Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Hector “Bunny” Williams Memorial 11-22-16

Fattie Fattie by The Heptones is just one of the many huge foundation tracks that Bunny would play on in his long career.

The November 22nd, 2016 Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady is dedicated to Hector “Bunny” Williams.

During this miserable year of 2016, we have lost some of truly great foundation artists in Jamaican music: Vocalist, Nora Dean and producer/artists, Jimmy Riley, Winston Blake and Prince Buster as well as label owner Lloyd A Campbell.  Over the last few months this sad year has intensified with the deaths of legendary instrumentalists; Deadly Headly Bennett, Bobby Ellis, and now the vastly underrated drummer, Hector “Bunny” Williams, who died last Thursday, Nov 17th, 2016 at Cornwall Regional Hospital in Montego Bay after being admitted two weeks ago for kidney treatment.  Though Bunny was born in West Kingston, it was Montego Bay where he learned how to play the drums from Skatalites drummer, Lloyd Knibbs.

From a 1998 interview Lloyd tells the story..

“Well, Bunny Williams, I taught him. And when Skatalites band mash-up, and they had Soul Brothers, I was on the ship those time. And I came back and was [at the] Orange Bowl listening to the band. And Bunny saw me come in, and say, ‘bwai breddah Lloyd, me cyaan manage the ska thing. Me can’t manage it.’ So he gave me back the sticks, and I never go back on the ship. I just stay with Soul Brothers.”

The Soul Brothers were the de facto house band of Studio One after the Skatalites dissolved in 1965, and Bunny Williams would be The Soul Brothers first drummer. Bunny would play on many Studio One classics along with former Skatalites: Jackie Mittoo, Lloyd Brevett, Rolando Alphonso, and Johnny Moore.  We heard four songs that Bunny would play behind as a member of the Soul Brothers, beginning with “I Stand Predominant” by Bob Marley and The Wailers.   As Lloyd Knibbs states, Bunny was indeed the drummer of The Soul Brothers until Knibbs took over after being on tour.  When rocksteady became the ruling rhythm on the island, Bunny, along with Roland Alphonso, Jackie Mittoo, Johnny Moore and Lloyd Brevett would become an integral members of The Soul Vendors.  We started the next set with two instrumental cuts from The Soul Brothers and then three tunes with The Soul Vendors.

To put together this memorial of Bunny Williams, we relied on the testimonies of the artists including Alton Ellis, Dobby Dobson who worked directly the late drummer to help differentiate the exact tracks that Bunny played on during the Studio One years. We also must thank the great Sly Dunbar of Sly and Robbie who in August of this year ranked his top ten All Time Drum Patterns in the Jamaica Observer, and we have included two of them in this long final set of this memorial program.

In July of this year, Bunny was recognised for his contribution to Jamaican music by the Tribute To The Greats organisation. He welcomed the award, telling the Jamaica Observer that, “We need to highlight more of us who people don’t know.”

Hector ‘Bunny’ Williams is survived by seven children and grandchildren. Rest in peace Bunny.

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Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Bobby Ellis Memorial Show 10-25-16

A great 1968 cut from Bobby Ellis and The Desmond Miles Seven

We are sad to report yet another passing of a Jamaican music great. Bobby Ellis, the foundation trumpet and flugelhorn master, passed away last Tuesday, October 18th, 2016 at the age of 84 after being hospitalized for nearly a month for pneumonia.

Born in Kingston in 1932, Bobby Ellis started his musical journey at the Alpha Boys School, like many of the foundation instrumentalists such as Johnny Dizzy Moore, Deadly Headley, and Rico Rodriguez. Ellis entered the school because his father worked with a doctor at the public hospital who had great influence at the school, and his father made a request for the doctor to grant admission for Bobby Ellis and his brother. During his seven years at the Alpha Boys School, Bobby Ellis studied multiple forms of classical music, studying trumpet specifically from Raymond Harper. He did not play in the orchestra, which had not existed at that time, but Ellis’s music education did also include Big Band style, making him perfect for the dance hall circuit in Jamaica, where bands would be required to perform multiple genres of music. Ellis left the Alpha Boys School at fifteen to work in the bus building industry in order to raise funding for his own trumpet. And after six years away from his music studies at the Alpha Boys School, he was able to buy his first trumpet and began to practice on the instrument again.

On returning to music, Ellis, in the late 50s, joined a big band, believed to be led by Tony Brown, and after Jamaican Independence in 1962, he was a member of the Mighty Vikings. In 1964, Deadly Headley recommended the Mighty Vikings record for Coxsone Dodd, and that would mark the beginning of Ellis’s recording career. In the first session recorded for Coxsone Dodd, the Mighty Vikings recorded 4 hits that included the vocals of Joe Higgs and Bob Marley & the Wailers. In this first session, “Cyrus” was a track written by Ellis and recorded on that monumental day, and as thus, it is the track that begins this memorial show on Bobby Ellis.  After the Mighty Vikings, Bobby Ellis joined the Soul Brothers on the invitation of Roland Alphonso, whom Ellis had already recorded an album with. Though Bobby Ellis generally was a member of Coxsone’s music stable, but he also went to other labels, including Treasure Isle and Matador. Ellis in turn would also join Tommy McCook’s band and Lynn Taitt and the Jets.

There are many many Bobby Ellis recordings throughout the early and mid 1960s, but due to Mixcloud restrictions, we cannot play more than 4 tracks that bear Bobby Ellis’s name as the artist on the record. Also, during rocksteady, horn arrangements were not as popular as in ska, and consequently, Ellis would tour the hotel circuit on the North Shore, joining bands led by Hooter Williams and Llans Thelwell.  During his time with Coxsone, Ellis had proven himself as a highly accomplished arranger, so much so that he had his own office in 13 Brentford Road where producers and band leaders would visit him to write horn arrangements for their tracks. And by the time reggae arrived, Ellis would be arranging again, this time with his longtime friend and collaborator, Deadly Headley.

Deadly Headley started Ellis’s recording career, and the two seemed to operate on the same wavelength, and the closeness of the two seminal musicians is further proven by the fact that the two men passed away only months apart from each other. In fact, Ellis entered the hospital only 6 days after Deadly Headley’s passing.

For his contributions to Jamaican music, Bobby Ellis received the Order of Distinction in 2014.  Rest in peace Bobby.  We extend our deepest sympathy to his family and friends.

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Enid Barnett’s Deltone Label 5-31-16

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The Versatiles bizarre version on Deltone!

Howdy Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

The May 31st, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady  began with a never before played on the show ska single from Justin Hinds and The Dominoes which was released on Treasure Isle in 1965, Zion Higher.  In fact the first two sets of the show were of the ska variety ending with Trial and Crosses from a very young, Lee “Scratch” Perry which was released on Coxsone’s Worldisc label in 1964.  In honor of Memorial Day, we began our weekly mento set with a 1956 MRS recording entitled, Soldier Man, from the seldom played Arthur Knibbs.  I say seldom as even though he was as prolific an artist that existed during mento, finding his recordings has been a real chore but as always we continue to search the racks.  We started the final set of the hour with the Bassies, too pretty for words rocksteady cut on Coxsone in 1967, River Jordan.  When that set ended, with the end of the first hour. we launched right into our spotlight of Enid Barrett’s DELTONE LABEL.

One of the most interesting things about Deltone is the names of two women attached to it. There is solid evidence to believe that Dorothy Barnett owned the label. Meanwhile, there are other claims that Enid Barnett owned the label, which most likely comes from the fact that Enid is credited as the producer of many records on Deltone. From what we can tell, Enid is a relative of Dorothy’s or Dorothy’s producer name, if anyone listening has any thoughts on this, we’d love to hear from you. We do know that Dorothy Barnett had some solid experience in the record industry before she ventured out to create her own label and record shop. She worked as Coxsone Dodd’s secretary, and from her observations of the ins and outs of the record business, she opened up Deltone, the shop and label. The shop, like other legendary ones, had its storefront on Orange street, and as a result, Barnett’s record label had the ability to attract much talent, including Lee Scratch Perry, who would engineer plenty of tracks for Deltone. We kicked off this spotlight in the rocksteady with Some of Them A Bawl from The Pioneers.

Deltone was somewhat of a family business. One of the musicians who saw the greatest success at Deltone was Keeling Beckford, who was Dorothy’s cousin. Also, as a result of Keeling’s presence at the label, Theo Beckford, Keeling’s uncle, would play piano on multiple Deltone tracks. The Versatiles had worked consistently with Joe Gibbs, but they decided to venture out and went over to Deltone. Teardrops FallingSomeone to Love, and Children of Today were engineered by Scratch for Deltone!

XOXO Generoso and Lily

Here is the May 31st, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady for your listening pleasure….

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Coxsone Dodd’s Sensational Label 5-24-16

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The Jiving Juniors on Sensational!

Howdy Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

The night after the Bovine Ska and Rocksteady this week, The Rastafarians played a brilliant set at Dub Club here in LA, that was further enhanced by Scientist, who was manning the boards and spinning the band’s sound into wild beautiful experiments.   We are still a bit tired as their set went very very late which is tough for a Wednesday but who’s complaining.  It was great.

The opening set of the May 24th 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady  was inspired by my good friend Douglas Purdy, who posted Kris Kristofferson’s 1971 classic, Loving Her Was Easier which started a conversation about the famed singer/songwriter and actor.   We wondered if the current generation was even aware of Kristofferson’s huge impact on music during the 1960s and 70s and as a response, I selected a few of my favorite Jamaican versions of his songs including: Ken Parker’s take on Help Me Make It Through The Night which he cut for Treasure Isle in 1972 and Glen Adams interpretation of For The Good Times, released on Straker in 1971.

After the next set of early reggae from 1971-1973, we went to our weekly mento set that started with Count Owen’s Draw Down More from the Rock Steady Calypso record  which was released on Kalypso in 1968.  We then ended the first hour with a long set of Jamaican rhythm and blues to get you ready for this week’s spotlight on the early Coxsone Dodd imprint, SENSATIONAL.  The set of rhythm and blues began with the very first recording by famed vocalist Gene Rondo, who cut a two sides for the Magico label in 1960.   We played his track with Roy entitled Little Queenie.   We followed that with a rare cut from the famed duo of Joe Higgs and Roy who cut the early rude boy tune,  Gun Talk for Luxor in 1961.   When the set was over, we started the second hour with our spotlight on The Sensational Label…

We’ve been focusing quite a bit on reggae labels recently, and for this week’s show, we thought we should go back in time and genre to the Jamaican Rhythm & Blues.  This early style had plenty of smaller producers such as BSR favorites Charlie Moo and Simeon Smith, but the era was dominated by Coxsone Dodd.  The man of the Downbeat Sound System, Clement Seymour Dodd received the nickname Coxsone from the sport of cricket, far from the world of music where he would make his name. As a young man, he was a strong cricket player, and for that he was given the nickname “Coxsone” after Alec Coxon, a member of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

Dodd had many imprints that released R&B tracks, and Sensational was one of them. It’s a special one because there was a lot variety in sounds here, with the short life of the label including multiple backing groups and distinct arrangements. And to begin the spotlight, we’ll start off from a group that epitomized the R&B sound, The Jiving Juniors.  In these early days of Coxsone productions, two of the backing bands he relied on a great deal were  Rolando Alphonso and his Alley Cats and Hersang & the City Slickers.

We hope that you enjoy the show.  Here is the May 24th, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady:

 

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Coxsone’s Rolando and Powie Label 1-5-16

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Shenley Duffas Shines On Rolando and Powie

 

Welcome Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

After two weeks of theme shows, we came back this week with our time-tested recipe for The Bovine Ska that included a spotlight of an early Coxsone imprint, Rolando And Powie which started midway through the show.

We dedicated this show to vocalist Jimmy Riley of The Sensations and The Uniques who recently announced on his official page on Facebook that he was in poor health.  We send him and thoughts and prayers for a full recovery. To honor Jimmy Riley we started our show with his wonderful rocksteady from 1968 on Coxsone  You Should Have Known and then followed with a version from The Gladiators, Tribulation.   The second set of rocksteady began with a rarely heard Melodians cut on Treasure Isle, a beautiful harmony on Somewhere from 1967.  After a nifty mento set which featured The Wrigglers 1960 tune, Little Boy which was released in 1960 Kalypso LP The Wrigglers Sing Calypso At The Arawak we threw out a scorching ska set that began with one that we have never played on the Bovine Ska, Love Is All I Had by The Federal Singers on Federal Records.  Right after the ska set, we went right into our spotlight on the Rolando And Powie Label.

As a young man, Coxone Dodd moved to Florida to work as a crop picker, and during this time, he immersed himself in American Rhythm & Blues, which he had known via Tom the Great Sebastian’s soundsystem, but being in America, he was able to hear the latest hits and see live performances, giving him a new insight into the music. Consequently, when he moved back to Jamaica, Coxone Dodd opened up his Downbeat soundsystem, playing records he would regularly bring back from trips to America. As rock ‘n roll overshadowed rhythm and blues America, Coxsone decided to to record Jamaican musicians and to play fewer American records at his soundsystem. Initially, these recordings were only created as Dub plates, but upon realizing that commercial potential of the music played at the Downbeat, Coxsone Dodd began opening his own record label imprints, allowing the one off songs recorded on Dub plates to be enjoyed by anyone with a record player or via DJs on the radio.

During the sessions that produced singles for Coxsone Dodd’s labels, Dodd relied heavily on the talents of Rolando Alphonso, who was well known across the music industry as an excellent saxophonist and as a result was in high demand from multiple producers. Powie, a Chinese Jamaican friend of Roland’s, opened up the Rolando and Powie label, with Powie paying for the recording sessions that Roland performed on. In less than a year, Roland decided to record more for Coxsone, so Dodd bought out the Rolando and Powie label and used it to release his own productions.

We kicked off this spotlight on the Rolando and Powie label with Powie’s Hop, a track referring to Powie and one backed by the Alley Cats, a group that Rolando helped form and would be the key group to initially record for the label before Coxsone took it over.

You can listen to our full Gladdy Anderson retrospective from January 5th, 2016 HERE. Subscribe to our show on Mixcloud; it’s FREE, and you’ll get an email every Tuesday when we post a new show.

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See you here next week!

Lily and Generoso

 

Bovine Ska and Rocksteady 8/11/2015: Coxsone Dodd’s Tabernacle Label

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Great Jamaican Gospel From The Marvetts

Howdy there Bovine Ska listeners!

For this past week’s show, we decided to take the spotlight in a bit of a different direction by focusing on the Gospel recordings of Coxone Dodd’s Tabernacle label. We’ve always talked about how some of Studio One’s stars recorded beautiful tracks for the Tabernacle label, and we realized it was time to shine a light on a genre of Jamaican music we’ve only briefly touched upon in the past. But, before that spotlight, we had two sets of ska, one set of mento, and one set of rocksteady to build up to the midway spotlight. In the first hour, we shared two skas from Prince Buster’s Islam label: “Country Girl” by The Charmers and “The Soldier Man” by Prince Buster himself. We also were thrilled to play the airplane opening “One Minute to Zero” by Karl Walker & The All Stars. In our rocksteady track, we included the lovely vocal stylings of The Heptones with “Cool It Amigo” and The Wrigglers with “Get Right.”

Then, we proceeded to the Tabernacle spotlight, starting off with “I Left My Sins,” a stunning Gospel recording from none other than Bob Marley and The Wailers.

As many know, Coxone Dodd was a major fixture of the Jamaican music industry. Originally trained as a cabinet maker and auto mechanic, Coxone Dodd was inspired to enter the music industry after spending some time in America as a farm laborer and then returning to Jamaica with jazz and  blues records in hand, allowing him to get a jump start on his Downbeat sound system and marking his arrival into Jamaica’s music industry. From his initial sound system emerged plenty of record labels as he began to record artists. Beyond Studio One, the other familiar imprints are Worldisc, D. Darling, Muzik City, Allstars, Supreme, and C&N. While most of Coxone Dodd’s productions focused on secular music, Coxone did have a gospel label, appropriately named Tabernacle. As a lifelong Christian, Coxone recorded Tabernacle tracks on Sundays, and many artists from his secular music labels would record a gospel track for Tabernacle on those Sundays. 

And after the Tabernacle spotlight, we closed off the show with a reggae set filled with outstanding cuts, including the sensational “Face Your Trouble” from Vin Morgan and The Soul Defenders.

Listen to the Tabernacle spotlight and the ska, rocksteady, mento, and reggae tracks of the August 11, 2015 edition of the Bovine Ska and Rocksteady on Mixcloud HERE.

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Enjoy!

XOXOXO Lily & Generoso

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.