Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Roots of Reggae - Jamaica's Cocktail Shaker w/ Undercover

I don't know about you guys, but I get a real buzz seeing and hearing how the the many sounds merged into one. Mixing equal parts US r& b and soul with local afro, mento, calypso, gospel and jazz, it's no surprise to see how such an authentic sound would emerge from Jamaica!
Calypso originating in Trinidad and Tobago, was a musical outlet for slaves to have a gripe about their masters, hence it's somewhat insulting and comical lyrics. The first stars started crossing over to worldwide audiences in the late 30s and during the following decades toured the Caribbean and the USA as well playing to the local upper-class tourist and hotel set. Hits included Harry Belafonte's The Banana Boat Song, a cover of a traditional Jamaican folk song as well as numerous songs from The Mighty Sparrow, Lord Melody and Calypso's longest serving sentinal - Lord Kitchener.
London based record label Bluebeat started to bring these sounds all together in the years 1959-1961 focussing on American influenced Jamaican blues and r&b which later evolved into what we know as the genre bluebeat and eventually ska. Early landmark hits that definded the sound included Higgs and Wilson's Manny On and what some consider the first ska record - The Folkes Brothers with Count Ossies 'Oh Carolina'. Jazz was also popular in the early 1960s with Coxsone releasing a couple of amazing jazz records - 'I Cover The Waterfront' and 'Jazz Jamaica'. The albums featured star pupils from the Alpha Boys School, an institution run by Catholic nuns for wayward boys. Through it's disciplne, outstanding musical tuition and exposure to the US jazz sound, the school had a huge influence on ska and reggae with notable ulumni The Skatalites - Roland Alphonso, Don Drummond, Lester Sterling, Tommy McCook, Cedric Books and Theophilus Beckford. By 1962 with Bluebeat setting the scene (the label ran till 1967), Ska was in full swing, emulating that skank of 50s r&b from the likes of Fats Domino, Shirley Lee and Co and the rest they say is history! * Part 1 / Part 2.

The Roaring Lion - Ugly Woman (1934)
George Moxey & His Calypso Quintet - Dry Weather House (1951)
Baba Motta & His Jamaicans - She Pon Top (1952)
Lord Kitchener - Drink a Rum (1954)
Hubert Porter - Iron Bar/Mas Charley Bell (1954)
Louise Bennett - Day Dah Light (1954)
Mighty Sparrow - Village Ram (1964)
Harry Belafonte - The Banana Boat Song (Day-O) (1956)
Harry Belafonte - Jamaica Farewell (1956)
King Solomon - Belafonte (1957)
Lord Melody - Creature from the Black Lagoon (1957)
The Wrigglers f/ Ernest Ranglin - Don't Touch Me Tomato (1958)
The Mighty Sparrow - Russian Satellite (1958)
Pérez Prado - Peanut Vendor (1958)
Lord Melody - Booboo Man (1958)
Laurel Aitken - Nebuchadnezzar (1958)
Laurel Aitken - Sweet Chariot (1958)
Denzil Laing & The Wrigglers - Bloodshot Eyes (1958)
Theophilus Beckford - Easy Snapping (1959)
Byron Lee & The Dragonaires - Dumplin's (1959)
Clancy Eccles - What Will Your Mama Say (1959)
Duke Reid's All Stars - Pink Lane Shuffle (1959)
Clancy Eccles - Freedom (1959)
Laurel Aitken & The Boogie Cats - Boogie Rock (1959)
Drumbago All Stars - Duck Soup (1959)
Higgs and Wilson - Manny On (1960)
Derrick Morgan & Trenton Spence - Fat Man (1960)
Keith & Enid & Trenton Spence & His Group - Send Me (1960)
The Folkes Brothers & Count Ossie Afro Combo - Oh Carolina (1961)
The Folkes Brothers & Count Ossie Afro Combo - I Met A Man (1961)
Alton & Eddy - My Heaven (1961)
Roland Alphonso & Cecil Lloyd - Oceans 11 (1961)
The Blues Busters - Donna (1961)
Earl Dixon & The Black Beats - Too Much Whisky (1961)
Derrick Morgan & Clue J & His Blues Busters - Wigger Wee Shuffle (1961)
Keith Lyn & Byron Lee & The Dragonaires - Help Me Forget (1961)
Byron Lee & Dragonaires - Mash Mr Lee (1961)
Errol Dixon & The Blue Beats - Anytime Anywhere (1961)
Lascelles Perkins & Clue J & His Blues Basters - Creation (1961)
The Soulettes - Opportunity (1961)
Clancy Eccles - River Jordan (1961)
The Skatalites - The Answer (1962)
Cecil Lloyd Group - Gone With The Wind (1962)
Cecil Lloyd Group - I Cover The Waterfront (1962)
Lord Kitchener - Jamaica Woman (1962)
Delroy Wilson - King Pharaoh (1962)
The Blues Busters - Behold!  (1962)
Basil Gabbidon - Enie-Meanie-Miney-Mo (1962)
Justin Hinds and the Dominoes - Carry Go Bring Come (1963)
Jimmy James - Swinging Down the Line (1963)
Lord Creator - Golden Love (1963)
King Stitt - End & Beyond (1963)
King Stitt - Rhythm of The Blues (1963)
Prince Buster - Flying Ska (1964)
Lord Creator - Big Bamboo (1964)
Jackie Opel - Shelter In The Storm (1965)
The Techniques - Little Did You Know (1965)
Jackie Opel - Cry Me A River (1965)

*I might be talking out my ass, but this is how I understand it.


  1. Absolutely stunning piece of Jamaican musical history thanks!
    if you are talking out of your ass then I must be too. Peace!

  2. Thanks.
    That's how I remember it.