For the 20th straight year we are celebrating Halloween here on The Bovine Ska and Rocksteady the best way we know how…By playing some of the creepiest and spookiest reggae and ska ever produced in Jamaica. Mixed into our witches brew, we tossed in scary sounds and clips from B and even C level horror films of the past. Bizarre and crafty cuts from Lee Scratch Perry, King Horror, The Crystalites, I-Roy, and many others will be thrown into the cauldron. Check it out and Happy Reggae Halloween everyone!
Happy Halloween Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners!
Truthfully, back in 1996 when I put together my first Jamaican Halloween radio show at WMBR, I couldn’t find more than a couple of sets spooky reggae and ska from 1955 to 1975 but year by year just like the lost souls rising from the beyond, we have found a coven of rare Jamaican cuts to make a two hour show of eerie sounding reggae, ska, mento, and rocksteady happen! This year’s show was a blast as we mixed those cuts that feature horrifying screams, corpses rising out of graves, and heavy rhythms with some haunting sounds of our own, and Lily’s explanations of the different types of undead apparitions which was pretty mind-blowing! In years past we always did a half-hour spotlight of the enigmatic vocalist known as King Horror but being that Mixcloud does not allow so many tracks glued together from one artist, we played a greater variety of Halloween reggae and ska than ever before!
Of course, we did start the show with King Horror with what could be the most bizarre organ intro of any track we will play this evening…The Joe Mansano produced 1969 classic, “Dracula Prince Of Darkness!” In fact, the first set of four songs was a tribute to the former Vlad The Impaler and his urban counterpart, Blacula! We followed King Horror with a creepy one from the Crystal label house band, The Crystalites with “Blacula” from 1973, The Vulcans 1973 cut for Trojan, “Dracula,” and The Upsetters ending that set with their homage to our fanged friend, “Dracula” from 1970. We had a mento set that began with an appropriate selection from Chin’s Calypso Sextet, “Woman Ghost Fool Man” and ending with the classic “Zombie Jamboree” performed by Lord Jellicoe in 1966. We ended the first hour with a ska set that included such holiday wonders as Byron Lee and The Dragonaires “Frankenstein Ska” from 1964, and our favorite dark ska cut, Lloyd Clarke’s “Living Among The Dead” which Lloyd recorded in 1964 at Federal.
The second hour featured a six reggae tribute to satan with a highlight being “Dr. Satan’s Echo Chamber” by Rupie Edwards from 1974, and a nine song version to version laden set of “duppy” (Jamaican for ghost) including four versions of Bob Marley and The Wailers Duppy Conqueror performed by The Wailers, Dennis Alcapone, and The Joe Gibbs All Stars.
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Generoso and Lily
This past week’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady is one of our favorite shows of the year….the Halloween show!!!
The show featured songs with ghoulish, sinister themes and titles ranging from devilish reggae, duppy mento, dracula reggae, and zombie ska. There’s even an entire set of duppy themed reggae and a duppy story weaving through the sets! We started off with a set of “Satan” themed reggae, beginning with a new acquisition here at The Bovine Ska and Rocksteady, “Satan Side” by Keith Hudson and Chuckles which was released on DUKE in 1972 and was produced by Keith Hudson himself. That opening set ended with a back to back version excursion from The Ethiopians on Matador, “Satan Gal” and “Satan Boy.”
Given that the Bovine Ska and Rocksteady almost always needs a spotlight, this show has a special one from the most terrifying reggae voice of all, King Horror!
Much of the fun of the King Horror spotlight comes from the question: Who is King Horror?
The real answer is that we have no idea, but we have a few suspicions. Across all accounts, the most likely answer is that King Horror was Lord Davey, who was produced by Laurel Aitken. Given the involvement of Laurel, there is some confusion surrounding who really performed on the King Horror tracks. On many of the tracks, it is clear that you do not hear Laurel‘s voice, which would confirm that King Horror is actually Lord Davey. But, of course to make the identity more puzzling, it is believed that Laurel Aitken actually did cut a few singles as King Horror, but the rest of the singles were Young Growler, a calypsonian named Errol Naphtah Davy who immigrated to London from Trinidad in 1961.
Given the name similarities, we could guess that Young Growler and Lord Davey are most likely the same person. While multiple sources point to Davy, there is another claim to the King Horror name out there. Joe Mansano, of Brixton’s Joe’s Record Centre, claimed that King Horror was one of his DJs known as Lloydie and Lloyd the Matador, not to be confused with Lloyd the Matador Daley. Lloydie was apparently not the best looking man, and consequently, Joe and his people began to call him King Horror.
Regardless of the identity, all of these King Horror tracks feature eerie sound effects, great screams, and amazing reggae rhythms.
Listen to the spooky edition of the Bovine Ska and Rocksteady HERE.
Enjoy! The archive will be available until 11/11/2014.