Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Charles Ross’ Flame Label 6-28-16

Flame Label B

Top rocksteady from Dermott Lynch on Flame!

Hello Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners!

We started off the June 28th, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady with two sets of Jamaican rhythm and blues, beginning with the tune, Call Me, a superb 1961 track on Wild Bells from his eminence, Prince Buster and ending with Bunny and Skitter’s song, A Little Mashin’ for Vincent Randy Chin’s Randy’s label.   We then followed with our weekly mento set and a top cut from Chin’s Calypso Sextet, Give Her Love, released on Chin’s in 1956 and we ended that first hour with a very long set of rocksteady that started with Rugged Girl, Bumps Oakley’s cover of The Four Seasons hit, Rag Doll. After that set, we went right into our spotlight on Charles Ross’ Flame Label!

As a Trojan subsidiary, Blue Cat distributed the recordings of many producers including:  Joe Gibbs, Joe Mansano, Bunny Lee, Alvin Ranglin and Coxsone Dodd. Some of the strongest releases came from a producer whose legacy has not received as much attention over the years, and that producer is Charlie Ross. Outside of his own Sugar label, which had its own distribution in the UK, Ross also owned the Flame label in Jamaica, which reached the UK via Blue Cat. On the Bovine Ska, we love Charlie Ross as a producer, and we are thrilled to present these Flame recordings because Ross’s work is exceptional. Keep in mind that there were two other well known labels that share the same name with this label, but those labels existed later, and you can identify this one because of Ross’s excellent understanding of arrangement and production.

Backing up many on the Flame label was Lynn Taitt and Karl Cannonball Bryan. Of the major saxophonists, we’ve discussed Roland Alphonso and Cedric Im Brooks, but we also would like to highlight Cannonball Bryan. Like many other phenomenal Jamaican musicians, Cannonball attended the Alpha Boys’ School. As a performer, he backed many touring artists during their visit to Jamaica, including everyone from the Mighty Sparrow to Jackie Wilson. As a recording artist, he worked with many producers including Coxsone Dodd, Prince Buster, Clancy Eccles, and of, course Charley Ross

We hope you enjoy the June 28, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady:

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Sir Mike The Musical Dragon Label 6-21-16

Sir Mike's Label A

The Great Stranger Cole on Sir Mike’s

Hello Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners!

First off,  we just want to thank everyone who gave us love for last week’s 20th Anniversary episode of the Bovine Ska.  It was a tough show to glue together so we are so happy that you all loved it so much.  Here’s to another twenty years!

The June 21st edition of The Bovine Ska and Rocksteady began with a seldom heard rocksteady cut from Lee Scratch Perry called, Run For Cover, which was released on Star in 1967.  We played that in tribute to the endlessly entertaining, live painting event that Scratch put on at Dem Passwords in Chinatown here in Los Angeles on Thursday, June 16, 2016.   We followed with seven more smooth rocksteady cuts including Dion Cameron and The Three Tops gem, Miserable Day, which they cut for WIRL in 1967.

Our weekly mento set began with Miss Goosie from Count Owen’s Rock Steady Calypso LP which came out on Federal in 1968 and ended with Lord Power’s wildly festive, Let’s Do It on Hi Lite in 1956.  We ended the first hour with a rousing set of ska, with our final track being Hortense Ellis disguised as Little Darling and No One, which she recorded for Prince Buster on Voice Of The People in 1965.  We then began our spotlight on Sir Mike The Musical Dragon Label…

From the early soundsystem era, we always hear about Lloyd Daley’s Matador, Duke Reid’s Trojan, Coxsone’s Downbeat, Prince Buster’s Voice of the People, and Vincent and George Edwards (collectively known as King Edwards) The Giant sound systems. Mike Shadeed’s Sir Mike the Musical Dragon Sound System stood in the company of these big names, but we often do not hear of Shadeed’s work.

Sir Mike the Musical Dragon was considered one of the big six sound systems in Jamaica, so much so that Shadeed was invited by the Jamaican government to partake in Independence celebrations and dances in the mid-60s. As a testament to the reputation and popularity of the Sir Mike sound system, King Tubby, in interviews, has even discussed the power of Sir Mike’s, saying that Sir Mike was even stronger than Coxsone Dodd’s Downbeat and Duke Reid’s The Trojan by the time the mid-60s arrived. Sir Mike the Musical Dragon also introduced the music world to Prince Far I, who was a DJ for the sound system before he became a recording artist.

As a record label, Sir Mike the Musical Dragon gave us some excellent ska from some of the best artists at the time. We kicked off this spotlight on the Sir Mike label with a duo of great talent, Stranger & Ken, Stranger Cole and Ken Boothe, who recorded, Hush Baby, for Mike Shadeed in 1963.

Before playing melodica in the 1970s, Joe White recorded primarily as a vocalist in the 1960s. For the Sir Mike the Musical Dragon label, White recorded two beautiful skas. Wanna Go Home, features a simple and gorgeous trumpet line from Baba Brooks playing in tandem with White’s solid voice, and “When You Are Wrong” also features Baba Brooks, but White’s voice shines in the track. We started off the second set of the spotlight with both of these wonderful Joe White recordings.  

XOXO
Lily and Generoso

Here is the June 21st, 2016 Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady:

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: The 20th Anniversary Of The Bovine Ska! 6-14-16

Keith Tex Gene Lily

Lily and Generoso with Keith and Tex from 2015

Happy Anniversary Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners!

Twenty years ago this week, Generoso arrived to the basement of the Walker Memorial building at MIT and stepped into the studios of WMBR, 88.1FM Cambridge where he filled in for his friend Chris’ radio show, Spiddle, Urine, Phlegm, and Blood by playing two hours of a mix of original Jamaican and Two Tone Ska.  The program director at the time enjoyed his show and offered Generoso a slot on Tuesdays at midnight and the show remained at that time for the next nineteen years.  In 2010, Generoso met Lily and they began doing the show together ever since.  The show remained on the schedule at WMBR until 2015 when Generoso and Lily moved to Los Angeles where the show continues on Mixcloud.

Over the last twenty years The Bovine Ska and Rocksteady has played early Jamaican music from 1955-1975 ( we sometimes go much earlier than that but rarely later) concentrating on the earliest recorded musics in Jamaica, mento, rhythm and blues, ska, rocksteady, and early reggae.  We have also been fortunate to have some of the greatest recording artists in Jamaican music history visit the show from Jimmy Cliff  to Owen Gray,  Prince Buster, Roy and Yvonne, BB Seaton, Lynn Taitt, Eric Monty Morris,  Keith and Tex, Big Youth, Lord Tanamo and Laurel Aitken as well as modern performers like Dave Wakeling of The English Beat, Greg Lee from Hepcat and David Hillyard (who composed our opening theme) and Glen Pine from The Slackers.  This has been a blast these last two decades.

Over the last few weeks, Lily and Generoso have rummaged through the years via piles of old cassette tapes, DATs, CDs and MP3s to create this past week’s twentieth anniversary show,  Included are interviews from the aforementioned artists and live performances from the show, and even a set from the patron saint of The Bovine Ska, Magnus Johnstone, who passed away in 2013, as well as the rare recordings of tracks from the performers that you have come to expect over the last twenty years.

We have no intentions of stopping what we have been doing since 1996 and we would like to thank all of the listeners, artists, and WMBR for their support over the years.

So, celebrate with us by listening to our 20th Anniversary Special:

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Prince Tony’s High School Label 6-7-16

High School Label B

The Clarendonians On The High School Label

Hello Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

As the Bovine Ska veered towards its 20th Anniversary on June 14th, 2016, we decided to stay the course and do a traditional show (traditional for us) that you have heard these last twenty years.  Our spotlight, which occurs midway through the show as always, was on Prince Tony’s reggaerific HIGH SCHOOL LABEL!

The show began with two sets of superb rare ska beginning with a Maytals cut which has never before been played on The Bovine Ska, a gem from Toots from Rolando and Powie in 1963 entitled, Make Me Do.  We are still celebrating Toots’ return to the stage this summer after a three year absence.  Do check him out when he comes to your town!  Starting our mento set was Harold Richardson and The Ticklers’ cover of  Don’t Fence Her In on MRS in 1952 and we ended our first hour with a long set of rare rocksteady included a version to version on Studio One of Alton Ellis’ Mad Mad Mad.  After that set we started on our thirty minute spotlight on Prince Tony’s High School Label.

Prince Tony is the king of the deejays and the version, so this spotlight on the High School label had plenty of both! Known as Prince Tony as a producer, Tony Robinson began his production career in reggae. Many of his productions would make their way over to England, where plenty of his artists would see success. Though the High School label releases did get decent distribution through Trojan and Pama subsidiaries, Prince Tony’s production legacy is often tied to The Gladiators’ LPs Trenchtown Mix Up and Proverbial Reggae and Big Youth’s LP Dreadlocks Dread, so we are excited to show the brilliance of his earlier productions for the High School label. This spotlight has many major names in it, and we were excited to kick it off with one of the biggest deejays out there, Dennis Al Capone, here known as Young Al Capone and his recording “Girl Called Clover” and its version.

One of the deejays that spent a lot of time at High School was Winston Scotland. Believed to be the brother in law of U-Roy, another fine deejay and an artist who also stopped by the High School label, Scotland got his start toasting over the selections at the Sound of Muzik and the Soul King sound systems. As a recording artist, Scotland worked with Joe Gibbs and Phillip Monroe before heading over to the High School label. At High School, Scotland recorded some of his best tracks, including “Buttercup,” which Prince Tony had great ambitions for with his licensing of the track over to the Philips label in the UK for major distribution.

For our disco background for the first hour this week was The Tee Cee’s 1978 LP on AVI, Disco Love Bit and for the second hour, Barbara Mason’s Lady Love LP superb 1973 release on Buddha.

XO
Generoso and Lily

For your listening pleasure, here is our June 7th, 2016 Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady:

 

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

Sensational Label B

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: Baba Brooks’ Double B Label 5-17-16

Double B Label A

Barbara Jones cut her first tune for Double B!

How’s it going, Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners!

Lily and I were super excited after dancing to a fantastic set of original reggae and ska from David Hillyard and The Rocksteady Seven at La Cita on Friday night that we went home at 1AM and began pulling a massive Bovine Ska and Rocksteady for May 17th! Sure, we were a bit danced out, but we still grabbed some killer tracks for you, beginning with two sets of ska which started with Lee “Scratch” Perry’s anti-Prince Buster tune for the N&D Label in 1963, Don’t Copy!  Our second set of ska began with a version to version of Count Ossie and The Upsetters’ ( the vocal group, not the Lee Perry backing band) Studio One gem, Turn Me On, which was followed by the version from Rolando Alphonso, also on Studio One in 1965, Tall In The Saddle. 

A mento set followed with Percy Dixon and His Merry Boys leading the way with their version of the naughty, Ben o Dict.  We ended the first hour with rocksteady to get you in the mood for the DOUBLE B Label spotlight.  Part of that rocksteady set had a tune  from beautiful voice of Ken Parker, from the DOUBLE D Label which has nothing to do with your spotlight label, DOUBLE B, called The Search Is Over from 1968.  Yes, we did that just to confuse you.  Soon, we were off to do the DOUBLE B Label spotlight! Major props to Lily for doing the research on this one as there is very little known about this small, but vital label.

The Double B label existed from 1972 to 1975, and all of the records were produced in Jamaica and based on the early releases and the name of the label, we have reason to believe that the owner of the label was Baba Brooks.  Baba Brooks produced the debut single for Double D, and then most of the remaining productions were created by vocalist Glen Lee.  We began the label spotlight, with Barbara Jones’s Sad Movies, followed by Sir Harry’s version of the track, both produced by Baba Brooks. Sad Movies is a cover of Sue Thompson’s track of the same name from 1961, which went to #5 on the American Billboard charts. Sad Movies is also Barbara Jones’s debut recording.

As mentioned in the introduction, Glen Lee was both a vocalist and a producer. He recorded as a singer for Double B as he produced other artists. In the early 70s, he would gain further notability as a producer for his work with George Faith. And Glen Lee’s recording studio was not too far from Lee Scratch Perry’s record shop, and this proximity would facilitate the beginning of Lee Scratch Perry’s collaboration with George Faith.  We hope you enjoy the spotlight!

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.

XO
Lily and Generoso

Here is the May 17th, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Radio Show.  Please share!

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Pete Weston’s Advance Label 5-10-16

advance label b

Alton Peanuts Davis 1972 Cut On Advance

Howdy Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

A lovely week of weather and good eating lead into the festive May 10th, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady so we decided to do a deep and extended spotlight on Pete Weston’s wonderful, reggaerific ADVANCE LABEL which features top tune from Junior Byles, Alton Ellis, Shorty The President, Ken Boothe and many more. The spotlight, as always, begins in the middle of the show!

The show began with two sets of ska, beginning with Eric Monty Morris’s forthright tune for Duke Reid from 1964, Drop Your Sword!  Prince Buster and Hazel followed with World Peace, a top cut on Buster’s own Voice Of The People label from 1963.   Sammy and the Drumbago Band was next with You’ve Been Drunk which was originally released on Count John The Lion in 1963 and we ended that first set with the Spanishtown Ska Beats and King Solomon from 1964.   The mento set started with a track never before played on The Bovine Ska, a mento from the Chin’s label entitled, Not Guilty, which is amazing considering we have been doing a mento set for almost fifteen years!  A long rocksteady set was next and that began with a cool one from the vocal group, The Lyrics on Coxsone’s Studio One, called A Get It from 1966.  That set ended with a Tommy McCook instrumental released on Sure Shot in 1967, Soul For Sale.  We then got into the special one hour spotlight on the ADVANCE LABEL.

We do not know a ton about the Advance label, but we do know that it was a subsidiary of Micron Music, which was owned by Michael Johnston, Ronnie Burke, and Pete Weston. Michael Johnston and Ronnie Burke were roommates at Jamaica College who loved jazz, and the two founded Micron Music together. They soon brought Pete Weston on board, with Pete adding his production gift to Johnston and Burke’s distribution and promotion sensibilities. Pete Weston entered the world of production when he approached Herman Chin Loy. At the time, Pete wanted to leave his work in the insurance industry to become a producer, and Herman Chin Loy took him in, allowing him to work on Chin Loy’s projects. Quickly, Weston established himself as a strong producer, and he headed over to Micron Music. It is unclear when the Advance imprint opened up, but it must have been shortly after the creation of Micron and Pete Weston’s arrival because Weston’s productions dominate the releases. However, the label had some flexibility with production, and as a result, a variety of artists and producers released a handful of tracks for the imprint.

Scouty Whyte was one of these producers, recording one of Advance’s earliest releases in 1971, Ken Boothe’s Make Me Feel Alright, which is the track that kicked off the spotlight. As a producer, Pete Weston attracted quite a bit of talent to Advance, and one of the major artists was Lee Scratch Perry. Their collaboration was solidified in 1975, and Scratch would distribute records through Micron, and he would also collaborate with Pete as a producer and as an engineer on the Advance label.

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.

XO
Lily and Generoso

Here is the May 10th, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Radio Show.  Please share!

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: The Rocksteady And Soul Of The Stag Label 5-3-16

 

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The Selectors With Lynn Taitt On Stag in 1968

Hello Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners!

A lovely week led into the May 3rd, 2016 edition of The Bovine Ska and Rocksteady which featured a spotlight on the small, yet excellent rocksteady and soul label, STAG.

The show started with two sets of ska, beginning with a lost classic from Derrick Morgan and Patsy Todd entitled Money, which was released on Voice Of The People in 1964.   The set also featured It’s Impossible a pretty 1966 mid-temp ska on Studio One from the late great Delroy Wilson.  For our mento set, we started with a track, courtesy of our friend, and longtime listener, Scott, who years ago gave us a perfect copy of Scandal In Montego Bay, the 1964 Sue Label LP from Percy Dixon and His Merry Boys.  From that wonderful record, we played the tune, Balimbo.  We then went into a rocksteady set and the wonderful voice of keyboardist Glen Adams on S-H-I (I’m Shocking) on the Lee Label.  After that set of rocksteady, we rolled into our STAG label spotlight.

We’re not 100% sure of the primary owner of the Stag label, but we definitely know who was responsible the rocksteady sounds of Stag.  Lynn Taitt arranged and produced most of the singles released on the label, and as a result, you’ll hear some fine rocksteadys along with pretty soul cuts in this spotlight. Born in Trinidad, Lynn Taitt began performing and creating music on steel pan at the age of eight. Around the age of fourteen, Taitt hid a guitar for his friend who had taken it from a drunken sailor. His friend did not pick up the guitar for sometime later, and as a result, by the time he returned to get it, Taitt was already learning how to play the instrument, so Taitt simply purchased it from his friend. After he learned how to play guitar, Taitt joined a group called the Dutch Brothers for a couple of years and then formed his own group. This group received an offer to perform at the Jamaica Independence celebration, and on this trip, Taitt decided Jamaica would be his new home, and he joined the stage band known as the Sheiks, kicking off the beginning of his presence in the Jamaican music industry.  Despite not being labeled as the primary producer on countless rocksteady tracks, Lynn Taitt was in fact the arranger on a large percentage of that rhythm’s output from 1966-1968. On Stag, we do see him listed as a producer on the predominance of tracks, and we started off with two soul tracks from the vocalist Glen Miller backed up by the Lynn Taitt orchestra.

As far as the era we cover here on The Bovine Ska (1955-1975), Lloyd Robinson is an artist whom we love and have played frequently . During the Jamaican Rhythm and Blues, Robinson performed with Basil Gabbidon in the Mellowlarks. During rocksteady, he recorded as a member of the group The Tartans and as a member of a duo with Glen Brown, and during reggae, he recorded with Devon Russell and in dancehall, he saw fame as a soloist again.

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.

Here is the May 3rd, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady and our spotlight on the Stag Label:

XOXO,
Lily and Generoso