Hello Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,
After last week’s reggae-heavy spotlight on Willie Francis’ LITTLE WILLIE LABEL, we decided to take this week’s spotlight on the Bovine Ska back to the ska and rocksteady with the JONTOM LABEL, which features tracks from one of our favorite producers, Phil Pratt. That spotlight begins about halfway through the program, so before that, you will hear some reggae, mento, and ska.
To start off the show, we presented a reggae version to version, with the original “Afrikaan Beat” from Lester Sterling and its version, “To The Fields,” from Herman Chin-Loy. In the second set of reggae, we had another version to version matchup with The Bassies “Things A Come Up To Bump” and Sound Dimension’s take on the track, “Black Onion.”
For the mento set 30 minutes into the program, we played one of our favorites, Zach Matalon and the Sonny Bradshaw Quartet’s “Cordelia Brown,” a production from Stanely Motta and his MRS label in 1954. Then, to prepare for the Jontom spotlight, we prepared an extended set of ska showcasing the School Girls’ “Last Time,” Owen & Leon’s “How Many Times,” and Jackie Opel’s triumphant take on the gospel traditional, “Sit Down Servant.”
At the second hour mark, we were happy to finally present an eleven track spotlight on Phil Pratt’s Jontom label.
While we love Phil Pratt for much of his production work in reggae, he got his start as a producer during rocksteady for his own label, Jontom, the subject of our spotlight in this week’s edition of the Bovine Ska and Rocksteady. Born as George Phillips, Pratt moved to England as a teenager to live with his father but returned to Jamaica five years later. Upon his return, he tried to record first for Coxsone Dodd but without success, and when he met Ken Lack, who gave Pratt his stage name when he could not recall his real last name, the two hit it off. Pratt started as a singer for Caltone, and Lack decided to give Pratt his own label to release his own productions, jumpstarting Phil Pratt’s career as a producer. We started off this spotlight with a soul cut from The Uniques titled, “Do Me Good.”
Ken Boothe, who recorded “The One I Love” for Jontom, has an integral role in the creation of Phil Pratt and Ken Lack’s collaboration at Caltone and eventually Jontom. When Phil was trying to work with Coxsone, he met Ken Boothe. Ken introduced him to Roy Shirley, who introduced him to Bunny Lee, and Bunny Lee introduced Pratt to Ken Lack.
To close the show, we had a smooth set of rocksteady that included the ever-so-pretty “Mother Pepper” from Desmond Dekker, “Home, Home, Home” from Derrick Harriott, and “What To Do” from Roy Shirley.
For all of our listeners on the east coast, we hope this show keeps you warm!!! Please help us and spread the word and repost if you liked the show!
For news on the upcoming spotlights and fun discoveries tied to early Jamaican music, join the group for the Bovine Ska and Rocksteady on Facebook.
Have a great week!
Lily and Generoso