Here’s my tribute to the diaspora of Jamaican music -images derived from a BBC documentary aired a few years ago.
I prepared the video some time ago to celebrate 50 years of music from Jamaica and have adapted the soundtrack to feature some of my favourite tunes from the first ska era:
Derrick Morgan - Forward March
Count Ossie's Grounation [feat. Bunny & Skitter] - Cool Breeze
Derrick Morgan - The Hop
Don Drummond [feat. The Skatalites] - Man In The Street
Prince Buster & The All Stars [aka The Skatalites] - Don't Throw Stones
The Skatalites - Guns Of Navarone
It has been viewed by well over a third of a million people worldwide so far with no advertising whatsoever so I feel the time has come to expand on it a little bit and give viewers and aficionados alike the chance to have their input.
The original records were released on 45s [7” vinyl singles] between 1960 and 1966 in Jamaica and the UK on different labels depending on the producers. Amazingly very few of these tracks were on any long playing albums [LPs] until collections appeared much later, typically only when the British ska revival phenomenon of the late 70’s rekindled an interest in the true foundation of reggae and rocksteady.
As I will continue this project in the weeks to come I will concentrate on the British label Blue Beat which mainly licensed Jamaican recordings on singles and has had very few albums ever released -even nowadays in the digital age its output of has been criminally overlooked- until now!
The list of artists featured in the years 1960 to 1967 is amazing: a veritable who’s who of bright stars and shining comets, from the top to the very last drop! While virtually all of the Jamaican sound system owners were represented [and I’m not only referring to the main triumvirate of producers “Sir” Coxsone Dodd, “Duke” Reid and “Prince” Buster], only a few artists found greater success as the genre made way for new styles [rocksteady first and then reggae] and many disappeared into obscurity soon after the ska era. Here’s the amazing list of artists featured in the forthcoming blog installation:
Al T. Joe , Allen & Milton, Alton & Eddy [Alton Ellis & Eddy Parkins], Alvin & Cecil [ feat. Roland Alphonso], Annette & Shenley [Duffus] & Hi-Lite Orch., Azzie Lawrence, Baba Brooks Band [aka Duke Reid Group], Basil Gabbidon [with Buster's Group aka The Blues Blasters: tenor sax player Roland Alphonso with the double bass player Cluett “Clue J" Johnson, guitarist Ernest “Erni" Ranglin, and drummer Arkland “Drumbago" Parks & Charlie Organaire], Bell's Group, Beresford Ricketts, Bibby & The Astronauts [B.B.Seaton pre-Gaylads], The Blues Busters [Lloyd Campbell/Phillip James] with Hersang & His City Slickers, Bobby Aitken with Buster's All Stars [feat. Jackie Mittoo, Don Drummond & Rico Rodriguez All Stars], Bobby Kingdom & The Blue Beats [Bobby Muir], Buddy Davidson, Busty & Cool, Byron Lee & The Dragonaires, C. Sylvester & The Planets, Calvin Dafos, The Carnations, Cecil Byrd & Sir Dee's Group, Chuck & Dobby [Chuck Josephs & Dobby Dobson with Aubrey Adams & Roland Alphonso], The Charmers, Clancy Eccles, Clinton Rufus & Kingston's Sweethearts, Clive Bailey & Rico's Blues Group, Cosmo & Dennis, Count Ossie on the African Drums with His Warrikas [feat. Rico on trombone & Gaynar on tenor sax], Count Ossie Afro Combo, Bunny & Skitter, Dandy Livingstone, Delroy Wilson, The Deltas, Denzil Dennis, Derrick Morgan & Eric "Monty" Morris with Trenton Spence, Derrick Patsy & Basil with Drumbago & His Harmonisers, Derrick & Yvonne, Derrick Harriott & The Vagabonds, The Dew Drops, The Echoes Celestials, Ernest Ranglin, Errol Dixon, Ewan & Jerry, Fitz Bryan & Lord Creator, Fitzroy Campbell, The Flames [aka The Plamers], The Folkes Brothers, Frank Cosmo, Gaynor & Errol [Errol Dunkley with Junior English], Girl Satchmo & Swinging Bros., Girl Satchmo & Karl Rowe, Hank Marr, Helen Fleming, Higgs & Wilson, Hopeton Lewis, Hortense Ellis, J. E. Stick [Jackie Estick], The Hotshots, Jamaica's Greatest, Jimmy Cliff & Sir Cavaliers Combo, Jimmy Sinclair & Trenton Spence Orchestra, The Jiving Juniors feat. Derrick Harriott with Hersang & His City Slickers, Johnny Stevens & the Blue Beats, Keith & Enid [Keith Stewart & Enid Campbell], Kent & Jeanie with The City Slickers [Kent Brown & Sir Dee's Group], Larry & Alvin, Kingston Pete aka Larry Marshall, Kingston Joe aka Lascelles Perkins, Laurel & Owen, Laurel Aitken with Kenneth Richards & His Harmonisers, Laurel Aitken & The Blue Beats, Owen & Leon Silvera with The Skatalites, Little Darling, Little Willie, Lloyd & Cecil and Sir Dee's Group, Lloyd Adams, Lloyd Charmers, Lloyd Clarke, Lloyd Flowers & Reco's Rhythm Group, Lloyd Robinson with Rico Rodriguez & His Band, Lord Creator, Lynn Hope, The Magic Notes with Drumbago & The Jazz Beat, Martin & Derrick with Cavaliers Combo, The Maytals, The Mellocats & Count Ossie's Warrickas, The Mellow Larks with Clue J & His Blues Blasters, Micky Finn & The Blue Men, The Monarchs [aka The Movers], Monty Derrick & Patsy, Monty & Roy [Eric 'Monty' Morris & Roy Panton], Mossman & Zedee & Sir Dee's Group, Nat Francis, Neville Esson, Owen & Millie, Owen Gray & the Jets, The Personalities, Priest Herman, Prince Buster & His Torchlighters, Prince Buster & Baba Brooks [The Ska Busters aka The Skatalites = Prince Buster All Stars featuring Val Bennet (sax), Raymond Harper and Baba Brooks (trumpets), Junior Nelson and Rico Rodriguez (trombones), Ernest Ranglin and Jerry Haines (guitar), Gladstone Anderson (piano), Arkland "Drumbago" Parks (drums) also with Tommy McCook (tp) & Lloyd Knibbs (ds)], Prince & Derrick, Prince & Princess, Prince Buster & Slim Smith, Red Price & the Blue Beats, Rico & The Creators, The Riff, Roland Alphonso & The Alley Cats, Roland Alphonso & Stanley Ribbs, Roy & Millie, Roy & Patsy, Roy & Yvonne [Roy Panton], Roy Kildare, The Royals, Rupert Edwards with Smith's Sextet, The Schoolboys, The Schoolgirls with Buster's All Stars, Shirley & the Rude Boys, The Slanes, Sonny Burke, The Spanishtown Ska Beats, The Spanish Boys, The King of Montego Bay aka Stranger Cole, Stranger & Buster with Teddy Charmers, Stranger & Hortense, Stranger & Patsy, Syko And The Caribs, Theophilus Beckford [with The City Slickers / Sir Dee's Group], Titus Turner, Tommy Burton Combo, Tommy McCook & The Supersonics, Trevor & The Caribs, Val Bennett, The Wiggans, Winston & Bibby, Winston & Roy, Winston & Errol, Zoot Simms.
Unfortunately a few names, despite my dedicated collecting and researching, still escaped the census. I welcome contributions from you all to complete this labour of love. Please don’t be afraid to point out any mistakes or inaccuracies. I keep looking at what is published out there and it looks to me like I have most of the material, literally compiled after years of checking fragments of information against the evidence and a keen ear for good JA sounds. Although a few of these artists were not strictly from Jamaica [famously Laurel Aitken, one of ska’s main exponents, hailed from Cuba] and on occasion session musicians were indeed roped in for some London sessions within the 400+ singles catalogue of the Blue Beat discography, this serialised overview should give anybody with even a passing interest in a bit of shuffle, boogie, blues, ska, rocksteady and reggae something juicy to finally sink their teeth into.