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The Podcast features the Jamaican Mento tune "Father Killam." Numerous versions of the tune are played along with discussion about the song itself. Ethnomusicologist Kenneth Bilby joins us as we play live versions, rare seven-inch singles and filed recordings from Jamaica. This mento song has an Obeah theme where an Obeahman is trying to catch a ghost or puppy that is causing problems for a woman.
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Despite his young age at the time, pianist Monty Alexander has intimate knowledge of the Jamaican Jazz musicianship in the late 1950’s-early 60’s. These Jazz musicians – often trained at Alpha School, were being developed by producers and early sound system owners for musical recordings and were uniquely Jamaican. In a 2002 interview Monty Alexander picks up the story,
“The ones that aspired to the highest form of musical expression through their instruments were the Jazz musicians. There are the ones that really governed the best of what happened in popular music – music for the masses. These were the men who were seeking no boundaries, but yet they knew what to do in a given situation. It’s the same with Rhythm and Blues and Rock and Roll. I think it’s that same with smart guys like the producers that knew what to do with an idea or thought. They could harness it like a horse, to put saddle on it and then ride it in such a way where you could go from place to place. In Jazz it was Norman Granz. These are the men that see what the artist is doing and put the harness on it. They say, ‘You are busy on this journey, but bring it here so everybody can enjoy it. Play less so that everybody can enjoy it.” “You have the righteous hand of righteousness to keep you on the path. I thank God and I attribute it to the Creator. Some of us drift, while some of us are able to walk the line. Among the guys in the studio, there were enough paternal positive influences in Aubrey Adams and in Roland Alphonso, whereas some of the other guys were busy, busy messing their life up because they don’t know when to stop. I was able at an early age to discern that I admire that guy, but I don’t wanna do that. When you have good influences, they are gonna help you stay away from that. When you are lickle children, you are like leaves in the wind. I was very impressionable, very vulnerable, but I had this light on me and I’ve had the light all through my life that spirited me from those problems. In that gathering of those guys we had such a ball together. When musicians get together an’ we doin’ this thing that we love so much, we become like little children. We just laugh together. Even though I was young, I was grateful they embraced me being there and I didn’t back up because I was confident with what I was doing. When it come to droppin’ a riddim, I was as confident then as I am now. I loved it, so I like to think I didn’t hold them back. I don’t remember the place, I just remember those guys. To me that was the greatest honor that they would accept me. I was able to identify at an early age that these are the greatest people! I saw the movie actors on the screen like James Cagney, but he was just a movie actor, when the camera stopped he just went back to what he did. These musicians, the guy playin’ that horn, that was him playin’ that horn. He was obliged to always live. When you are a musician, you can’t just play the horn and forget it, you have to live a philosophy as Tommy McCook did. The truth is it’s a family all over the world. Jamaica make such a powerful statement in whatever it’s doin’. If it’s gonna be beautiful stuff, it’s gonna be beautiful stuff. If it’s bad stuff and we have some bad stuff, it’s bad stuff. It’s almost like the way Israel has affected the world in history and culture. Israel is the little place that has been the centerpiece positively as well as negatively. Jamaica is the same thing. Jamaica is like a holy land man! Of course the Rasta philosophy became such a reality for a world culture.”
Rich Lowe, Personal communication with Monty Alexander, 2002
Some time ago, there was a project on Facebook where people would challenge one another for a description of a favorite Jamaican tune, each day over a seven-day period. They called it the “Seven Day Reggae Challenge.” The following is my listing with three extra tracks to make it an even ten! Some good tunes here, most of which I have listened to hundreds of times each. I found that after I hit ten, I started to have more and more songs swirl in my head that could be included, but here is the first ten.
Day One -
"Guzoo Doctor" by Alerth Bedasse (aka Count Alert) - Chin's Calypso Sextet - Ivan Chin
Available for purchase along with many more tunes by Bedasse a la Ivan Chin at: http://www.cdbaby.com/m/cd/efwilliamsabedasse
Yeah this is Mento, but it is a great tune outa Jamaica by the originator Ivan Chin who passed away just last year (June 2024).
The tune is a one-mic live recording which captures the energy and excitement of Mento. There is African originated "call and response" throughout between Alerth and others in the studio. Alerth's energy is spilling over in well-practiced vocal phrasing and timing.
The story told is about a Guzoo Doctor - Obeahman, who is new in town and it's the "latest craze." An explanation is detailed of his cures for various physical malfunctions (swollen legs) and also the Doctor's abilities. When I drive in my car with my children, we rewind this one over & over. They know it by heart. Great tune and a very good example of Alerth Bedasse's song-writing and vocal abilities.
Day Two -
*As clarification, I'm not gonna record tunes for posting in respect to the artists (in this case living and dead), but if it's already on YouTube, I'll post it.
Otherwise, I'll play it Friday night on WRUW.
My selection is:
Ken Boothe/Nicodemus - "Love is Real"/"Coke Seller" - Mor Well Esq 12" label - NYC- 1984
No tune to press and listen here, but trust me - Just a great tune. Sly and Robbie on riddim, produced outa NYC at one of my favorite record shops (at the time). Ken Boothe in his 1980s smooth mode - excellent singing with much effort applied. The transition to Nicodemus is instant (no gap). Nicodemus - to some extent, was vital in the live dance, but did not always transfer to record with the same vibrancy. This track is an exception where the lyrics flow through the expert style crafted through years of live dances - where Nicodemus was edgy and the Boss! Smooth 12," which I played countless times in a live dance. I also had the honor to MC a show by Ken Boothe this same summer of release (1984). Very nice times.
Day Three -
"Bridgeview Shuffle" Roland Alphonso and The Matador All-Stars, circa 1959, Produced by Lloyd Daley aka "The Matador"
This is an early instrumental produced by Lloyd "The Matador" Daley, intended for play on his sound system only. No real intention to sell in a shop to the public as a vinyl recording because at this time, the focus of shops was to sell foreign music. Play was for The Matador sound alone, with Mr. Daley's classic vacuum tube amplifier. Lloyd Daley comments from a 2015 interview, “In the 50s, most of the Speakers that was sold, was limited between 50 to 100 watts, and to use them on Sound Systems that were delivering thousands of wattage, we had to improve the 50 and 100 watt speakers, to handle more wattage. It is only the speakers I‘m talking about and not the amplifiers, which I built because most of my Amplifiers, was delivering over a 1000 watts and more. Lord Comic while playing my Sound, used to burn-up my Speakers Voice-coil when we played against other sounds, and sometimes they had to throw water on my speaker to extinguish the fire."
This is why I picked this tune - it is dripping with history. It is pre-Lloyd Brevett as it features the great Lloyd Mason on his upright bass. Mr. Lloyd Mason is a Stony Hill graduate as well as a member of the Military Band for decades. Mason plays upright bass, electric bass (given to him by Coxsone), piccolo, and flute.
With feature credit is Roland Alphonso who is a fellow Stony Hill graduate to Mason. "Bridgeview Shuffle" is also used by Brad Klein in "Legend of Ska" movie.
Ahh Sound System & Jamaican Recording Industry history!
Day Four –
The African Brothers - "Mysterious Nature" - Clef Records 7" - Produced by Joe Richards. (Also available on the Easy Star Lp "Want Some Freedom" which complied many of this group's singles).
This tune has gotten better and better as I listen over the decades. Originally I had it on cassette and it was a precious recording in the early 1980's, before there were such things as The Internet, EBay, or MP3s. In those days to hear this tune was rare. African Bothers tunes were on singles and I could only scrape up a few of them. Very nice to have the Easy Star CD which pulls many 1970 singles together with lineups of musicians which provide incredible depth. For those who may not know, this is a vocal trio of Sugar Minott, Tony Tuff, and Derrick Howard. This single features well placed organ work by the great Lester Sterling (I thinks it's Lester, but it could be Earl Lindo). The harmonies are so great, plenty of body, with sweetness of early un-"doubled" harmony by Sugar and what I call tinny sweetness of the great and under appreciated Tony Tuff. WhatATune!
Day Five –
The Heptones - "Mystery Babylon" - Hep Hep 7" - Produced by Lee Perry/Heptones - 1977
This is one of those songs that everyone will enjoy - crossing musical borders - it has the "Cottage in Negril" effect, but with heavy culture. This was originally released as a 7" single and also as a 12" with dj Ranking King on the version.
Gotta listen to this one!
Day Six -
I select Toots & The Maytals - "Domino" - Soulsville Shack, b-side 7" -prod by Prince Buster - 1965
Power boosted, thumping tune by the young Toots Hibbert on the b-side of "Not Too Old To Learn." Great Ska tune to play out if there is Domino being played. Instant rewind. Not a lot of people seem to know if this tune, which, obviously makes it better! Toots is powerful on this one as he salutes the sport of domino. Lloyd Knibbs is identifiable on the drum kit with mega rim shots and there is the Ska-based harmonica in the background. SImple tune, not much depth of lyric, but "Everybody love domino!"
Day Seven –
I select Claude Sang Jr's "Church Recording" given to me by Claude's brother Herman Sang.
I don't know all of the details, but this is a live recording of Claude singing live at a church with a full choir. It is very "churchical" and has the acoustics of a church. It prominently features Claude's singing voice with an organ accompaniment. Midway the choir erupts! It is inspiring. This is a family recording and not released to the public. When brother Herman Sang received his honors at a tribute concert, he turned to praise his brother Claude Sang Jr. And played this recording.
As you may know, Claude Sang Junior was the original member of The Jiving Juniors and before that with "Sang & Harriott." Claude recorded the groundbreaking "Lollipop Girl" with Derrick Harriott as a soft wax for Duke Reid and then years later as a formal release.
Clause Sang is featured on the "Legends of Ska" film with both Derrick and Herman Sang.
Day Eight –
Al Campbell – “Hard Times,” Conscious Ragga Volume 2
What a great singer. Al Campbell is an under appreciated singer with a unique and pleasing vocal tone. Campbell has had a long and successful career, which started in the mid 1970's. He is consistently conscious and respected in the music community.
This song "Hard Times," has a hypnotic feel to it as Al Campbell meshes his vocal style perfectly with the steady riddim accented by a repetitive guitar riff. The pairing of vocal with riddim is not uncommon for Campbell. His voice works well with a wide variety of music and that is a characteristic of his style - a classic voice, sung with discipline, on key, no shortcuts or gimmicks. You really can't find a better voice that Al Campbell.
Day Nine –
Jiving Juniors - "Lollipop Girl." Duke Reid, 1956
The Jiving Juniors are, Derrick Harriott, Claude Sang Junior, Herman Sang, Eugene Dwyer, and Maurice Walker. Before the Jiving Juniors were formed, came the tune “Lollipop Girl,” which has an interesting history, possibly dating back as early as 1956/7.
Claude Sang Junior and Derrick Harriott attended Excelsior College together as youths and often sang songs together. The duo appeared as “Sang and Harriott” at Vere John’s Opportunity Hour at the Palace Theatre.
This song was first recorded by Derrick Harriott and Claude Sang Junior at Stanley Motta’s in the form of a one-off acetate. One copy was given to Derrick Harriott and either that copy or another copy found it’s way to the live sound system. Duke Reid obtained the recording and used it as a premier song for his sound.
"Lollipop Girl" continued to be a highly influential song without ever being released. This was some of the original “testing” of Jamaican tunes to see the public’s reaction. Duke Reid eventually collected the Jiving Juniors to record the song over again for formal release and sale in 1960.
In an interview with Herman Sang of The Jiving Juniors, we discussed this groundbreaking song (Personal communication, April, 2016). “That recording was done at Stanley Motta’s location – I wouldn’t even call it a studio, but Motta had a recorder there. This was before the Jiving Juniors were formed. Claude played the piano and both of them sang “Lollipop Girl.” Eugene Dwyer also helped Derrick compose the song. It was done on a soft wax and Derrick got a copy. The technician at Stanley Motta’s also made copies and sold it to an area sound. Duke Reid got hold of the song and he was the only one that was playing it. Coxsone couldn’t get it. Duke Reid came to Derrick and asked to do the song over at Federal. I spoke with Derrick today and got some of the musicians. At that session, Ken Richards was the guitarist, on drums it was Drumbago because Lloyd Knibbs wasn’t on the scene yet. Knibbs was still working on the North coast at the hotels. Bass could have been Brevett. I played piano. It was a simple rhythm section. It was real hot. Duke had a radio program “Treasure Isle Time” and it got radio play.
Derrick Harriott lost in his first appearance as a soloist at a Vere Johns competition. In a 2014 interview, Derrick Harriott remembers his second performance at the Palace Theatre at Vere John’s Opportunity Hour with Claude Sang Junior where they first presented “Lollipop Girl.” “The first time I was accepted, I wasn’t booed or anything. That was a pleasant thing too. What a good experience! I draw for my partner, which is Claudie Sang Junior. When I go back with him, (loud voice) it done! When I say done, it mean we mash up everything y’know! From then on we kept winning winning.”
Day Ten –
Leroy Sibbles and Earthworm, "Stress and Pain," First Chapter riddim, 2007
This is a solid song which combines an extremely talented and relevant veteran with an arguable unknown. Personally, Leroy Sibbles could sing the right song while he shops for vegetables in a market and it could be great. Sibbles is one of the best Jamaican singers in history with a silky voice. Together, these two artists sing "Stress and Pain" with the feel of sufferation of the common man. The First Chapter riddim is a traditional groove with a chunky edge. This is a tune to rewind over and over.
Rich Lowe, Jamaica Way, 2015
(This article features a 2014 interview with Lloyd “The Matador” Daley)
Lloyd Daley - also know as “The Matador,” was born on 12 July, 1939 in Kingston, Jamaica. Mr. Daley is known for his work as an electronic technician, his role as a sound system pioneer, studio engineer, and producer.
Mr. Daley worked as a linotype apprentice for a short time while attending Kingston Technical High School, where he graduated in electronics. Mr. Daley built his first amplifier to boost the signal strength of his army surplus walkie-talkie and he converted this same amplifier with four vacuum tubes, into a sound system amplifier. In 1956, Mr. Daley started his sound system “The Matador,” at 17 Victoria Avenue. The Matador was one of the very first sound systems to be named with a bullfighting theme. During this same period Lloyd’s Radio & Television Service was opened in Kingston and served to repair radios, television, and electronic equipment. By the end of the 1950s, The Matador was working on sono devices, and also working to improve the sound of amplifiers, which were in use with his own sound and in conjunction with a growing group of sound systems who were in search of the best amplifiers for their sound systems. The Matador provided the top amplifiers with clarity of sound and power of bass that had not been heard before and other technicians were unable to match. The Matador was building a reputation with his amplifiers and was able to demonstrate his unique sound at his own dances. Prince Buster and Duke Reid had Lloyd Daley adjust their amplifiers to improve their sound. In the late 1970s, Mr. Daley built one of Jamaica’s most powerful vacuum tube amplifiers with forty KT88 output tubes for “Jack Ruby High Power” sound system, which was owned by Lawrence Lindo (Jack Ruby).
A fitting approach to a study of Lloyd “The Matador” Daley is from the perspective of El Paso Selector Samuel The First. Samuel describes selecting an Audley Rollins track during a pivotal clash against Ruddy’s Sound at Ruddy’s personal lawn: “There was a group call The Emotions, Audley Rollins. It was Lloyd Matador. [Samuel sounds out the various parts of the song – in detail] The chorus was ‘Hallelujah burning in my soul.’ The vibe, I start to rub dat riddim. Everybody start ‘Rae Rae!’” Samuel continues, “Matador used to build amplifier, his friend have this sound name Jackie’s HiFi. Lloyd ‘The Matador’ build that sound. Oh God man, you could feel it 300 miles. It have a round cool quality, bass note drop. A heavy, melodious bass. It like sustain in your brain. When bass pattern drop, it like one-half second sustain in your brain.”
Lloyd Daley picks back up the story, “Jackie Robinson is the guy that I built his sound. He is still going strong. Jackie Robinson played cricket with Lawrence Rowe in Jamaica and is an electrician for Carriers. He was very impressed with my sound system resonance bass, so he paid me to build him an amplifier with that type of bass using 807 output tubes. He was a very good friend. Sam may not know that I built the first small amplifier for ‘El Toro Disco’ for Patrick Booker when he started his sound system while he was living at 15 Victoria Avenue.” Lloyd Daley built amplifiers for many sounds starting in the early 1950s, including El Toro Sound, Duke Hamilton’s Sound (St. Ann’s Bay), Count Muncey (owned by Roy Muncey of Gallaway Road), Sir Percy (owned by Percival Tibby), Supreme of Love sound (owned by Miss Powell and Pinchy from Bridge View, Kingston), King Prof Sound (located on Spanish Town Road in Kingston), and others.
The creation of Matador amplifiers is what brought Lloyd Daley his first level of success in Kingston. This success can be defined by the young technician Daley - with his impressive amplifiers, confronting Duke Reid and Clement Dodd and others in the Dancehall arena. In a 2010 Interview, Federal Engineer Graeme Goodall comments, “One of the unsung heroes at the time of course was Lloyd “The Matador.” He was very, very good because Lloyd used to build all these sound system amplifiers.” As evidence of the exceptional virtues of Matador amplifiers, Matador is the only sound system to be able to successfully and forcibly take over the dancehall when Duke Reid refused to cut off his sound. This took place at the Success Club on 63 Wildman Street in Kingston. The dance was in celebration of a local Kingstonian, “Big Junior” who had co-starred in the James Bond Film, “Dr. No.” Big Junior was also a close friend of Coxsone Dodd. The island was bubbling with excitement over the Jamaican premier of this film and The Matador was about to take on a bull of a man (and sound) in Duke Reid. The arrangement was for Duke’s “The Trojan” Sound to play for one hour and then The Matador was to follow. Lloyd Daley recalls, “Duke and his ‘Enforcers’ would not stop playing and I had to sign-on with "Heavy Sugar" by Lloyd Lambert. I was able to sign on, while drowning out Duke Reid, so that he had to stop playing entirely. Duke, he couldn't do a thing, with "Cuttings" at his controls.”
Finding it difficult to get the records played by competing sound systems, The Matador began recording his own music at federal Studios. The first 45rpm singles were produced in 1958 and featured Jamaican “Shuffle” style music, which was similar to Rhythm and Blues, but had a Jamaican flair. Later in his recording work, some of the earliest Ska music was recorded by Mr. Daley at Federal Studios. Most all of these releases were intended for sound system play on The Matador sound because Matador was creating music designed for exclusive play on his sound. In the Shuffle period, Jamaican music was a small run process and copies were sold or given away as exclusive gifts to fellow sounds. Some of these musicians recorded include Roland Alphonso (on “Bridgeview Shuffle”), Neville Esson, Owen Gray, Rico Rodriguez. By 1959-1960, Lloyd Daley was releasing music on his own “Matador” and “Mystic” record labels. Mr. Daley’s Ska music was recorded with an instrumental band christened “Matadors All Stars,” which featured many of the future Skatalites.
Signature Matador Sound
In the photo above, seated - second from the left, is Lloyd “The Matador” Daley with Edward Seaga on the immediate right as they sign contracts to play for Jamaican Independence. The Jamaican government signed the top six Sound Systems to perform at a series of Independence celebrations which took the form of parades with floats and street dances.
Coxsone Dodd had interest in his competition and would visit Matador dances to listen to the music and evaluate the crowd. On one night, Clement Dodd was accompanied by his session pianist and the man who auditioned new talent – Herman Sang. Sang was known as “Hersang” of the City Slickers and was also a member of the Jiving Juniors. In a 2014 interview, Herman Sang recalls this night, “I went with Coxsone to a Matador dance once just to listen. If you have some idea of what your competition was doin’, and he’s being successful, then you could copy it right? So we went once just to listen for about an hour. That night we had a session and we did some mastering and Coxsone may have given a tune to Lloyd and had him play it. That could have been done, but I don’t remember. The Matador Sound was clean, the sound wasn’t distorted. When you try to ‘drive’ the speakers, you’re always ‘in the red’ as Goodie would say (Federal Engineer Graeme Goodall). The sound would be distorted or partially distorted. Lloyd didn’t like that, so his sound was very clean.”
Unfortunately this early Dancehall era – like that of the 40s and 50’s Jamaican big bands, has virtually no recordings that were maintained. Lloyd Daley actually did record his sound system at dances on a Swiss made Revox reel-to reel recording machine. Daley recounts, “I had some recordings of my dances using the Revox machine, but those tapes may have been erased long ago by mistakes. I recorded my dances using a small speaker as a mic and got a wider range recording.”
In 1966, the police dismantled a part of the Matador sound system because they said it was disturbing the neighborhood with the heavy bass resonance that was being produced. As a result, Mr. Daley sold major portions of the sound and focused his efforts on work in the recording studio. The electronic repair shop was moved to 43 Waltham Park Road in 1968. This shop also featured a rehearsal facility and recording studio where Jackie Mittoo’s “Dark of the Sun” and The Scorchers’ “Ugly Man” was recorded. Mr. Daley’s wife Deanna Deans – daughter of famed Jamaican band leader Eric Deans, helped to contribute to her husband’s work as a song writer.
As a producer, the biggest hit for Mr. Daley came with the 1969 number one charted song “Bongo Nyah” which was sung by Little Roy. Matador then produced popular singles for artists like The Abyssinians (“Yim Mas Gan”), The Ethiopians (“Owe Me No Pay Me”), Dennis Brown (“Things In Life”), The Waling Souls (“Gold Digger”), The Gladiators (“Freedom Train” and “Rockaman Soul”), Alton Ellis (“Lord Deliver Us”), John Holt and The Paragons (“Equality and Justice”). Mr. Daley released music on a number of record labels, including Matador, Syndicate, Mystic, and Secret Agent. If the releases were selling quickly, Mr. Daley would merely stamp the blank label 7” single with an ink stamp, which read “Lloyd’s Television and radio.” Although Mr. Daley never released a one-artists album, many years later some of his recordings were released in compilation form by Heartbeat Records and Jamaican Gold Records. In the book Reggae, the Rough Guide author Steve Barrow commented that the releases “…superbly demonstrate how Jamaica’s musical heritage should be presented.”
The musical direction selected by The Matador was not to follow the love song focused U.S. Soul music in the late 1960’s. He chose to record religious/Rastafarian and socio-political lyrics. Instrumentals were another focus and many tracks were released with musical contributions by Johnny Moore (trumpet) and Lloyd Charmers (keyboard), (“Zylon” was a Jamaican chart hit in 1969). As dancehall toasting (rapping) surfaced, music by U-Roy was recorded (“Sound of the Wise” and “Scandal”), but with a Matador touch that voiced the toast over the exclusive Matador instrumental track. The instrumental “Voo-Doo” was recorded by The Hippy Boys (also voiced by Little Roy as “Hard Fighter”) and was one of the first instrumental dub tunes where drum and bass had a dominating role.
In 1970 Mr. Daley incorporated Lloyd’s Radio & TV Ltd, a limited liability company and sold appliances for Wonards. In 1970, RJR Radio opened his new business at 43 Waltham Park Road with radio hosts Don (“El Numero Uno”) Topping and Marie Garth. Matador had advertisements by “Pearl & Deans” (Palace Amusement Company) which were featured on four movie theatres in Jamaica: The Carib, Harbour View Drive-In, Tropical, and Ritz. In 1968 Mr. Daley had a 15 minute radio program to promote in music releases. This program ran for several years on RJR Radio at 10:15pm and was hosted by the great Charlie Babcock on “Sound Intensified.”
In 1975, disillusioned by recurrent non-payment of royalties, he left the music industry to focus only on his shop and electronics.
[Inspiration for this article was borne out of frustration when making a few entries in Wikipedia on the career of Lloyd Daley. I discovered that many of the entries were being deleted. At one point over 80% of the three pages that were written were deleted. What you are reading is a recreation of much of what was deleted as well as a robust addition of material from various Jamaican music industry giants, including Mr. Daley himself.
Rich Lowe, May, 2015]
Various Artistes - “Matador’s Arena 1968-1969 Volume 1” – Jamaican Gold – Portugal - 1995
“Various Artistes - Matador’s Arena 1969-1970 Volume 2“ – Jamaican Gold – Portugal - 1995
Various Artistes - “Matador’s Arena 1971-1979 Volume 3” – Jamaican Gold – Portugal - 1995
Various Artistes - “Matador Records – Reggae Classics from The Originator 1968-1972” - Heartbeat - 1992
Various Artistes - “It’s Shuffle ‘N Ska Time with Lloyd “The Matador” Daley – Jamaican Gold – Portugal – 1994 – Recorded 1960-66.
Various Artistes - “Way Back When” - (Vinyl only) – Matador Records – 1979 –
Various Artistes - “Scandal” - (Vinyl only) - Matador Records – 1979 –
*Countless single releases on the following 7” imprints – Matador Records, Lloyd’s Radio and Television Repair (hand stamp), Syndicate, Mistic, and Secret Agent labels.
Barrow, Steve (May 2008). Reggae, The Rough Guide (2nd ed.). London, England: Penguin Books. p. 103. ISBN 1-85828-247-0.
(Graeme Goodall, personal communication, November 11, 2010)
(Herman Sang, personal communication, January 11, 2015)
(Lloyd Daley, personal communication, May 5, 2014)
(Phillip Samuels, personal communication, May 8, 2014)
Lloyd Daley. In Wikipedia. Retrieved April 04, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lloyd_Daley
- Herman Sang -
Often credited as “Hersang,” Herman Sang was the bandleader for the City Slickers,
The Alley Cats, The Hersang Combo.
Herman Sang was a formal member of the Jiving Juniors
(with Derrick Harriott, Claude Sang Jr., Eugene Dwyer, and Maurice Winter).
Herman Sang performed and recorded on piano/keyboards with The Skatalites, The Vagabonds, and worked closely on music recorded by The Blues Blasters. Jamaican born, Herman Sang played and recorded as a pianist and keyboardist during a critical period in the evolution of Jamaican music – The Shuffle Era. Sang then moved into a Golden era of Jamaican Ska music in a position of great prominence. Herman Sang was the bandleader for the City Slickers, The Alley Cats, The Hersang Combo, and was a formal member of the Jiving Juniors (with Derrick Harriott, Claude Sang Jr., Eugene Dwyer, and Maurice Winter). Herman Sang performed and recorded on piano/keyboards with The Skatalites, The Vagabonds (Derrick Harriott & Jimmy James) and spent a short time with Kes Chin and the Souvenirs.
Herman Sang grew up in a musical home with a piano available for practice and a father who played the organ. Herman’s father played piano and sang with a group called “The Frats Quintet” which performed at weddings and other large functions. Sang recalls, “My father is Claudius Archibald Sang, he played organ at The Lincoln Kirk Presbyterian Church for 30 years. My four brothers and I took turns to manually pump church organ in the back as my father played. We went to church for 20 years, each and every Sunday. When I started playing music with the Jiving Juniors, my father never liked that. He called it ‘Boogie Woogie Music.’”
Herman’s brother – Claude Sang Jr., formed a singing duo with Derrick Harriott, called The Jiving Juniors. Claude was a schoolmate of Derrick Harriott at Excelsior College in Jamaica and after the two entered and won the Vere John’s Talent Show at The Palace Theatre in 1957. Claude and Harriott enlisted Herman to play piano on all of their shows and eventually their recordings. Herman Sang comments, “I was still going to school at Kingston College and we would play in Kingston and also outside the area. ‘Claude and Harriott’ composed a song called ‘Lollipop Girl.’ That was a big hit! We went on to be very popular covering songs by The Coasters group. We had big shows where we opened for Lloyd Price, Fats Domino, and James Brown.”
Sang was involved with the right people, in the right place, and at the right time. As an 18 year-old piano player, Sang worked with his close friend and Jamaican music pioneer Coxsone Dodd in the heart of Kingston, Jamaica in the year 1958. Jamaica’s music was vibrating and bubbling in preparation to pour out over the world. Starting in the year 1958, the Shuffle era was a relatively short period of time, but marked a surge forward in formation of music played by Jamaicans, recorded in Jamaican studios, and pressed and sold throughout the world. The rolling Shuffle style was influenced by very specific aspects of American Blues, R&B, and Boogie Woogie recordings. The desired sound included vocals that shouted out and horns plentiful. Shuffle became the inspiration for Ska music and Ska has been revived twice over the decades (now in it’s “third wave”).
Herman Sang was one of the very first musicians to work closely with Coxsone Dodd to audition new talent. It was Sang who selected that initial talent to be recorded for Coxsone at Federal Studios.
“When Coxsone just started, ‘Coxson’ was his first label. He asked me what name I wanted to use. He came up with Hersang and The City Slickers. It was first recorded as a b-side. What happened was these instrumental songs became so popular, the producers then put these same songs onto a-sides because of the demand”
Herman Sang recalls an example of his musical discipline, “On the weekends at home when we would have the piano, my brother Claude and I would practice. I would play the chord section. Whenever I would learn a new chord sequence, I would practice it in all the different keys. By practicing in all the different keys, I could accompany a singer that might want to sing it in “F” because I had practiced it in “F,” “C,” and other various chords.” This discipline became vital as Herman Sang was influential and recorded with many (if not all) the top Jamaican artists in the late 50’s and early 60’s. “I played on well over 100 songs over the years. I started out working with Coxsone Dodd at Federal Recording Studio, then Duke Reid (Treasure Isle), Leslie Kong (Beverley’s), and Lyndon Pottinger of the Tip Top label. For Beverly’s we did Toots and the Maytals, worked with Jimmy Cliff, and recorded Desmond Dekker’s ‘Israelites.’”
My very first recording was in 1958 with Chris Blackwell of Island Records. He had Owen Gray, Wilfred “Jackie” Edwards and Laurel Aitken. We did “Tell Me Darling” by Jackie Edwards, which was his first big hit and Laurel Aiken did another song at that session which was a hit. I did the Derrick Morgan songs about the feud he had with Prince Buster. I played on both sides of that feud! [laughs] On ‘Blazing Fire,’ we had just bought the first electric piano. This was a Wurlitzer like Ray Charles was playing. It sounded so good – “Blazing fire!” I was really proud of that one!” Herman also played the electric piano with Jimmy’s James and The Vagabonds on the original Jamaican recording of the international hit “Come To Me Softly,” which was a number one song on the Jamaican charts in 1960.
Herman left the music arena in 1963 and began “shift work” and later as a Shift Supervisor for many years at an oil refinery owned by Standard Oil of the West Indies. “When I started work at the refinery I didn’t have time to go to the studios or to see Coxsone Dodd.” With his degree from Kingston College and his science background, Herman Sang was quite successful in his work in oil refineries.
Presently Herman Sang resides in Canada with his wife Bernice and still plays the piano on a daily basis. Herman has two children Natalie and Sean. Natalie has her Nursing Degree and she and her husband Mike have two children. Herman’s son Sean works in the computer field and he lives in Texas with his wife Rayvonne and their five children. Both Sean and Rayvonne are members of the U.S. Airforce Reserves.
Herman Sang performed at the now historical “Legends of Ska” show in Toronto, Canada in 2002. This program was recorded by filmmaker Brad Klein and is now the subject of a full length film titled “Legends of Ska.”
Herman Sang is a member of an elite group of musicians that determined the path Jamaican music and projected it out to the world – Herman Sang is a legend.
Herman Sang - Selected Discography
“Best Twist”/Grandma, Grandpa” – Owen Gray with Herman Sang – Blue Beat 7”
“There’s Always Sunshine”/”You Had It All Wrong” – the Blues Busters with Herman Sang –
Blue Beat 7” (“There’s Always Sunshine” starts off with an intro on the organ
and then an organ solo. I recall Monty Alexander played the organ and I played
the piano on this song.”)
“Hoppin’ Guitar”/”Old McTarvey” – Herman Sang and The City Slickers – All Stars 7”
“Hilly Gully Rock”/”Four Corners of The World” – The Alley Cats with Roland Alphonso
“River Jordan” – Clancy Eccles with Hersang and The City Slickers – produced by Coxsone
“Tell Me Darling” – Wilfred Jackie Edwards with Herman Sang (with guitar solo by
Dennis Sindrey) – Produced by Chris Blackwell
“Freedom” – Clancy Eccles with Herman Sang – Produced by Coxsone Dodd
“Come To Me Softly” – Jimmy James and The Vagabonds (with Herman Sang as a member)
*This is the only Jamaican recording session. All other recordings were done in England/Europe
after Jimmy James and the group relocated)
“Sit and Cry” – Millie Small, Owen Gray, and The City Slickers –
“Best Twist” – Owen Gray with Herman Sang and The City Slickers
“My Happy Home” – Roy Panton, Patsy Todd, and Hersang and His Combo
“Do You Know” – Millie Small, Owen Gray, and The City Slickers
“Sinners Weep” - Owen Gray and The City Slickers –
“Donna” – The Blues Busters with The City Slickers
“Georgie and the Old Shoe” – Theophilus Beckford and The City Slickers (with guitar solo by
“Lonely Boy” – The Charmers with Hersang and The City Slickers
“My Happy Home” – Roy & Patsy with Hersang and his Combo
Blazing Fire – Derrick Morgan (with Herman Sang on Whirlitzer organ into)
Housewife’s Choice – Derrick Morgan (with Herman Sang)
“River of Tears” – Owen Gray (with Herman Sang & Joe Higgs on harmony) –
On LP, Various Artistes - “It’s Shuffle ‘N Ska Time with Lloyd “The Matador” Daley – Jamaican Gold – Portugal – 1994 – Recorded 1960-66.
“Made Up My Mind” - Owen Gray (with Herman Sang & Joe Higgs on harmony) -
On LP, Various Artistes - “It’s Shuffle ‘N Ska Time with Lloyd “The Matador” Daley – Jamaican Gold – Portugal – 1994 – Recorded 1960-66.
*Herman Sang as a member of The Jiving Juniors –
“Lollipop Girl” – produced by Duke Reid
“Over the River”
*Note: This is merely a selected discography. There are many other songs that Herman Sang recorded.
Herman Sang Era - Session Musicians (pre-Skatalites)
“I was fortunate to play with these accomplished musicians. Real legends in Jamaican music.”
Ernest Ranglin - Guitar
Dennis Sindrey - Guitar
Jah Jerry - Guitar
Lloyd Brevett - Bass
Lloyd Mason - Bass
Cluett Johnson - Bass
Roland Alphonso – Tenor Saxophone
Tommy McCook – Tenor Saxophone
Lester Sterling – Alto Saxophone
Carl Bryan – Alto Saxophone
Johnny Moore - Trumpet
Baba Brooks - Trumpet
Arkland “Drumbago” Parkes (first it was Drumbago on drums, then Knibbs) - Drums
Lloyd Knibbs - Drums
Rico Rodriguez – Trombone
Don Drummond – Trombone
Charlie “Organaire” Cameron - Harmonica
Written by Rich Lowe, WRUW FM Radio - (Edited by Herman Sang)
Source: Discussions with Herman Sang over the time period December, 2014- March, 2015
“When Dennis Alcapone just came out in the 1970’s, I dj on the back of “Rivers of Babylon” (“Sounds of Babylon). This guy GG Ranglin, I done about four songs for him (including “Leap year”). There was this song, “Little Boy Blue” (Original by The Maytones, Samuel The First version is “Walking Stick”). I done something with Keith Hudson. It was John Holt just come in the studio and have a bass pattern. Lloyd Bevett was there with his figure bass. John Holt jus’ say, “Boom, boo, boo, boom boom.” Keith Hudson, Hortense Ellis, John Holt, myself and a guy from The Cables, we did that song. It was like a medley. We did four songs in the one riddim. I sung harmony, it call “Popular.” In the 70’s I was in a group called, The Four Harmonics. We did an LP for a guy name Derrick Teywell with about seven songs on it. We didn’t finish it, but I know we released it because this guy went to England and he sell it. We have money to get and when he get back to Jamaica, it was like Chaos to get a little money from it. I say, “To hell with it!” Another guy come in and finish up that LP. When they release the seven inch (the label) was “D. Teywell.” “When Road Vanish” was the name on the LP. It was me, a guy name Eddie Scorcher, and Peter Francis (aka Selvyn Francis). “
Along with Dennis Alcapone, Barrington Samuels, and Wee Wee Cameron, Samuel Phillips (Samuel The First) was a founding member of El Paso Sound System. Samuel worked as the Selector for El Paso Sound and also toasted on the mic. The following is a description of the El Paso selections and Dancehall structure:
“When we start play Friday evening, we don’t stop until Monday night, or Tuesday morning. Dennis and myself – I don’t know if it was nerves thing, but bumps was growing in our hand middle. My head was going some way and a lotta bleaching! Some people call it “set-up.” Maybe shut our eye for a two or three minute get up an’ drink a pot a fish soup, burn a two ziggy, drink two beer, and work again.
Every Friday I look at the top ten selection. Just how they have it in order, I select it in backward order sameway starting at 8:00pm. When I reach the number one, the people already mad because they relate to the (top) three. You have a perfect selection coming up all along! Then after you have that crowd now, we gone into our dubwise selection, You gonna have our entertainers. Man ah come up an’ do what they can do. Trust me, if they start an’ they don’t fit in that riddim or ride that riddim good, we’re gonna stop them an’ somebody else come. We keep a perfect thing going.
Then we have a version one, a version two, and a version three. We don’t have to play a whole lotta record. You can play 50-60 records for the whole night, but it’s just how you catch the people. So you just hold them like that.”
[How come you didn’t continue recording beyond that first group of singles that you recorded with Beverley’s GG Ranglin , and Keith Hudson ?]
“True most of dem promoter guy back home a tief, eh? An’ they always want just for themselves. They never consider the goose that lay the golden egg. Not even think of giving two grain a corn to get back a lickle more energy to do it again. So I just say to hell with this! You have the writing in the bible, which will be my blessing, “A troop shall press upon Gad, but he shall overcome in the last.”
Rich Lowe, June 2014
(Samuel The First Interview conducted 31, May 2014)
Elephant Man’s music is fun. Not only is the music enjoyable to listen to, but Elephant Man himself is enjoying his music. The music is usually not too serious, it has some form of gimmick, and it’s packed with energy. Add a energetic live performance and the formula is complete. As a modern day Dancehall artist, Elephant Man has used this formula to bridge his work from the late 90’s and has made continued to make himself viable.
In the arena of gimmickry, Elephant Man is a force. He walked onto the scene with orange hair alongside Harry Toddler, Nitty Kutchie, Boom Dandimite as The Scare Dem Crew. Elephant developed catch phrases like “Good To Go,” “Shizzle Mi Nizzle,” and was known by the nickname of Energy God. The nickname relates to Elephant’s well known stage performances. In a 2002 interview, Elephant Man comments,
“Mi is a man, so ya see me, ya see energy. Mi nah put on. Is just me dat. From mi a lickle yout it just deh ya in mi. The fans, they give me the name “Energy God.” They see mi climb pon de box, mi go up pon the speaker, mi go up pon the iron, mi jump in a de crowd, mi up pon de wire, up pon de fence. Sugar Minott, and Ken Boothe. Ken Boothe say, “Elephant, you a the ungo dj mi see who used to go like me in my time. Fit and physical.” Tiger and Lieutenant Stitchie used to jump too. We ah the young generation, so we take it pon the next level. It jus’ the vibe of the people, them enjoy themself.”
Elephant can also chat slackness and was involved in a August 2001 SumFest event where the Jamaican government shutdown artists chatting slackness, while the artists were performing on stage. Elephant comments,
“Jamaica the land of bad word y’know. Some people them ah try use we now fe make an example a what dem do wrong. Artists clash. When dem clash, bottle fling, people get lick. Then the promoter turn it over pon we an’ lef we inna everyting. I didn’t make no clash start. I jus’ curse one bad word, yes. Memba, a beer elder there inna a de show. It depends on how I cuss the badword, because I was just expressing my feeling when I was saying that Malcolm shouldn’t dead. Mi just a vex that Malcolm was dead an’ curse the badword. They just come up pon this profanity thing and everybody try to use the entertainer for bad example.”
Elephant has been riding a path of prolific single recordings as well as popular tunes that are related to his slang and various dances that have been created. Some of the specific dance related “Ele” songs include: “Shaka Shaka,” “Limbo,” “Ova Di Wall,” “Wine for Me” etc.
Beenie Man has described his own style as, “I ‘m like water, I can fill any space.” Elephant Man has that same quality with a lot to offer. Elephant has been able to maintain his value for Dancehall fans while making it seem natural and effortless, except when he’s holding a fat girl up in the air and grinding in front of 1,000 Dancehall fans.
Selected Singles Discography:
(Song Title, Record Label, Notes)
1. Bun Bad Mind, Stone Love
2. Jamaica, Stone Love
3. Deh Dem Bad, Renaissance, Distributed by in The Streetz
4. Pakistan, Renaissance, Stepz Riddim
5. Dead Over It, Renaissance
6. Rapid, John John, Jammy's Son, Target diddim
7. The Ride, John John, Chikita Riddim
8. Sorrow To the World, Q45
9. Higher Level, Q45
10. Afraid A We, Q45
11. Over Di Wall, King of Kings
12. Long Story, King of Kings
13. Propella, King of Kings
14. Dirt Bed, Daseca
15. Get On Up, Echo, Christpher "Birch" Production
16. Jamaica, Black Shadow, 2002
17. Do Yuh Thing, In The Music, Distributed by in the Streetz, Party Time Riddim
18. Hypocrites, In the Streetz, Free Up Riddim
19. Waste Man, Big Neck, Dist by Fat Eyes
20. Down, Big Ship, Stephen McGregor, Outbreak Riddim
21. Let Them Drown, Builders
22. Enemy, Fire Ball, 2003, Foot Step Riddim
23. Hands Dem High, Mac Dada, Mac Dada Production
24. Dance, Birch, Christpher "Birch"
25. Wine For Me, VP
26. It In Deh, Black House, Dist by In The Streetz, Middle East Riddim
27. Ghetto Youths, Mentally Disturbed, Prod by Ward 21
28. Somebody, Massive B, Bobby Konders Production
29. Shaka Shaka, Maverick, Prod by Wayne Wonder
30. Gully Creepa, SR, Creepa Riddim
31. Shake Up Yuh Body, Chiney K Riddim, 2007
32. Wine Up Pan me, Daybreak Riddim
33. Gal Wan More, Summer Bubble Riddim
34. Gal Set Away, Global diddim
35. Wild Shot, Greensleeves
36. Ready Fi Di Video, Gully Slime Riddim
37. Limbo, Limbo Riddim
38. Nuh Linga, Look Gal riddim
39. Nah Put Nuh Man, Me Mumma Riddim
41. Put Down The Gun, Statement Riddim
42. How We Do It
43. Man A bad Man
44. There I Go - Reggae Vibes 7", Produced by Jah Mike (Nude Riddim)
45. Father Elephant - Black Chiney Records (Kopa Riddim)
46. Chiney Thing - RMC Promotion (Blank Label)
47. Krazy - Don Corleon, Distributed by in The Streetz
48. Bad Man - Mad House (Fiesta Riddim)
Rich Lowe, June, 2014
We listen to songs over and over when we find them enjoyable. Repetition will draw interest to music that does not immediately attract. Proper ingredients, carefully arranged, and then revisited can become masterpieces. Harry A. Mudie (HAM) is a producer of Jamaican music who uniquely revisits his creations. As he returns to his creations, he improves and refines them with vision. Adjustments are made and the music is rereleased. In one instance, the original vinyl pressings were crushed up for use on another project. It was the original release of “The Drifter” that was crushed into pieces and later resurrected. “The Drifter” is just one example, HAM has used repetition throughout his career.
Harry A. Mudie grew up with Jazz music. To this day, he maintains his extensive Jazz vinyl collection, which includes Dave Brubeck, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Gene Ammons, Sonny Rollins, and Thelonius Monk. In 1955, while still in school at St. Jago High School in Spanish Town, HAM connected the love of Jazz and music to a sound system called Mudie’s HiFi. Eventually, this sound played throughout the island of Jamaica. HAM attributes his success to his personal address (PA) system. This system was very sophisticated for the time period. Harry A. Mudie recalls how Mudie's HiFi was configured, "Three individual microphone inputs. We used the best quality microphones available. We positioned the output speakers on stands, with complimentary output speakers on the floor." The design produced a reliable sound which was deep and rich and it drew the interest of Byron Lee. In his early days, Byron Lee worked with HAM to rent HAM’s system for his big band events.
In 1961 HAM visited Federal's Two Track Studio to complete his first recording. Vocal and Instruments were both balanced and simultaneously recorded HAM's first production, featuring Count Ossie. The engineer was Graham Goodhall This recording resulted in the “Remembering Count Ossie” album on Moodisc Records. Count Ossie is an icon of Jamaican culture. HAM and Count Ossie became fast friends from their first meeting. HAM describes when Ossie took him to Warieka Hill, “It was like a cut-off, because not everyone could go up there. You had to have a password to get in there because of the weed. Ossie was someone that the Police respected because he used it, but not on the street. He used it for religious purposes. He never smoked a cigarette. A very, very great guy. They used to have sit-in and play music. I used to go up there pretty often and we decided we would do an album together. That was my first recording.”
In January 1962, HAM left Jamaica to live with his Aunt Hazel in England. During this period, HAM studied electronics and photography. As a result, HAM learned the skills to mix, engineer music, create album photographs, and how to process album jackets. HAM commented, “I try to do everything." HAM really does do everything, often with the assistance of close friends and family.
After his return from England in 1965, HAM opened his own Electronic repair store and Record shop at 39 Young Street inSpanish Town. Harry A. Mudie worked under a service contract with Stanley Motta to repair Televisions, Radios, and Appliances. Motta’s business worked with photography, prints, television sales, parts and repairs. That business was good as the contract allowed for a specific dollar amount to be paid for repairs. Next, HAM revisited the recording studio with a collection of artists and musicians that he had befriended from his work on Mudie’s HiFi. The rhythm track instrumentals were completed on one weekend day and the following weekend HAM brought in the vocalists for another one day session. The rhythm track instrumentals were recorded by a group HAM named "The Rhythm Rulers." This group consisted of an amazing collection of some of the most skilled and influential musicians in Jamaican music history. Without hesitation, Harry A. Mudie recites the lineup for "The Rhythm Rulers," "Winston Wright on Organ, Jackie Jackson on Bass, Joe Isaacs on Drums, Hux Brown On Guitar, Eric Frater on Guitar, Theophilus "Snappin" Beckford on Piano, Val Bennett on Tenor Sax, Carl "Cannonball" Bryan on Alto Sax, Rico Rodriquez on Trombone, and Denzil Laing on Percussion." The vocals were laid the following week and included G.G Grossett, The Ebony Sisters, and Dennis Walks. HAM had rehearsed the artists at his repair shop in previous weeks so that he and the artists were ready for the coming recording session. This session produced vocals and instrumentals, which would dominate Jamaican music to present day. The music created includes “The Drifter" & "Heart Don't Leap" (by Dennis Walks), "Let Me Tell You Boy” (by The Ebony Sisters), “Run Girl” (by G.G Grossett), "Mannix" (by the Rhythm Rulers), "Run For Your Life" (by Carl Bryan & The Rhythm Rulers), "Waking The Dead" (by Carl Bryan, "Musically Red" (by The Rhythm Rulers), "Mudies Mood" (by Lloyd Charmers & The Rhythm Rulers). Despite the aforementioned impact of the music, ”The Drifter” did not sell and HAM crushed all of the singles that he had pressed and put the recorded tape to the side. HAM describes this event:
“Yes. Sometimes you put a song out and it’s too early. It’s ahead of its time. I found that out with some of the songs [I] release. When I find it that way, I just relax, put it down, and then reintroduce it. Maybe with something else mixed in or change along the way. "Sometime force we go back." They want a new version, so I try to see what we can do to make it fresh. We do DJ, we do instrumental, a different version, a dub version, while keeping the rhythm section tight just the same. It’s because the people love the stuff so much that they want more of it! As they say, ‘You can't get too much of a good thing.
Vin Gordon plays the trombone as is often referred to as “Don Drummond Junior.” Mr. Gordon played with the top historical bands The Soul Vendors, The Soul Brothers, and Tommy McCook and The Supersonics as well as The Skatalites. Mr. Gordon plays a King trombone with a 6 and one-half Vincent mouthpiece. He likes a silver trombone with a large silver bell (not brass). JJ Johnson also used to played a the same manufacturer’s product, a King trombone.
Under the supervision of Alpha Boy’s School band master Lennie Hibbert, Mr. Gordon played the “blow bass” tuba or the string bass. It was not until he left Alpha in 1964-5, that he took up the trombone, although he did sample the trombone the week before he left Alpha Boys School. The first time Mr. Gordon played the trombone, he had to adjust to the smaller mouthpiece of the trombone as the tuba mouthpiece is significantly larger. Fortunately the trombone was the same bass clef instrument like the “blow bass.” Mr. Gordon commented, “it’s very easy to leave from the blow bass to play the trombone. You get a rounder, better, sweeter sound because you read the music the same way. They are in the same clef, the bass clef. All I had to do was learn the positions and there I go!” Although Mr. Gordon described the transition as easy, he also states, “I had to practice hard! Very hard, hard, hard. I used to practice eight hours a day.” It was after this that Rolando Alphonso took Vin Gordon to Studio One. The nickname “Don Drummond Junior” was coined at Studio One.
From Bellevue Hospital, Don Drummond himself sent Mr. Gordon a message. A friend by the name of “Seedie” who worked at Randy’s Records on North Parade was a very good friend of Don Drummond. Seedie was very familiar with all of Don’s music and met up with Vin Gordon after Mr. Gordon left Alpha School. Seedie would travel with Mr. Gordon when he played in Franklin Town and surrounding areas. One day when Vin Gordon was dropping off some records at Randy’s, Seedie had a message to relay. Seedie had been on a recent visit to see Don Drummond at Bellevue Hospital on Windward Road and delivered the message from Don Drummond, “Tell him that he is good!” Gordon commented, “He (Seedie) could talk with Don Drummond very good, y’know.”
Vin Gordon recorded “Heavenless” at Studio One. Mr. Gordon describes the release, “I did ‘Heavenless’ as a little boy in Studio One and Coxsone Dodd say Don Drummond play it. He put it on his album. He told me that it’s a mistake he made.” The critical issue is that Don Drummond was committed to Bellevue Hospital a short time after the incident occurred on January 1, 1965. Heavenless has a Reggae beat and Reggae was first used in song titles in approximately February, 1968 (Daulke, “Regay To Reggay”, 1994). While at Studio One, Vin Gordon also composed and recorded the dancehall anthem “Real Rock.” “Real Rock” was first known as an instrumental. Gordon recorded this music at the age of 19 with Jackie Mittoo. Gordon wrote the melody and Jackie Mittoo wrote the remainder of the rhythm.
Mr. Gordon also recorded with Dave Madden, Glen DeCosta, on horn work for Bob Marley’s music. As a three-piece horn section, they recorded “Natty Dread,” “Rat Race,” “Natural Mystic,” “Guiltiness” and others. Vin Gordon was at Channel One when Sly Dunbar just started. Gordon recorded as a member of The Revolutionaries with hornsmen Tommy McCook and Herman Marquis. Gordon commented that Marquis’ alto sax helped to supply a unique “intonation” to the tracks produced.
Presently Vin Gordon is working on a new solo album. He is also composing “pain music” for ill people to medically treat their pain. There is also the 2012 album titled “In The Garden,” which is available for purchase from I-Tunes. Much of Mr. Gordon’s musical work is playing live. He often plays his signature songs, which are now considered hallmark Jamaican music. Mr. Gordon describes these live performances from his uniquely historical perspective: “As a featuring horns specialist, they put you there ‘an you playin’ the tunes when you was young. You play “Real Rock” ‘an dem song, but it’s not your songs. It’s not your album. At that time you was so young and you did it because you were in practice. You didn’t care about watching it. You didn’t know how great you was, so it didn’t matter. Now when you listen back, you say, ‘Oh my God, if I knew!’”
Below are a series of ”mutant singles” by Luciano. Mutant in the sense that they are all 7” releases not thought to be widely distributed (not on albums or major labels). In the late 80’s – early 90’s, Luciano recorded dubplates for neighborhood sounds until he and Ricky Trooper crossed paths. Trooper recognized Luciano’s singing ability and took him to the Aquarius recording studio in Half Way Tree Square.
Fatis Burrell of Exterminator Productions managed Luciano along with Sizzla and Turbulance at a time of dramatic growth of the Bobo Dread movement. Over time Luciano expanded his recording limitlessly, recording on singles, albums and under contract with International labels. Luciano clearly does not believe in overexposure. In the early 1980’s when Yellowman and singer Don Carlos released volumes of singles and albums, some felt that recording and releasing too much would be harmful to an artist. Overexposure appears to be a thing of the past as the baritone voice of Luciano has benefitted from recording widely, now with over 40 albums in his wake.
*Thanks to the Central Village Crew from Cleveland – Survivalist, Sparticus, Willpower, and Tan Tan.
World Peace – John John – Lloyd James Junior – 7”
Hail Rastafari – Reggae central – 2006 – 7”
Good Times – Mac Dada – 7”
All Fruits Ripe – Junk Yard – Scarkmooch – 7”
World Leaders – Roots Rockers Music – 7”
Rock and Come In – Thompson Sound – Kevan Thompson – 7”
Fire and Ice – Main Frame Records – 7”
What Is Man – South Block – Michael Sterling – 7”
When Will Things Change (with Tony Rebel) – Big League – 7”
By Rich Lowe
It all comes down to the clash. There have been many clashes on Boxing Day in Jamaica at Reggae Sting and everyone has their opinion over the ultimate winner. Over the years, some of the clashes involved Kartel vs. Ninja (2003), Bounty vs. Beenie (1993), Ninja vs. Supercat (1991), Ninja vs. Shabba (1990), Bunny Wailer and the crowd (1987). Back in the eighties, further clashes involved Papa San, Stitchie, Admiral Bailey, Cobra, among others. These clashes are modern day folklore around who prevailed and are always controversial.
One favorite is Sting 2000 where Merciless was involved with what is known as “Four The Hard Way.” At that Sting, the relatively unknown Merciless took on Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, and Ninja Man and dispatched all three with a solid collection of fresh clash lyrics. Some were caught off guard and off balance as Merciless challenged all, dressed in full fatigues and menaced physically.
We had the opportunity to visit Merciless in 2001 at his yard in Kingston and discussed his Sting performance. A video of the interview was posted on YouTube. As a result, a Beenie supporter provided a string of intelligent observations of the clash, of the artists, and of Dancehall. The discussion follows:
merciless kill ninja in 2000 naa lie even tho ninja stil betta dan him its jus 1 a dose tings sumtime u hav da upper hand sumtimesu dont,, he kinda brush bounty aswell wudnt say kill him but he did hav da better of ninja an bounty, but defo did not kill beenie man becoz beenie was not in da clash to b killed an merciless an beenie did not go hed to hed for either to b killed, mercilles an beenie on da radio afta sting an merciless didnt say he killed beenie, do da research an chek da facts
True, Beenie came in late on the clash. Beenie also did not approach the situation to directly compete, based on his performance. Still, as you know, the general position is that Merciless was the overall winner. Merciless was physically menacing and had a lotta lyrics. In my opinion he caught the others by surprise - they did not expect it. In those days there was always a clash and in that period, always a winner.
your ryt i agree overall Merciless took sting dat year no doubt but beenie only sang 2 songs an if u chek bak it was like 1 of da biggest fawud frm da crowd an den merciless himself was sayin Laing NEW MONEY to kill dese 2 fools so dat alone shows relly an truly dat merciless himself didnt relly kill anybdy apart frm ninja coz he was askin laing for new money to clash an kill bounty an beenie but him an bounty sang mre songs at each other dan him an beenie.
You are right in what you say. You are applying a lot of background and "intention" with the Laing comment and how many tunes were sung, I don't know if the background you supply supports Beenie’s hesitance. Now, I am also a Beenie supporter (really I follow all of the participants), but I'm gonna be partial cuz I shot that Merciless video man!
Further, did you see 2011 Kiprich and Merciless? Whew! Merciless was caught flat-footed, had no response to the casket, and then was left alone on stage only to hear "boos" from the crowd. I will say that the prior Sting with Merciless was Merci's day in the sun. I'll also admit Merci copied Bounty's style. Still like Merciless though!
yh i hear wat ur sayin an u defo hav a point dere i must say merciless jus ad his day in 2000 on dat night dey cudnt relly defeat him but unfortunatly he cudnt sustain a long standing high level career like a beenie or a bounty or a kartel or a vado, dt is da key in da dancehall industry, to keep a long lasting career as long as possible its all about longevity or else its not worth it to be honest, i am a fan of dancehall in general i listen all artist as long as da songs are good, i dont like da Bias ting an sum fans are soooo BIAS its unbelievable SMH
Merciless does not really have the talent to maintain for the complete horse race. I also argue that Beenie has used up all his lyrics. Beenie has not produced much of anything quality or enjoyable in the last few years. He sure is prolific and puts out volume, but maybe he has used it all up. I never thought Vybz had much talent, except for controversy and image. In the image Department he is the boss. Dead bodies scattered around your houses sure does paint a picture. -
yes so true all these artist now a days seems to just let fame an wealth get the better of them and end up start doing ridiculous tings to fuck up their own career in the long run. just pathetic if you ask me..... all the music industry needs right now is love an unity an good music without any ridiculous controversy for a while t least a good 5 years of just pure good solid music and everybody living together as 1....... not saying there shouldn't be any competitive rivalry at times yes everything needs a bit of a competitive edge at times to keep it balanced but most of them just take it out of proportion on a ridiculous level,,,,, i don't even listen to them most of the time when they go over board tbh
Good assessment. Now, I just saw the video for the Sting 2012 with Kip Rich and Merciless and Ninja... and then Twin of twins and Kip Rich. The Twin of twin was laughable, (even though I enjoyed their original entry in the scene with the Sizzla interview with the white guy). Twins had no lyrics, would stop and then repeat cuz they screwed up the lyrics, and then Kip rich steam rolled them with lyrics, aggression, and then just walked off. He nailed it.
in 1984, Reggae Sting began at Cinema 2 and was the product of Supreme Promotions. The man behind Supreme is Isaiah Laing, who is a former police with 20 years in the Jamaica Constabulary Force. Laing has maintained his promotion of Sting in Jamaica to present day and in the mid 80’s was a producer of the Supreme record label. Supreme was the label that produced many Brigadier Jerry singles. At the time, Brigadier rarely recorded as the Dancehall lyrics for The Twelve Tribes of Israel member were considered precious and exclusive to the dance. The exception is when Brigadier Jerry did record, it was almost exclusively as a single on Supreme. Laing – often with Tommy Cowan’s assistance recorded other artistes like Frankie Paul, Gregory Isaacs, and Pinchers, but the recordings were selective and not in great quantity. One perspective is that Laing did not have to record. Recording was a choice, a show of strength, and related to the authority in his role as a police.
Laing is what some call a “Bad Man Police.” A Bad Man Police is a police officer that does not always hesitate to secure proper paperwork or backup to pursue an alleged criminal. Historical police fitting this role include Laing, Keith Gardener (“Trinity”), Tony Hewitt, Reneto Adams, and Cornwall Ford (known as “Bigga Ford”). Bigga Ford is a very large and fat man, but is surprisingly agile. A good friend once told me how he saw Bigga Ford chase a youth down the street who had fired a gun. Ford was running right in step with the youth and swiftly jumped down into a gully after the youth. Soon after two shots were heard in the distance. A few minutes after, a silhouette of the hulking Ford dragging the dead body back up the gully was seen by the growing crowd of people.
These police are celebrities. These police expose themselves to extreme violence and frequently gunshot. Laing himself has been physically shot three times (The Jamaica Observer, 13, November, 2013). When groups successfully attack and destroy police stations, securing paperwork is not always a consideration. The Bad Man Police has a list of people he has killed over the years. A lesser or aspiring police is often deceased. Conversely, any innocent lives lost are a struggle for the surviving family.
Laing has maintained the Sting concerts on the day following Christmas - Boxing Day. Christmas concerts have a long history in Jamaica dating back well over 100 years. The history is described by Neely (2008, p. 210), “…Christmas morning concerts began shortly thereafter in the late nineteenth century. The most important of these were organized by [Astley] Clerk…”. Neely continues, “…Clerk figured prominently in the festival movement. In addition to Christmas morning concerts, Clerk was named the Second Vice President of the Poetry League at its formation in 1924 and took an active role in its annual competitions” (Neely, 2008, p. 212).
There is a grand variation between Merciless’ lyrical talents, YouTube comments in patois, Bad Man Police, and 100 year-old history. These remote connections, strung tightly together, make Jamaica’s music and culture so interesting. This December (2013) marks the 29th year of Reggae Sting and people are already talking.
Neely, Daniel Tannehill. (2008). “Mento: Jamaica's Original Music”: Development
Tourism and the National Frame. (Doctoral Dissertation). New York University.
Staff Writer, (2013, November 03). DP: 'Super Cop' Laing's blazing gunfights. Jamaica
Observer. Retrieved from http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-Super-Cop--