Bovine Ska and Rocksteady 12/24/14: Christmas In Jamaica!

rupie edwards-Christmas Rush

Rupie Edwards from 1974

We have done a Christmas in Jamaica show every one of the eighteen years that the Bovine Ska and Rocksteady has been in existence.  And every year, we do our best to remove the intense cheesiness that is on display from every other radio show that tries to do a holiday program.   This lack of cheesiness was evidenced in our selection of Jamaican rhythm and blues, ska, rocksteady and even dub records of a Christmas kind but alas the Christmas disco from the SalSoul Orchestra which was used in the background did not live up to the rigid standards set forth by us during the selection of sets.  To put it mildly, it was cheese town when we were on the microphone but don’t let that dissuade you from checking out this show while it is still the holiday season.  Lily spoke about Jamaican Christmas traditions, we played a Jamaican patois version of “The Christmas Story” and played a lot of stellar records!

You will hear many rare holiday cuts, from artists like The Upsetters, Reuben Anderson from Andy and Joey fame, and the late great Desmond Dekker.

Merry Christmas from Lily and Generoso!

Listen to the two hour holiday program HERE.

The archive will be up until 1/6/15. Enjoy!


Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: 12/17/2014: Charlie Ace

In this past week’s edition of the Bovine Ska and Rocksteady, we began the show with Jamaican Rhythm and Blues, giving us a chance to feature some gems from the Jiving Juniors, Owen Gray, and Cosmo and Dennis. After the opening Rhythm and Blues sets, we presented this week’s mento set dedicated to the delicious fruit that makes us remember warmer days, mango. Then, in order to transition us into the spotlight on the DJ extraordinaire, Charlie Ace, we played two sets of rocksteady, including beautiful tracks from Hopeton Lewis, The Heptones, and Eddie Perkins.

With the arrival of the second hour, we were thrilled to present to spotlight on Charlie Ace, a man who became known for his record store on wheels but a man we know as a DJ great who should be considered in the same ranks as Big Youth and U Roy.

Charlie Ace's Silver and Gold

Charlie Ace’s Silver and Gold Produced by Phil Pratt

Born Valdene Dixon, Charlie Ace was a DJ who gained his name and signature style when he worked with Lee Scratch Perry. After some mild success with his recordings, Charlie Ace would become best known for his Swing-A-Ling Record Shop on wheels that he would drive around to sell records pressed on his own Swing-A-Ling label and on other Jamaican labels as well. A great DJ who was overshadowed by U-Roy and Big Youth and Dennis Alcapone, Charlie Ace is an artist that deserves a spotlight on his large collection of recordings. This review on Charlie Ace’s tracks featured some of the strangest and most experimental productions to date on the Bovine Ska and Rocksteady and began with one of his earliest recordings for Joe Gibbs Amalgamated label, the track entitled, “Seeing Is Believing.” The spotlight followed Charlie’s work with producers such as Phil Pratt, Alvin Ranglin, and Sonia Pottinger to lead up to our favorite track, a Lee Sctratch Perry production named “Cow Thief Skank.”

Sadly, Charlie Ace was murdered in the mid-1980s in a drive-by during one of Kingston’s endless ghetto wars. He was an innovative DJ and great talent who is severely missed.

Listen to the Charlie Ace spotlight and the full show HERE.

The archive will be up until 12/29/2014. Enjoy!

Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: 12/10/14: Winston Samuels

Winston Samuels-Be Prepared

Winston Samuel’s Biggest Hit on Lyndon Pottinger’s “SEP” Label

We started off this past week’s very mysterious Bovine Ska and Rocksteady, with the enigmatic, “Prince of Darkness” who tossed down the incredibly danceable sounds of “Burial of Longshot,” for Dandy Livingstone on the Downtown label in 1969.   The track is a response to the classic cut “Longshot” by The Pioneers.  We then burned through two sets of reggae, a very fast mento set and a set of ska to get you in the mood for the ska sounds of Winston Samuels.

Winston Samuels, after much research and reaching out to scholars and Jamaican legend, remains somewhat of a mystery. What we can gather about this magnificent singer is that with the exception of his hit, “Be Prepared,” there is very little known about Winston’s personal history and his career beginnings. According to Studio One artist and Bovine Ska and Rocksteady friend, Dudley Sibley, we know that Winston Samuels first recorded for Coxone in the early 1960s , and other sources indicate that his first release on Coxsone’s All Star imprint was a single with two sides with conflicting names and themes: “Paradise” and “In Jail.” We started off the spotlight on mighty vocalist Winston Samuels, with “In Jail” and with that you got a preview of the amazing voice that he would hone and perfect throughout his career.  One of the real surprises was the magnificent quality of the tracks Winston would do curing the rocksteady period for Prince Buster.  His voice may be at it’s best here.

There are some rumors that he was a member of The Four Aces, but we were not able to confirm this, but what could be verified was that Winston Samuels was a prolific song writer who penned two festival song winners for Eric Donaldson: “Sweet Jamaica” and “Land of My Birth,” in 1977 and 1978, respectively. Then, after spending quite some time in the music industry, Winston Samuels moved to America, but his whereabouts since have been pretty mysterious.

Listen to the spotlight and the full show HERE.

Enjoy! The archived file will be available until 12/23/2014.

Bovine Ska and Rocksteady 12/3/2014: The Emotions

On this past week’s episode of the Bovine Ska and Rocksteady, we started off the show with two full sets of ska, including some supremely danceable tracks from Prince Buster and his All Stars and The Pioneers.

In the first hour, we also played some unearthed rocksteady singles from The Merritone Singers and The Dynamites in preparation for the early rocksteady tracks from Max Romeo’s first musical endeavor with The Emotions, the vocal group for this week’s spotlight.

After his mother decided to immigrate to England, Max Romeo lived with his father near Wareika Hills. However, after continued disagreement between Max and his stepmother, he decided to run away at 14, living in the hills and trying to get by as best as he could.

In trying to get stable work, Max ended up working in a sugar cane field in Clarendon as a canal cleaner. In the field, he met Denham Edwards, and the two sang together at work. It was at work where Denham would write a song for Max to sing, which was his entry for a regional song competition. Max sang the track with Kes Chin and the Souvenirs at the contest and won, putting him on the track to a music career.

Eventually, Max moved to Kingston and met Lloyd Shakespeare through his friend Suckro. Then, through Lloyd Shakespeare, he met Lloyd’s singing partner, Kenneth Knight. Originally, the two were going to be the duo Ken and Lloyd, but given that they were not entirely ready as a duo, Max offered to join the group and lead.

Max would then become a salesman for Blondel Calnek, an importer of Chinese figurines. During this time, Blondel would open a record label and create a pseudonym for his persona as a record producer. This name was Ken Lack, his last name backwards. Lack’s label, Caltone would be the first label to record The Emotions, which was initiated by Lack when he heard Max singing one day at work. The first track to start the spotlight was, “I’ll Buy You a Rainbow,” the first track they recorded for Caltone

Lack decided to move to the U.S. in 1968, which caused the Caltone label to dissolve. After the dissolution of Caltone, the Emotions would travel over to Phil Pratt to record some pretty singles before Max decided to pursue a solo career in 1968. During this time he was replaced by Audrey Rollins. Audrey would eventually decide to work for Lloyd Daley at his Matador label and was then replaced with Lloyd Brown. However, when Max’s solo career did not flourish as much as he had hoped, Max re-joined the Emotions by the end of 1968.

Around the same time, Max Romeo worked as a salesman for Bunny Lee. Max wrote the now infamous “Wet Dream” and gave it to Bunny Lee to find a vocalist for the track. Bunny offered it to Derrick Morgan, John Holt, and Slim Smith, but all of them passed on it because of its salacious content. Bunny then told Max that he would have to be the one to record it, or else it would never be recorded. “Wet Dream” became Max’s track to put him on the map in music, with its notoriety pushing it up in the charts, especially in the U.K. where it was banned on BBC radio, but, regardless, it made it into the top ten of the charts. After the popularity gained by “Wet Dream,” Max toured England and recorded further innuendo-laden tracks and ended up staying there until 1970 when he returned to Jamaica to form his Roman record label and soundsystem.

Listen to the spotlight and the full show HERE.

Enjoy! The archived file will be available until 12/16/2014.