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 number of the more obscure early Wailers tracks.

What got me off the couch was the reminder that Johnny Nash, Arthur Jenkins, and Danny Sims (i.e., the JAD production team, featured late last December) brought in top NYC session players to “sweeten” the tracks for American ears – including Bernard Purdie (subject of a recent King history piece).  However, when you check the credits on disc one (1968) of the three-disc JAD box set, it says musicians “probably include” Eric Gale, Bernard Purdie, et al.  If not Purdie on tracks 1 through 14, asks Zero to 180, then what other drummer?   Check out “Love” – a surprisingly tender ballad from the Wailer with the most militant reputation – and decide whether Bernard Purdie provides the drum part on this JAD production from 1968:

“Love”     The Wailers     1968

Speaking of Peter Tosh, Steffens notes that the original Studio One ska version of “Maga Dog” includes little-known female Wailer, Cherry Green:

“Maga Dog”     The Wailers (backed by The Skatalites)    1965

Cherry Green can also be heard on “Lonesome Feeling,” as well as “There She Goes” – The Wailers backed by The Mighty Vikingsa rare 45 from 1964.

JAMAICA’S NO. 1 BAND
(Photo courtesy of Discogs)

It Hurts to Be Alone” features vocalist, Junior Braithwaite, another early member.  Check out the opening guitar line and instrumental solo break – who else could it be?  Answer:  Ernest Ranglin.

“It Hurts To Be Alone”     The Wailers     1964

Bunny Wailer affirms that “It Hurts to Be Alone” — a “smash” when performed live in the early days – was a song directly inspired by Curtis Mayfield‘s “I’m So Proud,” as recorded by The Impressions:

“I’m So Proud”     The Impressions     1964

Beverley Kelso, another member from the earliest days [who can be heard on early hit, “Simmer Down“], tells The Jamaica Observer in 2012 that she provided harmony on the original recording of “It Hurts To Be Alone“.  This song, notes Steffens — “the group’s first ballad to make a big impression” (get it?) — was written by “the teenaged Junior Braithwaite and recorded on August 28, 1964, the day before he left the island for Chicago” to join his family in the States.

Kelso sang on Wailers recordings sessions throughout 1964 and into the beginning of 1965 — including “Habits” from the group’s sixth recording session in mid-July 1964:

“Habits”     The Wailers     1965

Dreamland” (Steffens points out) is not a Bunny Wailer original but rather an adaptation of a relatively obscure A-side – “My Dream Island” by El Tempos – that had been suggested to the group by Studio One owner, Coxson(e) Dodd:

As Discogs notes:

Originally (but never officially credited on Wailers-related records), it was an adaptation of a song “My Dream Island” by El Tempos on a Vee Jay Records 7-inch (VJ 580, 1963).  Composed by AlBunkJohnson, lead singer of El Tempos.

Constantine “Dream” (a.k.a., ”Vision”) Walker – Rita (Anderson) Marley’s cousin – filled in for Bob when he was in Delaware and can be heard on “Sunday Morning”; “Let Him Go”; “Rock Sweet Rock”; “Dancing Shoes”; “I Need You”; “I Stand Predominate” (←fast forward to 24:51); and “I’m the Toughest”:

“I’m the Toughest”     The Wailers     1966

Wailers in the JA Pop Charts:  What Constitutes a “Hit”

Steffens states (on pgs. 56-7) that in 1965, “the Wailers had the number one [“Simmer Down”], two [“It Hurts To Be Alone“], three [“Rude Boy“], five [“Jailhouse“], and seven [“Put It On“] songs in the Top Ten at once.”  Earlier in the book, Dodd helps give some context as to what constitutes a “hit”:  “When ‘Simmer Down’ come out, in those days, anything from five thousand was a hit.  I would say twenty thousand would be a strong hit.”  Steffens adds, “At the height of the success of ‘Simmer Down’ it kept four pressing plants going and sold a reported eighty thousand copies on an island with only about two million inhabitants.”

During their early years, The Wailers were a pretty volatile live act, you might be surprised to know, as Bunny Wailer makes clear:

Our first appearance was at the Palace.  Wailers were hot.  When we hit the stage it was just fire … When we came on, half the people left their seats and were down almost to the edge of the stage, ’cause Wailers were like gymnastics.  Flickings and splits and snap falls.  All Wailers split.  We did stuff where Bob would take me and throw me in the air and we’d split.  Bob would kneel down, I would go over his back — splits.  Peter would come there and bounce us like rubber balls, just comin’ up and goin’ down like that.  I would run to him, he catches me, and as my belly cross his arm he just flicks and split.

Bunny says that at the last show before Bob left for Delaware, it was a first-ever concert in the National Stadium, and the moment that made the crowd lose control happened during one particular Bob ballad, “I’m Still Waiting“:

We had a little plan for “I’m Still Waiting” where when Bob said ‘my feet’, his feet just feel from under him, and we caught him before him hit the ground and just bring him back on mic.

“I’m Still Waiting”     The Wailers & Soul Brothers Orchestra     1965

Steffens also notes that “Rasta Shook Them Up” — a Peter Tosh song recorded just a few days after Haile Selassie’s historic 1966 visit to Jamaica – is “the Wailers’ first record specifically mentioning Selassie” (and a 45 that does well at auction):

“Rasta Shook Them Up”     The Wailers     1966

Freedom Time” – 1966 song of liberation from Dodd, despite being recorded at Studio One with The Soul Brothers is the first Wail‘n’ Soul’m 45 b/w “Bend Down Low” (Bunny says it sold something like 50,000 copies):

Check out the loping rocksteady version of “Stepping Razor” from 1967 — augmented by heavy hand drums (note the flubbed chord by the band just seconds before fading):

More Nyabinghi hand drums on Tosh/Wailers “Burial (below) the flip side to “Pound Get a Blow,” almost certainly recorded during the time Bob was in Delaware (where part of his time was spent sweeping floors at the opulent Hotel Du Pont in Wilmington) –- great piano on this killer rocksteady Wail’n Soul’m 45 release from 1968:

Hotel Du Pont:  Where Jeff Nold once imbibed

Musical blooper:  bassist accidentally plays opening note too early (or does he?)

Wail’n Soul’m 45s (Thanks to Discogs)

Other Wailers Rarities

Jamaica 45 — 2003                                          Pre-release — 1969

Glad to be reminded that the ill-named Best of the Wailers album that was recorded at Leslie Kong’s studio (and released August, 1971) was intended as reggae’s first “concept” album — a “thematically structured collection of songs,” explain the liner notes to JAD’s 3-disc box set, “geared to the idea of giving themselves a pep talk:  we’re back in the business, we’re not afraid, and we’re moving forward to new heights, and the past be damned.”

  • A more appropriate album title, asserts Bunny Wailer, would’ve been “Cheer Up”:

“Cheer Up”     The Wailers     1970

Carlton + Family Man = “Hippy Boys”:  Trivia

Bunny Lee produced the first recording session to feature Carlton and Family Man on a song (“Bangarang” by Stranger Cole & Lester Sterling) “that marked the transition from rocksteady to reggae” (see earlier sidebar re:  “first reggae song“):

“Bangarang”     Lester Sterling & Stranger Cole     1968

Two songs recorded for Catch a Fire that got reissued in recent years as bonus tracks:

Three recorded for the Burnin album similarly released as bonus tracks on reissues:

Netherlands 45 — 1973                                       Pre-release — 1971

‘Sangie’ Davis Gets a Co-Write

According to Roger Steffens:

Survival featured a song written by [Anthony] Sangie Davis called ‘Wake Up and Live‘ … Sangie was given credit on the original Survival cover for co-writing ‘Wake Up and Live.’  He received a small payment upon the album’s release in 1979, but nothing since.  His name has been removed from the credits on all subsequent pressings.”

“In late summer of 2006, Sangie and reggae great JosephCultureHill visited the Reggae Archives.  Davis, who had been a staff producer at [Bob Marley’s studio] Tuff Gong, revealed that he was the composer of the unreleased gems “Babylon Feel This One,” a dub-plate commissioned for the Twelve Tribes Sound System, and “She Used to Call Me Dada.”

“She Used to Call Me Dada”      Bob Marley & the Wailers

“Babylon Feel This One”     Bob Marley & the Wailers

Roger Steffens Weighs In on the King Records Legacy!

Zero to 180 is delighted to report that Roger Steffens himself was kind enough to check out this history piece on the early Wailers recordings and respond to my query about Bernard Purdie and the King Records legacy:

“As far as Mr. Purdie’s contributions to the catalog, I don’t think there’s anything I could add to what is in Leroy Pierson and my Bob Marley and the Wailers:  The Definitive Discography.  (If you don’t have this book, it’s indispensable to your work, and still available on Amazon.)  I wouldn’t trust Danny [Sims]’s memory on any specific tracks, but Purdie himself has acknowledged being on several.  We acknowledge specifically “Nice Time”; “Soul Almighty” & “Bend Down Low,” and you can check the discog book for many others too.

In 1956, after my graduation from grade school in suburban NJ, my dad was transferred to Cincinnati.  We lived in North Norwood and I started high school at Purcell, working six afternoons a week delivering 356 copies of the Post and Times-Star.  I went back to Cincy many times in the ’60s and ’70s while reading poetry in the schools.  Saw REO Speedwagon in ’70 at the Ludlow Garage.  Have very fond memories of the city.

I have dinner every Tuesday night with a bunch of aging musos, and a frequent guest of late has been Seymour Stein.  He also moved from NY to Cincy in 1956, and we were born in the same hospital in Brooklyn, three months apart (he’s older).  Stein’s autobiography, Siren Song, is a great read, with much about his time as a youth mentored by the King Records head.”

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 historical revelations, such as this one:

The Cincinnati-Kingston Connection (Continues)

King Records makes an appearance early in the book when the authors recount the rise of Duke Reid, owner of Treasure Isle, one of the top Jamaican labels in the 1960s:

“In the early ’50s, Reid’s wife, Lucille, won a substantial lottery prize, which she invested in their future by buying a business, an off-license called the Treasure Isle Liquor Store, which was located in the same run-down ghetto area that the Duke had patrolled [as a police officer] for a decade.  The store was such a success that, in 1958, they relocated to larger premises at 33 Bond Street.

It was normal practice around Kingston for shopkeepers and bar owners to play recorded music to attract customers.  Not to be outdone, Reid rigged up a 78 rpm record player in the shop, with a speaker outside the front door, and discovered a formula for increasing his turnover.  Nothing drew in the music-hungry local people like a Wynonie Harris record rocking out through the speaker and carrying right across the street.”

The First Trojan Record

The authors identify the very first Trojan 45 release on page 32 — nevertheless, from the comfort of your computer, you can pull up the titles of the A and B sides of TR-001 yourself in three easy steps:

  1. Go to Discogs
  2. Pull up the main entry for Trojan Records
  3. Click on the column near the top of the screen marked Year (so as to put this set of records in chronological order)

Observe the very first item listed — “Judge Sympathy” by Duke Reid [& His All-Stars] b/w “Never to Be Mine” by Roland Alphonso — with a release date, 28 July 1967, that coincides with the label’s founding by Lee Gopthal and Chris Blackwell.

“Judge Sympathy”     Duke Reid All-Stars     1967

A classic tale of a rude boy getting his comeuppance -or not- in court.”

It is highly improbable, of course, that producer Duke Reid appears on this recording but rather, as YouTube contributor rudeboy6000 states, “Alton Ellis and John Holt are probable guest voices [ref.: Trojan Records].”

click on all song titles below for streaming audio >

The Obligatory Beatles Reference

Two years after its founding, the Trojan organization would expand operations in 1969:

“Another significant move in that year was the appointment of St. Kitts-born Joe Sinclair.  Joe had been with the Musicland shop at 23 Ridley Road since 1965 … and had elevated the premises to be the number-one retail outlet of the chain.  He was rewarded with an appointment as the manager of Trojan Records.

Joe was an accomplished keyboard player and, as well as being responsible for the day-to-day running of the office, moved into playing on and producing records.  He founded the Grape label in late 1969 as a ‘take on Apple‘ and started to record UK-based group The Rudies on crunching skinhead-friendly numbers like the revamped ‘Guns of Navarone‘.  Some of their records were covers of other artists’ tunes, such as ‘Shanghai‘, which was similar to the Lloyd Charmers original, already released by Pama.

The Obligatory Stones Reference

Reggae at the reception — the authors explain:

“As reggae gained a firm hold in the charts and minds of Mr. Average Record Buyer, the stars of rock took notice, including The Rolling Stones, who had championed black music since their early days.  Under the headline ‘Rudies Play at Mick Jagger‘s Wedding‘, the 10 June 1971 issue of US magazine Rolling Stone reported, ‘At the slightly seedy Cafe des Arts, where the reception was held, a local band opened the show and flopped.  Next came The Rudies, a thumping reggae group big in their own scene in Britain.  They lifted up plenty of souls ready for a set by Terry Reid and his band.”

Depends What You Mean By “Exclusive”

Part of the UK reggae industry’s colorful history includes a bit of “double dealing”:

“The other problem that confronted [Joe] Sinclair, and that had caused headaches far back for Chris Blackwell, was the [Jamaican] producers’ philosophy of getting as much mileage out of a record as possible.  Sometimes Trojan were offered a brand-new recording from Jamaica; they would buy the master tape from the producer and issue it on one of their labels.  Pama would have gone through a mirror-image situation with the same producer, who would have two or three copies of his ‘exclusive’, which he would proceed to sell to rival companies before jetting back to the sunshine with a maximum profit.

Sometimes two rival companies’ labels would release a record almost simultaneously — such as Marley‘s “Lively Up Yourself“, which appeared on Trojan’s Green Door imprint and Pama’s Punch label — or, if one unfortunate owner saw it already out on the street, they would just shelve their release.  Trojan Records own a considerable number of recordings that they have never released due to this problem, and one can conjecture that the other labels active at the time also had a box of unuseable master tapes.”

This inter-label rivalry (according to Wikipedia – please don’t hit me) “had been fuelled by Bunny Lee’s earlier licensing of Derrick Morgan’s ‘Seven Letters‘ to both Pama and Trojan.”

Musical fight:  Trojan vs. Pama

Both singles released in 1969 – on (Trojan-owned) Jackpot & (Pama-owned) Crab

JA’s Omnipresent Engineer 

Syd Bucknor, audio engineer emeritus, receives a musical salute on page 55:

“The engineer at Harry Johnson‘s session at Dynamic Studios on the day that ‘Young, Gifted And Black‘ was recorded was Sid Bucknor.  A first cousin to ClementCoxsonDodd, Bucknor started his recording career at Studio One in around 1963.  He was with Lee Perry when the youthful Wailers first auditioned for the studio and was impressed by their sound.  History vindicates his opinion.

Sid estimates that, by the end of the decade, his hand was present in around 70 per cent of all the recordings coming from the small island, so great was the demand for his talents as a freelance producer and engineer.  He estimates that the average number of recordings he would undertake in a normal day was a staggering 12.  He never had to look for work as his reputation preceded him and most producers looked to him to turn a song into a hit.

As a professional engineer and producer at Dynamic Studios (after leaving Studio One and his freelance career), he recorded work for, among others, Bunny Lee, Harry Mudie, Alvin ‘GG’ Ranglin and Leslie Kong.  He was the engineer on Johnny Nash’s smash ‘I Can See Clearly Now‘, engineered the formative DJ work of producer Keith Hudson with Big Youth on ‘Ace 90 Skank‘ and worked on the first three Marley Island albums.  He also remixed both Duke Reid’s and Coxson’s work at various times to give ‘a more up-to-date sound’.

Sadly, much of Sid’s work has been unrecognised, and it is only now that account has been taken of his vast input to Jamaican music.  He recalls that, in the reggae heyday of the start of the ’70s, ‘I would be asked to do two mixes of a tune, one for Jamaica and a lighter one for the UK as a new burgeoning market for their products and their need to retune the sound accordingly.”

Clyde McPhatter and the Trojan Connection

One original era vocal legend, tragically, was not able to hang on for the roots rock revival scene that began to take shape in the early 1970s — Rob Bell recounts:

‘Here’s one artist probably no one in the world knows had a Trojan connection – Clyde McPhatter, lead singer of the Drifters in the early ’50s, who then branched out to a solo career by around 1955 or ’56.  Huge influence on R&B – you can listen to thousands of R&B or doo-wop recordings from the ’50s and hear Clyde’s influence.  Enormous.

‘He was in London for awhile around 1971 [the master index shows that Clyde recorded in 1970 for Trojan], down on his luck.  I don’t know how he showed up at Trojan, but he did.  We cut a session with him and The Rudies, with ex-Pioneer Sydney Crooks as producer.  Four tunes, assigned Song Bird matrices.  Somewhere around SB 1027 to 1032 A and B, as far as I can recall … For some reason, Graham [Walker] and Lee [Gopthal] hated him, and I remember having to tell Clyde that we had no bread for him on the one occasion that I met him.

‘It is not a moment that I recall with relish.  He seemed like a nice man and was certainly a singer for whom I had a very high regard.  As far as I know, these titles have never been issued.’

Actually, one single ‘Denver‘ would be issued on the “pop-slanted” B&C label in September of 1969 — a nicely arranged piece of pop soul (penned by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham) that would be one of the last releases from the legendary vocalist, who succumbed to alcoholism in 1972 at the age of 39.

UK release in 1969  +  Picture sleeve for Spain – 1970

I Roy vs. U Roy vs. Hugh Roy

Forget what you learned in school:  U before I, except after Roy.  Rob Bell explains:

“I myself was responsible for one cock-up, and that was calling toaster U Roy on his early UK releases Hugh Roy.  As you know, Jamaicans tend to drop Hs, and to add them sometimes, viz Marley’s line in ‘Trench Town Rock‘, ‘an ‘ungry man is a hangry man’.

So little old middle-class Rob Bell, one of whose tasks it was to prepare label copy, very carefully typed ‘Hugh Roy’ on the copy for those releases … As I did all the label copy for at least two years, I am sure I am responsible for many cock-ups!  However, in my defence, I took the details from the Jamaican label, or got the info from the producer — both sources being, of course, absolutely infallible!

(If it’s any consolation to Rob, the toaster’s debut LP, Version Galore, was issued by Duke Reid in Jamaica in a sleeve proclaiming the artist to be I-Roy!)”

Front Cover with “I Roy” misprint = issued in JA

Note the seamless edit in repress version

(Trojan’s) Tighten Up vs. (Pama’s) Straighten Up

Traditionally, Jamaica has been a singles market.  In Britain, as the authors note —

“Island had tried out the long-playing format as early as 1963, with albums by their top signings such as Derrick Morgan’s Forward March (et al.)”

Original 1963 LP might set you back three figures at auction

Rob Bell picks up the story:

“Full-price ska/reggae albums sold in minute quantities.  The Tighten Up series did sell well, but that was because they consisted of compilations of singles that had already sold very well indeed.  Trojan wanted to piggyback other titles … hence the ambitious TTL reissue project.”

Tighten Up‘s first volume featured primarily previously-released Trojan 45s and was given the TTL “budget” designation (“though no one now can recall what these initials stood for”).  The authors further explain —

“Priced at just 14/6d – the cost of two singles – this album moved units, and its first pressing on the original all-orange Trojan label sold out quickly.  It was repressed with a slightly altered sleeve design using the new orange-and-white label design, which was introduced in 1969 …”

Tighten Up Volume Two appeared quickly afterwards and was not only much more up to date in its tracks; it was also a sizzling selection of recordings … Tighten Up Volume Two was Trojan’s all-time best-selling album and would remain available for many years, such was its enduring popularity.  It even score in the pop album charts, the entry rules for which were promptly revised to exclude budget records!”

Tighten Up Volume 3, issued in 1970, took the pretty girl off the sleeve and on to the bedroom wall with a splendid double-album-sized poster nestled in a die-cut sleeve.  The young lady peeped through the central hole and, when the poster was opened out, revealed the titles of all the album’s tracks painted on her finely toned body.  It may have been a gimmick, but because of the poster Tighten Up Volume 3 became legendary in every school classroom and extremely popular on the skinheads’ walls.”

Here’s a link to the track listing for Tighten Up Volume 4 — six songs per LP side.

With respect to Pama’s competing series of budget-priced oldies — Straighten UpLloyd Bradley, in 2000’s Bass Culture:  When Reggae Was King, would simply say that the “sleeves were tacky enough to make Trojan’s lewd efforts look classy.”

Volume 1 – track listing                       Volume 2 – track listing

Volume 3 – track listing                        Volume 4 – track listing

Trojan:  The Marcel Rodd/Dave Hendley Era

Trojan’s reliance on “strings reggae” would hurt the label during the 1970s, as reggae audiences gravitated toward a heavier roots sound as the decade progressed.  The label would have liquidity issues in the mid-1970s and find itself under new ownership:  Marcel Rodd of Saga/Allied Records.  Former Island staffer, Dave Hendley (“with the departure of Tony Cummings”) would be promoted to Artists & Repertoire.  The authors take the baton:

“So in the late ’70s, Trojan was drifting, as the only product which producers would offer them was rejects from other deals or substandard work.  Due to the company policy of not paying to the same level as their competitors, such as the rapidly expanding Greensleeves Records, Trojan’s reputation in the marketplace had taken a dive.  Marcel Rodd was determined to reverse this trend.  And so February 1979 saw Dave Hendley, Mo Claridge and fast-rising reggae DJ David Rodigan heading out to Kingston.  Dave’s brief was to raise the Trojan flag in Kingston and sign up some acts – although the company had provided no contacts for him to visit.

Due to Dave’s resourcefulness, the outcome was Sugar Minott‘s Ghetto-ology album and The Morwells‘ 12″ disco 45 ‘Kingston 12 Tuffie‘, with a stunning remix by courtesy of Prince Jammy.”

JA release in 1977 of “1974 production” vs. UK release on Attack in 1979

Dave Hendley breaks down the economics for the rest of us:

“Trojan would pay £300 max for a disco 12” single, while the going rate was £400, and they would only pay up to £2,500 for an album, when up to £4,000 was the normal price.  I badly wanted a Freddie McGregor album that Niney had and, give him his due, Rodd went to four grand, but Niney wouldn’t let it go for that.  Freddie was just so big back then.  I tried for the ‘Hard Time Pressure‘ 12″ single from Sugar Minott but couldn’t get it due to the money.  In the end I put it out on my own Sufferers’ Heights label.”

Music in Advertising

“[Page 81] After the departure of Dave Hendley, Trojan began a period of comparative inactivity, seemingly reissuing the same dozen golden oldies in as many permutations as possible, until it was sold to Sharesense Ltd. in 1985…

[Former Chairman, Colin NewmanNo matter what some people want to say about the period in which we ran Trojan, we think we acted in manner that was fair and reasonable.  We think we gave care and attention to the music, care and attention to the artwork, care and attention to the way the music was presented to the public.  We enjoyed doing it and, as you know, we built up other labels which had other genres of music — again, all built up with direct artist relationships.  with very few problems.  We built up a big chart list of British singles charts, tracks that ha individually been in the charts, and we mixed the benefit of those releases with Trojan’s expertise, in terms of the ability of putting tracks on compilations and things like that.  And we had some success with TV ads, probably the most famous was ‘Israelites‘ by Desmond Dekker for a TDK ad [Maxell, actually], with ‘My Ears Are Alight’, which we thought was great and very funny.”

Desmond Dekker’s “Israelites” = Maxell Cassettes

Lord Tanamo’s “I’m In the Mood for Ska” = Paxo Stuffing

Toots & the Maytals’ “Broadway Jungle” = Adidas Footware

Mastered From Vinyl
Superior to Master Tapes?

Those of you who wondered if Trojan’s often murky mixes were somehow caused by limitations in your sound system, you can now rest assured that neither your ears nor playback equipment were at fault:

“Many high-street retailers disliked stocking reggae singles due to their poor sound quality.  Joe Sinclair explains the reason:

‘Apart from the big producers like Leslie Kong and Byron Lee, who provided us with master tapes, we always had to dub off a record for our releases.’

In other words, a normal Jamaican-pressed record would be used as the master copy for the Trojan release.  All the inherent faults of the none-too-special JA pressing would thereby be transferred to the UK issue, along with a second step away from master-tape sound quality.”

⇐     ⇐     ⇐     ⇐     ⇐     Trojan & Affiliated Labels     ⇒     ⇒     ⇒     ⇒     ⇒
An Alphabetical Overview

All playlists below in order by catalog #
All dates indicate year of release in the UK — not Jamaica

Amalgamated:  According to Discogs —

Founded in 1966 by Joel Gibson (a.k.a. Joe Gibbs) at his radio and TV repair shop on Beeston Street in Kingston, Jamaica, Amalgamated became one of the fastest-rising labels in correlation with the uprising of Rocksteady music. 
Though the credits almost always read “Produced By Joel Gibson”, production was actually handled by Lee ‘ScratchPerry for the first two years, followed by WinstonNineyHolness who took over for the following six years after the fact. 

Says the book:  “Some of the best sides from 1968 and 1969 were collected on Amalgamated’s Jackpot of Hits compilation.”  Also of note to historians:  “… the sides by The Cobbs are believed to be Ken Jones‘s productions.”  Worth pointing out that obscure early reggae track ‘Red Red Wine‘ by The Immortals – flipside of AMG 869 – “has nothing to do with its more famous namesake.”

  • Amalgamated on Discogs
  • Amalgamated on 45Cat
  • Lesserknown gems on Amalgamated — a playlist:
Goodies Are the Greatest    The Pioneers w/ Lyn Taitt Band    1968
Hope Someday                The Leaders w/ Lyn Taitt & Jets   1968
Sometimes I Sit Down & Cry  The Leaders                       1968
Music Is the Key            Roy Shirley                       1968
We Shall Have a Grand Time  The Marvetts                      1968
Get in the Groove           Keith Blake                       1968
Having a Party              Dennis Walks                      1968
Holding Out                 The Creations                     1968
I Spy                       Errol Dunkley (& Gibbs All Stars) 1968
Pan Ya Machete              Joe Gibbs & Pioneers              1968
Great Great in '68          Lord Salmons                      1968
Jana                        Sir Gibbs All Stars               1968
Mortgage                    Hugh Malcolm                      1968
Caterpillar Rock            'Dan D. Jr.'                      1968
Miss Eve                    The Pioneers                      1968
We Two + What Moma No Want  Stranger Cole                     1969
On the Move                 The Soulmates                     1969
Why Did You Leave           The Young Souls                   1969
Appolo 11                   The Moon Boys                     1969
Professor in Action         The Scientists                    1969
Bongo Jah                   The Immortals                     1969
Straight to the Head        Joe Gibbs & the Destroyers        1969
The Woman of Samaria        Spanishites (not Jackie Robinson) 1969
Baby Don't Be Late          The Soulmates w/ The Blenders     1969
Franco Nero                 Joe Gibbs & the Destroyers        1970
Turn Back the Hands of Time Joe Gibbs (& Co.)                 1970
La La                       Joe Gibbs All Stars               1970
Train Is Coming             The Inspirations                  1970
Kingstonians Reggae         Jogibs All Stars feat E. Ranglin  1970
Life Is Down in Denver      Joe Gibbs (& Whistling Friends)   1970

BONUS = 1970 LP Reggae Fever by The Inspirations

Attack:  According to Discogs —

Reggae label based on Bunny Lee productions.  This label contains releases on multinational markets [from multiple producers, actually].

This UK label were originally started in 1969 as a subsidiary of  [Grame Goodall‘s] Doctor Bird RecordsTrojan Records took over in 1970, and the label lasted until around 1980.  Attack was briefly revived in 1988 until about 1991, issuing compilations of classic Jamaican music from the sixties and seventies. 

Zero to 180 emphasizes the array of producers issued on Attack besides Bunny Lee, including (but not limited to) Tony Brevitt, ‘Prince’ Tony Robinson, Warwick Lyn,  Winston Riley, Phil Pratt, Alvin ‘GG’ Ranglin, Lloyd Coxson, Lee Perry, Pat Rhoden, Sidney Crooks, Ernie Smith, Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith, Eric Donaldson, Linval Thompson, and Harry J.

  • Attack on Discogs
  • Attack on 45Cat
  • Lesserknown gems on Attack — a playlist:

*Bonus early Attack track (Philigree Production) – “Nyah Bingewe” by Nyah Earth

“Nyah Bingewe”     Nyah Earth     1970

This Beautiful Land/Version The Melodians                     1972
Fine Style                  Dennis Alcapone                   1972
This is a Pepper            U Roy                             1972
Bound in Chains + Version   The Clarendonians                 1972
It Was Written Down        (Toots &) The Maytals              1972
Musical Goat                Shorty Perry/Winston Grennan      1972
Multiplication              Thoroughbreds                     1973
Space Flight                I Roy                             1973
People Got to Be Free       Denzil Dennis                     1973
Harry Hippie                Neville Grant                     1973
Feeling High               'The Pioneers'                     1973
Reggae Fever               'The Pioneers'                     1974
Pass It On                  The Henneseys (i.e., Pioneers)    1974
Duppy Gunman                Ernie Smith                       1974
Atlantic One                Ansel Collins                     1974
A Noh Me Trouble You        The Willows                       1974
I Am Gone + dub             Derrick & Hortense                1974
Arise Selassie I Arise      Freddie McKay                     1974
Nothing Is Impossible       The Interns                       1975
Saturday Night Special      Michael Dyke                      1975
Just Be Jolly               U Roy                             1975
Natty Dread Don't Cry       Tapper Zukie                      1975
Scorpion Dub                Nora Dean All Stars               1976
Niah Dread                  Lester Lewis                      1976
A Weh We A Go Do            Eric Donaldson                    1977
I Love Lamb's Bread         Linval Thompson                   1978
Tubby at the Controls       Big Joe                           1978

Big:  According to Discogs —

UK reggae label and a subsidiary of Trojan Records initiated for productions from Rupie Edwards.  Active between 1970 and 1972 and released a total of about 35 releases on 7″.

  • Big on Discogs
  • Big on 45Cat
  • Lesserknown gems on Big — a playlist:
Go to a Party + Mother Cuba The Meditators                     1970
Everytime                   The Itals                          1970
Staccato                    Ansel Collins                      1970
Music Alone Shall Live      Rupie Edwards                      1970
Dip Dip + Too Much          The Slickers                       1970
Ain't Misbehavin'           Joe White                          1970
Burning Fire + Version      Joe Higgs                          1971
Uncle Charlie               U Roy                              1971
Behold Another Version      Rupie Edwards All Stars            1971
You Must Believe Me         Niney & Dennis Alcapone            1971
Brain Wash                  Conscious Minds                    1971
Soulful Stew #1 & #2        Rupie Edwards All Stars            1971
Weary Version 3             Glen Adams                         1971
Love Version                All Stars (U Roy w/ The Uniques)   1971
Deep Meditation             Eroll Dunkley                      1971
Girl You're Too Young       The Diamonds                       1971
Papacito                    Hugh Roy Jr.                       1971
Solid As a Rock & Version   The Ethiopians                     1972
Three Tops Time             Dion & The Three Tops              1972
Eternal Drums               Bongo Herman & Les                 1972
Jimmy As Job Card           Rupie Edwards All Stars            1972
Riot                        Rupie Edwards All Stars            1972
I Want Justice + Version    B.B. Seaton                        1972
Christmas Parade            Rupie Edwards                      1972
Santa                       Underground People                 1972

Big Shot:  According to Discogs —

Originally a subsidiary of Island Records in 1968, Big Shot was absorbed into the Trojan Records group when it spun off from Island that same year, and became one of Trojan’s top secondary subsidiary labels, particularly thanks to its consistent output of material from controversial artist Judge Dread.

Zero to 180 notes the variety of producers whose recordings were issued on Big Shot:  George ‘Clive’ Tennors, Ken Khouri, Paul Khouri, Derrick Harriott, Bunny Lee, Niney, Sonia Pottinger, Herman Chin-Loy, Eric Barnett, Alvin ‘GG’ Ranglin, Des and Webster, Les Foster, Winston Riley, Rad Bryan, Lloyd Daley, Hugh Madden, Glen Brown, Lloyd’s TV & Radio, Lloyd Charmers, and Lloyd & Glen, among others.

  • Big Shot on Discogs
  • Big Shot on 45Cat
  • Lesserknown gems on Big Shot — a playlist:

*Bonus moon landing calypso – “Round and Round the Moon” by Amor Vivi

“Round and Round the Moon”     Amor Vivi     1969

Donkey Trot                 Clive All Stars                    1968
Something About My Man      The Gaylets                        1968
Chattie Chattie/Magic Touch Junior Soul                        1969
Bumble Bee                  The Crystalites                    1969
Shower of Rain              Derrick Morgan                     1969
Forest Gate Rock            Lester Sterling                    1969
Rock, Rock and Cry          Raving Ravers                      1969
Kiss a Finger               The Kingstonians                   1969
Been So Long                Derrick Harriott                   1969
He Is Back                  Monty Morris                       1969
How Strong My Love Is       The Gaylettes                      1969
My Baby                     The Tennors                        1969
Cool Hand Luke              Cannon Ball & Johnny Melody        1969
By-Ooh-Paooh-Pa-Pa-Ya       Eddie Lovette                      1969
Hound Dog Special           Val Bennett                        1969
Windy Pt. 1                 The Saints                         1969
Old Man Dead                Vern and Alvin                     1969
Nice Nice                   The Kingstonians                   1969
Do It Nice                  Les Foster                         1969
Son of Reggae               Sylvan Williams                    1969
Mother Nature               The Escorts                        1970
He Who Keepeth His Mouth    The Techniques                     1970
Darkness                    Boris Gardner                      1970
Watch This Music            Boris Gardner & the Love People    1970
Queen of the World Version  The Prophets                       1970
Jaco                        The Prophets                       1970
Bet Yer Life I Do           Billy Jack                         1970
Freedom Sound               Lloyd Sievright & Barry Howard     1970
He Is Not a Rebel           The Ethiopians                     1971
El Fishy                    Herman's All Stars                 1971
Thunder and Lightning       The Observers                      1971
Hard Fighter                Little Roy                         1971
Psalms 9 to Keep in Mind    Tommy McCook & the Observers       1971
Message to the Ungodly      Niney & the Observers              1971
Free Man                    Boy Friday                         1971
Keep Pushing + Hot Tip      The Observers                      1971
I'll Be Right There         Rad Bryan                          1971
Nyah Festival               Matador                            1971
Know Your Friend + Version  Sketto                             1971
A Sometime Girl             The Cables                         1971
I Need Someone              The Ethiopians                     1971
Rebel                       The God Sons                       1972
Hiding by the Riverside     Niney & the Observers              1972
Night Food Reggae           Nora Dean                          1972
Dr. Spock + Joe Kidd        The Vulcans                        1972
Housewives Choice           Derrick & Hortense                 1973
Mind the Doors              Judge Dread                        1973
Sound Track La La La        Tony's All Stars                   1973
Stop Baby Version           The Gaytones                       1973
White Rum + Jam Dung        Lloyd Charmers                     1973
You Can't Get               Kingston Four Combo                1974
Mama Dee                    The Starlites                      1974

UNRELEASED: "Jill's on the Pill" + "Pill Control" by Glen & Ken '74

Black Swan:  According to Discogs —

Releases prefixed with WI or WIP are released as subsidiary of Island UK, while those prefixed with BW are released as subsidiary of Trojan.

Limited run of releases from 1970-1971 by Trojan/B&C from 1970-1971 under the “shared” Black Swan banner — all of them listed below:

Young Satch "Bonga Bonga" b/w The Boys "Ramba"                 1970
Selwyn Baptiste "Mo' Bay" b/w Reco's All Stars "Going West"    1970
The Low Bites "I Got It" b/w The Low Bites "I Got It Version"  1971
The Itals "Dawn Patrol" b/w The Itals "Whisky Bonga"           1971
Lloyd Clarke "Love You the Most" b/w The Low Bites "Version"   1971
Lee Bogel "Tomorrow's Dreams" b/w Swans "Hot Pants Reggae"     1971
The Itals "Judgement Rock" b/w The Itals "Night West"          1971
Laurel Aitken "Hell Below" b/w Laurel Aitken "Bit o' Loving"   1971
Ruby & Gloria "Talk to Me" b/w Lloyd's All Stars "Version"     1971
Rad Bryan "Girl You Rock My Soul" b/w Rad Bryan "Version"      1971

Blue Cat:  According to Discogs —

Blue Cat Records (UK) was a subsidiary label of Trojan Records.  Around 70 records were released on the label between 1968 and 1969, with a variety of early reggae and rocksteady releases from artists such as The Pioneers, The Untouchables, and The Maytones.

Zero to 180 notes the various producers who were represented on Blue Cat, including Dermot Lynch, Joe Gibbs, Charles Reid, Coxson Dodd, Clancy Collins, Charles Ross, Enos McLeod, Alvin ‘GG’ Ranglin, Nehemiah Reid, and others.

  • Blue Cat on Discogs
  • Blue Cat on 45Cat
  • Lesserknown gems on Blue Cat — a playlist:
Hot Shot                    Dermot Lynch                       1968
I'm Moving On               Keith Blake                        1968
Whip Them                   The Pioneers                       1968
Get Right + If I Did Look   The Wriggers                       1968
Wise Message                Rico's All-Stars                   1968
Seven Letters               Winston Jarrett's Righteous Homes  1968
The Train                   Roy & the Duke All Stars           1968
Bye Bye Baby                Zoot Sims                          1968
Good Girl                   Ed Nangle                          1968
You're Gonna Lose           The Octaves                        1968
Echo (Feel Like Crying)     Dermott Lynch                      1968
Always + Big Man            The Grey Brothers                  1968
The Fiddler                 Leyroy Reid                        1968
Last Dance                  Thrillers                          1968
Unworthy Baby               Delta Cats                         1968
Way of Life                 Glen(n) Brown with Joe & Trevor    1968
Intensified Girls           Andersons All Stars                1968
La La Bam-Ba                Enos & Sheila                      1968
Your Love                   Untouchables                       1968
I Know a Place              Dee Set                            1969
I Dangerous                 Roy Bennett                        1969
Billy Goat                  The Maytones                       1968
ZZ Beat                     Rico & the Rhythm Aces             1968
Out of the Fire             Lloyd & Devon                      1969
Loving Reggae               The Maytones                       1969
Frying Pan                  The Slickers                       1969
Dip it Up                   The Sparkers                       1969
Song of the Year            The Sparkers                       1969
Israel                      The Sparkers                       1969
What a Sin Thing            Devon & Cedric (The Tartans)       1969
Rhythm-In                   Rico Rodriguez                     1969
Me Want Man                 Maxie Romeo                        1969
Love                        The Maytones                       1969
Everybody Reggae            Vern and Alvin                     1969
Magnificent Seven           Winston Wright & the Soul Kings    1969
I Need Your Loving          The Concords                       1969
Strange                     Bobby Dobson                       1969
World Come to an End        Gladstone and Followers            1969
D.D. Money                  The Maytones                       1969

Bread:  According to Discogs —

UK reggae label launched by Trojan in 1970 as a subsidiary label for Jackie Edwards and his productions.  Almost halfway through Bread’s 20-issue existence, Jackie’s output seemed have been switched to Trojan Records and Horse, with other producers taking over the Bread label [such as Lee Perry, Clancy Eccles, Alvin ‘GG’ Ranglin, and Bunny Lee].

  • Bread on Discogs
  • Bread on 45Cat
  • Lesserknown gems on Bread — a playlist:
I Need Your Love            Gene Laro                          1970
Tell Me Why You Say Goodbye Bobby Foster                       1970
Yes I Will                  Victor Scott                       1970
Your Eyes Are Dreaming      Jackie Edwards                     1970
Cum-Ba-Laa                  Jackie's Boys                      1971
Johnny Gunman Version       Jackie's Boys                      1971
Don't Stop                  Danny Ray                          1972
Bewildered                  Count Prince Miller                1972
Station Underground News    Lee Perry                          1973
Better Days                 Carltons [Carlton & the Shoes]     1973
Close Observation           Tyrone Taylor                      1973
Pay for the Wicked/Version  The Untouchables                   1973
People Are Changing/Dubwise The Maytones                       1973
You Need Love               Billy Dyce & Millions              1973
Mama + Man a Walk and Talk  Nora Dean                          1973
Just Enough                 David Isaacs                       1973
I'm Not Home                Derrick Morgan                     1973
Don't Try to Use Me         Horace Andy                        1973
Musical Liquidator          Dennis Alcapone                    1973

Clandisc:  According to Discogs —

Clancy Eccles label. Established by Trojan Records in 1969 as the UK counterpart to Clancy Eccles back-a-yard operation in Jamaica.
Clandisc ground to a halt early in 1972, and Clancy Eccles seemed to disappear from the recording scene.

  • Clandisc on Discogs
  • Clandisc on 45Cat
  • Lesserknown gems on Clandisc — a playlist:
Who Yea                     King Stitt                         1969
The World Needs Loving      Clancy Eccles                      1969
On the Street               King Stitt                         1969
Rub it Down                 Barrington Sadler                  1969
Beat Dance                  Clancy Eccles                      1969
Don't Mind Me               Higgs & Wilson                     1970
Lion                        The Dynamites                      1970
Again                       Higgs & Wilson                     1970
Conversation + Version      Cynthia Richards                   1970
Promises                    Cynthia Richards                   1970
Black Beret                 Clancy Eccles & the Dynamites      1970
Skank Me                    Clancy Eccles & the Dynamites      1970
Africa Pt. 1 + Pt. 2        Clancy Eccles & the Dynamites      1970
False Niah                  Barry & the Affections             1970
Sounds of '70               King Stitt & the Dynamites         1970
Zion                        The Westmorlites                   1970
Pop it Up                   The Dynamites                      1970
Dance Beat                  Clancy and Stitt                   1970
Unite Tonight + Uncle Joe   Clancy Eccles                      1970
Swanee River                Baugh All Stars                    1970
King of Kings               King Stitt                         1970
Reggaedelic                 The Dynamites                      1970
Kingston Town               Lord Creator                       1970
Sweet Jamaica               Clancy Eccles                      1971
Going Up West               The Dynamites                      1971
Teardrops Will Fall         The Silvertones                    1971
John Crow Skank             Clancy's Dynamites (& Unnamed DJ)  1971
Hello Mother                The Dynamites                      1971
Don't Call Me ...           The Soul Twins                     1972
Joe Louis                   The Dynamites                      1972

Downtown:  According to Discogs —

A subsidary label of Trojan Records, set up exclusively for Dandy (Robert Livingstone Thompson) soon after Trojan was formed, in the summer of 1968. Dandy’s session outfits included The Brother Dan All StarsThe Israelites and The Music Doctors, the line-ups of which were ever-changing, while featuring vocalists were Desmond RileyLyndon JohnsTony Tribe and Gene Rondo (also known as Winston Laro).

Zero to 180 notes that by 1972, Downtown would showcase the work of other producers, including Kenneth Wilson, Derrick Harriott, Lee Perry, Bunny Lee, ‘Prince’ Tony Robinson, Alvin ‘GG’ Ranglin, Gussie Clarke, Glen Brown, Clancy Eccles, and Byron Lee, among others.

Click on image to view in Ultra High Resolution

  • Downtown on Discogs
  • Downtown on 45Cat
  • Lesserknown gems on Downtown — a playlist:
Move Mule + Reggae Me This   Dandy                             1968
Dream                        Denzil and Pat                    1968
Cool Hand Luke               Brother Dan All Stars             1968
Copy Your Rhythm             Dandy                             1968
Sweet Chariot               [Dandy &] The Dreamers             1969
You Don't Care               Audrey with Dandy                 1969
Moma Moma                    The Israelites                    1969
Shoot Them Amigo             Brother Dan All Stars             1969
Rock Steady Gone             Dandy                             1969
Quando Quando                Rico & the Rudies                 1969
The Untouchables             Sonny Bins & The Rudies           1969
Lovers' Question             Gene Rondo                        1969
Night Train                  The Rudies                        1969
Everybody Feel Good          Downtown/Brother Dan All Stars    1969
Train from Vietnam           Freddie Notes & The Rudies        1969
Near East                    The Rudies                        1969
Tear Them                    Desmond Riley                     1969
Chucka Beat                  Dandy & the Israelites            1969
Be Natural Be Proud          Dandy                             1969
If I Had Wings               Desmond Riley                     1969
Love Is All You Need         Dandy                             1969
Give You All the Love I Got  Tony Tribe                        1969
Boss Sound                   Dessie and John                   1969
Burial of Longshot Pt. 1 & 2 Prince of Darkness / George Lee   1969
Song Bird                    Lyndon Johns                      1969
Ghost Rider                  Musical Doctors                   1969
Pop Your Corn                Audrey                            1969
Going Strong                 Music Doctors                     1970
Won't You Come Home          Dandy & Audrey                    1970
First Note                   Dandy                             1970
Morning Side of the Mountain Dandy & Audrey                    1970
Take It Easy                 The Megatons                      1970
Grindin' Axe                 Music Doctors                     1970
Standing Up for the Sound    Dennis Lowe                       1970
Old Man Trouble              Owen & Dennis                     1970
Version Girl                 Boy Friday                        1970
The Pliers                   Music Doctors                     1971
El Raunchy                   Boy Friday                        1971
Only the Strong Survive      Dave Barker                       1971
B Side                       The Conthos                       1971
Every Man                    Dandy                             1971
Give Me Some More            The Studio Sound                  1972
Herb Tree                    Family Man                        1972
Meet the Boss                Sir Harry                         1972
Swinging Along               Dennis Alcapone                   1972
Drum and Bass Version        Augustus Pablo & the Crystalites  1973
Black IPA + IPA Skank        The Upsetters                     1973
Rasta Want Peace             The Aggrovators                   1973
You're a Wanted Man          The Starlites                     1973
Blackman Time                I Roy                             1973
Uptown Rock                  Sir Harry                         1973
Sunshine Showdown            The Upsetters                     1973
What Did You Say + Version   Dennis Alcapone/Prince Tony Band  1973
Meaning of One               Prince Jazzbo                     1973
Rastafari Ruler              The (Soul) Twins                  1973
Mid East Rock                Dillinger & the Upsetters         1973
Sugar Plum                   Bellfield                         1973
Love of Jah Jah Children     Millions                          1973
Dedicated to Illiteracy Dub  G.G. All Stars                    1973
Live and Learn               I Roy                             1973
Don't Blame the Man          Derrick Morgan                    1973

Duke:  According to Discogs —

UK reggae / ska label, active from 1968 until late in 1973 when Trojan Records didn’t need the label any longer.  Originally initiated to handle output from Arthur “Duke” Reid.   Also, label issued Joe Mansano production with ‘blue’ Joe labels and ‘DU’ catalog numbers.  Later, label got separate catalog numbers with ‘JRS’ prefix and brown/yellow design.

Zero to 180 adds this observation:

Plenty of producers showcased on this imprint besides Duke Reid:  JJ Johnson, Harry J, Joe Gibbs, Lynford Anderson, Hot Rod, Winston Lowe, Clancy Eccles,  George ‘Clive’ Tennors, Byron Lee, Bart Sanfilipo, Herman Chin-Loy, Sir Collins, Maurice ‘Blacka Morwell’ Wellington, Rupie Edwards, Lloyd Charmers, Bruce Anthony, Alvin ‘GG’ Ranglin, Lee Perry, Keith Hudson, Pat Rhoden, Glen Brown, Neville Willoughby, Phil Pratt, Lloyd Daley, Sonia Pottinger, Vincent ‘Randy’ Chin, Hugh Madden, Dennis Bovell, Gussie Clarke, Bunny Lee, and Whistling Willie, among others.

  • Duke on Discogs
  • Duke on 45Cat
  • Lesserknown gems on Duke — a playlist:
One Dollar of Music          JJ All Stars                      1968
Happy Time                   Herbie Carter                     1968
Smashville                   The Boys                          1968
Cuss Cuss                    Lloyd Robinson                    1968
Penny Reel + Soul Tonic      Whistling Willie                  1968
Reggae Dance                 Owen Gray                         1969
Soul Pipe + Overproof        King Cannon                       1969
Personality                  Tommy McCook & the Supersonics    1969
Home Without You             The Beltones                      1969
Freedom Sound                The Afrotones                     1969
Suffering Stink              Band of Mercy and Salvation       1969
The Bold One                 Boris Gardiner                    1969
What Am I to Do              The Techniques                    1969
5 to 5                       Lloyd Charmers                    1969
Come See About Me            Soul Stirrers                     1969
Hear Ya                      Scorchers                         1969
Live Life                    The Vibrators                     1969
Glad You're Living           Stranger Cole                     1969
Never Gonna Give You Up      The Royals                        1969
John Public                  The Dynamites                     1969
I Don't Care                 Clancy & the Dynamites            1969
Mother Hen                   Harmonisers                       1969
Seven Lonely Days            Owen Gray                         1969
Last Laugh                   Lloyd Chalmers                    1969
Come Look Here               Silvertones                       1969
Dream Baby                   Anonymously Yours                 1969
Soul Serenade/Bond in Bliss  Byron Lee & the Dragonaires       1969
Black Panther                Sir Collins & Black Diamonds      1969
It's Love                    The Dials                         1969
Pair of Wings                Sir Collins & the Earthquakes     1969
Simmering                    The Earthquakes                   1969
You Were to Be               The Gladiators                    1969
Lick a Pop                   Hot Rod All Stars                 1970
Where Were You When the ...  The Techniques                    1970
Neck Tie                     Winston Wright & JJ All Stars     1970
Poppy Cock                   Winston Wright & JJ All Stars     1970
This World and Me            Carl Dawkins                      1970
Paint Your Wagon + Organ Man The Setters                       1970
Cayso [poss Calypso?] Reggae Hot Rod All Stars                 1970
Drink Milk                   John Holt                         1970
It's a Shame                 Al T. Joe                         1970
Poppy Show + Pop a Top (# 2) Andy Capp                         1970
Funkey Reggae                Dave Barker                       1970
I Love You My Baby           The Supersonics' [Versatiles]     1970
The Rooster                  Tommy McCook & the Supersonics    1970
Walk Through This World      Phyllis Dillon                    1970
Open Jaw = Mix 1 + Mix 2     Tommy McCook & the Supersonics    1970
Key to the City              Tommy McCook & the Supersonics    1970
Give It to Me                Dorothy Reid                      1970
Feel Alright                 Pyramids                          1970
Wreck It Up + Dynamic Groove Good Guys                         1970
Happiness + Latissimo        Good Guys                         1970
Hard on Me                   Tommy Cowan & Jamaicans           1970
Going in Circles             Bobby Blue                        1970
Colour Him Father            Lloyd Charmers                    1970
You Can't Wine               Kingstonians                      1970
Bee Sting                    Rupie Edwards All Stars           1970
Cashbox                      Byron Lee & the Dragonaires       1970
Cloud Burst                  Hippy Boys                        1970
Message from a Black Man     Lloyd Charmers                    1970
Get Together                 Carl Dawkins                      1970
Installment Plan             Family Man                        1970
Come Along + Try to Be Happy Clarendonians                     1970
Coolie Man                   The Cambodians                    1970
Love I Tender                Hugh Roy                          1970
Donkey Sank                  Delroy & The Tennors              1971
To the Fields                Herman                            1971
Rim Bim Bam + Version        The Ethiopians                    1971
Judgement Rock               The Tillermen                     1971
Poop-a-Poom                  Byron Lee & the Dragonaires       1971
Silhouette + That Did It     Winston Wright                    1971
Babylon a Fall               Maytones                          1971
Put it Good                  The Bleechers                     1971
Bend Down                    Ernie Smith                       1971
What Are You Doing Sunday    The Sensations                    1971
Reggae Fields + Aquarius 2   Augustus Pablo                    1971
Mixing                       The Cables w/ In Crowd Band       1971
Lion's Den + Version         Kingstonians w/ JJ All Stars      1971
Last Call + Hot Call         Sir Harry / Organ D               1972
Only Love Can Make You Smile Gaby & The Cables                 1972
Mighty Melodians Pt. 1 & 2   The Melodians                     1972
The Sky's the Limit          Dennis Alcapone                   1972
Rebel Train                  Djago                             1972
Soup + Version               JJ All Stars                      1972
Apples to Apples             Sir Harry                         1972
Live it Up                   U Roy Jr                          1972
Baby Don't Do It             Dennis Brown                      1972
What About the Half/Version  Dennis Brown                      1972
Wheel and Tun Me + Hey Mama  Whistling Willie                  1972
Boat to Progress             Richard & Glen                    1972
I Forgot to Be Your Lover    Denzil Dennis                     1972
Last Dance + Be the One      The Heptones                      1972
Reggae Limbo                 Keith Hudson All Stars            1972
Satan Side + Evil Spirit     Keith Hudson / Don D. Jr.         1972
Wedding March                Roy Bailey                        1972
Vision                       Al T. Joe                         1972
In My Bed + Headquarters     Chenley Duffus / Dillinger        1973
Rastaman Going Back Home     Flowers and Alvin                 1973
Barble Dove Skank            Little Youth                      1973
Africa Wants Us All/Version  Allan King                        1973
Wipe Them Out + Go Back Home Matumbi                           1973
Murmuring + Version          The Millions                      1973
Higher the Mountain          Hugh Roy & Errol Dunkley          1973
Shotgun Wedding + Dream Girl Cornell Campbell                  1973
Heading for the Mountain     Cornell Campbell                  1973
Black Birds Singing + Always Roslyn Sweat & The Paragons       1973
Love Is a Treasure           Lizzy                             1973
Beef Sticker + Ten Command's Fud and Del / Prince Heron        1973

Duke Reid:  According to Discogs —

Duke Reid, a subsidiary of Trojan Records, was a UK reggae label active from 1970 until 1972, issuing Duke Reid / Treasure Isle Productions exclusively. 

  • Duke Reid on Discogs
  • Duke Reid on 45Cat
  • Lesserknown gems on Duke Reid — a playlist:
What Does It Take to Win    Alton Ellis                        1970
Reggae Meringue             Tommy McCook                       1970
The Village                 Tommy McCook                       1970
Write Her a Letter          John Holt                          1970
Sugar Pantie + Ballafire    Tommy McCook & the Supersonics     1970
Dynamite                    Tommy McCook Quintet               1970
Hide and Seek               Winston Wright                     1970
Soldier Man                 Tommy McCook                       1970
This Is Me + Skavoovie      Dorothy Reid                       1970
Big Boy and Teacher         Hugh Roy                           1970
Ay Ay Ay                    Nora Dean                          1970
Say Me Say + I Want It      Justin Hines                       1970
You've Made Me Very Happy   Alton Ellis                        1970
The Ball                    Earl Lindo                         1970
Rock Away                   Tommy McCook Quintet               1970
Nehru                       Tommy McCook                       1970
Super Soul                  Tommy McCook                       1971
Wailing                     Tommy McCook                       1971
True True + On the Beach    Hugh Roy w/ The Supersonics        1971
Do It Right                 Hugh Roy                           1971
Rock to the Beat            Dennis Alcapone                    1972
Jimmy Brown                 Ken Parker                         1972
Hurt + Version              Duke Reid All Stars                1972
Guess I This Riddle/Version Eddie Ford                         1973
You're the One I Love       Dorothy Russell                    1973

Dynamic:  Says the book —

This Trojan subsidiary dealt with releases from Byron Lee‘s Dynamic Studio (formerly WIRL, or West Indies Records Limited) and spanned some 55 releases between 1970 and 1972.  Aside from Lee’s productions, Dynamic also put out material from a variety of other producers recording at Dynamic at the time, most notably Syd Bucknor, Lee Perry, Bunny Lee, and Tommy Cowan. 

Adds Zero to 180:

Other producers include Max Romeo, Barry Biggs, S. Francisco, J. Franscique, Eric Donaldson, Neville Willoughby, Neville Hinds, Comic Strip, Winston Wallace, Jimmy Sinclair, C. Wilks, and Geoffrey Chung, among others.

  • Dynamic on Discogs
  • Dynamic on 45Cat
  • Lesserknown gems on Dynamic — a playlist:
Out of Time                    Henry III w/ Hubcap & Wheels   1970
Come Dance                     The Viceroys                   1970
Commanding Wife                The Boris Gardiner Happening   1970
Hitching a Ride + Version      Al T. Joe                      1971
Saucy Hor(n)                   Roland Al(ph)onso              1971
Thinking of You + Each Teach   Blues Busters                  1971
My Sweet Lord                  Byron Lee & the Dragonaires    1971
Love Uprising + My Love For U  The Jamaicans                  1971
Hallelujah + Trying to Reach   Ken Boothe                     1971
Never Gonna Give You Up + Dub  The West Indians               1971
Way Back Home                  Byron Lee & the Dragonaires    1971
Forgive Me                     Jo Spencer                     1971
Mary + Version                 The Jamaicans                  1971
You Don't Know                 The Dingles                    1971
Rich Man Poor Man              The Cables                     1971
Sir Charmers Special           Eric Donaldson                 1971
Buggy and Horse                Roland Alphonso & Denzil Laing 1971
Ripe Cherry + Version          Dennis Alcapone                1971
Bam-Sa-Bo + Version            Winston Heywood & the Hombres  1971
Just Can't (Happen This Way)   Eric Donaldson                 1971
Carry That Weight              Dobby Dobson                   1971
Alcapone Guns Don't Bark       Dennis Alcapone                1971
Just a Dream + Send Me Loving  Slim Smith                     1972
Oh What a Price + Prisoners    Al T. Joe                      1972
I'm Indebted to You            Eric Donaldson                 1972
Pharaoh Hiding                 Junior Byles                   1972
Hail to Power                  The Upsetters                  1972
Geraldine                      Tommy (Cowan)                  1972
Man No Dead                    KC White                       1972
Go Johnny Go                   Dennis Alcapone                1972
Come Together + Version        Hopeton Lewis (& Upsetters)    1972
Everybody Needs Help + Version Derrick Morgan                 1972
Miserable Woman                Eric Donaldson                 1972
Kenyata + Version              Joe White                      1972
Stop the War + Version         Winston Heywood & the Hombres  1972
Are You Sure + Version         The Jamaicans                  1972
Throw Away Your Gun            Busty Brown & the Warners      1972
We Love Jamaica                Max Romeo                      1972
Blue Boot + Version            Eric Donaldson                 1972
Festival Wise + Part 2         U Roy                          1972
(Last Night) Didn't Get Sleep  Chris Leon                     1972
Peace in Jamaica + Version     Shenley Duffus & Soul Avengers 1972
Little Did You Know            Eric Donaldson                 1972
Talk About Love                Adina Edwards                  1972
Life the Highest + Recarnate   Tesfa McDonald                 1972
Sunshine Love                  The Jamaicans                  1972
Seek and You'll Find + Version Winston Heywood & the Hombres  1972

Dynamic 100 Series [1976-1979]
Play All Night                 The Dynamites                  1976
Dragon Dance + Obeah Wedding   Mighty Sparrow                 1976
Rasta Pickney + Version        The Eagles                     1976
Roots Food                     Ansel Scandal                  1976
Discipline                     Prophets                       1976
Keep on Riding + Am I Crying   Eric Donaldson                 1976
Bag-a-Wire + Version           Carl Dobson + Maurice Lindsey  1976
I Am Going to a Place          Hubert and Len                 1976
Hang the Front Door Key + V    Neville                        1976
Hold It Daddy                  Ridley Cohen                   1976
Way You Do the Things You Do   Eric Donaldson                 1976
Let's Live Together            Hubert Lobban                  1976
Six Million Dollar Man         Byron Lee & the Dragonaires    1976
Keep on Doing It               Blues Busters                  1976
Breaking Up                    Faith                          1976
Truth Has Come Again           Jacob Miller                   1977
More Love + The Price          Eric Donaldson                 1977
St. Jago De La Vega            The Slickers                   1977
Sweet Jamaica + Version        Eric Donaldson                 1977
Beggy Beggy Licky Licky + V    The Prophets                   1977
J.A.M.A.I.C.A. + Dub           The Cables                     1977
A Fifth of Beethoven           Byron Lee & the Dragonaires    1977
Kunta Kinte the Dread          Jah Ruby                       1977
Let It Happen Now              Junior Thompson                1977
I've Caught You                The Rifles                     1977
Time Has Come + Dub            The Slickers                   1977
Land of My Birth               Eric Donaldson                 1978
You Just Can't Hide + Pt. II   Morvin Brooks                  1978
Look What You've Done          Eric Donaldson                 1978
What's Your Sign Girl          Barry Biggs                    1979

Explosion:  According to Discogs —

British reggae label started in 1969 and released about 90 vinyl 7″ singles until it’s end in 1974.

Zero to 180 adds this note:

A multitude of producers spinning the dials on these 45 tracks:  ,Lloyd Charmers, Derrick Harriott, Alvin ‘GG’ Ranglin, Rupie Edwards, Keith Hudson, Laurel Aitken, Nat Cole, Harry Mudie, Neville Willoughby, La-Fud-Del, Herman Chin-Loy, Sir JJ, Vincent Chin, Lloyd Daley, Lloyd’s Radio & TV, Bunny Lee, Pat Rhoden, Federal, Bush, Sonny Roberts, Lee Perry, Harry J, Duke Reid, and Randy’s, et al.

  • Explosion on Discogs
  • Explosion on 45Cat
  • Lesserknown gems on Explosion — a playlist:
Zylon                          Lloyd Charmers                 1969
Dr. Who Pt. 1 & 2              Dr. Who                        1969
Barefoot Brigade + Slippery    Winston Wright & Crystalites   1969
Bag-a-Wire                     The Crystalites                1969
The Emperor                    The Crystalites                1969
Cecilia                        Blues Busters                  1970
Love at First Sight            Rupie Edwards                  1970
Vengeance                      The Hippy Boys                 1970
Another Festival + Happy Time  The Maytones                   1970
Ready Talk + Something About U Lloyd Charmers                 1970
Ring the Bell                  Trevor and Keith               1970
Whisper a Little Prayer       'Hugh Roy' (Audley Rollins)     1970
Rain a Fall (Kum Ba Yah)      'Hugh Roy' (Merlene Webber)     1970
All Kinds of Everything        Wayne Howard                   1970
Goody Goody + Lemi Li          Rudy Mills                     1970
Tighten Up Your Gird + Sky     Keith and Tex                  1970
She's Gone + Old Old Song      Tinga and Ernie                1970
The Bad (Ver. 1)               The Crystalites                1970
Flight 404                     Winston Wright                 1970
Funny Man                      The Maytones                   1970
Sentimental Reason             The Maytones                   1970
This Kind of Life              The Maytones                   1970
Funny Girl                     Winston Wright                 1970
Higher Than the Highest Mt.    Monty Morris                   1970
Musical Shot                   G.G. All Stars                 1970
Funky Monkey Pt. 1 & 2         Dice the Boss                  1970
Real Colley                    Dice and Cummie                1970
Gold on Your Dress            'G.G. All Stars' (The Slickers) 1970
In the Summertime              Billy Jack (Winston Groovy)    1970
Apollo Moon Rock               Nat Cole                       1970
African Melody + Serious       G.G. All Stars                 1970
Too Late                       Joel Marvin                    1970
Ten Steps to Soul              Jo Jo Bennett/Mudie All Stars  1970
Ganga Plane + Deep River       G.G. All Stars                 1970
Big Five                       The Charmers                   1970
Full Moon                      Rupie Edwards                  1970
Sweet Back + Music Talk        The Charmers                   1970
Blue Moon                      Guts McGeorge                  1970
Revelation Version + Marka    'Hugh Roy' (Dennis Alcapone)    1970
California Dreaming            Hugh Roberts                   1970
Starvation                     The Ethiopians                 1971
I Love Jamaica                 Neville Willoughby             1971
Life Is Rough                  Shout                          1971
Make It Great                  Carl Dawkins                   1971
Delivered                      Neville Hinds                  1971
Musical Shower                 Tony Bins                      1971
Ever Strong                    Tony & the Charmers            1971
Born to Lose                   Joy & Lloyd                    1971
Never Fall in Love + Jet 747   Glen Adams                     1971
Uganda                         Herman (Chin-Loy)              1971
I Feel Good + Version          Carl Dawkins                   1971
Raindrops                      Keith w/ Impact All-Stars      1971
Going in Circles               Lloyd Charmers                 1971
Reggae in Wonderland           Lloyd Charmers                 1971
Girl                           Ken Lazarus                    1971
Bounce Me Johnny + Version     The Slickers                   1972
Repatriation Version           Hugh Roy Jr.                   1972
Samba Gal                      England Cook                   1972
Don't Do Wrong                 Carl Dawkins                   1972
Long Long Road + Version       Milton Hamilton & the Classics 1972
Killer Passing Through         The Swans                      1972
Memories of Love               The Orbitones                  1972
Forward Up + Version           The Stingers                   1972
Brown Girl/Half Way Tree Rock  The Maytones/Shorty Perry      1972
Doctor Seaton                  The Aggrovators                1972
Sprinkle Water + Howdy & Tenky Shorty Perry/Flowers & Alvin   1972
Let Me Down Easy + Version     Derrick Harriott               1972
Chirpy, Chirpy, Cheep, Cheep   The Jay Boys                   1972
Stand Up and Fight             Slim Smith                     1973
Weather Report + Version       The Tennors                    1973
I'll Never Find Another You    Jimmy London                   1973
My Island                      Paulette Williams              1973
Sonia                          Paris Connection               1973
Nose for Trouble               Winston Groovy                 1973
Single Girl                    Barbara Thompson               1974
Every Rasta Is a Star          Johnny Clarke                  1974
The Man Who Sold the World     Wally Brothers                 1974

Gayfeet:  According to Discogs —

UK counterpart to Sonia Pottinger‘s Jamaican imprint Gay Feet [2 words]

  • Gayfeet on Discogs
  • Gayfeet on 45Cat
  • All 12 single releases in the UK on Gayfeet:
Fatty + Landlord               Bim & Bam                      1969
Don't Work Out + Ki-Salaboca   Joe White/Baba Brooks          1969
Get to Phoenix + Lover Boy     Lou Sparks/Roland Alphonso     1969
Little Donkey + Hope and Joy   Lou and Maxine/Lou Sparkes     1970
Jennifer + Slipping            Junior Soul                    1970
You're Not My Kind + Version   Naomi w/ The Gaytones          1970
We Will Make Love + Sticker    Lou Sparkes/Roland & Gaytones  1970
Medicine Doctor + Facts o Life Big Youth                      1973
Emergency Call + Version       Judy Mowatt   [prod. S Crooks] 1973
You Make Me Cry + Version      Winston Jones                  1973
Baby Just Cares + Me No Horn   Cornell Campbell [prod. B Lee] 1973
Hard Feeling + Regular Style   Hugh Roy     [prod. A Ranglin] 1973

 

“Rum Bum a Loo”: $300 Reggae

I’m a little surprised more ink has not been expended on a snappy early reggae 45 from 1970 on the Doctor Bird label that can command up to £200 [i.e., $300ish] at auction:

“Rum Bum a Loo”     The Message     1970

Rum Bum a Loo” was produced for the UK market by an entity named Philligree, which Discogs informs us, is the production team of Graeme Goodall and/or Phil Chen:.  Meanwhile, the “reggae formation” known as The Message would release no fewer than four singles in 1970.

Doctor Bird 45 Desmond Dekker fans will recognize “Rum Bum a Loo” as a near-instrumental version of Dekker’s 1st place winner of the 1968 Jamaica Independence Festival Song Competition, “Music Like Dirt (Festival 68).”  That same year the song would also be issued in the UK, though with the B-side (“Coconut Water”) imaginatively re-titled as “Coconut Woman”!

Desmond Dekker 45-aDesmond Dekker 45-b

UK 45s Record Label Discography gives us the back story on Doctor Bird:

“Initially a ska label, Doctor Bird was started in 1965 by Graeme Goodall; it issued its first single in 1966 and put out around two hundred more before expiring in 1969.  It qualifies for a mention in this list because Trojan revived it briefly in the early 1970s, for a handful of reggae singles.”

postage stamp

Doctor Bird - postage stampThanks to Tapir’s Reggae Discographies for its detailed listing of Doctor Bird releases from 1966-1970 that feature a Who’s Who of Jamaican production talent:

Sonia Pottinger
Clement Coxsone Dodd
ArthurDukeReid
– Justin “Phillip” Yap
– Edward “Bunny” Lee
– Byron Lee
Joe Gibbs
– Clancy Eccles
KarlSir JJJohnson
LeeScratchPerry
– Garnet Hargreaves
– Albert Gene Murphy
– Lloyd Daley
– Leslie Kong
– Laurel Aitken

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 would reveal in The Washington Post’s January 29, 2005 edition that Frenkle was, indeed, a fiction.  Furthermore —

“According to former BOC bassist Joe Bouchard, an unnamed producer asked his brother, drummer Albert Bouchard, to play the cowbell after the fact.  ‘Albert thought he was crazy,’ Bouchard told the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press in 2000.  ‘But he put all this tape around a cowbell and played it.  It really pulled the track together.'”

How interesting, then, to discover the existence of a cowbell Golden Age just eight years before the release of “Don’t Fear the Reaper” in a parallel musical universe located within the Western Hemisphere – and yet not actually of it.  That’s right, 1968 was a peak moment for the cowbell on Jamaica’s radio airwaves and in their dancehalls — but for most of us here in the States, that fact would only come to light 3 decades after the fact, when CD reissues of reggae and its predecessor, rocksteady, began to appear here.

JA cowbellToday’s piece, therefore, salutes the cowbell in rocksteady’s magical-but-oh-so-brief moment in history.  Zero to 180 welcomes your suggestions to this (incomplete) list:

R o c k s t e a d y   &   E a r l y   R e g g a e   C o w b e l l   C l a s s i c s

Hortense Ellis w/ Buster All-Stars  "Somebody Help Me" 1967 [Buster]
Lyn Taitt & the Jets   "Mr. Dooby"   1967   [Merritone]
Alfred Brown  "One Bourbon One Scotch One Beer"  1968 [? producer]
Alton Ellis   "Bye Bye Love"   1968   [Clifton Bough]
Errol Dunkley  "Love Brother" & "I'm Going Home"  1968   [Gibbs]
The Dynamics w/ Lyn Taitt's Jets   "My Friends"   1968   [Gibbs]
The Pioneers w/ Lyn Taitt's Jets   "Give It to Me"   1968   [Gibbs]
Stranger & Gladdy   "Just Like a River"   1968  [Gibbs]
Shorty Perry & Ken Boothe  "Can't You See"   1968   [Links]
Untouchables   "Wall Flower"   1968   [Enos McLeod]
Desmond Dekker & the Aces  "Mother Pepper" 1968   [Kong]
The Ethiopians w/ Lyn Taitt's Jets "Train to Glory" 1968 [Pottinger]
The Gaylads  "It's Hard to Confess"  1968   [Pottinger]
The Melodians  "Swing and Dine"  1968  [Pottinger]
The Coasters   "Stony Hill"   1968   [Daley]
Black Brothers w/ Lyn Taitt's Jets   "Give Me Loving"  1968  [Morgan]
Cliff & the Diamonds  "Mother Benge"  1968  [Abrahams]
The Pioneers w/ Lyn Taitt's Jets  "This Is Soul"  1968  [Gibbs]
The Overtakers w/ Lyn Taitt's Jets  "Girl You Ruff"  1968  [Gibbs]

“Girl You Ruff” – White label release in JA vs. UK release on amalgamated label

Overtakers 45-aOvertakers 45-b

Related Trivia

= “Just Like a River” instrumentally — “El Casino Royale” & “Last Flight to Reggae City

= Ken Boothe’s “Can’t You See” (esp. ‘blanks’) can easily sell for hundreds of dollars.

= “Mother Benge” by Cliff & the Diamonds – as previously mentioned – not a cheap 45.

= In 2011, someone paid $255 for a blank (Amalgamated) copy of “Girl You Ruff

Lyn(n) Taitt Figures Prominently in JA Cowbell Lore

Lynn Taitt & Comets-aaLynn Taitt & Comets-bb

‘Scully’ & His Green Thumb

At one point in its week-long tribute to master percussionists, NoelScullySimms and UzziahStickyThompson, Zero to 180 quoted Discogs.com’s bold claim that Simms is “arguably the first Jamaican artist to release a record single” — but then played the indignant card by loudly noting Discogs’ failure to identify the title of this historic recording.

David Katz - Solid FoundationMusic writer David Katz, fortunately, is able to shed light on this important historical moment in Solid Foundation:  An Oral History of Reggae beginning on page 14:

“The duo of Noel ‘Zoot’ Sims and Arthur ‘Bunny’ Robinson–known first as Sims and Robinson and later as Bunny and Skully–were the first Jamaican artists to record blues ballads and home-grown R&B, initially for exclusive sound system acetates.  ‘We started off the first recording in Jamaica on soft wax, for Dada Tewari,’ the now partially sighted Skully wistfully recalls, perched on the kerb outside Kington’s Sonic Sounds.  ‘We did the first recordings in 1953 in a little demo studio at the corner of Hanover Street and Lawes Street — he had a little matches box with quarter-inch tape, but he used to do calypso recording in there with Count Lasher [Terence Perkins], Lord Flea [Norman Thomas], Count Owen [Owen Emanuel] and Lord Tanamo’ [Joseph Gordon].

“Skully remembers cutting only two songs at this initial session:  ‘End of Time’ and ‘Give Me Another Chance.’  That was the first tunes made apart from Calaypsonians,’ he recalls proudly.  ‘That was the first R&B.’  According to Skully, Tewari was not present during the session, which was arranged by the resident pianist.  ‘He really wasn’t so much of a producer,’ says Skully of Tewari.  ‘It was an Indian who owned the theatre that they call Tivoli.  Williams played keyboard, and you had Lloyd Brevett’s father playing bass, a drummer by the name of Percy, and Val Bennett played the saxophone.  I don’t know if him release them, but we got £37 — ‘nough money for me and Bunny.”

ScullyMy favorite ‘Scully’ Simms song is one of his last as vocalist-bandleader — “Small Garden” from 1972:

“Small Garden”      Noel ‘Zoot’ Simms     1972

Fascinating moment when I it suddenly occurred to me why the “walking razor” lyric you hear in the first verse, with a chorus that threatens, “Don’t you watch them size, them little but they’re dangerous” sounds so familiar:  Peter Tosh sang something very similar for 1967‘s (& 1977‘s)  “Stepping Razor” (written by Joe Higgs).  Also, with respect to the song’s spoken-word intro, David Katz also points out in Solid Foundation that Simms is “one of the first Jamaican musicians to use Amharic phrases in songs after learning them from Rasta leader, Mortimer Planno.”

Honest Jon’s Records writes a wonderfully abstruse take on “Small Garden” and its allure:

“Sublime, rootical, elliptical warning about a variety of blistering, dangerous pest all of us have to cross vines with.  The small garden that gathers the bitter weed.  Enid on backing vocals.  Lovely and profound.”

This “Bunny & Skully” message thread on the Blood & Fire chatboard includes a very helpful discography of Noel ‘Scully” Simms that comes directly from Roger Dalke’s A Scorcha from Studio One discography.

Sticky & Scully:  Analog Percussionists in a Digital Age

It is sad to read a 2003 Jamaica Observer  interview with UzziahStickyThompson in which he bemoans the decreasing opportunities for hand percussionists in the new century.  Jamaica Observer’s ‘Chordially Speaking’ writes in the introduction about “the death of the reggae percussionist” and that “demand for the [hand percussion] sound has fallen out of favour with contemporary acts.”  By way of contrast, this same writer notes the plum work assignments ‘Sticky’ enjoyed going back to the 1960s:

“It was at Reid’s studio that he started playing percussion, rocking on ‘Little Did You Know’ before heading off to Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s rising Upsetters label.

Thompson stayed with Perry for five years, playing on outstanding sides such as The Wailers’ Soul Rebel and Duppy Conqueror and Junior Byles’ Beat Down Babylon.  In the mid 1970s, he was a regular session player at Channel One where his sound can be heard on The Mighty Diamonds’ Roof Over My Head and John Holt’s Up Park Camp.

He was also in demand at the rival Joe Gibbs’ studio and for Sonia Pottinger, playing on several hit songs by Dennis Brown (“How Can/Could I Leave“) and Culture (“Natty Never Get Weary“), respectively.

Over the years, Thompson has recorded and toured with Jimmy Cliff, Black Uhuru and Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. He played on the latter’s Grammy-winning Conscious Party album.”

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: NoelScully’ Simms & UzziahSticky’ Thompson.

Scully                             &                             Sticky

Noel Scully Simms-aaUziah Sticky Thompson-a

Uzziah, the elder of the two drummers by one year, left us in 2014 at the age of 78, I’m very sorry to report.  Scully, who is still with us fortunately, is (I recently discovered) another distinguished graduate of the Alpha Boys School.  And although Thompson has served as vocalist/DJ on a handful of songs over the years (including “Guns of Navarone” by The Skatalites), Simms – I’m only just starting to discover – has been both a sideman and solo artist to a much greater degree than I initially thought.

Simms also clearly has a bit of the trickster in him, as evidenced by the nearly endless number of variant names (a cataloger’s nightmare) formally noted on the Discogs.com website, including one amusing alter ego – Mr. Foundation – that was used on at least six Studio One singles for the UK market, including this chugging groove – “Timo Oh” – that instantly grabs the listener with the distinctive opening crack of the snare drum:

“Timo Oh”     Mr. Foundation (i.e., Noel ‘Scully’ Simms)     1968

Late rocksteady or early reggae?   Stylistically, the song adroitly seems beholden to neither and both at the same time.  45Cat says this disc was released September, 1968 in the UK.

Reassuring to know I’m not the only one who finds this track compelling — in 2012, someone paid the equivalent of $344 (US) for this 2-minute recording, according to Popsike.

 A Selected Discography:  Recordings That Include ‘Scully’ & ‘Sticky’

Scully & Sticky LP-aaScully & Sticky LP-eeScully & Sticky LP-hhScully & Sticky LP-bbScully & Sticky LP-ccScully & Sticky LP-zzScully & Sticky LP-ggScully & Sticky LP-jjScully & Sticky LP-kkScully & Sticky LP-llScully & Sticky LP-mmScully & Sticky LP-nnScully & Sticky LP-rrScully & Sticky LP-ooScully & Sticky LP-ppScully & Sticky LP-qqScully & Sticky LP-ffScully & Sticky LP-iiScully & Sticky LP-ssScully & Sticky LP-tt

“Black Onion”: Healing Organ

According to Doctors Across Borders, “when compared to every other natural remedy for auto-immune disorders,” black cumin (also known as black onion seed) “is the most effective” and “has the power to restore harmony.”

Black OnionKeyboardist, songwriter, and musical director, Jackie Mittoo, gets an organ workout, thanks to his musical compatriots (i.e., The Sound Dimension), on the instrumental  “Black Onion” — released on Studio One imprint, Bamboo:

“Black Onion”     Jackie Mittoo & the Sound Dimension     1969

According to the vinyl vendor who sold a copy of this single on Ebay in 2010:

“1969 release ‘Black Onion’ by organist Jackie Mittoo was produced by Clement Coxsone Dodd on his Coxsone label.  Recorded at Studio One, the studio band is Sound Dimension featuring Leroy Sibbles on bass, Fil Callender on drums, Jackie Mittoo on organ, and Eric Frater on guitar, among others.  This instrumental is cut to the 1968 riddim of ‘Things A Come Up To Bump‘ by the Bassies (a.k.a. the Victors).  The B-side is ‘Hokey Jokey’ credited to Larry [Marshall] & Alvin [Leslie], but it seems Alvin is now within earshot on this one from 1969, backed by The Sound Dimension, including Vin Gordon on trombone and Deadly Headley Bennett on alto sax.”

Some enterprising soul (the aptly-named “DJ Algoriddim”) has put together an extended 10-minute mix that stitches together pieces from 11 different versions (!) based on the original riddim “Things a Come Up to Bump” — with ear-tickling stereo panning effects that can only be found here:

“Things a Come Up to Bump”    Special Mix by DJ Algoriddim

01. “Things a Come Up to Bump”:  The Bassies
02. “Things A Come Up To Version”:  The Bassies
03. “Things A Come Up To Dub”:  The Soul Vendors
04. “Bumpy Stomp”:  The Sound Dimension
05. “Dubbing The Bump”:  Big Joe & Scorcher
06. “More Scorcha”:  Count Machuki
07. “Whey No Dead”:  Glen Miller
08. “Whey No Dead Version”:  Sound Dimension
09. “Plant Up A Vineyard”:  Lone Ranger
10. “Black Onion”:  The Sound Dimension
11. “More Scorcher”:  Jackie Mittoo

Sonia Pottinger: Jamaica’s First Female Record Producer

Trailblazing, by definition, can be a lonely enterprise – but someone has to move civilization forward.  Therefore, hats off to Jamaica’s first woman music producer, Sonia Pottinger, who managed to navigate a path through a field that is still overwhelmingly dominated by men and left future generations a legacy of classic recordings.

“Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl” – one of the few photos of Sonia Pottinger

Sonia Eloise PottingerUpon her passing, Howard Campbell in the November 7, 2010 edition of The Gleaner would pronounce her “Jamaica’s most successful women producer” although, curiously, neglect to point out she was the first.  Campbell would also write:

“Born in St Thomas, Pottinger was introduced to the music business by her husband L.O. Pottinger, an engineer who had relative success as a producer in the mid-1960s.  She went on her own during that period, scoring a massive hit with ‘Every Night‘, a ballad by singer Joe White.  Pottinger had considerable success in the late 1960s with her Tip Top, High Note and Gay Feet labels. She produced Errol Dunkley’s debut album, Presenting Errol Dunkley, and hit songs by vocal groups like The Melodians (‘Swing and Dine’), The Gaylads (‘Hard to Confess’) and ‘Guns Fever’ by The Silvertones.”

I was also intrigued to learn that, as Campbell notes, Pottinger bought the catalogue and operations of the esteemed Treasure Isle label after the passing of its founder/owner, Duke Reid (but only after first doing battle in Jamaica’s Supreme Court with Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd, as well as Duke Reid’s son and Edward ‘Bunny’ Lee’; sadly, she would die the very next year after winning her case).   Incredibly, this same publication – just 16 months later – would publish a piece entitled, “Women Who Shaped Jamaican Music” … and fail to even mention her!  Is my indignation righteous enough?  Today’s piece, consequently, is my attempt to bring about some measure of pop music social justice.

Sonia Pottinger, who would go on to receive Jamaica’s Order of Distinction

Sonia PottingerAs pointed out in yesterday’s piece, Sonia Pottinger issued two singles by pioneering reggae vibraphonist, Lennie Hibbert.  Additionally, Pottinger would be among the first of the producers in Prince Buster’s wake to incorporate the traditional and deep Nyabinghi hand drum rhythms into rocksteady and reggae music, as evidenced on Patsy Todd’s uniquely Jamaican interpretation of Miriam Makeba‘s big hit, “Pata Pata” (with backing by Count Ossie’s mighty band) – both versions released in 1967:

“Pata Pata Rocksteady”     Patsy Todd with the Count Ossie Band     1967

Every Culture album that bears the Pottinger production mark is top-notch and a must-own.  Other crucial Pottinger productions worthy of your time include this short list:

“Ital Vibes”: Vibraphonic Reggae

Reggae is another realm of popular music where the vibraphone so rarely makes a foray.  As a result, Jamaican vibraphonist, Lennie Hibbert, pretty much has the field all to himself, as the intersection of reggae and the vibes essentially begins and ends with this one soul. Hibbert’s theme song – if one were to exist – would most definitely be “Village Soul,” easily his best known composition, but 1974’s tuneful instrumental “Ital Vibes” is another great starting point for vibraphone-infused reggae:

“Ital Vibes” – Lennie Hibbert – Produced by Harry Mudie

The bulk of Hibbert’s early work appears to be with Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One label, where he recorded as part of Coxsone’s house band, The Sound Dimension, and also released a few singles under his own name.

Hibbert did appear, however on at least two Nyabinghi-inflected singles recorded at the studio of pioneering female producer, Sonia Pottinger:  “The Retreat Song” (with MillicentPatsyTodd) and “Pure Soul” (with Count Ossie & Lyn Taitt), both from 1968.

Hibbert would record two long-playing releases as a solo artist on Studio One — 1969’s Creation and 1971’s More Creation — before moving on to Harry Mudie‘s label for at least one single, 1974’s wonderfully understated slice of ‘strings reggae’ – “Ital Vibes” b/w version mix “Vibes Skank” (billed as Mudies All Stars).

rear cover – 1969 Studio One LP, Creation

Lennie Hibbert

Hibbert’s biography on AllMusic points out that in 1976 the vibraphonist would be awarded the Order of Distinction for his contribution to Jamaican music, as well as his work as an educator at Kingston’s legendary Alpha Boys School, training ground for an extraordinary number of Jamaica’s top musicians and where a hall would be named in honor of Hibbert, who passed in 1984.

Lennie Hibbert photoLennie Hibbert enthusiasts may want to seek out his exceptionally rare debut album, Moon-Light Party at the Myrtle Bank Hotel, although be prepared to pay through the nose: one copy sold in 2006 for $760.  Be advised, however, this is actually a studio album and not a live recording as the title would seem to suggest.

Claymation Christmas (Is Here)

Someone went to great effort to animate “Christmas Time Is Here” by The Heptones in this charming claymation-style video:

“Christmas Time Is Here”     The Heptones     196?

This song provokes the question:  where exactly does rocksteady end and reggae begin?