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.

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