Ska. Real Authentic Ska. The sound in the streets of Kingston Jamaica in 1962, and now the sound of countless young bands from the US, UK, South America, Japan-almost anywhere.
Ska After Ska After Ska presents 20 Ska tracks from the legendary ‘Duke’ Reid featuring bands like the Skatalites and singers Like Eric ‘Monty’ Morris. Big hits, forgotten favorites, unreleased tracks and Ska Scorchers are all collected here for your listening and dancing pleasure. Ska After Ska After Ska is the real sound Of Ska. Hot scorching Ska. Original Ska.
SKA AFTER SKA AFTER SKA HEARTBEAT 105
1. Thoroughfare = Don Drummond and the Skatalites 2:51
2. Magnificent Ska = Lyn Taitt and The Baba Brooks Band 2:50
3. It’s Real = The Silvertones 2:39
4. Strongman Sampson = Eric ‘Monty’ Morris 3:33
5. Alley Cat Ska = Treasure Isle All Stars 2:40
6. When You Are Wrong = The Techniques 2:24
7. Carry Go, Bring Come = Justin Hinds and The Dominoes 2:43
8. Street Corner = Don Drummond and the Skatalites 3:00
9. True Confession = The Silvertones 2:47
10. When I Call Your Name = Stranger Cole and Patsy Todd 3:15
11. Musical Storeroom = Frank Anderson and the Skatalites 2:22
12. Words = Owen and Leon Silvera with the Skatalites 2:25
13. Duke Reid Speaks (Studio Chatter) 0:07
14. Burial = Duke Reid and His Group 2:13
15. Guns Fever = Derrick Morgan and The Baba Brooks Band 2:52
16. Oh Little Girl (Take 2) = Lloyd and Glen 2:40
17. Get Your Feet Moving = Eric ‘Monty’ Morris
18. Only Suffering = Funny Man and the Boys 2:40
19. Storm Warning = Lyn Taitt and His Comets 2:27
20. Rough and Tough = Stranger Cole 2:58
21. Nuclear Weapon = The Baba Brooks Band 2:54
Licensed from Disc Presser Ltd., Kingston, Jamaica.
Recorded at Federal Records, Kingston Jamaica.
Engineers: Al Iton, Graham Goodhall
Recorded at Treasure Isle Studio, 33 Bond Street, Kingston Jamaica.
Engineer: Byron Smith
Tracks compiled by Chris Wilson with assistance by Brian Keyo
Album supervised by Chris Wilson.
Mastered by Toby Mountain at Northeastern Digital Recording, Southborough, MA
Album notes and research by Brian Keyo
Photography and materials courtesy of Chris Wilson and Brian Keyo.
Arthur S. ‘Duke’, or ‘The Trojan’ Reid, proprietor of the Duke Reid, Dutchess, Trojan and Treasure Isle labels and Treasure Isle Studios, is the producer of these Ska classics.
Reportedly a swaggering, smiling former policeman turned sound system and liquor store owner/operator who always carried a pistol, and didn’t hesitate to use it in the recording studio, Reid was, in short, the consummate Jamaican soundman of the fifties.
Reid loved hard driving rhythm and blues, and the New Orleans sound of Fats Domino and the Memphis based Rosco Gordon were favorites on his set, along with Wynonie Harris. Reid’s Sound System was crowned “King of Sounds and Blues” by popular acclaim in Kingston in 1956 at the Success Club, in 1957 at Forresters Hall and again at the Success Club in ’58, where the Duke and his Dutchess, Mrs. Lucille Reid, were feted as musical royalty.
As a champion soundman, Reid frequently advertised in the programs of late fifties concerts. For instance, in the program to the 1957 Big Band All Stars show, which took place on Wednesday December 11 at the Carib Theatre, a mere 40 years ago. Duke’s ad reads “For the Best in Sound and Liquors see-REID’S SOUND SYSTEM and liquor store. For Clubs, bars, parties and home. phone 5629, 33 Bond Street, A. S. Reid prop.”
Reid and fellow sound system pioneer Tom “The Great Sebastian” Wong, were a generation older than Clement ‘Coxson’ Dodd, and were running their respective liquor/sound system and hardware/sound system businesses for several years before Dodd started his Downbeat sound system. In fact, Reid was friendly with Dodd’s parents, Benjamin and Doris. Reid’s ascendant stature in the Kingston music scene of the fifties, (and the insistence of several would be singers such as Derrick Morgan), led him to try recording his own records for sale, rather than sound system play, by 1959. Reid had been recording acetates on soft wax and financing 78’s strictly for play on his #1, 2 or 3 sets since 1956 or ’57, but by 1959 45’s were being pressed in Kingston. Reid’s first sessions aiming at the brand new market for Jamaican recordings produced Derrick Morgan’s “Lover Boy”, Basil Gabbidon’s “I Was Wrong”, and Alvin & Cecil on the immortal Jamaican boogie “Marjorie.”
Drummer Aston “Wackie” Henry recalls the first Duke Reid sessions at Federal Records, “when records did first start make in Jamaica, Duke had his first sessions and our pay as musicians was 5 shillings a side. It wasn’t Ska then, was R & B, Jamaican R & B. Myself and Drumbago were Duke and Coxson’s first drummers. Duke was mainly running the liquor store still at that time, this early, early. I never played with Lyn Taitt. I leave the scene just as he came on. By 1962, ’63, ’round them time, I started playing at the Runaway Bay Hotel. I played with Cecil Lloyd’s band there and that took me off the recording scene.”
Guitarist extraordinaire Lyn Taitt, a Trinidadian who arrived in August, 1963 and immediately made an impact on the Jamaican scene, is often overshadowed by the equally superb Ernest Ranglin. However their talents complemented each other on several LP’s for Federal Records cut in the mid sixties, including ‘A Mod A Mod Ranglin’, which features Taitt on lead and rhythm guitars and organ.
Lyn Taitt started in Jamaica with the Sheiks band, which included Jackie Mittoo and Lloyd Knibb. Taitt stayed on when the band later metamorphosized into the Cavaliers Orchestra, upon whose breakup Taitt formed his first band, The Comets in 1965. The Comets were successful as a performing group and they were also in demand in the studio. But by late ’66 Taitt started The Jets band after the Comets had ‘burned out’. [During interviews for these notes, Taitt revealed that he is reforming The Jets band and is looking forward to performing in 1998!]
When asked about his first sessions for Reid, Taitt began by discussing how he was carried to the studio for his very first session (“Shank I Sheck” for King Edwards) in the red Hillman Minx convertible of Lloyd Knibb. “That’s where I first met Baba Brooks, and he was the man I first worked with on a session for Duke Reid.”
“Duke Reid treated me very well I think, he used to send a guy on a bicycle to tell me about sessions. The first ones for Duke were always with Baba Brooks. He’d usually have his sessions at Federal on Sundays, from about 1 until about 7 or 8:00 p. m. in the evening, sometimes later. The sessions would usually be 5 or 6 or so tunes and no rehearsals, we never rehearse, we’d just run it down once and then red light!”[laughing]
“Whoever would have a tune would get the credit and more money. Usually Baba Brooks led the session, so a tune would be by his group unless if it was my tune, like ‘Magnificent’, if its Drumbago’s All Stars, that means it was Drumbago’s tune and so forth. So yes, ‘Magnificent Ska’ is my tune done with Baba Brooks, Drumbago, Lloyd Spence, Sammy Ismay and Gladdy. I would say that ‘Storm Warning’ should be by Lyn Taitt and The Comets. That’s Ron Wilson on trombone, and there’s no sax.”
“Like I said, Duke always treat me well and he used myself and most of the Skatalites, but not Mittoo, Duke used Gladdy all the time, and Baba Brooks. He also used Lloyd Spence, who lives in Ottawa Canada now. Lloyd Spence was the first Jamaican bassist to have an electric bass after Byron Lee. Spence played on a lot of Ska. When I played for Dodd he also always used Spence or Brevett.”
“Treasure Isle was a nice studio with a great sound. Everyone thought it was from the wood. Duke’s liquor store was on the first floor, and I remember when they finished building the studio on top of the liquor store.” Taitt recalls that, “Carry Go Bring Come” was I think one of the first tunes that was recorded at Treasure Isle Studios, maybe the spring of ’64.” However, Hinds has said previously that it was done at Federal in early 1963.
Lloyd Knibb claims to be the drummer on ‘Carry Go Bring Come’ and states that he got an unusual sound from one of his cymbals. That’s because the cymbal was cracked! Knibb recalls how Reid so loved this sound that when he found out that Knibb had purchased new cymbals and left the cracked cymbal at the shop, “Duke did fly to Miami to try and renew that cymbal, but he reached too late and they had already melted it down. He said he went right to the Ace Music Center from the airport but he was too late.” Knibb recalls the sound of the studio, number 33 Bond Street, at the corner of Charles. “It was a board studio. Treasure Isle built with pure boards, and is the boards that give the good sound.”
Knibb’s usual battery mate Lloyd Brevett played on sessions for Reid, “from inna the fifties, I can’t remember from exactly when. I played with Drumbago and Wackie Henry before Duke started to used Lloydie [Knibb] regular. Wackie was better than Drumbago, that’s him on ‘Thoroughfare’ by Don Drummonds.”
Brevett was quick to note that on ‘Duke Reid Speaks’, Reid was in fact speaking to the engineer, Byron Smith, and not the drummer or bassist. “Yes, that is Duke Reid, but he wants Smithie to put the riddim section higher in the mix, he’s not talking to me or Lloydie”.
Lloyd Knibb remembers the original location of Reid’s Treasure Isle liquor store, “I’ve known Duke from when I was living on Oxford Street and he had his liquor store on Chestnut, no Pink Lane and Beeston Street I think it was.”
“Duke was a tough guy. He drank his whites raw (overproof rum, straight), and sometimes he wouldn’t let the band leave from the session. He would send out for food and herb and he always had plenty of drinks downstairs so wha? He’s send his man for herb and we naw haffe leave. If Brevett or someone would say, ‘Duke must mek this the last one caw me haffe get some food, drink or herb’, then forget it. Duke would say you naw go nowhere, keep playing and you’ll get your food, drinks, herb or whatever it was that you asked for.”
“When we cut for Duke we leave drunk everytime. Pure stout and white rum, or whatever you have”, Knibb recalls.
“Duke’s engineer, Smitty [Byron Smith] was tops, just one take he need because he’d listen to each instrument close. Duke would fire a shot when the band nailed a tune in one take. A shot, blam, into the corner of the ceiling or between a man’s legs. One time we were sitting around waiting for Smitty to play something back and suddenly Duke lick a shot between a guitarists’ legs at the blade of a shovel leaning against the wall behind his chair. The man leap up and take his guitar and run out and Duke is just laughing. I went and picked up the slug, it was flattened out. The guitarist never know that Duke shoot at that shovel regular, the bullet just flatten and hit the floor and steam a bit, it never ricochet. The guitarist just left for good after that though, him never come back. Duke also had Smitty record him firing his gun into the fish tank in the studio. It was a big tank and it sat on concrete with some big fish inna it.”
Tommy McCook started recording for Duke Reid in 1964 and recalls that “Drumbago was Duke’s favorite drummer until Lloydie change up the scene, then Duke had no work for Drumbago.” McCook listened to all the tracks and helped identify soloists and Duke Reid on ‘Burial’. “I think it must be Duke, doing the huh sound, but even in those times you had Dave Barker and he could be right in there too.”
McCook takes the first solos on both of Eric ‘Monty’ Morris’ tunes, “Get Your Feet Moving” and “Strongman Sampson,” and recalls authoring the full arrangement of “Sampson.” “Monty have a lot of tunes but he couldn’t arrange them, so we would do that.” Morris scored early with ‘Sammy Dead’ and was a top hitmaker of the Ska era whose work has yet to be assessed. He currently resides in Washington D. C.
On “Nuclear Weapon,” McCook pegs the soloists as Baba Brooks [trumpet] and Stanley Ribbs [tenor]. This also predates the Skatalites despite the credit to the group, recalls McCook. [It’s a 1962 recording.] McCook recalls “Musical Storeroom” with relish. “That was a mambo that Frank Anderson adapted to the Ska. Frank played on the first Skatalites studio recordings, stuff from late 1963 to early ’64. Frank was working at a hospital in Brooklyn, the last time that I heard about him. On ‘Musical Storeroom’ Frank takes the first solo, then myself and then Don.” Owen and his brother Leon Silvera ride a fierce Latin/Buru synthesis pounded out by Lloyd Knibb and insist, “that ‘Words’ are not the only thing, my dear, when you are making love”.
Funnyman and the Boys might sound a lot like Frederick ‘Toots’ Hibbert, Raleigh Gordon and Jerry Mathias, aka The Maytals, but according to Toots it’s not him. Reached during a 12/97 session at Grafton Studios in Kingston, he is adamant. “No man, that is not me. Someone is trying to imitate me there. That sounds wicked but is not me”. [It’s Horace Grant & The Playboys.] Rolando Alphonso solos on tenor. Keith ‘Slim’ Smith leads The Techniques on “When You Are Wrong,” which originally was released on the groups debut LP, Little Did You Know, on the Treasure Isle label in 1965. There are great pictures of the youthful quartet and of trumpeter Oswald ‘Baba’ Brooks on the back of the LP jacket, which identifies the Techniques as Keith Smith, Frederick Waite, Franklyn White and Winston Riley. Waite was the man behind Musical Youths million selling “Pass The Dutchie,” and Riley went on to found the Techniques label and record store, currently (1998) located at 99 Orange Street, Kingston.
Trumpeter Oswald ‘Baba’ Brooks is a major figure in the development of Ska. In the fifties he played in Eric Deans band with Lloyd Knibb and Lloyd Brevett. He recorded mainly for Duke Reid, and often ran his sessions, calling the tunes and paying the musicians, according to Knibb and Taitt. Brooks also recorded for George ‘King’ Edwards, Coxson Dodd and Sonia Pottinger among other producers. His “Guns Fever” is adapted from a bolero which Knibb recalls playing in Deans band. “I think it was ‘My Shawl’, but I’m not sure whose tune it was. We learned a lot of rhythms and new tunes when we travelled in Eric Deans band. We went to British Honduras [now Belize], and to the Dominican and Haiti.”
The Silvertones deliver two smashes, “True Confession” and “It’s Real,” which convey the high quality of their work for Reid and are indicative of his standards for harmony groups. Its curious that they and the Wailers share titles on the former, but the similarity between the start of “It’s Real” and the Wailers “Put It On” is no coincidence. While its not certain whose tune dropped first, this is the second mix of the Silvertones, and appears to be a Treasure Isle version of The Wailers song. “It’s Real” indeed, propelled by a great Supersonics rhythm, and the Silvertones precise harmonies, which outclass most Jamaican vocal groups of the era, including the Wailers.
Stranger Cole’s first hits for Duke Reid, “When I Call Your Name” and “Rough And Tough,” are here from 1963 and both are decorated by the alto sax stylings of Lester ‘Ska’ Sterling and the guitar of Lyn Taitt.
The late, great Don Drummond contributes “Street Corner” and “Thoroughfare.” The latter is an early [’62] showcase for Ska trombone done with sparse accompaniment. Drummond also reels off a mesmerizing solo on “Carry Go Bring Come,” the very first song recorded by Duke Reid’s standard bearer Justin Hinds, from Steertown, St. Ann and his group, The Dominoes.
The high expectations of Duke Reid, which were matched by the following singers and players, were recorded by Al Iton and H. Graeme Goodall at Federal and Byron Smith at Treasure Isle Studios. To hear the music of Duke Reid at its most glorious sonic incarnation, please note that only Heartbeat releases are straight from Duke’s masters, and licensed from Sonia Pottinger. All tracks on Ska After SKa After SKA are from the vaults of Treasure Isle. Enjoy!
Thanks to Lyn Taitt, Wackie Henry, Tommy McCook, Lloyd Knibb, Lloyd Brevett, Toots Hibbert and Cedric Bravo.
Rolando Alphonso-Tenor Saxophone
Gladston ‘Gladdy’ Anderson-Piano
Lloyd Brevett-Acoustic Bass
Oswald F. ‘Baba’ Brooks-Trumpet
Dennis ‘Ska’ Campbell-Tenor Saxophone
Aston ‘Wackie’ Henry-Drums
Samuel ‘Sammy’ Ismay-Tenor Saxophone
Ferron Lloyd Knibb-Drums
Thomas McCook-Tenor Saxophone
Charles ‘Organaire’ Cameron-Harmonica
Arkland ‘Drumbago’ Parks-Drums
Stanley T. ‘Ribbs’ Notice-Tenor Saxophone
Lloyd Spence-Fender Electric Bass
Lester ‘Ska’ Sterling-Alto Saxophone
Nearlin ‘Lyn’ Taitt-Guitar
Ronald ‘Willow’ Wilson-Trombone