We’ve been on this “Ska’s Lost Decade” kick for over a year now, but this week we’ve gone all-out: in addition to a 5(+1)@5:05, the entire “Ooh” is made up of “Ska from the Early Reggae Era”, ranging from Val Bennett’s 1968 sax shuffle skankdown “Jumpin’ with Mr. Lee” and Prince Buster’s 1969 “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da” hot on the heels of The Beatles, all the way to Belgian Lou Deprijk (alt. spelling “Depryck”), of both Plastic Bertrandand the Hollywood Bananas, represented here by “Dance Dance” (Bertrand), on the riddim made notorious in the ’60s by Prince Buster as “Ten Commandments”, and “Kingston Kingston” (Bananas), recorded with a Jamaican band on the changes of “Dr. Ring Ding” (itself a cover of Alvin Cash’s “Twine Time”) when Lou was living in Jamaica in ’78, the year before Jerry Dammers launched 2Tone. Along the way, we hear a bona-fide 1974 Studio One ska gem by Jennifer Lara (“Impossible”) and Zap Pow’s uptempo 1976 stomper “Wild Honey”. Add some Skinhead classics from both Yard (Vincent Gordon & the Dynamics) and the UK (Count Suckle with Freddie Notes and the Rudies) plus then-future YMO co-founder Harry Hosono’s 1975 project Tin Pan Alley with their presciently-titled lounge-ska rarity “Yellow Magic Carnival” and you have a well-rounded international sampling of Ska’s Lost Decade. Sherwood, meanwhile, drops “calendar” tracks “Kaleidoscope (March)” and “Bloodstone (March)” by Hal Blaine and Emil Richards, respectively, before embarking on an unannounced International Women’s Day salute, massaging your ears with original Mothra twins The Peanuts, Misty Morgan (as “Jacqueline Hyde”, complete with Moonfolk), Combustible Edison (complete with Liz Cox as “Miss Lily Banquette”), Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band (complete with Cory Daye, who needs no alias) and more than the usual dose of Shiina Ringo. Hey, we gotta have our fix! The Home Stretch gives us someone named Maggie Mae (Rod Stewart didn’t know her) singing “My Boy Lollipop” in German, a “Lost Decade” M Music 45 from 1974, and Morgan Fisher’s pre-2Tone skank-up of “MacArthur Park” from January of ’79… a fitting end to Ska’s Lost Decade!
Rocksteady, as a connecting bridge between Ska and Reggae, does the job quite well. A Hopeton Lewis tune like 1967’s “Sounds and Pressure”, heard here, is Rocksteady/Reggae in tempo, but full-on Ska in rhythmic execution, right down to that fat Lloyd Knibb-style groove emanating from the drumkit_ and the stunning mile-wide clarity of the sound engineering puts you right on stage with the band. Wotta way to kick off the RSST this or any week! By comparison, the rest of the “Ooh” sounds like you’re listening to the guy on the radio spinning a bunch of records… which, by the way, you are! But hey, that’s why you tuned in, right? And these platters, by artists ranging from steel drummer Selwyn Baptiste to Justin Hinds & the Dominoes to the Cavaliers Orchestra, should have you bouncing around the room wearing holes in your soles in no time. Well, in an hour:15, anyway. Then it’s time to float on through the airlock into Sherwood’s orbital flying party palace, where Cedar Walton segues into Lyly “Spud” Murphy, then into a Cook 45 of Johnny Gomez & his Orchestra launching into “Gloria” …but not THAT “Gloria” …different tune entirely! Gotta love those… In the Home Stretch, GotchaSKAvered’s Lollipop-of-the-Week is the one Millie Small took worldwide. Back in January, we played her mixed German/English version, but this is the one a hundred different record labels around the globe put out on 45 and made a certifiable smash out of… including Smash! The 5@5:05 shuffled the Ska_ e-ven-LY-e-ven-LY-e-ven-LY, even if sometimes the groove would stray into straight-8th territory, and that’s as much music theory as I’m going to spill here. After all, as the guys in Fishbone like to remind us (as we groove to their irresistable “Unyielding Conditioning”), Give A Monkey A Brain And He’ll Swear He’s The Center Of The Universe. Tune in, and stay tuned!
My, my, what a diverse “Ooh” we have this week! In the first four tracks alone, we have U.S. ’60s ska from Tracey Dey (the Bob Crewe-produced “Ska Doo-Dee-Yah”), a lost-decade British goodie from ’68 (the Trojan All Stars’ “Yorkie Special”), a straight-up Skatalites-propelled Johnny “Dizzy” Moore cut from the Top Deck sessions, and some sunshine rocksteady by Chinese singer (and not Chinese-Jamaican, from what I read online) Stephen Cheng, backed by Byron Lee & the Dragonaires. Always together, even if I do quote the song title directly in that assessment! Sherwood, meanwhile, marks the Voovie Doo debut of Johnny Guitar, and we don’t mean Mr. Watson! This Thai string-slinger’s mid-‘60s Lucky Bamboo release Suphan Nahong yields the slow, atmospherically-percussive “Sri Nuon” this week, part of a SE-Asian electric-guitar-exotica set also involving HK’s The Quests (listen for the lush blend of organ and sitars here!), Singapore’s legendary Shadows-influenced The Stylers and the cha-cha-driven All Star Orchestra. GotchaSKAvered’s Lollipop-of-the-Week kicks off the Home Stretch with none other than Teresa Brewer, and single-digit (Fahrenheit) winter chill inspired us to mix up a set of tunes we usually save for late December, including The Dualers’ “Jack Frost” and Gichy Dan’s “Winter on Riverside Drive”. The 5@5:05 recycled an old Ska Beatles set featuring The Brass Circus (“Strawberry Fields Forever”) and Ernest Ranglin (“You Won’t See Me”), among others, and then it was all-over-the-map time (including Jimmy Cliff’s “One More” and Tim “Timebomb” Armstrong covering “Too Much Pressure”, and by the way absolutely DO check out the eclectic treasure trove of online “45s” Tim and friends have posted to YouTube!) ‘Til next time, tune in… and stay tuned!
Both the Cap’n and Sherwood played The Checkmates this week! But, it was two completely different “Checkmates”! The Jamaican Studio One 45 of “Train to Soulville” was released as both “The Check-Mates” and “The Checkmates”, while the SE Asian guitar band that recorded “Sylvia” for Philips remained hyphen-less… ‘scuse me, that should be “hyphenless”. We also heard Bob Marley back when he was Robert, from a pre-Wailers Beverley’s 45, and Frederick Hibbert, pre-“Toots” and pre-Maytals. Sherwood got his mitts on a wonderful (or should we say “wanderful?”) 2-discer from Walter Wanderley from which he played a couple. Other 2fers included Singapore’s All Star Orchestra and Trinidad’s Joey Lewis Orchestra. In the Home Stretch, The Selecter reinvented “My Boy Lollipop” as a ganja anthem for the 2Tone generation, and the theme of the 5@5:05 was “Tune In… and Stay Tuned”. Well… do!
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