Friday, September 19, 2014

Reggae Hit The Town - The Early Reggae Mix

It had been a while since I had ventured back into the stacks and dug up the components to a spur-of-the-moment compilation, especially in the midst of editing the 2014 Halloween Spooktacular, but I got inspired.  I think it has a lot to do with putting together the Jackie Bernard tribute earlier this week and listening to a heap of top-flight tunes from the early reggae era that in my nine years here have seemed to slip through the cracks... or even more precisely, through my memory.  What you're going to hear is a highly listenable and danceable, if you're so inclined, mix that will work nicely in putting a smile on your face and a spring in your step this weekend!  I know some of these songs are clearly skirting the edge of rocksteady but we're tossing genre labels to the wind and just jumping in.  Here's what you're going to hear... now mind you, aside from a couple ripped directly from vinyl, I have compiled these tracks from various LPs and CD's but it was more fun listing them as they were originally pressed... and yes, I would love to have them all in their original formats but I have yet to win the lottery to finance that project. :)

1.  Lee Perry & The Upsetters - Salt & Pepper - Eastwood Rides Again LP - Trojan - 1970
2.  King Sporty - Choice of Music - Coxsone 7" - 1970
3.  The Ethiopians - Everything Crash - JJ Records 7" - 1968
4.  Karl Bryan & The Crystalites - Slippery - Crystal Records 7" - 1969
5.  Al Barry & The Cimarons - Morning Sun - Doctor Bird 7" - 1970
6.  Peter Tosh - You Can't Fool Me Again - Impact 7" - 1969
7.  Jackie Mittoo - Spring Time - Bamboo 7" - 1969
8.  The Maytals - Monkey Girl - Summit 7" - 1971
9.  Ansel Collins - Night Of Love - Beverley's 7" - 1969
10.  The Dynamites - Reggaedelic - Clandisc 7" - 1970
11.  Dennis Walks - Heart Don't Leap - Moodisc 7" - 1969
12.  Hopeton Lewis - Live It Up - Duke Reid 7" - 1969
13.  The Tennors - Cherry - Crab 7" - 1969
14.  Augustus Pablo - Snowball & Pudding - Ackee 7" - 1971
15.  Fitz Roy Sterling - That's My Life - Bullet 7" - 1970
16.  Derrick Morgan - Moon Hop - Crab 7" - 1969
17.  Harry J Allstars - Liquidator - Harry J 7" - 1969
18.  Pat Kelly - How Long Will It Take - Gas 7" - 1969
19.  Cedric Brooks & Dave Madden - Sea Breeze - Ru Soul 7" - 1971
20.  Jo Jo Bennett & The Mudies All Stars - Calling You - Groovy Joe LP - 1970


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

RIP Jackie "Kingstonian" Bernard

I heard today that Jackie Bernard, the one time leader of the Kingstonians, has died.  Bernard started the Kingstonians in the 1960s with his brother Lloyd "Footy" Bernard and  Lloyd Kerr, they came to popularity when they signed a recording deal with Derrick Harriott in the rocksteady/early reggae era. 

Jackie's story, as of late, was one that really helps restore your faith in humanity...  Jackie had been diagnosed with diabetes and was in desperate need of assistance and through the assistance of Rafael Ruiz, who established the Jackie Bernard Foundation, and with the contributions of complete strangers, he was able to get the care needed.  RIP Jackie Bernard.

I put together a mix to help celebrate the joy this man was able to spread and I hope it serves as a fitting tribute...

What you're going to hear...

1.  Mix It Up
2.  Nice Nice
3.  Winey Winey
4.  I'll Be Around
5.  Sufferer
6.  Fun Galore
7.  I Am Just A Minstrel
8.  Put Down Your Fire
9.  Crime Don't Pay
10.  Right From Wrong

Jackie "Kingstonian" Bernard Tribute Mix

By Request... The Harmonica In Jamaican Music Re-Up

This post and its accompanying mix, originally published here in May of 2007, has got to be one of the most-requested re-ups of any mix I have ever done... unfortunately, it wasn't as easy as uploading the MP3 and posting a link, all of my previous mixes, with a few exceptions, are stuck on a dead external hard drive.  So, instead of just chalking it up as one of the compilations lost to history, I recreated the mix and added 5 additional tracks!  Hope you enjoy this blast from the past!

The first harmonicas were originally manufactured and sold in Vienna Austria in the early 1820's... but going back that far and covering its history that concisely would take me about a week to even get up to speed about the topic I want to discuss here, so let's fast forward 100 years to the 1920's to make a little easier on ourselves.

The initial harmonica recordings were intended as "race records" for black audiences in the southern United States. Early records featured the harmonica either solo, paired with guitar or as a part of a jug band; who performed a combination of Appalachian, early Memphis blues (before it was officially recognized as the blues) and ragtime. But at this stage in its development the "mouth organ" was still considered to be a novelty.

Of course when the harmonica sprouted wheels and took to the road, migrating alongside the country blues from the Delta and headed to various northern cities in the U.S., it began to take on a life of its own. Musicians like Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter and Slim Harpo just to name a few, emerged as true giants of the "harp" and it would be impossible to argue that their contributions weren't crucial in creating the techniques and skills that produced the distinctive sounds that will forever be synonymous with the blues itself.

The harmonica remained a popular instrument in blues throughout the 40's, 50's and even into the 60's, with players like Paul Butterfield, even though the electric guitar was coming to prominence and quickly replacing the mouth harp's role in blues. Concurrently the harmonica even gained a place of prominence in the folk movement, with artists like Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan and cross-over blues influenced rock groups like the Rolling Stones and Canned Heat.

But here's where we go South, on the globe that is, with the little harmonica history lesson...what preceded its emigration to Jamaica is not known. Little is written about the harmonica in Jamaican music so if I get anything wrong factually, let me know... in most cases I'm just going with a couple reference sources and my ear alone.

The harmonica was used often in rural acoustic mento alongside the main components banjo, guitar, saxophone, bamboo clarinet, rumba box and percussion. Since I'm nothing more than an virtually uninformed fan of mento music I'll defer to Michael Garnice's excellent Mento Music website for his observation of harmonica's place in mento...

"It seems to be a rule that if a mento song features harmonica, it would be a fantastically upbeat recording."

It seems interesting to note that while the harmonica was being used for upbeat quick tempo songs in Jamaica, in the U.S. it had shifted from being exclusive to records intended for a small single race specific audience into a genre whose subject matter obviously required a slower, sadder, moodier style. This quick tempo trend in Jamaican music lasted well into Jamaica's independence in 1963 and merged into the new sound of ska that took the island by storm that year and for quite a few years after. The harmonica was used in early ska to power the rhythm, punctuate the uptempo riffs and to occasionally provide a jamming solo. This was the one era in Jamaican music that the mouth harp would almost sound commonplace, so it would be far too easy to pick 15 ska tunes and call it a day. Believe it or not I'm not taking the easy way out... not today at least. Read on...

As ska transformed itself into rocksteady the harp was still used sparingly but as the tempo slowed, so did the playing. When reggae emerged, the harmonica was being used to add a bluesy touch to an occasional roots era recording... not all but most; the spirited playing in Toots & The Maytals "Reggae Got Soul" would definitely shoot holes in that assumption. Oddly enough the instrument had in fact somehow connected with its blues counterpart in American music and, in my opinion, was used with fairly great success.

So in order to avoid losing anyone else who might have made it this far, I'll get to the music. When I put together this mix I dug up a bunch of songs, 15 to be exact, that featured harmonica and strung them together in the mix in no particular chronological order. You'll hear ska, some rocksteady, some Studio One and of course some roots era reggae. In the track listing I've researched, as well as I could with the lack of printed information, about who is actually playing the harmonica on the featured tracks. Unfortunately many of the players names have been lost to history or just not included on the back of album covers or inside liner notes.

After the introductory riff from Sonny Boy Williamson's "Mighty Long Time," just to set the proper mood, we kick things off inna Jamaican style with one of my all-time favorite uses of harmonica regardless of genre. The song is called "Some Like It Dread," from Big Youth's Dreadlocks Dread album on the Virgin label and it features the uncredited harp playing of someone who might be none other than Jimmy Becker - Becker performed for quite a few names in the late 70's early 80's period including Big Youth, Black Uhuru, Prince Alla, Gregory Isaacs and Dennis Brown. No matter if it is Becker playing on this, or someone else, the harmonica adds a new dimension to the entire album that makes it one that never seems to grows old!

Next up in the mix is Keith Hudson and whether you love his singing style or hate it, we're focusing on the bluesy harmonica riff courtesy of William Brown, that runs throughout the track "Like I'm Dying." This track is taken from Hudson's 1975 album Torch Of Freedom on the Mamba label and the harp makes this sound more like blues with a bass line and not just another roots reggae song.

Taking a trip across the Atlantic to England for the next tune we've got Barbados born Dennis "Blackbeard" Bovell and a song called "Shi-cago" taken from his compilation CD called Decibel - More Cuts And Dubs (1976-1983) available on the Pressure Sounds label. Aside from working alongside reggae legend Linton Kwesi Johnson for close to 30 years he has also produced a variety of other genres of music which may explain his incorporation of varied elements in his reggae/dub work. The harmonica on this track is most likely provided by accomplished jazzman Julio Finn who also does the work on LKJ's "Street 66" which appears later in this mix. Aside from playing the harmonica, Finn has written a book about black European poetry called "Voices Of Negritude" and also one about blues music called "The Bluesman: The Musical Heritage Of Black Men And Women In America." Nonetheless this is a smooth track which reviewers have described as having a "sunny day feel" and I would agree but... my biased ears are always unintentionally looking for something a little more meaningful beneath the surface whenever the harp is involved.

Next up we've got a nice example of the use of harmonica in ska. This one is called "I Go" by Prince Buster and a Millie Small which comes from the album called Fly Flying Ska originally released on the Bluebeat label in 1964. I would say judging from Buster's history and lack of concise credits on this album it might be a safe to assume that harp is courtesy of Charles "Charly" Organaire. Organaire, who came to age in musically at the famed Alpha Boys School performed with countless ska acts such as The Skatalites, Derrick Morgan, Bobby Aitken, The Wailers, etc. and recorded for Coxsone, Beverley's and Duke Reid just to name a few.

The fifth song in the mix, featuring the confirmed harmonica of Jimmy Becker, is the track "There Is Fire" from Black Uhuru's 1980 album Sensimilla released on the Island label. Rhythm courtesy of Sly & Robbie and a nice bluesy accompaniment this makes for a good taste of Black Uhuru at its finest.

Bob Marley & The Wailers are next with the track "Talkin' Blues" from the 1974 Natty Dread album. Bluesy harmonica on this song are courtesy of American born Lee Jaffe who was a true renaissance man - a performance artist, a film maker, a photographer and a harmonica player. He met Bob Marley in New York in 1973 and for the next three years traveled and toured with the then upcoming band, photographically documenting ever move they made and eventually recording with the band. Jaffe eventually parted ways with the Wailers in 1975 due to the negative influence of the Wailers manager Don Taylor, but speaking about him could be a post all to itself so I won't go there. "Talkin' Blues" is one of my current favorite Marley tunes and it has a lot to owe to the definite blues influence not only in the title itself but in the almost melancholy tone of Jaffe's low-key style.

Next up, with a little rocksteady groove, are the Supersonics and the track "Rocking Soul" from the 1996 Heartbeat compilation CD called Run Rhythm Run: Instrumental Scorchers From Treasure Isle. Again there is no definitive credit for who performed the prevalent wailing harmonica throughout but my guess would probably be Charley Organaire since he did spend considerable time recording with Duke Reid.

The late harmonica great Roy Richards (1941-2007) follows it up with the song "Another Thing" from the Soul Jazz Studio One Funk CD. Aside from blowing a mean mouth organ, Richards was an accomplished singer and drummer and unfortunately passed away 3 days ago on May 28th! His influence and soulful playing helped create the ska sound in the early 60's and his skill is evident in this track. A great song and of course a timeless Studio One production that makes for some smooth listening! I'm saddened to hear of his passing...

Linton Kwesi Johnson alongside Dennis Bovell and Julio Finn with the classic "Street 66" taken from LKJ's 1980 album Bass Culture released on Island Records. I absolutely love this song - such a deep moody rhythm accentuated with the wail of Finn's bluesy riffs masterfully woven throughout the strong visual lyrics - fantastic reggae harmonica at its best! For example...
The room was dark
Dusk howling softly 6 o'clock
Charcoal light
The fine sight
Was moving black
The sound was music mellow steady flow
And man son mind just mystic red, green, red, green
Your scene...

It just calls for some harmonica! If you've never "Street 66" before you're in for a some amazing vibes. I get strong vibes every time I listen to this one!

Up next is an artist who went by the name of D. Tony Lee. He was in fact Donald Antonio Lee, brother of producer extraordinaire Bunny Lee and former store manager for Bunny's WIRL Studios. Tony Lee produced a couple tracks in 1968-69 and this one is called, "Regay Time" and comes from a 2001 compilation CD called Do The Reggay, The Early Reggae Singles on the Westside label. Tony provided the harmonica solos as well as the vocals for this lively tune and it provides a nice sampling of reggae in its infancy.

We've got two in a row from Studio One next and as is the case with a lot of Sir Coxsone's plethora of productions, certain performers aren't given credit on the album sleeves or in the CD liner notes. The first Studio One track by the Soul Brothers is called "Hot & Cold" from the 1994 Heartbeat release called Mojo Rock Steady. Of course no one is credited with the harmonica work. The second Studio One track is by an artist by the name of Big Willie and the song is "College Rock" taken from an album on the Studio One label called Toughest - Studio One Dub and again it provides no definitive identification of who was manning the harp. Interestingly "College Rock" was revamped in the early 90's and became a popular riddim for Donovan Germain's Penthouse label, though minus the harmonica. Best guess who played the harp? Roy Richards(?)

Up next are Keith Hudson and the Chuckles with a tune called "Melody Maker Version 2 (Harmonica & Bongo Dub)" from the 2004 Trojan various artists CD set called The Hudson Affair. "Melody Maker..." is an instrumental version of "Like I'm Dying" and again most likely features William Brown again on harmonica.

Sugar Minott is up next with another Studio One production. This one is the 12" extended mix of "Oh Mr. D.C." and features some absolutely killer harmonica work... where you ask? You've got to wait until you get into the version before you get to hear it. A classic song, a nice solo and again, no definitive information on who did the work. Best guess is again Roy Richards (?)

The final track in the mix comes to us courtesy of Toots And The Maytals. The song is of course "Reggae Got Soul" and originally appeared on the 1976 Island release of the same name. A timeless song with harmonica riffs throughout by the man Chicago Steve. I really couldn't find any additional information about Chicago Steve but I'm actually to the point now that even if I did I wouldn't want to alliterate... this post has been a bear!

Hope you enjoy the history lesson... I've tried to be as factually accurate as possible and I know we started off strong at the top of the playlist and started to falter toward the end but... as always, if you find anything wrong or if you have plugs for any of the holes I couldn't fill, let me know and I'll be happy to make corrections.

Additional tracks...
1.  Nora Dean - Harmonica Dub - Dubbing At Harry J's - 2002 Jamaican Recordings CD - harmonica player unknown.
2.  Roy Richards - Reggae Monica - Studio One Swing Easy - 1969 Coxsone LP.
3.  Bob Marley & The Wailers - Rebel Music (3 O'clock Roadblock) - Natty Dread - 1974 Island Records LP - harmonica courtesy of Lee Jaffe.
4.  Carl Malcolm - Miss Wire Waist - taken from a Various Artists compilation CD whose name has been lost in the shuffle to digitize - harmonica player unknown.
5.  Charlie Organaire - The Good You Can - Trojan Rocksteady Rarities CD set - 2004 Trojan Records.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why Worry?

It has been a tough week for me... my girlfriend has had some medical issues, nothing fatal mind you, but nonetheless still worrying.  I have had a hard time trying to convey to her how much I understand what she fears and what she is thinking and it kills me to see her constant state of worry.  

This mix goes out to her and to all those out there who have worries in their life, and who doesn't, just to let her and everyone reading this know that there is a lot of love in this world and a lot of joy in the everyday and that we should just stop worrying and get on with living.  I read a quote somewhere and I think it applies universally, "Worrying won't stop the bad stuff from happening it just stops you from enjoying the good."  Live your life, take time to smell the roses, smile awhile, be sure to express your love to the ones that mean the most to you and cherish each day you are given.  Life is too short to worry about what tomorrow may bring.

Here's what you're going to hear...

1.  Israel Vibration - Why Worry
2.  Dr. Alimantado - One Trouble
3.  Scotty - I Worry
4.  Frankie Paul - Don't Worry Yourself
5.  Leroy Smart - Walk Away From Trouble
6.  Burning Spear - No Worry Yourself
7.  Ethiopians - It Will Be Alright
8.  Little John - Don't Worry Yourself
9.  Junior Delgado - Trouble
10.  George Nooks - Worry Not Yourself
11.  Sugar Minott - Worries & Problems
12.  Bob Marley & The Wailers - Three Little Birds

Why Worry Mix

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Saturday, August 23, 2014

King Tubby Meets Ken Nordine Inside A Manned Space Capsule

I got inspired this week... I was listening to a bunch of Ken Nordine's spoken-word jazz and thought how cool would the big, deep, resonant voice of Mr. Nordine sound over a big, deep and resonant King Tubby dub?  This is the end result... a Dub meets Word Jazz mash-up if you will... enjoy!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Smile A While - Summer 2014

Yes folks it has been forever since I posted last but life always has a way of getting in the way of blogging and mixing.  We are in the midst of Summer and it is actually embarrassing that the last thing I posted was when Winter was still kicking our collective asses.  I apologize for leaving you hanging for so long... that is if I still have anyone checking the blog at this point besides those routinely posting spam in my comments sections.  Just a note to those people, I am not at this time, nor will I ever be interested in checking out your pyramid scheme or financial services and for the record, I am completely satisfied with the size of my penis, thank you.  Well enough about that... :)

So with Summer in mind, I decided to shake off the rust and get back to putting together a little something for your warm weather listening pleasure.  A compilation of tunes, as the title would suggest, about smiling... kinda reflecting how I'm feeling this days!  It's amazing how warm weather has that effect on me!  Now this isn't a highly researched and thoughtfully selected mix but it is just something to get the ball rolling again and I hope you enjoy what you're going to hear!

1.  Beres Hammond - Smile
2.  The Paragons - Only A Smile
3.  Cedric 'Im Brooks - Smiley
4.  Gregory Isaacs - Smile
5.  Marcia Griffiths - Try A Little Smile
6.  I Roy - Smile Like An Angel
7.  The Tennors - Smile (My Baby)
8.  The Silvertones - Smile
9.  The Itals - Small Knotty Dread
10.  Lyn Taitt & The Jets - Only A Smile
11.  Tinga Stewart - Smiling Faces
12.  Roy Shirley - I Like Your Smile
13.  Dennis Brown - You And Your Smiling Face
14.  Niney & The Soul Syndicate - Smile Dub
15.  The Skatalites - Smiling


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Winter Doldrums... need a lift?

"Sweet Jamaica" by Mr. Vegas is one of those songs that helps me get through the shit that is winter here in the northeast United States... I found this version featuring a nice selection of artists and capped off with Daddy U-Roy and it just brought tears to my eyes.  God help me make it through this winter... either that or let me win the lottery so I can afford a vacation.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Distinctly Jamaican Christmas Mixes of Yesteryear

I have had numerous requests for mixes from specific previous years and I figured I'd make it easy for everyone but just re-uploading 'em all!  Enjoy!

The 2006 Jamaican Christmas Mix

1. Carlene Davis – Santa Claus (Do You Ever Come To The Ghetto)
2. King Stitt – Christmas Tree
3. Johnny Osbourne – Christmas Stylee
4. The Joe Gibbs Family – We Three Kings
5. Gregory Isaacs – Christmas Behind The Bars
6. Yellowman – Where Is Santa Claus?
7. Eek A Mouse – Christmas A Come
8. Cocoa Tea - Christmas Is Coming
9. The Aggrovators – Santa Claus Dub
10. Ras Pidow – Winter Storm
11. The Wailers – White Christmas
12. Toots & The Maytals – Christmas Feeling Ska
13. Alton Ellis & The Lipsticks – Merry Merry Christmas
14. Jacob Miller – On The Twelve Days Of Ismas
15. Trinity – Video Christmas
16. Eek A Mouse – The Night Before Christmas
17. Michael Palmer – Happy Merry Christmas
18. The Granville Williams Orchestra – Santa Claus Is Ska-Ing To Town
19. Tiger – Tiger Claus
20. Freddie McGregor – O Come Let Us Adore Him
21. Dillinger – Hi Fashion Christmas
22. Jacob Miller – Deck The Halls
23. Trinity – All I Want For Christmas
24. The Ethiopians – Ding Dong Bell
25. Rico And His Boys – Silent Night

 The 2007 Jamaican Christmas Mix

1. Jacob Miller - All I Want For Ismas
2. Horace Andy - Christmas Time
3. The Aggrovators - Santa Claus And The Aggrovators Conquer The Martians Inna Holiday Rockers Style
4. Kingstonians - Merry Christmas
5. Cocoa Tea - Please Come For Christmas
6. Mutabaruka - Postpone Christmas
7. Brent Dowe - Christmas In Jamaica
8. Steve Golding - Strictly Rock Christmas
9. Kashief Lindo - Someday At Christmas
10. Frank Cosmo - Merry Christmas
11. Al & The Vibrators - Merry Christmas
12. Lovindeer - It's Christmas Time Again
13. Jackie Mittoo - Joy Joy
14. The Cimarons - Holy Christmas
15. Ringo - Christmas Time
16. Little Kirk - Gee Whiz
17. Half Pint - Christmas Vibes
18. Gregory Isaacs - White Christmas
19. John Holt - Winter World Of Love
20. Sugar Minott - Christmas Jamboree
21. Peter Broggs - Twelve Days Of Christmas
22. Barrington Levy - Christmas Day
23. The Wailers - Sound The Trumpet
24. Little John - Save A Little For Christmas
25. Ernest Wilson - We Wish You A Merry Christmas

The 2008 Jamaican Christmas Mix

1. Nigger Kojak - Christmas Style
2. Bunny & Skully - White Christmas
3. Lord Nelson - Party For Santa Claus
4. The Wailers - Go, Tell It On The Mountain
5. Frankie Paul - Merry Christmas
6. Alton Ellis - Christmas Coming
7. Glen Adams - Xmas Rock
8. Michigan & Smiley - Little Drummer Boy
9. Desmond Dekker & The Aces - Christmas Day
10. Iron Phoenix - Natty Dread Christmas
11. Gregory Isaacs - It's Christmas Time Again
12. Johnny Clarke - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
13. Winston Groovy - Merry Christmas
14. Jacob Miller - Silver Bells
15. Ray I - Natty No Santa Claus
16. Jah Walton - DJ Christmas
17. Toots & The Maytals - Happy Christmas
18. Horace Andy - Oh Little Town Of Bethlehem
19. The Silvertones - Bling Bling Christmas
20. Freddie McGregor - Irie Christmas
21. Charley Fresh - Jam Down Christmas
22. Tippa Lee & Rappa Roberts - Christmas Is Coming
23. Hortense Ellis - Black Christmas
24. Trinity - African Christmas
25. Richard Ace - Joyful Reggae

The 2009 Jamaican Christmas Mix

1. Tristan Palmer - Christmas Jamboree
2. Roman Stewart - Christmas Affair
3. Frank Cosmo - Greetings From Beverley's
4. General Trees - Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town
5. Jackie Edwards - White Christmas
6. Shorty The President - Christmas Fair
7. Norman T. Washington - It's Christmas Time Again
8. Colin Roach & Anthony Malvo - Merry Christmas
9. J.C. Lodge - Joy To The World
10. Lloyd Seivright - Mary's Boy Child
11. Lui Lepke - Christmas Season
12. Winston Francis - Here Comes Santa
13. Verna Lee Powell - He Is My Santa Claus
14. Sandra Robinson & Lee Scratch Perry - Merry Christmas, Happy New Year
15. Ringo - Never Forget Christmas
16. Sonny Bradshaw - Peace And Love
17. Barry Brown - Christmas Christmas
18. Anthony Selassie - Rub A Dub Christmas
19. Hopeton & Primo - Peace On Earth
20. Tennessee Brown & The Silvertones - Jingle Bells
21. Don Cornell & The Eternals - Christmas Joy
22. Gable School Choir - Reggae Christmas
23. Neville Willoughby - Christmas In JA
24. Rupie Edwards - Christmas Rush
25. Go Home Productions - Karen Meets Roots Radics Uptown

The 2010 Jamaican Christmas Mix

1. Barrington Levy - Once A Year
2. Jah Thomas - Christmas Shopping
3. Tennessee Brown & The Silvertones - Little Drummer Boy
4. Gregory Isaacs - The Christmas Song
5. Sachmoore - Wuh You Got To Gimme For Christmas
6. Leon Danger & Mr. Culture - This Christmas
7. Chris Wayne - Silver Bells
8. Cedric Bravo w/Rico & The Five Stars - Merry Christmas
9. Norman T. Washington - Happy Christmas
10. Norman T. Washington - Happy Christmas Version
11. The Silent Choir - Silent Night
12. Alton Ellis - Praise Jah It's Christmas
13. Trinity - Santa Claus Comes Once A Year
14. Shinehead - Reggae Christmas Medley
15. Tyrone Taylor - Winter Wonderland
16. Admiral Bailey - Christmas Style
17. Ruddy Thomas - Reggae Happy Christmas
18. Tony Tuff - Christmas Irie
19. Little John - It's Christmas Time
20. Triston Palmer - Oh Holy Night
21. Arcanians - Christmas In Jamaica
22. Alton Ellis - Joy To The World
23. Delroy Melody - Christmas Time
24. King Everald - Santa Claus
25. Cimarons - Silent Night/White Christmas

 The 2011 Jamaican Christmas Mix

1. Dean Fraser - Deck The Halls
2. John C - We Three Kings
3. Ken Boothe - This Christmas
4. Glen Adams - Joyful Tidings
5. Byron Lee & The Dragonaires - Winter Wonderland Reggae
6. Don Drummond - Snowboy
7. Barrington Levy - Flash Your Dread
8. Trinity - Flash Your Dread (DJ Version)
9. Johnny Osbourne & Jennifer Lara - Christmas Medley
10. Horace Andy - Hark The Herald
11. D.D. Dennis - Christmas Message
12. Wain Nelson - Santa Claus
13. Lord Beginner - Christmas Morning The Rum Had Me Yawning
14. Raymond Harper - White Christmas
15. Jimpy - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
16. Eek A Mouse - Have A Merry Little Xmas
17. Niyah & The Sunflakes - Merry Christmas
18. Lovindeer - Christmas Feeling
19. Don Carlos - Jingle Bells
20. Tippa Lee, Nardo Ranks, Half Pint & David Brevett - Dedicated To Santa
21. Silvertones - Merry Merry Christmas
22. Dennis Brown - Ding Dong Merrily On High
23. Gregory Isaacs - Ding Dong Bell
24. Junior Roots - Christmas Time Again
25. Owen Gray - Collins Greetings

The 2012 Jamaican Christmas Mix - Seven Inches Of Christmas Joy

1.  Little John - Save A Little For Christmas
2.  Roman Stewart - Christmas Affair
3.  Jah Walton - DJ Christmas
4.  Don Cornel & The Eternals - Christmas Joy
5.  Barry Brown - Christmas Christmas
6.  Cocoa Tea - Christmas Is Coming
7.  Johnny Clarke - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
8.  Verna Lee Powell - He Is My Santa Claus
9.  Glen Adams - Xmas Rock
10.  Trinity - Video Christmas
11.  Silent Choir - Silent Night
12.  Niyah & The Sunflakes - Merry Christmas
13.  Glen Adams - Joyful Tidings
14.  Mutabaruka - Postpone Christmas
15.  Tippa Lee, Nardo Ranks, Half Pint & David Brevett - Dedicated To Santa
16.  Nigger Kojak - Christmas Style
17.  Norman T. Washington - It's Christmas Time Again
18.  Owen Gray - Collins Greetings
19.  Cedric Bravo w/Rico & The Four Stars - Merry Christmas
20.  Leon Danger & Mr. Culture - This Christmas  

Saturday, December 07, 2013

A Very 2013 Christmas Mix AKA The Jamaican Christmas Mix

Yes my friends, it is time for another Yuletide Season and that means only one thing around here... the Jamaican Christmas Mix!  And here it is, ready for your downloading and listening pleasure!  As I proclaimed two years ago, the days of the 25 track extravaganzas has long since passed but I've got an hours worth of Jamaican Christmas cheer for you to mix in with the eggnog!  Amazingly, I was also able to dredge a few gems out of the stripped mine of reggae Christmas music and mixed them in with the time-honored and beloved classics from years gone by.  So without further ado... let's get to the music!

We start things off with Inner Circle and the Fatman Riddim Section with a tune that may seem familiar but is actually the dub version of Jacob Miller's "Deck The Halls."  This one comes from a CD on the Blood & Fire label from 1999 called Heavyweight Dub/Killer Dub and unfortunately for many the title may hit a little close to home for some, it's called "Unemployment Rock."

Next up is the DJ take on Carlene Davis' "Santa Claus Do You Ever Come To The Ghetto" by Trinity and since it doesn't technically have a title, I'm giving it my own... let's call this "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town."  It was lifted from the 1981 various artists LP on the Mic label called Yard Style Christmas.

Jackie Mittoo is up next with a smooth tune that everyone knows and loves, presumably.  This is Jingle Bells and it comes from the Studio One LP called Christmas In Jamaica.  Not really much reggae going on here but Mittoo can make anything sound cool and to keep it from being lumped in its spelled "Gingle Bells" - but that may just be a typo.

Next up is DJ legend, King Stitt with a tune that I shared way back in 2006 and I felt was ready for another appearance.  The song is called "Christmas Tree" and it rocks just as much as it did when it was recorded way back in 1970!

Horace Andy follows it up with "O Little Town Of Bethlehem" from the VP Records CD reissue of the 1979 Joe Gibbs production Wish You A Merry Rockers Xmas.  Let me tell ya, this song gets better to me every year and I proudly proclaim that this is my favorite recorded rendition of this classic Christmas Carol, bar none!

Next up is a mash-up of sorts... haven't done one since the Aggrovators met Santa Claus Conquers The Martians years ago.  This one I'm gonna call "Scientist & The Roots Radics Meet Aretha Franklin On The Night Before Christmas Inna Winter Dub Stylee"  Yes, the Radics and Scientist are providing the backdrop for The Queen of Soul's modern interpretation of the classic story.  It is a good one, if I do say so myself.  

We follow that up with a set of ska Christmas classics!  The Wailers give us "Sound The Trumpet," The Granville Williams Orchestra provides "Santa Claus Is Ska-Ing To Town" and we wrap it up with The Maytals' "Christmas Feeling Ska."

Now excuse me while I bite my tongue for a second because next up is a.... wait for it... John Holt Christmas song.  I had badmouthed Mr. Holt's Christmas album for many years but I bit the bullet and threw one in the mix.  Its a cover version of John Lennon's "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" and though it isn't my favorite track in the mix, it's pretty listenable.  I know that doesn't sound like a glowing recommendation but believe me, it works.

Freddie McGregor follows up Happy Christmas with a pretty nice tune called "Reggae Christmas" which comes from a album called Reggae Christmas from the early 90's I think, on the Famous Records label.

We're going early 90's with the next two... this comes from an album also called Reggae Christmas... are you seeing a trend here when it comes to naming these albums?  This album is from 1991 on the Profile Records label and the song is by Trevor Sparks and its called "Christmas Time."

We segue into the next tune on the same riddim, and off the same album and its by Bobo General and called "Christmas Daya."  I know this is beyond the scope of my usual coverage but when it comes to Christmas mixes, anything remotely enjoyable will make the cut.  That's not to belittle Bobo General's track because it is a good one.

Lloyd Lovindeer is back with a number he calls "Christmas Breeze" and it was lifted from his Christmas album called Caribbean Christmas Cheer on the TSOJ label.  A nice tune I'm sure you'll enjoy.

Let's take another run at Jingle Bells!  This time we're taking another ride with our old pal "Tennessee Brown" and it comes from the Reggae Christmas From Studio One CD.  It has more of a calypso flair but it is a lot of fun and I'm sure you'll remember it from a previous playlist.

One of the events that heralded the end of the 25 track Christmas extravaganzas was when I had used every track off Jacob Miller's classic Natty Christmas and with the ability to rehash previous favorites it makes the mix that much better.  One of my all-time reggae Christmas favorites "On The Twelve Days of Ismas," it's like visiting an old friend!

Kashief Lindo brings tears to my eyes again with "Someday At Christmas."  This song originally recorded by Stevie Wonder in 1967 never ceases to please - a beautiful rendition of an absolutely beautiful song that always makes me a little teary eyed.

We wrap up A Very 2013 Christmas Mix with a mento tune... this one is by the Jolly Boys and it comes from a single they released in 2011 called Jamaican Christmas on the Funzalo Records label.  The song is called "Long Time Ago In Bethlehem" and it is yet another beautiful rendition of a classic song and the perfect way to put the 2013 mix to bed.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy what you hear!  I want to wish everyone a merry, happy, healthy, peaceful, relaxing and joyous Christmas!  Lots of love my friends - see you again soon and God bless!

Friday, December 06, 2013

Coming Soon... the 2013 Jamaican Christmas Mix!

No need to wait in line!  No need for pushing, shoving, or fisticuffs!  You can avoid the crowds at your local Distinctly Jamaican Sounds retail outlet* and be in the know, like these two well-heeled gentlemen, who went online and downloaded it for free right here!  

Sorry... this image, again by my pal Roger Wilkerson, was too good not to give it an extravagant and overblown write-up... but I've got some good news for those of you out there who have been waiting for the latest installment of the Jamaican Christmas Mix anthology.  I have my latest holiday offering, which I've entitled, "A Very 2013 Christmas Mix," in the can as of this afternoon and after I put the final touches on the write-up and playlist it will be ready for your downloading and listening pleasure!  

And here's even more good news!  The 2013 Jamaican Christmas Mix includes a handful of "new" songs to go with the tried and true classics from years gone by.  Stay tuned!

*The Distinctly Jamaican Sounds Retail Store is completely fictitious, Any resemblance to real retail stores, open or closed, is purely coincidental

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Junior Murvin Tribute

Putting together this mix brought tears to my eyes... it had been a while since I really listened to Junior Murvin's music, sure I would hear a few of his tunes scattered in throughout the week on the ipod in the car but this time I really listened.  Junior Murvin had amazing songwriting skills and the power and conviction in his lyrics, mostly delivered in that soothing trademark falsetto, really exemplify why reggae is so beautiful.  You can feel the genuine, heartfelt, true soul of the man in his music and it is a wonderful thing because Junior Murvin had things to say and they were all from the heart.  God bless Junior Murvin and may he rest in peace, he was a true legend.

This is what you're going to hear...

1.  Cool Out Son - Heavy Duty 7"
2.  Roots Train w/Dillinger - Arkology CD Set - Island
3.  Cross Over - Build The Ark LP Set - Trojan
4.  Solomon - Police And Thieves CD - Island
5.  Closer Together - Arkology CD Set - Island
6.  Strikes And Demonstrations - Muggers In The Street LP - Greensleeves
7.  Man Is The Fire - Bad Man Posse LP - Dread At The Controls
8.  Jah Took Six Days - Apartheid LP - Greensleeves
9.  Police And Thieves - Volcano Super Hits CD - Sonic Sounds
10.  Give Me Your Love - Darker Than Blue CD - Blood & Fire
11.  I Was Appointed - Police And Thieves CD - Island
12.  Magic Touch - Dawning of a New Era CD - Trojan
13.  Bad Weed - Upsetters 12"
14.  Rescue Jah Children - Police And Thieves CD - Island
15.  False Teachings - Produced And Directed By The Upsetter CD - Pressure Sounds

Monday, December 02, 2013

Junior Murvin (1949 - 2013)

I just heard the sad news that Junior Murvin has died.  I will be putting together a tribute mix and posting it tomorrow morning! 

Here is the write-up that appeared on the Gleaner's website this morning...

"Legendary Jamaican reggae Musician, Junior Murvin, best known for the single 'Police and Thieves' is dead. 

The Portland-based singer reportedly died peacefully at his home at Summers Town Road in Port Antonio early this morning.

Murvin, whose real name is Murvin Junior Smith was born in Saint James in 1949, but following the death of his father, relocated to Port Antonio with his mother and other siblings. 

Murvin would later achieve fame as the falsetto singer of 'Police and Thieves', which was an international hit in 1976, produced by Lee 'Scratch' Perry. 

The legendary singer, who also sang with one of Jamaica’s leading bands in the 1990’s, 'Jah Postles', toured extensively several countries in Europe including Germany, England, and France, while blazing a trail in vintage reggae music. 

Murvin has scored with several other hits including: the ultra easy skank of 'Miss Kushie', the seminal 'Cool out Son', and others like 'I'm In Love', 'Bad Man Posse' and 'Muggers in the Street'.

At the time of his death, Junior Murvin was reportedly suffering from an advance stage of diabetes."

 RIP Junior Murvin

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Friday the 13th - Ghost Dance

Check this out!  A fictitious Ghost Dance flyer!  Thanks Mark!  A little duppy stuff for a November!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Power House Megamix Part 1

Okay my friends, here's how we're gonna do this... I keep adding to the list of songs I want to include in this tribute to George Phang's Power House so I'm splitting it into two parts, perhaps three depending on the response.  I sometimes forget how much I love the Power House productions from this era and the sound that Sly & Robbie had, just verging on the digital, in the early 80s, just makes them absolutely classic!

I have wanted to do this mix for years but the problem was in the pressings so to speak... you see I have a ton of Power House vinyl and unfortunately most are plagued with poor, weak, scratchy or unusable sound and mixing them together and riding the levels would have been an absolute nightmare.  But five years ago VP Records stepped in and released 4, 2 CD sets that conveniently lumped the songs together by riddim but... more importantly they did something I had been hoping that someone would do for years - they restored the fidelity and quality of these classic dancehall tunes!  So a major belated hats-off to VP for their preservation efforts!

So let's get to the music... here's what you're going to hear!

1.  Freddie McGregor - Don't Hurt My Feelings
2.  Frankie Paul - FP Love
3.  Peter Metro - Hackle The Mike
4.  Johnny Osbourne - Mission
5.  Sugar Minott - Buy Out The Bar
6.  Leroy Smart - She Loves Me
7.  Little John - What A Bubbling
8.  Frankie Jones - Haul & Galong
9.  Leroy Smart - Bank Account
10.  Yellowman - Reggae Get The Grammy
11.  Josey Wales - Josey Ready
12.  Little John - Hey Lady
13.  Sugar Minott - Can't Get We Out
14.  Yellowman - Beat It
15.  Tenor Saw - If You Only Know
16.  Charlie Chaplin - Now A Days
17.  Michael Prophet - Appetizing
18.  Toyan - Cumina
19.  Toyan - DJ Crowd
20.  Barrington Levy - Money Move
21.  Frankie Paul - Tidal Wave

Monday, November 04, 2013

Coming Soon!

In an effort to revive Distinctly Jamaican Sounds as more than just a Halloween and Christmas music sharing site, I have decided to rekindle my love of blogging about Jamaican music on a more regular basis!  My first foray into getting this baby rollin' again will be a mix that is long-since overdue - my George Phang/Power House Megamix!  I started working on it this weekend and anticipate that it will be up and running later this week - there are a lot of great songs and riddims I want to touch on so it's a lot more involved than I originally anticipated!  So stay tuned - it should be a pretty cool mix!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Complete Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2013!

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2013 - Track Twenty-Three - Midnight Hour/Mask In The Dark

And so dear friends... we've reached the final track in the Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2013.  Like always it has been a lot of fun putting this mix together and sharing it with you and I hope it has provided enough creeps, spooks, chills and thrills to have made your October just a little more enjoyable.  Yes, we have reached the Big Day and like years past the fun is just beginning... for the kids at least.

I again will be in charge of transporting the kids around for trick or treating and this year I've got something diabolical up my sleeve for them - my sons have reached the age where I'm setting them up for the "trick or treat until you drop" technique which I used to practice many years ago... we've decided to forgo with the chintzy plastic bags and step up to the king-sized cotton pillowcase.  Trick or treating will not commence until either the pillowcase is full or their feet can't take another step, whichever comes first... and I will look on with a huge smile on my face and enjoy every moment!

A couple weeks ago my 9-year-old daughter gave me one of the biggest compliments I could ever wish to receive... She said "Dad, you're the King of Halloween." I had to fight the urge to hug her and tell her, with tears of joy streaming down my face, that that was the most beautiful thing anyone had ever said to me.  Bridget's simple words made me realize that all my efforts in helping them put together their costumes, and all the Halloween decorating around the house, and all the apple cider, and all the trips to the pumpkin patch, and all the scary movies (appropriate enough for them to watch of course), and all the spooky music, and all the trick or treating, and all the visits to the Halloween stores, and all the ghost stories (except for Me Ti Doughty Walker, which still terrifies the hell outta them), and all the pumpkin carving, and the yearly repeated viewings of "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown," and all the love I have exhibited for this one final day in October, have worked... they love it just as much as I always have.  Hopefully many, many years from now, when I'm dead and buried, they'll have fond memories of Dad's fanaticism for Halloween and carry on the traditions I have established with them with my grandchildren and future generations.  But enough about that... let's get to the final track!

We've got a double feature, so to speak, to wrap up the Spooktacular!  Horace Ferguson gives us his rendition of Wilson Pickett's "Midnight Hour" and we segue rather nicely into Clint Eastwood's "Mask In The Dark," taken from both sides of a GG Hits 12" circa 1983. 

2013's completely uncut Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular will be available soon for those who have not been keeping tabs on the daily posts, so watch out for it!

And I want to leave you with these words, stolen from Orson Welles' 1938 radio broadcast of "The War of the Worlds."  75 years later, it still wraps up the spirit of this holiday so succinctly and perfectly...

"This is Orson Welles, ladies and gentlemen, out of character, to assure you that The War of the Worlds has no further significance than as the holiday offering it was intended to be; The Mercury Theatre's own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying "Boo!" Starting now, we couldn't soap all your windows and steal all your garden gates by tomorrow night, so we did the next best thing. We annihilated the world before your very ears and utterly destroyed the CBS. You will be relieved, I hope, to learn that we didn't mean it, and that both institutions are still open for business. So goodbye everybody, and remember please for the next day or so the terrible lesson you learned tonight. That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody's there, that was no Martian, it's Halloween."

Happy Halloween!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2013 - Track Twenty-Two - Zombie

We're nearing the end and again, we're keeping the digital vibes, this time even a little more closer to modern.  I found "Zombie" by Little General last October and unlike the multitude of modern dancehall tunes that use the word duppy as a descriptor for the end-result of violent activity, this tune is pretty lighthearted and fun.  The zombies referenced in the song are not the rise from their grave, thirsty for human blood and brains variety... give it a listen!  Not to mention, that once I heard the pipe organ introduction, complete with werewolf howls, I knew that I had a new addition to the ever-growing Duppy Tune Playlist... it comes to us from a 1995 12" on the U.K. based Boomerang label.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2013 - Track Twenty-One - See Duppy Deh

We're keeping digital with the next one - the next track is called "See Duppy Deh" by the man who calls himself Uglyman.  I tried to do some research to determine the story behind Uglyman but I kept coming up at a dead end...  it's worth mentioning that Double Ugly or Uglyman was the stage name of 90's dancehall superstar Desmond "Ninjaman" Ballentine back in the late 80s, but I don't believe it's the same Ugly Man.  Anyway, this track comes from the "clash" LP Dance Hall Clash released on the Harry J label in 1986 and also featuring Little John.  "See Duppy Deh" is a pretty good digital duppy tune that I've been holding back on unleashing for a few years now... enjoy!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2013 - Track Twenty - Ghostbuster

Welcome back!  We're getting down to brass tacks here with Halloween just three days away and we're going with a little Frankie Jones to get you in the trick-or-treating mood.  Frankie's version of "Ghostbuster," much like the other similar thematic takes by Early B, Pampidoo, etc., sound so much better than Ray Parker Jr.'s atrociously annoying theme from the 1984 movie, that it's truly a shame that Ivan Reitman didn't look beyond 80s pop for inspiration.  Besides, Ray Parker Jr. famously stole the music track from Huey Lewis anyway... and as you'll soon hear, I in turn stole the best part of Ray Parker Jr.'s track for the intro to the twentieth track in the 2013 Spooktacular.

Frankie Jones' "Ghostbuster" is a super smooth George Phang production on the Rocking Time riddim and comes from Frankie's 1986 LP Old Fire Stick on the Power House label.  Venkman, Stantz and Spengler would approve!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2013 - Track Nineteen - Dark Shadows

My god will we ever escape the reign of terror that is Barnabas Collins?!  Well actually, aside from the artwork, this Barry Brown tune "Dark Shadows," taken from his 1981 Vibes of Barry Brown LP on the Gorgon label, has nothing to do with the 1960s corny soap opera vampire.  But seriously, how could I resist the idea of using anything but Ol' Barnabas to illustrate track nineteen?  Barnabas Collins and Dark Shadows have been a part of the spooktacular line-up since the 2006 mix and I couldn't bear the idea of doing one without Barnie. 

Have a great weekend folks - we're getting down to the nitty gritty next week so be sure to check in before the big day next Thursday!  I may have something that I hope you'll enjoy.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Jamaican Halloween Spooktacular 2013 - Track Eighteen - Anti Christ

Short and sweet... Much has been said and written about Vivian "Yabby You" Jackson and his masterful productions in the early 1970s but today's spooktacular tune speaks for itself.  "Antichrist" is simply a brilliant piece of work by Mr. Jackson that works well on so many levels, whether it be lyrically, musically or rhythmically, it just sounds and feels perfect.  I have the original 7" on the Vivian Jackson label but unfortunately it has seen better days, so I borrowed this track from the 1997 Blood & Fire release Jesus Dread with all of its fidelity intact! 

"Dem say fi love, an' dem live in hate
Dem say no steal, an' dem t'ief no hell
Dem say no lust, an' dem live like a whore
Me never hear such a ting before me say:
See dem deh, dem favor sheep but dem a wolf
See dem deh, dem favor Christ but dem an antichrist"