Thursday, March 25

Blue Beat Singles Collection vol.2 & vol. 3

Most people associate the SKA phenomenon to the TwoTone ska revival of the late 70s lead by The Specials, Madness and Bad Manners, or even more incorrectly to the chequered alternative brigade of american punk bands from No Doubt to Less Than Jake, well... time to get E-DU-CA-TED.
Before some of you start complaining that there aren't many real skinhead tunes on this collection, I must remind you that I'm only attempting at combining information about the Blue Beat label single releases of music predominantly coming from Jamaica in the early 1960s. So all you rude girls and boys, get up on your feet and start stompin' around looking for what is available by the original artists, as the majority of compilation labels like Heartbeat and Sanctuary and continued repackaging on the Trojan imprint are quite likely to satisfy most fans of the genre.
Here I've tried to make a collection from the tracks I've collected over the decades and tried to limit the total time to leave room for the missing tracks, [yes I was thinking C-90s myself!] -please remember this project really welcomes your comments and participation as it appears an interminable labour of love.
These early releases [1960-61] were largely up tempo boogie rhythms or the slower doo-wop inspired R&B songs popular at the time, but as you listen you'll start recognising the tempo changes and the influences that created the SKA style, as well as the character of individual musicians, vocalists and producers, so listen keenly, read between the lines, it all started from here.

Blue Beat Singles vol.2
BB15 - Easy Snappin’/Going Home - Theo Beckford w/Clue J & The Blues Blasters
BB16 - Time To Pray/Love You Baby - Mellow Larks/Basil Gabbidon
BB17 - Muriel/Silky - Alton & Eddy/Clue J & His Blues Blasters
BB18 - Lover Boy/Oh My - Derrick Morgan & Duke Reid's Group
BB19 - Till The End Of Time/What Makes Honey - Chuck & Darby/Duke Reid's Group
BB20 - Baby What You Done Me Wrong/Go Pretty Baby Go - Bobby Muir
BB21 – Shockin’/Blue and Sentimental - Lynn Hope
BB22 - Railroad Track/Tell Me Darlin' - Laurel Aitken
BB23 - Cool School/Joker -Chuck & Dobby/Duke Reid's Group
BB24 - Dukes Cookies/I Wanna Love - Duke Reid's Group/Jiving Juniors
BB25 - More Whiskey/Parapinto Boogie - Laurel Aitken/Lloyd Clarke
BB26 - Tonk Game/Hob-Nobbin’ - Hank Marr
BB27 - Midnight Train/Anytime Anywhere - Errol Dixon
BB28 - Mash Mr. Lee!/Help Me Forget - Bryon Lee & Dragonaires/Keith Lyn & Dragonaires
BB29 - Rock Baby/Let's Sing The Blues - The Wiggans

Theophilus Beckford's Easy Snappin' has to be the epitome of the Old School Jamaican Blues ultimate tune: the line-up of musicians under the auspices of newcomer producer Sir Coxsone Dodd constitutes the Blues Blasters and features Roland Alphonso alongside Trenton Spence's Band. An even bigger hit in 1960 than Boogie in my Bones or Dumplins, first on Worldisc and then on the Coxsone label it was hailed as the first of all the new music to be the recorded on the tiny caribbean island a good two years earlier. From the same stable The Mellow Larks, lead by Basil Gabbidon & Lloyd Robinson [still with Clue J and Trenton Spence Group and featuring Alphonso] bring us gospel and love ballads and along with Alton & Eddy's Muriel the band pick up the pace with a rousing instrumental Silky which features Ernest Ranglin, Roland Alphonso & Rico Rodriguez and what appears as the first ska syncopation between Ernie and Cluett . You can hear how young gun Sir Dodd was starting to get noticed since the crowning days of Duke Reid in the late 50s. But the Duke had Derrick Morgan: a flick of the switch brings us Lover Boy and back to the days of the Kingston dances when you would follow your ears and the best tune [King Edward's Sound System had renamed the tune S-Corner Rock, and appropriated it as their theme on the corner of Spanish Town Road]. Reid delivers hit after hit, peaking with Chuck & Darby’s Till the End of Time and one buzzin' instrumental where you can almost imagine the Skatalites idea gelling for the first time. Bobby Kingdom & The Blue Beats -apparently Laurel Aitken protégé Bobby Muir was taped in London, W11- give us a blast of boogie-billy, then a cruise liner goes by captained by Lynn Hope -a Caribbean saxophonist whose major output consist of groovy easy instrumental blues recorded for King and Aladdin in the US. The great Laurel Aitken gets us back on the right track with Reid’s Band. But hey, drop your books! Cool School delivered by Chuck & Darby [Chuck Josephs & Dobby Dobson] and its companion b-side Joker earn the producer/composer his crown. Yet more bliss is dished by The Mellow Larks, Derrick Harriot's early vocal chariot. The next instrumental consolidates the embryonic Skatalites into a force to be reckoned with, no need for a vocal, finally Laurel Aitken calls for More Whiskey to mend a broken heart and Lloyd Clarke gambles all the money into the night with the inspired Parapinto Boogie. Hank Marr provides another horny groovy interlude with some happy keyboards and after some home-grown boogie with Errol Dixon we're back to JA thanks to an electrified Byron Lee & the Dragonaires, and finally, courtesy of Edward Seaga for WIRL, it's The Wiggans turn to take it away.

Blue Beat Singles vol.3
BB30 - Carolina/I Met A Man - The Folkes Brothers &Count Ossie's Group
BB31 - Now We Know/Nights Are Lonely - Derrick Morgan & Eric Morris
BB32 - Miss Rubberneck Jones/Way Down Yonder - Titus Turner
BB33 - Jack & Jill Shuffle/Little Lady - Theo Beckford
BB34 - River Jordan/I Live and I Love - Clancy Eccles & Herman
BB35 - Leave Earth/Wigger Wee Shuffle - Derrick Morgan & Clue J
BB36 - Over The River/Hip Rub - The Jiving Juniors
BB37 – Lover’s Jive/Wicked and Dreadful - Neville Esson & Clue J
BB38 - No More Wedding/Lite Of My Life - The Mellowlarks & Clue J
BB39 - Do Du Wop/Love My Teacher - Chuck & Dobby & Aubrey Adams
BB40 - Bar Tender/Mash Potato Boogie - Laurel Aitken & The Blue Beats
BB41 - Creation/Lonely Robin - Lascelles Perkins with Clue J & His Blues Blasters
BB42 - Lonely Boy/I'm Going Back Home - The Charmers Hersang & His City Slickers
BB43 - Sinners Weep and Moan/Get Drunk - Owen Grey with Hersang & His City Slickers

The Folkes BrothersOh Carolina has to be the main track that embodies the cocktail of flavours that constitute the essence of Jamaican music of the last 50 years. Cecil Bustamente, after learning the ropes with Coxsone hired a studio as Prince Buster commanding Count Ossie andj his Warrickas from the hills near Kingston town and literally saw the seed for the Jamaican diaspora. A hit in JA in 1961 catapulted Buster to the top of the game with the main Kingston Sound Systems.
Eric “Monty” Morris was to be one of the most talented and loved vocalists this side of Jackie Opel, here he shares the limelight with Derrick Morgan on a couple of early recordings by Smitty for the Hi-Lite label in 1959.
Georgia peach Titus Turner delivers a couple of rompers courtesy of Federal which are followed by a flood of Coxsone productions that dominate this volume: all backed by the steady double bass of Cluett Johnson and either Drumbago’s jungle rhythm or Arkland Parks’ accent on the snare they give Ernest Ranglin, Roland Alphonso and cohorts a wide palette to space and experiment. Every track from here on is a wonder: the excitement of each live take in glorious mono comes to light as you listen. Time often stands still as you listen to this have been warned.
Theo Beckford, Clancy Eccles, Derrick Morgan, Derrick Harriot’s Jiving Juniors, Neville Esson, The Mellow Larks, Chuck & Dobby, Laurel Aitken, Lascelles Perkins , [Lloyd ‘Perkins’] Charmers and Owen Gray , all collaborated with Coxsone and delivered, from shuffle to boogie, proto-ska and jive blues, the best tunes you could wish for at a dance: if it hadn’t been for that extra ray of Jamaican sunshine within, it could have been as easily have come from the popcorn barns of the Louisiana swamps and been blaring out of an open-top convertible.  Dated 1961 on their UK release on the Blue Beat label, the majority of these sides owe more than a debt to the american balladeers they had been imitating, a few do more than stand out, adding a colourful portrayal of everyday life and subject matter; one rare composition credited to the Mellow Larks with Clue J & His Blues Blasters features Basil Gabbidon utilising  in No More Wedding a quirky rumba with horny accompaniment courtesy of the ubiquitous Alphonso; as he bemoans his decision to cancel the nuptials, he's sadly lost the rose tinted glasses that led him to pen the more optimistic Lite Of My Life on the flip.  At the dawn of Ska Sir Clement was still looking for family appeal with I Love My Teacher where the singing duet of Chuck & Dobby [Chuck Josephs & Dobby Dobson] sound like sweet little angels that have outgrown their short trousers. The flip rolls out the solid backbone  with Aubrey Adams on piano, Arkland “Drumbago" Parks and Cluett  Johnson on the double bass with Roland Alphonso again belting a scorcher of a battle tune, lawn dance style! Mash Potato Boogie was a huge hit for Laurel Aitken with the same proto Skatalites group, credited as the Blue Beats, again released in JA on All Stars, boogieing along very nicely in the bar-room, seemingly packed with people dancing. Rico Rodriguez has also joined  Dizzy Moore and “Erni" Ranglin is grooving away contented. Several drinks later on Bartender the blues is clearly giving way to a glimpse of the ska upbeat. Lascelles Perkins croons Lonely Robin and Creation while the same Blues Blasters build a veritable wall of sound with Rico & Alphonso leading. Still under the wing of Dodd we are treated to the alto voice one young Lloyd Tyrrell, accompanied by Hersang & His City Slickers; credited to the Charmers and also featuring Lonely Boy this is Jamaican 24 carat gold also thanks to Ernie’s dulcet fretwork. I'm Goin' Back slows the pace to a crawl but we’re finally treated to a smash hit for Coxsone back in JA. Sinners Weep is a parting masterpiece has the band cooking like never before: Owen Gray is masterfully prophesising eternal damnation for all sinners on one side while he’s high on the flip side, Get Drunk is all rocking and rolling and jive for the booze, like he’s making you accomplice of the wildest ride on the other side of the sax… watch out, baby, you ain’t never coming back!  


I’m trying to publish the next couple of volumes in this series but I’m missing the following tracks:

Donna by The Blues Busters BB 055 – this is the Coxsone produced version and not the later version recorded with Byron Lee & the Dragonnairs.

Luke Lane Shuffle BB 056 Rico & His Blues Band – Buster Wild Bells produced, this is the version Buster All Stars feat. Don Drummond Lloyd Knibbs

Chuck & Dobby Running Around BB 059 Duke Reid produced, Duke Reid's Group

Derrick & Patsy - Baby Please Don't Leave Me BB65 b-side to Let The Good Times Roll –

Bobby Muir & The Blue Beats - Brand New Automobile/Spanish Town Twist - BB77 Bobby Kingdom Melodisc

Lloyd Flowers & Ricos Rhythms - Lovers Town BB 088 Duke Reid's JA Reco