Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Remembering Nora Dean and JJ Label Spotlight 10-4-16

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Rest In Peace Nora Dean

The October 4th, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady began on a sad note, as  the wonderful singer, Nora Dean,  passed away on Thursday in Connecticut at age 72.  Nora had been living in Connecticut since moving here from New York in 2010.  Nora Dean began her career during the rocksteady era with Coxsone Dodd, recording her first song, Mojo Girl, at Studio One in 1968.   She would achieve larger fame when she recorded the racy reggae cut, Barbwire, for Byron Smith at the Baron’s label in 1969. Dean cut so many tracks that we love, as not only a solo artist, but as a prominent member of The Soulettes and The Ebony Sisters.  Due to Mixcloud policies that prohibit us from playing more than four songs from one artist, our tribute to Nora was contained in eight songs that began our show this week.  We included many wonderful cuts in this memorial and we hope that you appreciate her sweet and expressive voice on these songs.  Rest in peace Nora.

We thought that for our record label spotlight, given that last week, we presented a ska, rhythm & blues, and rocksteady spotlight, we thought that this week, we must have a reggae one! In thinking of reggae, there are many producers whom we love here on the Bovine Ska and Rocksteady, and in thinking about which one to feature this week, we arrived at Carl Sir JJ Johnson, a label owner and producer who was exceptionally prolific in the early reggae era. We know a little bit about Sir JJ’s early years. Carl Johnson was the son of Bromley Johnson, the man who created the Magnet Bus Company, which was one of the first bus providers that ran to and from rural Jamaica. Carl Johnson, who would be known as Sir JJ was as business oriented his his father, but he directed his efforts on the music business. Sir JJ first started as a jukebox distributor. Eventually, like other folks involved in the jukebox industry, he decided to open up a record shop, picking 133 Orange Street for his center of business, a prime location because Beverly’s was right next door For his signature label that bore his nickname, Sir JJ recruited outstanding talent. 

The house backing band for the Sir JJ label was Bobby Aitken and his Carib-beats. For the label, the group was called the JJ All Stars, and the members were:  Bobby Aitken, the leader of the group,  on guitar,  Winston Richards AKA Grennan on drums, “Iron Sprat” on bongos, Vincent White on bass, Alphonso Henry on alto sax, Val Bennett on tenor sax, Dave Parks on trombone, Mark Lewis on trumpet, and Bobby Kalphat on keyboards .  Of course, given that we are talking the JJ Label, we had to play “The Selah,” which is one of the most successful Sir JJ tracks, with many versions of the track made in the same year that the original was released.

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Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Linden Pottinger’s Gaydisc Label 9-27-16

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Roy Panton and Millie Small on Gaydisc

We started off the September 27th, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady with two sets of dazzling reggae beginning with a version to version produced by one of our favorites. Keith Hudson.   After a fun set of mento, we went into a long ska set beginning with our continued tribute to the late Prince Buster with the cut, Cincinnati Kid from 1965.  The ska set ended with a super rare cut that was also produced by Prince Buster, but performed by Lloyd Barnes in 1964 entitled, Time  Is Hard.  We then went into our spotlight of Lindon Pottinger’s Gaydisc Label.

Before Lindon Pottinger ventured into the music industry, he was an accomplished accountant and businessman. With his wife, Sonia, who would become one of the most distinguished women in the Jamaican music business, Lindon opened up a recording studio in the Pottinger home. This studio served as the center of recording for the SEP and Golden Arrow, and the label of our spotlight tonight: Gaydisc. The label started out in 1962 and was prolific until 1967, so this spotlight will contain ska, ballads, and rocksteady productions from Mr. Pottinger. We’ll start off with Al T. Joe’s “I’m On My Own”

In 1964, Lindon sold the recording equipment in his and Sonia’s home studio to Duke Reid, and in 1965, Lindon and Sonia parted ways.Despite these major changes, Lindon would continue to produce for Gaydisc. And, he would continue to manage his record pressing plant as well.

The Cables…Though the Cables formed in 1962 with Keble Drummond, Vincent Stoddard, and Elbert Stewart, they did not enter the recording studio until 1966. The first producer they visited was Lindon Pottinger, and their first single was “You Lied,” which was backed by Bobby Aitken and his band. You’ll heard The Cables’s debut single, which was released on Gaydisc.

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Prince Buster Memorial Part 2-Rocksteady 9-20-16

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Buster’s Rocksteady on Olive Blossom

Hello Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

Last week, we focused on the ska productions and recordings of Prince Buster, and this week, we are going to focus on his rocksteady output and his excellent reggae productions.  By the arrival of rocksteady, Prince Buster’s stable was not as strong as it was in the rhythm & blues and ska eras. With its slower tempo, rocksteady put more focus on vocal harmonies, and as a result, the rhythm led to a rise in popularity of the vocal groups. Buster did not have as many groups on his various imprints as the other major producers, but he could still rely on the the great voices of Dawn Penn, Roy Panton, and Larry Marshall. As a result, Olive Blossom, which was Buster’s main rocksteady label, had exceptional performances and productions, but these singles were still not as popular as his earlier work

But, ever the innovator, Prince Buster did, of course, tap into the minds of his audience in the rocksteady, and he would find great success in the rocksteady rhythm when he recorded and released, “Judge Dread,” Buster’s response to the ever increasing violence caused by the rudeboys in Kingston.  Here, Buster takes on the persona of Judge Dread, a court judge who deals out huge sentences to rudeboys, especially when they commit black on black violence. This led to follow up recordings by Buster, The Appeal and Barrister’s Pardon.

Buster has always had a reputation as a tough man. We know well that Buster got his soundsystem start by providing security to Coxsone Dodd’s Downbeat sound and Buster was a boxer himself, and his love for boxing resonated through his music. Generoso got a chance to speak about boxing with Buster, and we also heard an excerpt of that conversation.

On the Bovine Ska, we adore Big Youth, and, unsurprisingly, our favorite Big Youth record is produced by none other than the mighty Prince Buster. The match between Big Youth and Prince Buster was a natural one; Youth was not a deejay who only intended to spruce up tracks for dances. Big Youth told stories and included political and social messages in his lyrics and his toasting A great example of this was his first big hit, “S.90 Skank,” which Youth recorded to remind his friends to be careful when riding on motorbikes. Similarly, the track that we are going to feature as our favorite Buster production has intelligent lyrics from Big Youth, who takes cues from The Last Poets, “When Revolution Comes”

 

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Prince Buster Memorial Part One-Buster’s Ska Productions 9-13-16

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Buster’s Group fierce R&B on Wild Bells

Hello Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

Just a few weeks ago, we memorialized saxophonist Deadly Headley Bennett, who would eventually play a role in Prince Buster’s history, and we’ll get to that in the middle of this program, but sadly, we have done many memorial shows these last few years, but this one has really impacted us in a very personal way.  Generoso has written a comprehensive and personal obituary on Buster which was published on Ink19 this week.

One of our favorite Jamaican artists of all time, Prince Buster, passed away on the morning of September 8th in Miami after complications from heart issues. Prince Buster had a stroke in 2009, but we had not heard anything about his health since then, so the announcement was extremely unexpected, and we’ve spent a lot of time mourning the loss of a music pioneer and a giant persona whose bravado brought even more to the iconic tracks that shaped Jamaican music history

Born as Cecil Bustamante Campbell, Prince Buster grew up with his grandmother in rural Jamaica. Here, he gained an interest in music after singing in churches.  When he was a teenager, he moved to Kingston and lived on Orange Street, and he naturally found an affinity for the sound system culture. Specifically, he spent a lot of time with Tom Wong, who is best known as Tom the Great Sebastian, who ran a sound system out of his shop and in the dancehalls of Kingston.

As the sound system culture further developed, each operator and their set of selectors would compete against each other. The big two were Coxsone Dodd’s Downbeat and Duke Reid’s the Trojan, and Prince Buster and his crew aligned himself with Coxsone, who was more of an underdog than Duke Reid. Buster provided Coxone’s dances with security, and eventually, he would become a selector for the Downbeat sound. With this experience, Buster was armed with plenty of knowledge on how to run a sound system, so he went to Tom Wong and asked him for a loan in order to create his own sound, which would become the renowned and popular Voice of the People.

With his sound system up and running, Buster was ready to begin recording his own singles. Before he would ever appear in front of the microphone, Buster produced tracks to be played at his sound system; you will hear a selection of these tracks in this first set in the spotlight. To start this show, we heard from Buster himself. Though he had already established himself as a producer, in 1961, for his own Wildbells label, Buster recorded his very first track as a vocalist, “Little Honey,” which will start off the first of a two week tribute to the mighty Prince Buster, the Voice of the People.

Due to Mixcloud’s policy (you can only play four songs per artist every show), we have primarily structured this show on Prince Buster’s magnificent productions during the Jamaican rhythm and blues and ska eras.  You will hear some of the greatest hits of that time from Derrick Morgan, Eric Monty Morris, Basil Gabbidon and more! Included in this show are segments of Generoso’s 2002 interview with Prince Buster that was conducted a week before Buster was to play a show that Generoso helped produce in Boston that featured Buster, Derrick Morgan, Eric Morris, and Millicent Patsy Todd with the excellent reggae group, The Pressure Cooker backing up the artists.

The interview segments describe in detail, the controversial recording of the Folkes Brothers, “Oh Carolina,” the Black Head Chinaman record war between Buster and Derrick Morgan, and Buster’s duet with the late great singer, Slim Smith.

Here is Part One of our two part Prince Buster Memorial from September 13, 2016:

 

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Byron Lee’s Dragon’s Breath Label 9-6-16

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Keith Lyn on Lee’s Dragon’s Breath Label

Howdy Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

Firstly, thank you to everyone how was kind enough to let us know how much they appreciated our Deadly Headly Bennett Memorial show.  Generoso was fortunate enough to have met Deadly back in 1999, when Headley and trombonist, Vin Gordon were performing with Justin Hinds.  Generoso and Headley got a chance to speak that night as Generoso was introducing the show at the Ocean Mist in Rhode Island.  All three men were very kind and exceptional musicians.  Thank you and respect to Vin, who is still with us and much respect to Justin and Headley for their kindness and great contribution to Jamaican music.

The September 6th, 2016 Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady began with the to sets of rare rocksteady, starting with Stranger and Patsy with a lovely cut they did for Tip Top in 1967, Don’t Want To Be Hurt.  The second set began with The Wrigglers and their song, You Cannot Know, which they recorded for Giant in 1968 and that set ended with the King Of Rocksteady, Alton Ellis and My Time Is The Right Time.  Our weekly mento set featured another cut from our favorite mento, Count Lasher on Stanley Motta’s MRS label, Perfect Love.  We ended the first hour with a set of ska to get you ready for the sounds of the Dragon’s Breath label,    A standout during that ska set was from Joe White, a solo ska from him produced by Prince Buster for the Voice Of The People label in 1964, Nite Club!  That set ended with another Buster production, this time it’s the Maytals and their hit, Domino!  We then went right into our spotlight of the Dragon’s Breath label…

By 1956, Byron Lee and the Dragonaires had established themselves as a professional working band that toured the hotel and nightclub circuit. Before these touring years, the Dragonaires performed mento, but in order to play professionally, like so many other bands, they performed versions of American soul and R&B hits. Within three years, the group decided to take a shot at recording, and in 1959, they visited Edward Seaga at WIRL’s studios to record their first single, “Dumplins.” This single was released on the band’s label, Dragon’s Breath, appropriately named in the tradition of the group’s name and, this is the label of our spotlight tonight, which will exclusively contains Jamaican Rhythm and Blues and Ska. We kicked our label spotlight off with three tracks from the Dragonaires that were produced by Byron Lee himself, starting with “Dumplins,” the group’s recording debut.

Dragon’s Breath was pretty short lived, with releases stopping in 1964. Interestingly, there was a bit of a gap in the label; no recordings were released in 1962. We do not know of the reason, but one could be that the label changed hands because by 1963, Prince Buster was the producer for the label and  from that moment on out, we heard those Buster productions as he took the helm of the music released by Dragon’s Breath, including two from Eric Monty Morris which began the second set of the spotlight.

XO Generoso and Lily

This is the September 6, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady and our spotlight on the Dragon’s Breath label:

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Felix “Deadly” Headley Bennett Memorial Show 8-30-16

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“Deadly” Headley Bennett on UK Unity Label

Hello Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

It is with great sadness that we must report the passing of legendary saxophonist, Deadly Headley Bennett.

Deadly Headley passed away at his home on August 21st at the age of 85. He had been suffering from back and prostate issues since 2013, and two Sundays ago, he passed away suddenly after being up and about earlier in the day. We will pay tribute to Deadly Headley’s impressively prolific career for the full two hours of this week’s show.  Headley received the Order of Distinction in 2005 for all of his contributions to the progress of Jamaican music, and in this program, you’re going to hear some of the biggest tracks in Jamaican music because Deadly Headley was there for those history changing moments.

Born as Felix Bennett in Kingston, Deadly Headley started his music education at an exceptionally young age, enrolling in the Alpha Boys Catholic school at the age of five. With the education and support of the school’s music program, Deadly Headley emerged from the school ten years later, at the mere age of 15, as an accomplished saxophone player. 

As the fifties arrived, Bennett performed primarily in jazz, and as the sixties arrived, he had established himself as an excellent performer and session musician. Bennett’s recording career had a sudden and surprise beginning. Bennett performed and hung out with Rico, and when Rico was invited to play Coxsone’s sound system, Deadly Headley was part of the horn section. During this performance, Coxsone’s friend spotted him, and suggested that Bennett should be playing for Coxsone’s recordings.

Coxsone invited Bennett to Federal Studios, and Deadly Headley first recorded “Independence Blues” for him, with Lester Sterling also on the recording, which created a battle for solos between Lester and Deadly Headley. “Independence Blues” was cut for Coxsone’s D. Darling label and features the voice and guitar of Basil Gabbidon, and it is the track that would start Bennett’s many decade career in the recording industry. Consequently,  it is the track that will started tonight’s memorial on Deadly Headley Bennett.

In addition to recording in the studio in 1962, Deadly Headley also performed as a member of The Shieks in their performance to welcome Princess Margaret when she visited Jamaica to mark the nation’s independence. It is unclear as to what tracks Deadly Headley would play on for Coxsone in 1962, but his role was certain on recordings for a young producer named Leslie Kong and his Beverley’s label. It is well documented that Headley was a featured player for Leslie Kong, who insisted that Headley play a solo for the more prominent singles to come out on the label during its beginning  We then heard tracks on Beverley’s from not only a young Jimmy Cliff, Derrick Morgan and Eric Morris but also the very first recording of Bob Marley prior to his time with the Wailers.  Four tracks were cut at Beverley’s with Marley from that session with Headley in 1963, including “One Cup of Coffee,” “Do You Still Love Me,” “Terror”, and the track played for our tribute, “Judge Not”

In the early 1960s, Deadly Headley would play for a multitude of producers in the ska era and  Bennett would continue to record for Studio One during this time. Included in the tracks recorded for Coxsone Dodd is Wailer Peter Tosh’s “Maga Dog,” which features a wonderful solo from Headley Bennett. That was the track we played next on the show.

In 1966, rocksteady would become the preferred beat of the time, and Deadly Headley would play on some of the era’s finest tracks. Of course, during the rocksteady, the band that was most in demand bore the name of the man who invented the rhythm, Lyn Taitt. We then heard two instrumental tracks that feature Taitt’s guitar and Headley’s beautiful sax sound.

“Satta Massagana” was recorded at 7 am at Coxsone’s studio through Carlton Manning, who arranged for his brother Donald Manning and his group The Abyssinians to record in Coxsone’s studio without his approval or knowledge. “Satta Massagana” was the first recording of the session.   In the short session, three tracks were quickly recorded, and shortly thereafter, “Satta Massagana” became a hit rhythm that would get versions many many times

In 1969, Deadly Headley went to Canada and returned in 1977 and when Headley returned to Jamaica in ‘77, he was in as much demand as ever and performs on some of the most legendary albums of the era.  We went through album after album of his recordings from 1977 to 1979 and selected our favorite performances from Headley from those full length records.

Only one full length album bears Headley’s name in the title as the featured artist…35 Years From Alpha was produced in 1982 by the king of On-U Sound, Adrian Sherwood and featured Headley on alto sax, Bim Sherman on vocals, and fittingly his former horn section partner Rico on trombone. To end this two hour tribute to Headley, we played two selections from that amazing album.

Here is the August 30th, 2016 edition of Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady and our two hour tribute to the late, great Felix “Deadly” Headley Bennett:

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Carlton Bradford’s Triumph Label 8-23-16

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Triumph All Stars on Triumph, 1968 Bull’s Rush

Howdy Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

The August 23rd, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady began with two sets of ska, including a set of COWBOY-themed ska which was a silly, last minute decision based on us acquiring the Prince Buster’s 1962 single, Cowboy Comes To Town! We love westerns so what can you do?  We ended the two sets of ska with the king of the reggae harmonica, Roy Richards, on Studio One in 1965 with Double Trouble.  Our weekly mento show had a few rare gems this week, including The Dictator With The Jamaican Calypsonians and their 1955 tune for the Kalypso label, Chinese Cricket Match.  We ended the first hour with a long set of rocksteady starting with the seldom heard band, The Jupiters who cut a Judge Dread styled courtroom tune, The Return Of Ezekial  for Joe Gibbs Amalgamated label in 1967.  That set ended with another track from 1967, this time a cover of Maurice Williams doo-wop classic, Stay, this time performed by The Summertaires for the Coxsone label.  We then went into our spotlight of the Triumph Label.

The Triumph label is one of those short lived labels that we are always amazed to dig up! Carlton Bradford was the owner and producer, with releases on Triumph concentrated in rocksteady and early reggae. Bradford was primarily known as a singer; he was a member of The Vibrators and The Soul Cats, both groups that were prolific throughout early Jamaican music.  With Leslie Bailey and Solomon Gayle, Bradford recorded as a vocalist as part of The Vibrators, who started with Justin Yap and his Top Deck label. The trio would record through rocksteady and reggae, serving often as backing vocalists for many labels, including Coxsone and Gayfeet.

With Ewan McDermott and Kevton Williams, Bradford sang as a member of The Soul Cats, who were active in reggae in the late 70s.  The Soul Cats would actually open up the Bradmack label together in America, releasing their own tracks as The Mighty Soul Cats for the label that had its home in New Jersey and was distributed out of the Bronx.For Triumph, we get to hear Bradford focused on rocksteady and early reggae as he got his start as a producer. He attracted quite a lot of talent to Triumph and excellently produced their recordings. Many of Bradford’s productions were picked up by Blue Cat and Pama’s subsidiary Nu Beat in England, but they originated on Triumph. 

Winston Wright was one of the most prolific organists in Jamaican music. As a member of Tommy McCook and the Supersonics and Lynn Taitt and the Jets, he recorded extensively with Duke Reid early in his career. He would see enormous success from his essential part in “Liquidator,” the hit from the Harry J All Stars and would go on to record for the backing bands of some of the biggest labels and producers, including Clancy Eccles, Byron Lee, King Jammy, Alvin Ranglin, and Lee Scratch Perry just to name a few. One of the labels that Winston Wright stopped by was Triumph, and he performed with the Triumph All Stars to cut a track for Bradford.

We hope that you enjoy the August 23rd, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady:

https://www.mixcloud.com/bovineska/generoso-and-lilys-bovine-ska-and-rocksteady-carlton-bradfords-triumph-label-8-23-16/