Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

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Category: Rocksteady

Early Wailers: Pre-Island Years

Thanks to the local public library, I am no longer the same person I once was after reading Roger Steffens‘ comprehensive and thoughtfully organized oral history of Bob Marley and, by extension, The Wailers, from their earliest days.  Halfway through the book I felt compelled to take notes about a

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Chris Blackwell
Zeroto180

Trojan Records History Highlights

It always helps to have streaming audio within arm’s reach to make music history more of a ‘multimedia’ experience. From reading Young Gifted and Black:  The Story of Trojan Records by Michael de Koningh & Laurence Cane-Honeysett, for example, I have picked up a number of helpful listening tips and

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“Can’t You See”: Rare (?!) Wailers

Back in 1966 when The Wailers were three vocalists (and not a backing band for reggae music’s most famous artist), Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer were under contract to Coxsone Dodd‘s Studio One label.  Recently, after re-watching the 1992 Peter Tosh documentary, Red X, I suddenly got the urge to

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Forgotten 1968 UK Rocksteady 45

Thanks again to record collector extraordinaire, Tom Avazian — underwriter of numerous Zero to 180 research initiatives (most recently, Scotland’s The Poets) — who provided a vinyl copy of 1988 UK anthology, 20 One Hit Wonders, an album that includes a strong track from a band of Birmingham musicians, The

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Making Each Cymbal Crash Count

Listen carefully and you can count each of the three cymbal crashes in this unjustly obscure – and humorous – rocksteady 45 from Jamaican vocal group The Three Tops: about a “gambling lady” with a yen for the one-armed bandit: “Slot Machine”     The Three Tops     1968 I am fascinated by

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Kingstonians’ $800 Rocksteady

Heavy 1968 rocksteady from the studio of Karl ‘Sir JJ‘ Johnson, with Lyn Taitt, possibly, on guitar.  But the real mystery lies with the vocalists themselves, The Kingstonians, specifically the basso profundo: Q:  Are the tapes being slowed down, or does the bass vocalist really sing that deep? “Put Down

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Rocksteady: Cowbell Golden Era

Will Ferrell’s inspired sketch idea as a cowbell-wielding member of Blue Oyster Cult named Gene Frenkle may have lost some of its freshness, however Ferrell deserves credit for galvanizing interest in this long-neglected member of the percussion family.   Five years after that Saturday Night Live sketch originally aired, Paul Farhi

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‘Scully’ Advises: Take It Cool

$521 on Ebay confirms my suspicion that the swaggering rocksteady tunefulness of 1967’s “Take It Cool” was a breakout moment, artistically speaking, for master percussionist and sometime-vocalist, Noel ‘Scully‘ Simms:  “Take It Cool”     Mr. Foundation (i.e., Noel ‘Zoot’ Simms)    1967 Would you believe someone paid the staggering sum of $700

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Scully & Sticky: Percussion Pioneers

Scan the musician credits on classic Jamaican popular music from the 1960s and 70s (i.e., ska, rocksteady, reggae & dub), and odds are in your favor that you will see the name of at least one of these two percussionists: Noel ‘Scully’ Simms & Uzziah ‘Sticky’ Thompson. Scully    

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Rocksteady “Rain”

One other noteworthy “Beatle-related moment from 1967”:  Jamaican rocksteady version of Fab Four 45-only release “Rain” that almost certainly features the musical backing of Lyn Taitt and his fabulous Jets: “Rain Rock Steady”     Tomorrow’s Children     1967 Says Copasetic Mail Order about this 1967 debut release from Tomorrow’s Children: “Tomorrow’s Children

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