Kinks/Mindbenders segue went down and had to take a breather for a brief moment as it happened.

 The Mindbenders, Fontana, 10CC, Wayne Fontana, Lulu, To Sir With Love, Graham Gouldman

Listen: : Ashes To Ashes / The Mindbenders

Beginning with ‘Ashes To Ashes’, The Mindbenders’ success began an unfair linear downward erosion, with each single being played less and achieving lower and lower chart numbers each time, then no chart placings at all. The trajectory was softer in the UK, but more severe here, with this single being the big hit’s followup and doubling as The Mindbenders’ last US chart entry (#44. ’66). It worked out fine in the end for the fellows. Basically, they turned into 10cc.

mindbenderswantherusa,  The Mindbenders, Fontana, 10CC, Wayne Fontana, Lulu, To Sir With Love, Graham Gouldman

Listen: : I Want Her, She Wants Me / The Mindbenders

Most obscure is their US pressing of ‘I Want Her, She Wants Me’, Rod Argent’s’ song from The Zombies’ ODDYSSEY AND ORACLE. They deserve an A+ for cover choice, this version being as equally necessary to a full, healthy life as the original. Admittedly, the band suffer from the lack of Colin Blunstone’s angelic voice on this one, a set back not only for The Mindbenders, as well, for every other musical combo till the end of time.

mindbendersharderusa,  The Mindbenders, Fontana, 10CC, Wayne Fontana, Lulu, To Sir With Love, Graham Gouldman

Listen: : It’s Getting Harder All The Time / The Mindbenders

mindbendersoff,  The Mindbenders, Fontana, 10CC, Wayne Fontana, Lulu, To Sir With Love, Graham Gouldman

Listen: : Off And Running / The Mindbenders

They landed a two song technicolor spot in the classic TO SIR WITH LOVE film, performing ‘It’s Getting Harder All The Time’ and ‘Off And Running’. But despite the movie’s success, and character lead, Lulu, achieving her US #1 as a result, unbelievably it did The Mindbenders zero good in ressurecting their US presence.

Almost cookie cutter in beat group song perfection, Fontana US issued both tracks as a double A side. Promos occasionally turn up, but stock copies are very thin on the ground. Despite my constant search through the years for such a pressing, I only found one a recently, pictured above.


Sunday, June 7th, 2009

Massi Massa / The Tennors

Listen: Massi Massa / The Tennors MassaMassa.mp3

Originally called The Tennor Twins, the duo of George “Clive” Murphy and Maurice “Professor” Johnson, recorded first for Coxsone Dodd at Studio One. They are said to have auditioned for Dodd’s arranger Jackie Mittoo in the back of a cab to land their recording deal. As a result, they had the biggest hit of 1967 with the semi-rude ‘Pressure & Slide’, whose rhythm track would be recycled numerous times over the next 10 years. It was used for Prince Buster’s ‘Orange Street’, and Alton Ellis’ ‘Aint That Loving You’, as well as the Lee Perry track ‘Musical Doctor’ from his 1992 album recorded at Studio One.

The Tennors went on to have further rude hits thru the 60′s with ‘Ride Mi Donkey’, and ‘Rub Mi Khaki’, as well as this gem, ‘Massi Massa’. The story of country girls who move to town thinking they are going to become queens of society, only to find themselves homeless and miserable having had no idea that life could be so tuff. “Massi massa, massa me bwoy, I wonder why the time is so hard…” Something many of us can identify with these days.

Despite the rude slackness of their early releases, The Tennors went on to become a Christian reggae band who still perform today. Not sure if ‘Rub Mi Khaki’ is still in the set list.

Thanks for listening to and reading these for the last 2 weeks. Kevin starts back up tomorrow.



Saturday, June 6th, 2009

Massacre / Nigger Kojak

Listen: Massacre / Nigger Kojak Massacre.mp3

Jamming So / Madoo

Listen: Jamming So / Madoo JammingSo.mp3

In 1978, I first heard ‘Massacre’ standing at the counter of Roots Rock Records, on Genessee Street on the funky side of my home town, Rochester, NY. If you were a regular, as I’d become, Jah Earl would play 30 seconds each of all the latest singles, as he stood with his back facing you, shuffling thru the vinyl and flipping them onto the turntables. He’d give each single 10-15 seconds and then he’d glance over his shoulder in your direction. If you seemed to be listening attentively he’d let it play a little longer, until he saw a reaction. If you seemed disinterested, he’d immediately flip to the second turntable and play the next record. If you were into to it, he’d slide a copy onto the pile he was building for you. He was also a sound system DJ so he had one of his huge bass cabinets with a blaring metal horn atop it sitting in the middle of the tiny shop and he’d crank it up until you felt it deep inside your rib cage. That was a real sales tool, since even records I didn’t care for sounded great in there. He kept a big open box of herb on the floor behind the counter, and the street youth would come in, give him $10, and he’d grab a handful, drop it on a copy of his store top ten chart, and fold it up for them.

‘Massacre’ is one of those singles that hit me immediately in that store, and still sounded good on my stereo when I got it home. Joe Gibbs house engineer Errol Thompson knew more about the important relationship between kick drum and bass guitar than any other reggae producer I’ve heard. The single was my introduction to Nigger Kojak, who also recorded a handful of other great gems for Gibbs in that period. A classic that springs to mind is ‘Hole In The Bucket’ which was edited into the Dennis Brown 12″, ‘Aint That Loving You’. Kojak knew how to ride a riddim with authority.

‘Massacre’ also tells the oft repeated story of the Greenbay Killing, a current event at that time which was mentioned in a number of records. An old timer retold the story to me about 10 years ago, and if I recall it correctly it is this: The Jamaican police had a top secret squad that was in charge of undercover narcotics investigation. This squad, posing as drug lords, arranged a midnite meeting of the leaders of all the drug gangs in an abandoned warehouse. When they showed up, the police squad killed them all and made it look like a gang shoot-out. It was all found out and became a scandal. “Greenbay killing a murder… Oh, Lord.”

It proved to be a popular riddim for obvious reasons – it’s great. In 1979, Gibbs halted a session with Dennis Brown to record an upcoming singer he’d just discovered over it. That singer was Madoo and this was his debut single, called ‘Jamming So’. Madoo was an early innovator who helped create the dancehall style of the coming 80′s. He walked that line between singing and toasting more gracefully than those before him, and his style was quickly embraced. He had great onstage DJ sparring matches with another rising dancehall star, General Echo, who was tragically murdered in 1980. After the death of his friend, Madoo drifted away from the DJ scene and into obscurity.



Friday, June 5th, 2009

Tribal War / Little Roy

Listen: Tribal War / Little Roy TribalWar.mp3

War Is Over / Dillinger

Listen: War Is Over / Dillinger NoMoreWar.mp3

No More War / Prince Far i

Listen: No More War / Prince Far i NoMoreWarFari.mp3

Little Roy hired Lee Perry to produce this 1974 single, about the peace treaty arranged between Kingston’s warring gangs, for Roy’s new Tafari label in Jamaica. The track was recorded and voiced at Perry’s new home studio, the Black Ark. Fueled by the pedal phased guitar of Roy Hamilton, with Pablove Love on keyboards, it also featured singer Dennis Brown playing bass and legendary drummer, Leroy Horsemouth Wallace, rounding out the rhythm section.

‘Tribal War’ was a hit and resulted in a number of successful cover versions, including heavily influencing Third World’s album track of the same name. But Little Roy’s understated original is the definitive one. Original pressings are scarce as hens teeth. I found a small scan of one on the web and worked it up to a viewable size as much as possible. Easier to locate is the Pressure Sounds reissue from earlier this century.

Dillinger’s Joe Gibbs released version, ‘War Is Over’, starts off with a heavy patois laden proclamation, declaring there has been a “Peace treat, so now ya haffa come out and get likkle fresh air…” “Peace treat…” what a great term. And in a nod to Kenny Rogers, he further states “Son, don’t take your guns to town”. It originally came out on the Joe Gibbs sub-label, Errol T., which featured the productions of resident engineer Errol Thompson. The label shown here is from the Joe Gibbs Gold Label reissue series.

Prince Far i’s version, ‘No More War’, directly confronts the warring parties with authority. “So you’re the one who come here to mash up this place, eh? Well, war is over… Natty dread come over.” Atop a low burning and minimalist roots-echo groove, the good Prince gives testament in his own deep voice of conviction. Self-produced & released on his Cry Tuff label in Jamaica.


The Upsetters

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Cow Thief Skank / The Upsetters

Listen: Cow Thief Skank / The Upsetters cowthief.mp3

7 & 3/4 Skank / The Upsetters

Listen: 7 & 3/4 Skank / The Upsetters 834skank.mp3

Jamaican artists are the original recyclers of culture. Their lack of virgin vinyl to feed the record presses meant that every month the unsold singles got melted down to press into next months hopeful hits. So there was physical recycling, but they recycled content too. The versioning of popular songs originally started in the late 60′s with the dancehall clashes between competing DJs. If one had a hit on a certain riddim, you could be sure a week later the competition would have their own version out, looking to one-up the DJ with his own song. That tradition continues in full force today.

Lee Perry was one of the original innovators in a lot of what eventually became Rap/ Hip Hop, and the Brooklyn & Bronx style DJ/MC combos that defined the 80′s dance floors in the USA. Perry’s early sonic experiments led to a lot of that. Here’s an example from ’73. ‘Cow Thief Skank’.

It’s literal splicing together of two rhythm tracks that had nothing to do with each other was unheard of at the time, but that approach would come to fuel the early hip-hop sound collaging DJ’s a decade later. ‘Cow Thief Skank’s original rhythms are instrumental versions of ‘Musical Transplant’, and ‘Better Days’. And for equally odd reasons, a little disco reggae thing is stapled onto the beginning of the track, snipped from ‘Stand By Me’ by The Inspirations. The end result is something that both feels like it fits & feels like it doesn’t fit. A truly unsettling record. Listen to the dub version to really hear a further version of what’s going on with that razor blade.

Charlie Ace is the vocalist, and he tells the legend of fellow producer, Niney. In it, Niney is caught stealing a cow and farm justice is served, heavy manners style, when Niney’s finger is cut off. That’s how he got he name Niney. Scratch can be heard chanting “Cow Thief Skank” in the background, before joining in the story.

The cows-mooing vocal was the debut of an effect he would call upon in later Black Ark years. These recordings, however, were made in the year before the Black Ark was built, in Kingston studios like Dynamic.



Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Words / The Gatherers

Listen: Words / The Gatherers Words.mp3

Hot Tip / Prince Django

Listen: Hot Tip / Prince Django HotTip.mp3

Another highlight from the career of Lee Perry…

In 1973 Perry was working at Dynamic Studios when The Gatherers were brought to meet him for the first time. He was so impressed and excited, he recorded them on the spot. ‘Words Of My Mouth’ (its formal title) was one of the songs they did. It was to become one of his most famous songs, and also most enduring rhythms. He remixed and re-vocaled it countless times over the next few years, I know of ten distinct remixes.

Released as a single quickly after ‘Words…’, the first DJ verson was ‘Hot Tip’, a scorcher that starts off fighting, with Scratch admonishing a young studio upstart. The squabble is brought to an end by the quick snap of a rolling timbale intro. Prince Django, delivers the goods with his promise of a ‘Hot Tip…’ but the instrumental section in the middle gives opportunity for the argument to start up again, with Scratch warning the youth to “Step back, Jah!”

A version of ‘Hot Tip’ was included in an altered form on the ground-breaking BLACKBOARD JUNGLE DUB LP, in its original wide stereo first pressing edition. Titled ‘Kasha Macka Dub’, it is largely a dub version, lacking most of Django’s verbal gymnastics.

Both tracks have a very much Black Ark studio sound, yet both were recorded several years before that studio was built.



Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Please Stop Your Lying / Errol Dunkley

Listen: Please Stop Your Lying / Errol Dunkley PleaseStopYourLying.mp3

This is a record from the career of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry.

By the late 60′s, Lee Perry’s career had taken him from his ska days as runner and studio assistant with Sir Coxsone Dodd at Studio One, and onto his own with his first self productions. In fact, I believe this is actually his first. He had become a house engineer for Joe Gibbs and when the rock steady sound became big, Gibbs made Perry the in-house producer for his new Amalgamated label. Many of those early Amalgamated rock steady gems were Perry produced, tho he was not credited.

‘Please Stop Your Lying’ is also the first single for the teen-aged Errol Dunkley who would go on to success in JA & UK thru the 70′s. This track slow-burns from the moment it starts, with great horns, and equally great low note guitar picking. There’s a perfect swing in the band’s playing for Errol to step lightly over. It commands you to the dance-floor and shows that right from the start Perry knew how to set the stage for a great performance to be captured.



Monday, June 1st, 2009

Quiet Place / The Paragons

Listen: Quiet Place / The Paragons AQuietPlace.mp3

Poison Flour / Dr. Alimantado

Listen: Poison Flour / Dr. Alimantado PoisonFlour.mp3

Dub Place / King Tubby

Listen: Dub Place / King Tubby DubPlace.mp3

‘Quiet Place’ is the original name of the oft covered Jamaican fave – ‘Man Next Door’. Same song, it just acquired a different name over the years. This is the original version by The Paragons, who came from the late rock steady period, into early reggae with tight pop harmonies like those showcased on this mid-70s track. The late ’70s roots era cover of ‘Man Next Door’ by Horace Andy is probably the best known remake, tho Dennis Brown had a famous version too.

An interesting side note for Rochester readers of this blog, The Paragons original version 7″, plus DJ mixes with I Roy & others, were released in this country on the Andy’s label from the Bronx. In the aftermath of the riots & fires of the Bronx in ’77, Andy left the Bronx & moved his record store to Rochester. Many of us old timers up there got our 1st Jamaican records from Andy.

Andy's record label

‘Poison Flour’ is Dr Alimantado’s toast on the Horace Andy version. In it, the good Doctor retells the old timers story of a poison flour plague that killed a lot of people back in the olden days. He calls the proceedings to order straight off… “What the time you have there, dread?” The answer, “12:00 Natty!”

‘Poison Flour’ is followed by a wicked King Tubby dub of the same Horace Andy take, found on the b-side of his Bunny Lee produced 7″. In it, Tubby shows off his trademark EQ shifting flange effects, as well as his penchant for reaching under the mixing board & giving the huge spring reverb unit a good swat. Tubby’s voice almost never appeared in his mixes, but this record is an exception. He can be heard at the start yelling “Rolling…”

3 great tracks – All Killer, No Filler!



Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Joe Higgs / Hard Times Don't Bother Me

Listen: Joe Higgs / Hard Times Don’t Bother Me HardTimes.mp3

Joe Higgs was a seminal artist from the early days of ska, thru the heady days of Rastafarian reggae into the 80s, and a popular singer up until his death in late 1999. He had early hits with Roy Wilson under the duo name of Higgs & Wilson in the ska days, taught a young Bob Marley how to sing, and became a member of the Wailers during their 1st tour of America when Bunny Wailer got arrested for ganja possession just before they left.

His mid ’70s album, LIFE OF CONTRADICTION, is one of the 10 essential reggae albums any collection needs. It set a unique standard for song writing & production, featuring the intricate guitar work of a visiting Eric Gale, from America. With a voice that made the ladies swoon, every track on that album was a winner. It was released on Micron in JA and, in a slightly altered & muddier version, on Grounation in the UK which was the version reissued on CD by Pressure Sounds a few years ago. ‘Hard Times Don’t Bother Me’ is from that album, which also included an updated version of ‘There’s A Reward’, his early ’60s Higgs & Wilson ska hit.



Saturday, May 30th, 2009

King Stitt / Dance Beat

Listen: King Stitt / Dance Beat DanceBeat.mp3

King Stitt is the oldest living Jamaican DJ today, having begun in the late ’50s deejaying on Coxsone Dodd’s Downbeat Sound System. His break came when he was given a chance on stage by Coxsone’s reigning DJ, the legendary Count Machuki. Back then, the sound systems only ran one turntable so the DJ would fill the moment of silence between tracks with public service announcements and other patter, etc. As time went by, the competitive nature of the DJ’s meant they got more original and humorous as they began rhyming and clowning around. This led to them talking over the records, which led to singles coming out with instrumental versions on their  B sides in the hopes that it would seduce the DJ to play it so he could toast over it.

Stitt had his own style of delivery, as well as a distinctly memorable voice. Facially deformed at birth, he took his nickname “The Ugly One” from the popular movie of the day THE GOOD,THE BAD AND THE UGLY. He had Clancy Eccles produced hits with ‘Herbsman Shuffle’, ‘Vigarton’ and the track featured here – ‘Dance Beat’. In it, he recalls the days of the great dance clashes at Forrestors Hall and other places, name checking Machuki as he remenices in a back and forth with Clancy.


King Stittt

photo: King Stitt, back in the day


Friday, May 29th, 2009

Pound Get A Blow / The Wailers

Listen: Pound Get A Blow / Bob Marley & The Wailing Wailers PoundGetABlow.mp3

Funeral / The Wailers

Listen: Funeral / Bob Marley & The Wailing Wailers Burial.mp3

The Wailers got their start with Coxsone Dodd at Studio One in the early 60′s, singing doo wop and RnB covers, along with songs written in the new ska style. They had a good bit of success but it was a problematic relationship. In the 60′s, blacks around the world began to embrace their African heritage, and for The Wailers this led to the beginnings of their Rastafarian beliefs. Dodd was not a Rasta and, like Duke Reid over at the other big label, Treasure Isle, he didn’t allow Rasta themes in his records. Also, the financial benefits of their hits never fully came their way, as is so often the case in the Jamaican music industry. Despite a successful ska career, and having a handful of hits, by the mid 60′s, Bob Marley was essentially homeless and sleeping in a back room at Studio One. It was then that he decided to go to America, to live with his mother for a while and make some money, before returning to Jamaica to fund the next phase of the band.

After a stint in Delaware, working the night shift in an automobile factory, Bob had saved some money. But it was the American military’s decision to begin drafting young men to go to Viet Nam that made him decide it was time to return to Jamaica.

On his return he reunited with The Wailers, Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh, to form their own record label and they called it Wail N Soul M. Its logo illustrated their three arms interlocking in unity. They set up a little record shop across the street from a cemetary, and used to go to the funerals there. Just to go to them… don’t ask me why. Maybe that’s where the inspiration for the B side of this early single came from.

The A side, ‘Pound Get A Blow’, was the story of global currency troubles and the way they ripple thru a society. Bob and Peter trade lead vocals on this, and at one point, Bob really croons. Peter sings lead on the B side, ‘Funeral’, with Bob’s new wife Rita singing backup. The band included JA session masters such as Dizzy Moore and Tommy McCook on horns, Hugh Malcolm on drums and Jackie Jackson on bass. Both tracks were recorded at in late ’67 at West Indies Studios, and self produced by The Wailers. To my ears they more than stand the test of time.

Two labels are shown here and they help illustrate the path a Jamaican single normally took. The first pressing would be a white label, with info either rubber stamped on it or hand written. These small quantity pressings were sold to the many DJ’s for sound system use. Then, if the record was popular enough at the dances to be worth a retail release, they would invest in printing real labels for the formal pressing.



Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Millie Girl / Owen Gray

Listen: Millie Girl / Owen Gray MillieGirl.mp3

Owen Gray is one of those guys who lived thru the greatest period of Jamaican music. A graduate of the famous Alpha Boys School, whose music program made superstars out of so many street urchin kids, he started out in the big band R&B days of the late 50′s, made the graceful transition to ska without losing any of his heat, and continued to put out records thru the 60′s, 70′s, & 80′s. He moved over to gospel and more easy listening type stuff as he got older, but these early gems still hold the ability to tingle the ears.

I first heard of him on a home made cassette that the infamous Lucky Gordon (of the UK Profumo scandal in the 60′s fame) recorded for Corinne back in the early 90′s. That’s a story in itself. ‘On The Beach’ was the Owen Gray track that hit me first, and it set off an instant search that lasted for several years before I could locate even a scratchy copy with its label scrubbed off.

He did some early RnB singles with Prince Buster at the helm, and this one is a fave. Man oh man, what a good looking record label… silver on black. ‘Millie Girl’ features that slow tugging Louisiana RnB shuffle rhythm that formed a perfect bed for a Jamaican vocal. You can hear the seeds of reggae in it. This was the beat that would speed up a few years later and introduce the world to ska.


Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Botheration (Ska) / Justin Hinds & The Dominoes

Listen: Botheration (Ska) / Justin Hinds & The Dominoes

Botheration (Rock Steady) / Justin Hinds & The Dominoes

Listen: Botheration (Rock Steady) / Justin Hinds & The Dominoes BotherationRckStdy.mp3

Justin Hinds & the Dominoes were one of those unique & ethereal rock steady bands who first hit in the ska era, then successfully migrated straight thru to roots reggae in the late ’70s. Led by Justin Hinds clear & distinctive lead vocals, with the tight harmonies of the Dominoes – Dennis Sinclair & Junior Dixon, they released the first pop records that openly mixed rasta ideology into their lyrics, infusing a deep spiritual sensibility into their infectious pop hooks.

In Jamaica, it became common for an artist to re-record popular material from earlier in their careers. Burning Spear did it, as did Bob Marley on the KAYA album. Justin Hinds (later known in the UK as Hines) re-recorded several of his hits over the years, as well. 2 such versions of ‘Botheration’ are presented here. He also released ska, rock steady, & roots versions of his hit, “Carry Go Bring Come”, over the course of his career.

Released in 1965, Botheration makes for a good military style ska track, with its pumping “forward charge” horns. It was released in Jamaica on Treasure Isle & licensed to Island in the UK, as shown here.

It’s equally effective in its rock steady version from the 1971, with a Hammond organ replacing the horns & Justin’s more soulful delivery. Both ska & rock steady versions are Duke Reid productions.

Mr. Reid, a former cop, used to wear a gun belt & pistol everywhere he went. He was a fierce competitor, and an intimidating force to be dealt with. In the mid ’60s, he had Stranger Cole record & release a hit single called Ruff & Tuff, written by a then unknown & uncredited young Lee Perry. When Perry showed up to complain & seek his share of the profits, Reid punched him in the head so hard he knocked him out cold. Justin Hinds & the Dominoes stayed with Duke Reid for about a decade, resurfacing in the mid ’70s when they began to record heavier roots oriented material with Jack Ruby, releasing the brilliant JEZEBEL album, among others.

In the mid-90s Hinds & the Dominoes played a rare show in NYC at Tramps that is forever burned in my brain. Only about 150 showed up, but that didnt matter. The band was filled with elderly JA session legends who came out first & played a 20 minute instrumental tribute to Don Drummond, the Studio One trombone star who died in prison after murdering his girlfriend. Then Justin Hinds & the Dominoes came on & played a showcase of all their hits, basically in order, starting with the blistering ska single “Over the River”, thru their Rock Steady hits like “Save a Bread” & “Sinners” thru to their roots hits such as “Dip And Fall Back”, “Fire is a Desire” and “Prophesy Must Fulfill”, all complemented by the troop of nyabinghi drummers seated at the left of the stage.


Justin Hinds passed away in 2005.



Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Home Made / Jackie Mittoo

Listen: Home Made / Jackie Mittoo HomeMade.mp3

One of the most fun things about collecting reggae singles for the last fifteen years, has been how scant the information about many of these recordings is. That some records even exist is sometimes surprising. It didnt help that often the completely wrong label was applied at the pressing plant. And there was also very little formality in the record keeping depts of most JA labels, which is probably what helped keep so many artists from ever seeing any of the money their releases made.

So it’s much more of a detective game, collecting this stuff, than rock records. Unlike rock, there were very few discographies on reggae around until just recently with the web. Before that, you would buy home made bootleg cassettes on the street & scour them for good things to then seek out on vinyl. And to find the few discographies that existed, you would have to hunt & buy them in little 4th generation xeroxed booklets from the few reggae shops that were around, or order them thru the mail.

So I don’t know much about this single, except how much I like it. The little info available seems to suggest it was recorded in the late 60s, but who knows if it was released at that time? Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One was home to Jackie Mittoo for most of his career. He was a session keyboard player on most of what passed thru those doors until ’68 when he moved to Toronto, tho he still returned for session work. The band behind Jackie is The Soul Vendors. He was a member of all of Studio One’s legendary house session bands in the ’60s, not just The Soul Vendors, but The Skatelites, The Soul Brothers, and The Sound Dimension.

‘Home Made’ is an instrumental that can also function a bit as a resume of hits he’d played on for Coxsone. In it, he circles around riffs from the Wailers “Rudie”, and The Maytals “Bam Bam”, among others. Sounds like it was recorded live in the studio, as many hits were back then.

Original pressings of this kind of thing are next to impossible to run across, even on ebay. If you see one, you may be seeing it for the first & last time in your life. Often when reissued, a Studio One single will have a different b-side. I looked this one up & its only ever listed by this matrix & with this b-side (The Ethiopians – “I’m Gonna Take Over”) so it may be an original. I really have no idea.



Monday, May 25th, 2009

Ain't That Saying A Lot / Prince Buster

Listen: Ain't That Saying A Lot / Prince Buster AintThatSaying.mp3

There is more to say about Cecil Bustamente Campbell, aka Prince Buster, than there is time to write about him. His influence on the history of Jamaican pop music is undeniable. He was the first to bring a Nyabinghi Rasta drum troop (Count Ossie & The Wariekas) down from the hills & into the studio to provide African percussion on his debut single production, ‘Oh Carolina’ / ‘Chubby’ for the Folkes Brothers in 1960. He went on to be at the forefront of the music scene when Jamaica gained her independence in 1962, and the country took as its musical signature, a shuffle rhythm & blues beat heard on the radio from New Orleans. They sped it up & created ska. His biggest hit was ‘Ten Commandments From Man To Woman’ in ’67, which was even a minor hit here in the USA. He continued making & releasing music into the ’70s, and still plays the odd one off gig today. (‘tho he stiffed the sold-out NYC crowd I was part of in the late ’90s, by coming into town but then not showing up at the club).

While I think I recall hearing the ‘Ten Commandments’ on Top 40 radio in the 60′s, and heard him memorialized by The Specials & Madness in the late ’70s ska revival days, I didn’t really get turned on to Prince Buster until the early ’90s. I was junk shopping on Canal St in NYC. An old Jamaican junk dealer had a little cassette player on his table & was playing a home made tape of his fave Prince Buster songs. My ear kept getting drawn to the tape player as I poked around his stuff, & so I asked him who it was. Minutes later, I’d talked him into selling me the tape. No song credits, nothing written on it but “Prince Buster Mix” in ballpoint blue. One song stood out for its smooth vocals, fantastic drum sound, and the uncommon addition of a violin. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a violin in reggae since. I went on a mission to find out what that song was. Only about half of it was on the tape.

Some years later I was on a video shoot in Tennessee, where a hurricane had turned our location into a rainy swamp. As a result we had the day off, so we went into the little town to poke around. I found a mint copy of Prince Buster’s TEN COMMANDMENTS LP for $6.00 in a little thrift store. When I got back to Brooklyn & played it, there was my unnamed song – ‘Aint That Saying a Lot’. A few years later I was in a garage sale with Kevin when I found a white label 7″ of his followup single, ‘Ten Commandments From Woman To Man’. Flipping it over I was delighted to find that my fave track had made it to a B side.



Saturday, December 20th, 2008

Conscious Man / The Jolly Brothers

Conscious Man / The Jolly Brothers

Listen: Conscious Man / The Jolly Brothers 01 Conscious Man 1.mp3

There’s a story about this record, told to me many times by Duane Sherwood, who knows all there is to know reggae-wise. It forever gets cloudy in my memory, but here goes. There was a period when Lee Perry’s relationship with Island Records in London was going south as they were rejecting many of his submissions, due to the sheer volume of his output. It lead him to burn down his Black Ark studios, but not before making some of the most historic reggae recordings ever. One such rejection was The Congos album, an original Jamaican copy will set you back. It’s been beautifully reissued by Blood & Fire, but you can never replicate the sound of recycled Jamaican deep groove vinyl, hence the quest for the original.

Then there’s this, The Jolly Brothers ‘Conscious Man’. Scratch was so annoyed by Island, he apparently never even offered them The Jolly Brothers master. He just licensed it off to United Artists in England, and it became a hit. For whatever reasons, those early pressings don’t even credit his production, but it only takes one listen.

It was everywhere during an October ’78 London trip, when we’d stayed at Howard’s place in Hammersmith and did the town with him every night. I remember finding the picture sleeved copy at Harlequin Records just off Marble Arch. Never saw another.

Augustus Pablo

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

King Tubby Meets the Rockers Uptown / Augustus Pablo

King Tubby Meets the Rockers Uptown / Augustus Pablo

Listen: King Tubby Meets the Rockers Uptown / Augustus Pablo King Tubby Meets The Rocker.mp3

Often credited as one of the singles to open up reggae and dub to the world outside of Jamaica, this record and Augustus Pablo have a twisted history. Duane educates me on it’s varying specifics: the vocalist here is actually Jacob Miller who achieved some notoriety with Inner Circle and Augustus Pablo somehow was able to make off with the rights to this sorta instrumental, sorta dub version and release it as his own.

Well whatever, it’s a classic. Might be the first reggae single that I actively sought out after a glowing review in one of the UK music papers, SOUNDS. Not only because it got the lead review and you could trust them in those days, but the description. Whatever it was as I don’t recall exactly but I do remember needing this record because of it. It was so worth it.

Marsha Gee

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Baby I Need You / Marsha Gee

Listen: Baby I Need You / Marsha Gee

I know very little about Marsha Gee. Actually, I know nothing about her. I got this record from a radio station PD in ’79. The said station, WSAY, had an extensive record library that was simply off limits to everyone but employees from the ’60′s onwards.

When the original owner decided to sell and leave the staff high and dry, that music director decided to take care of a few of the nice promotion people he had dealt with over the years. Luckily I was one and he brought round two huge burlap bags full of 7″ singles to my place one spring day.

It was a selection never to forget. And this record by Marsha Gee was one of them. I always loved it, little did I know it was Northern Soul waiting to be. To be honest, I truly always had a hunch it was valuable and now, if and when it goes up for sale, the ticket clocks in around $300. But as Duane has told me many times, that doesn’t mean any money in the bank for me. You see, I can’t part with a thing, making all this stuff basically worthles until I croak of course, which I have no plans on doing for another hundred years.