Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Prince Buster Memorial Part 2-Rocksteady 9-20-16

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Buster’s Rocksteady on Olive Blossom

Hello Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

Last week, we focused on the ska productions and recordings of Prince Buster, and this week, we are going to focus on his rocksteady output and his excellent reggae productions.  By the arrival of rocksteady, Prince Buster’s stable was not as strong as it was in the rhythm & blues and ska eras. With its slower tempo, rocksteady put more focus on vocal harmonies, and as a result, the rhythm led to a rise in popularity of the vocal groups. Buster did not have as many groups on his various imprints as the other major producers, but he could still rely on the the great voices of Dawn Penn, Roy Panton, and Larry Marshall. As a result, Olive Blossom, which was Buster’s main rocksteady label, had exceptional performances and productions, but these singles were still not as popular as his earlier work

But, ever the innovator, Prince Buster did, of course, tap into the minds of his audience in the rocksteady, and he would find great success in the rocksteady rhythm when he recorded and released, “Judge Dread,” Buster’s response to the ever increasing violence caused by the rudeboys in Kingston.  Here, Buster takes on the persona of Judge Dread, a court judge who deals out huge sentences to rudeboys, especially when they commit black on black violence. This led to follow up recordings by Buster, The Appeal and Barrister’s Pardon.

Buster has always had a reputation as a tough man. We know well that Buster got his soundsystem start by providing security to Coxsone Dodd’s Downbeat sound and Buster was a boxer himself, and his love for boxing resonated through his music. Generoso got a chance to speak about boxing with Buster, and we also heard an excerpt of that conversation.

On the Bovine Ska, we adore Big Youth, and, unsurprisingly, our favorite Big Youth record is produced by none other than the mighty Prince Buster. The match between Big Youth and Prince Buster was a natural one; Youth was not a deejay who only intended to spruce up tracks for dances. Big Youth told stories and included political and social messages in his lyrics and his toasting A great example of this was his first big hit, “S.90 Skank,” which Youth recorded to remind his friends to be careful when riding on motorbikes. Similarly, the track that we are going to feature as our favorite Buster production has intelligent lyrics from Big Youth, who takes cues from The Last Poets, “When Revolution Comes”

 

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Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Prince Buster Memorial Part One-Buster’s Ska Productions 9-13-16

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Buster’s Group fierce R&B on Wild Bells

Hello Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

Just a few weeks ago, we memorialized saxophonist Deadly Headley Bennett, who would eventually play a role in Prince Buster’s history, and we’ll get to that in the middle of this program, but sadly, we have done many memorial shows these last few years, but this one has really impacted us in a very personal way.  Generoso has written a comprehensive and personal obituary on Buster which was published on Ink19 this week.

One of our favorite Jamaican artists of all time, Prince Buster, passed away on the morning of September 8th in Miami after complications from heart issues. Prince Buster had a stroke in 2009, but we had not heard anything about his health since then, so the announcement was extremely unexpected, and we’ve spent a lot of time mourning the loss of a music pioneer and a giant persona whose bravado brought even more to the iconic tracks that shaped Jamaican music history

Born as Cecil Bustamante Campbell, Prince Buster grew up with his grandmother in rural Jamaica. Here, he gained an interest in music after singing in churches.  When he was a teenager, he moved to Kingston and lived on Orange Street, and he naturally found an affinity for the sound system culture. Specifically, he spent a lot of time with Tom Wong, who is best known as Tom the Great Sebastian, who ran a sound system out of his shop and in the dancehalls of Kingston.

As the sound system culture further developed, each operator and their set of selectors would compete against each other. The big two were Coxsone Dodd’s Downbeat and Duke Reid’s the Trojan, and Prince Buster and his crew aligned himself with Coxsone, who was more of an underdog than Duke Reid. Buster provided Coxone’s dances with security, and eventually, he would become a selector for the Downbeat sound. With this experience, Buster was armed with plenty of knowledge on how to run a sound system, so he went to Tom Wong and asked him for a loan in order to create his own sound, which would become the renowned and popular Voice of the People.

With his sound system up and running, Buster was ready to begin recording his own singles. Before he would ever appear in front of the microphone, Buster produced tracks to be played at his sound system; you will hear a selection of these tracks in this first set in the spotlight. To start this show, we heard from Buster himself. Though he had already established himself as a producer, in 1961, for his own Wildbells label, Buster recorded his very first track as a vocalist, “Little Honey,” which will start off the first of a two week tribute to the mighty Prince Buster, the Voice of the People.

Due to Mixcloud’s policy (you can only play four songs per artist every show), we have primarily structured this show on Prince Buster’s magnificent productions during the Jamaican rhythm and blues and ska eras.  You will hear some of the greatest hits of that time from Derrick Morgan, Eric Monty Morris, Basil Gabbidon and more! Included in this show are segments of Generoso’s 2002 interview with Prince Buster that was conducted a week before Buster was to play a show that Generoso helped produce in Boston that featured Buster, Derrick Morgan, Eric Morris, and Millicent Patsy Todd with the excellent reggae group, The Pressure Cooker backing up the artists.

The interview segments describe in detail, the controversial recording of the Folkes Brothers, “Oh Carolina,” the Black Head Chinaman record war between Buster and Derrick Morgan, and Buster’s duet with the late great singer, Slim Smith.

Here is Part One of our two part Prince Buster Memorial from September 13, 2016:

 

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Byron Lee’s Dragon’s Breath Label 9-6-16

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Keith Lyn on Lee’s Dragon’s Breath Label

Howdy Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

Firstly, thank you to everyone how was kind enough to let us know how much they appreciated our Deadly Headly Bennett Memorial show.  Generoso was fortunate enough to have met Deadly back in 1999, when Headley and trombonist, Vin Gordon were performing with Justin Hinds.  Generoso and Headley got a chance to speak that night as Generoso was introducing the show at the Ocean Mist in Rhode Island.  All three men were very kind and exceptional musicians.  Thank you and respect to Vin, who is still with us and much respect to Justin and Headley for their kindness and great contribution to Jamaican music.

The September 6th, 2016 Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady began with the to sets of rare rocksteady, starting with Stranger and Patsy with a lovely cut they did for Tip Top in 1967, Don’t Want To Be Hurt.  The second set began with The Wrigglers and their song, You Cannot Know, which they recorded for Giant in 1968 and that set ended with the King Of Rocksteady, Alton Ellis and My Time Is The Right Time.  Our weekly mento set featured another cut from our favorite mento, Count Lasher on Stanley Motta’s MRS label, Perfect Love.  We ended the first hour with a set of ska to get you ready for the sounds of the Dragon’s Breath label,    A standout during that ska set was from Joe White, a solo ska from him produced by Prince Buster for the Voice Of The People label in 1964, Nite Club!  That set ended with another Buster production, this time it’s the Maytals and their hit, Domino!  We then went right into our spotlight of the Dragon’s Breath label…

By 1956, Byron Lee and the Dragonaires had established themselves as a professional working band that toured the hotel and nightclub circuit. Before these touring years, the Dragonaires performed mento, but in order to play professionally, like so many other bands, they performed versions of American soul and R&B hits. Within three years, the group decided to take a shot at recording, and in 1959, they visited Edward Seaga at WIRL’s studios to record their first single, “Dumplins.” This single was released on the band’s label, Dragon’s Breath, appropriately named in the tradition of the group’s name and, this is the label of our spotlight tonight, which will exclusively contains Jamaican Rhythm and Blues and Ska. We kicked our label spotlight off with three tracks from the Dragonaires that were produced by Byron Lee himself, starting with “Dumplins,” the group’s recording debut.

Dragon’s Breath was pretty short lived, with releases stopping in 1964. Interestingly, there was a bit of a gap in the label; no recordings were released in 1962. We do not know of the reason, but one could be that the label changed hands because by 1963, Prince Buster was the producer for the label and  from that moment on out, we heard those Buster productions as he took the helm of the music released by Dragon’s Breath, including two from Eric Monty Morris which began the second set of the spotlight.

XO Generoso and Lily

This is the September 6, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady and our spotlight on the Dragon’s Breath label:

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Happy Jamaica Independence Day! 8-2-16

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Derrick Morgan’s Hails Independence!

Happy Jamaica Independence Day Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

Saturday, August 6th, 2016, was Jamaican Independence Day! In honor of this momentous occasion, we presented a special Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Radio Show on August 2nd, 2016 that featured two hours of the best Jamaican rhythm and blues recordings released in the year of Jamaica’s Independence,1962! Joyous songs of freedom from Prince Buster, Owen Gray, Laurel Aitken, Don Drummond and many many more!

From 1934-1939, Jamaica would experience the British West Indian labour unrest due to the the severe inequalities between British settlers and native Jamaicans. This protest for equality for native Jamaicans would galvanize the beliefs for Jamaican autonomy, with Alexander Bustamante emerging as the thought leader for the protest and a founder of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union.  Alongside the Union, Norman Manley, Bustamante’s cousin, formed the People’s National Party. Originally, Bustamente approved the party and was a member, but he disagreed with parts of the party’s platform.  As a result, he founded the Jamaica Labour Party in 1943.  The JLP and PNP would dominate the politics in these years leading up to independence.

In 1944, Jamaica got Universal Adult Suffrage whereby each adult had the right to vote irrespective of gender, race or financial status, beginning to raise further thoughts around independence.  In 1955, a new constitution was ratified and put in place a two-chamber legislature and organized an Executive Council made up of ten members of the legislature and chaired by the new position of Premier, the head of government. It also set a foundation for a system of checks and balances.

In 1958, Jamaica gained more authority when the nation became independently accountable for all internal affairs and in 1958,  Jamaica became a province in the Federation of the West Indies. Immediately, the political parties in power were weary of the federation because the capital was chosen to be in Trinidad
On May 30, 1960 Bustamante, pulled himself and the members of the JLP from the West Indies Parliament. Then, on September 19, 1961,  Manley, who was the Premier at the time, demanded a referendum vote to see if Jamaica’s residents wanted to participate in the federation or not. Jamaica sought to secede from the federation in 1962, igniting another spark to begin seeking independence from Britain. In February 1962 marked a major success line for the movement for Jamaican autonomy; both Manley and Bustamante traveled to meet with the British Parliament to discuss independence and a new Constitution, and the independence date.

Immediately after the meeting, April 10th was set as the voting day to elect the first Prime Minister of Jamaica.  Alexander Bustamante won the election in April, becoming Jamaica’s first Prime Minister and then, on July 19th, 1962, the British Parliament passed the Jamaica Independence Act, granting independence on August 6th, 1962.   On that independence day, Princess Margaret traveled to Jamaica to represent the Queen in the opening session of Jamaica’s Parliament.  Across the island, celebrations began with the exchange of the British flag with Jamaica’s black, gold, and green flag. The inaugural Jamaica Independence festival occurred on independence day with the event initiated by Edward Seaga featuring many music performances, including one from Lynn Taitt’s own band from Trinidad, who had been invited by Byron Lee.  Furthermore, Eric Coverly, the man behind the floats of the Jamaica Bandwagon and the husband of Louise Bennett, designed floats and arranged for additional arts celebrations for the momentous day.

Happy Jamaica Independence Day! Please enjoy our tribute:

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Lloyd Charmers’ Splash Label 7-26-16

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Lloyd Charmers 1970 soul cover on Splash

Howdy Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Friends,

This weekend prior to the July  26th, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady, Lily and I had an awesome visit from our old friend Jeff and our new friend Lodrina, we saw a ton of Pialat movies at UCLA and pulled one beast of a Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Radio Show for you! For our spotlight this week, we put together a special ONE HOUR look at Lloyd Charmers’ SPLASH label which features some of the best Jamaican covers of American soul and pop cuts that we have ever heard. BB Seaton covering The Persuaders, Alton Ellis covering The Spinners, The Now Generation covering Bobby Womack..This label is truly special! The spotlight starts midway through the show.

Leading up to the Splash label spotlight which started midway through the show we began the program with two sets of ska which had a very short but tasty Maytals track that Toots and the band cut for the ND label in 1964, Hey Hey Girl.  We played another short, but spectacular ska during these two sets with The Charmers on Prince Buster’s Voice Of The People,  It’s A Dream.   We started our mento set with The Diggers take on Peanut Vendor for Top Sounds in 1964 and ended that set with our favorite mento artist, Count Lasher on Caribou in 1956 with Calypso Cha Cha.  We ended the first hour with a long set of reggae and Sir Harry on Carib-Dis-Co in 1972 with My Time Now.   We then went deep into the special one-hour spotlight on the Splash Label…

The Fierro household adores Lloyd Charmers.

We love him as a member of The Charmers. We love him as a member of The Uniques. And we really love him for his wildly salacious recordings as Lloydie and the Lowbites, so much so that we are always on the lookout at for any Lloydie records wherever we go.

Born in Kingston as Lloyd Tyrell, Lloyd Charmers began his career as a singer in the duo known as The Charmers with Roy Willis. The two competed, like so many wonderful Jamaican musicians did, on the Vere Johns Opportunity Hour, and caught the attention of producers in the music scene. The Charmers would record with heavy hitters Prince Buster and Coxsone Dodd, and they would appear in the film This is Ska, but the two would part ways, with Lloyd recording as a soloist and then joining Slim Smith and Jimmy Riley as a member of the second reincarnation of The Uniques.

At the close of the sixties and the beginning of 70s, Charmers starting working on his other musical talents. He established a reputation as an excellent keyboardist, and he opened up the Splash label to work on his own productions, bringing in phenomenal talent and his own great love for American soul of the 1970s. We’re thrilled to present you this hour long spotlight on Splash because there are outstanding productions and some covers of soul tracks that challenge the originals. We began  with Lloyd himself and the 1969 classic, Birth Control, which was later adapted by The Specials on Two Much Too Young.

Charmers house backing band of choice was the Now Generation Band. The seed that started the group was planted when Mikey Chung and Val Douglas were students at the College of Arts and Sciences Technology. The two both went to the same high school together, but they did not begin practicing and recording together until later. They began using the equipment of the disbanded group, Ti & the Titans, and they formed the band the Mighty Mystics. Then the Mighty Mystics broke up and joined an existing band known as Now Generation, creating the house band that people would come to know well throughout reggae. The members of the group were brothers Mikey and Geoffrey Chung on guitar, Val Douglas on bass, Mikey Boo and Martin Sinclair (who was only a member for early recordings) on drums, Robbie Lyn and Wire Lindo on keyboards.

We hope you enjoy the July 26th, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady:

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

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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

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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: