Wednesday, October 07, 2015

King Horror - Ruler of Creepy Reggae

As any long-time follower of my blog can attest, I have been a huge fan of King Horror and his spooky brand of music for years!  And though there is no definitive proof regarding the true identity of the man behind the shrieks, growls and shouts over the boss reggae rhythms that found their way into my horror-loving heart years ago, Halloween just wouldn't be Halloween without a little King Horror!  I have received requests on Facebook regarding putting together a mix of King Horror's "monster" hits and I am happy to oblige by putting together this mini (16 minute) Spooktacular.  If you are familiar with King Horror this compilation will feel like familiar strangling hands around your neck and if not, you are in for a welcome treat!  

Enjoy and play at loud volume... I'll never forget the shocked looks I got from people sitting beside me at a stoplight when Horror's bloodcurdling scream leading into Loch Ness Monster exploded through my cars speakers.  Try it for yourself and see!

Here's how they fall into place...

1.  Dracula Prince of Darkness - Joe 7" - 1969
2.  Loch Ness Monster - Grape 7" - 1969
3.  Ghost Hour - blank 7" - 1969
4.  Frankenstein - Nu Beat 7" - 1970
5.  The Vampire - Grape 7" - 1969
6.  The Hole - Grape 7" - 1969

ENJOY...if you dare!

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2015 - Track Five - Graveyard Bully

From the dank and gloomy depths of former Upsetter keyboardist Glen Adams' vault arises the latest entry in the 2015 Spooktacular.  This one is called "Graveyard Bully" and it was recorded sometime in the early 70s and features future Wailers Carly and Family Man Barrett on drum and bass.  Glen Adams unearthed these tapes back in the early 90s, remixed them and introduced them in 1995 on the Heartbeat Records release Upsetters A Go Go.   A nice spooky slice of early reggae... at least after the embellishments.

The track features the trailer of the 1974 Amicus horror anthology film From Beyond The Grave, one of my Halloween Month favorites and starring the late great Peter Cushing as the proprietor of Temptations Ltd., an antique shop whose items come back to terrify those who knowingly cheat the shopkeeper.  It comes highly recommended by yours truly and I believe it works well with the groove laid down by Glen Adams and the Upsetters Crew!

Upsetters - Graveyard Bully - 2015 Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular Track Five

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2015 - Track Four - Evil Spirits

Reverend Tom Frost is a musician, a singer, a songwriter and his blog Spread The Good Word, along with his bone-chillingly superb Halloween mixes were a huge inspiration in getting me started in doing my own ten years ago.  Reverend Tom lives in Paris France and aside from his skill in compiling great mixes, he performs and records his own brand of blues, rock, country, gospel that really kicks ass.  Often compared to Tom Waits and a "young, belligerent and drunk Jerry Lee Lewis," Reverend Frost is the real deal!  He's got a new release coming out this month called "The Lame Shall Enter First," and he promises, it’s gonna be good. And groovy. And weird.  Check him out here!

"Hello, I’m Reverend Frost. The mighty John asked me, on a dark and stormy night, to write something for his annual mighty Halloween Spooktacular mix, while I was doing my bloody annual Halloween mix, and believe me, I was bloody honored. Well, a little bit of history here, The Mighty Invaders were a bloody popular reggae band on the Baltimore music scene in the bloody early eighties. They even opened for the mighty Clash. I knew the album for years, and ‘Evil Spirits’ is the kind of song that almost got me haunted by Reggae. So, - I knew you were going to ask me -, if you’re in the midst of evil spirits, the best way to get rid of them is to say "get thee hence behind me Satan", plus, chant a Psalms (a sea chanty for example, or John Zacherley’s ‘Happy Halloween’), and don’t forget to read your Bible a chapter a day, Gen 1 - Rev22 - evil spirits have a harder time getting to those who are under the teachings of the most High. But try not to be TOO high. It’s illegal. Anyway, don’t miss this Halloween Spooktacular, ‘cos it won’t miss you! Thanks John! MUWUHAHAHAHAHA!"

The Mighty Invaders - Evil Spirits - 2015 Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular Track Four

Monday, October 05, 2015

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2015 - Track Three - Vampire

Welcome back!  We're moving along with our first full week of Spooktacular treats and up next is a good one!  

First a little background… Black Uhuru was originally formed in the Waterhouse District of Kingston in 1972.  Original band members Garth Dennis, Don Carlos and Derrick "Duckie" Simpson were unsuccessful in breaking onto the charts and quickly disbanded; Dennis going on to join the Wailing Souls and Carlos pursuing a solo career.  In 1978, Simpson recruited Michael Rose and Sandra "Puma" Jones and with the masterful Sly & Robbie at the helm, they recorded a string of hits including "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner," "Shine Eye Gal" and "General Penitentiary."   In 1980 Black Uhuru was signed by Island Records and their album Sinsemilla, released in July of that year on Island's subsidiary label Mango, reached a world-wide audience and was met with huge acclaim.   They later went on to win the first ever reggae Grammy in 1984 for their album Anthem.  After a falling-out and the subsequent departure of Michael Rose and the sad untimely death of Puma Jones in 1990, Duckie Simpson had to shuffle the lineup once more.  And amazingly he still does so today… Black Uhuru even with its seemingly non-stop revolving door of members remains active.

The track we're gonna hear is "Vampire" and it comes from the aforementioned Mango release Sinsemilla.  Listen as Duckie, Michael Rose and Puma fight against the wretched wrath of the demonic bloodsuckers!  An epic battle of good versus evil that would leave Dr. Van Helsing breathless!  I of course added my usual Hammer film embellishment at the top because it ain't Halloween around Distinctly Jamaican Sounds unless we get to hear an educational vampire snippet!

Black Uhuru - Vampire - 2015 Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular Track Three

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Jamaican Halloween Spooktaculars of Yesteryear... Collect 'Em All!

I've had a couple requests to hear previous Jamaican Halloween Spooktaculars and now is your chance to complete your collection!  Just click on the pic and it'll take you to the archive post from last year with functional download links!  Be sure to collect 'em all!

Friday, October 02, 2015

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2015 - Track Two - Black Cup

Teddy "Dosdedos" Garcia is originally from MatarĂ³ Spain, he relocated to Granada and formed Los Granadians Del Espacio Exterior, soon after he moved to London and formed The Delegators. Relocating to the Washington DC a few years ago, he now divides his time teaching at a local Montessori school and managing aforementioned ska originators Roy Panton and Yvonne Harrison.  Like Glen Adams, Teddy loves the sweet sounds of the electric organ and has had the opportunity to play with Jamaican music legends Derrick Morgan, Dennis Alcapone, Dave Barker, Rico Rodriguez, Big Youth, Laurel Aitken, Carl Dawkins and many more.  

"When we talk about Jamaican music, we all know what that implies; getting into a spiral of musicians, singers, producers, labels, wives and occasionally children claiming the rights of those that are no longer.

But Glen Adams does not do things by halves.  Singer?  Yes.  Composer?  Yes, that too.  What about musician?  As well.  It would be difficult to name the big hits of Jamaican music without naming Glen Adams.

From the time of the Sound Systems, Glen Adams already got himself noticed by launching a number one hit in the dancehalls together with his sister Yvonne Harrison, another solo artist about whom we will be speaking momentarily.  That recording where Glen and Yvonne sange "Wonder Thirst" together has never been found.  It was the song through which Coxsone Dodd established relations with the siblings.  Back then, all the pressings were records made of wax which lasted only a few sessions, so that the Sound System had to buy them again.  That was the beginning of Jamaican music and the first appearance of many musicians and singers on the island.

Ken Boothe was the first singing partner with whom Glen rose to fame.  Under the name "Ken and Glen," they enjoyed great success and participated with Stranger Cole in what was the first appearance of the three together: "One, Two, Three" a catchy ska reminiscent of the island's Spanish heritage.

But there is something that many of us wonder:  when did Glen move to playing the piano and organ and away from vocals?  Whoever has had a chance to visit Jamaica knows that nothing goes as planned.  The island has its own pace and trying to fight it is like swimming against the tide, only you get tired and end up in the place where you started.  And that's how Glen, on an October afternoon in 1968, recorded over eight themes in just one afternoon which are still praised and danced to on all specialized dance floors.

Half of the musicians that were scheduled for the session that afternoon did not turn -up due to a lack of payment by the producer for another recording.  So Glen took the seat at the piano.  However when it didn't work out, he changed places with Lloyd Charmers on keys that afternoon and recorded Lester Sterling's "Bangarang" and Slim Smith's "Everybody Needs Love."  At that moment, Glen Adams fell in love with this powerful instrument and went on to record with the Hippy Boys, Slim Smith, The Reggae Boys and the great Upsetters.

We mentioned Yvonne above, Glen's sister Yvonne Harrison.  A few months ago I had the good fortune to stay with Roy Panton and Yvonne Harrison at their home in Toronto Canada where they currently live.  That night we talked at length about Glen.  They told me that when Glen was ill, he asked that they bring him a portable keyboard to the hospital so that he could play while he was recovering from the illness that eventually took him to the grave in 2010 after visiting Jamaica.

In 1977, Glen recorded "Black Cup," the instrumental theme with which we honor him today.  To the rocksteady rhythm on "Why Did You Leave Me" by the Heptones, Glen gallops with a harpsichord sound which is impossible to escape and makes one think of the dark and bloody times of the 18th century.  It could well be the soundtrack for a Victorian zombie feast.  The percussion appears like breaking bones unable to withstand such a heavy riddim.  Hopefully tonight his spirit will conquer and dominate us, converting us into slaves for life to reggae music.  AMEN."

Glen Adams - Black Cup - 2015 Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular Track Two