Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Help Get The Selecter's New Song Into the Top Of The Charts! - 'Big In The Body, Small In The Mind' Now Available For Download

The Selecter was once described as 'conspiring to make dancing the only way to walk.' Thirty one years later, those words still hold true!

The band has just released their first new single 'Big In The Body, Small In The Mind.' Featuring the co-vocals of original singers Pauline Black and Arthur 'Gaps' Hendricksen (and artwork by original Chrysalis Records graphic designer John 'Teflon' Sims), the song is a musical call-to-action to ska fans the world over to embrace and defend the 2-Tone concept of multiculturalism. Musically it's a slice of The Selecter doing what they do best -- mixing ska/rocksteady with a pop sensibility and coupling it with acute social observations on the state of the world right now. Its an homage to Woody Guthrie and a rallying call to everyone who still believes that 2-Tone bands should confront the ugly face of racism, represented globally by right wing groups like the British National Party, Ku Klux Klan, Forza Nuova and the Tea Party.  Watch the official video for the song below:

The band has kicked off a grassroots campaign on Facebook to get the single into the British pop charts and so far they seem to be getting the word out. After just one day, the song is already in the Top 40 of the Amazon.com 'Hot New Release Chart'.  If you love the idea and ethos of 2-tone and are a fan of The Selecter then please consider investing less than a dollar or a pound to buy the single and send a message to the music industry and music press that ska is still alive and kicking! Please show your support!

Below are links to download the track from Amazon.com U.S. and Amazon.com U.K. music sites.

Amazon U.S. download link

Amazon U.K. download link

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ali Campbell To Do Short U.S. Tour This August: Former UB40 Singer Launches 'Reggae Revival' Tour Of Northeastern U.S.

U.S.-based fans of UB40 will have a chance to size up the band's former lead singer Ali Campbell when he brings his solo project to five mid-sized venues located across the northeastern U.S. this coming August. Dubbed 'Reggae Revival', the tour will also include Junior Marvin's Wailers and Maxi Priest playing support. Ironically, Priest was originally slotted to take Campbell's place in UB40 when he announced his departure from the band in January 2008 (band keyboardist Mikey Virtue also joined Campbell in splitting with their band mates). Campbell was later replaced by his older brother Duncan Campbell as lead singer of UB40.

The bad blood between Campbell and his former band mates (including two of his brothers) still runs deep and the schism between fans who have remained loyal to the band and those who support Campbell is also a bit testy (just spend a short time on the community boards for UB40 or Campbell to get a taste of the enmity between the two camps). Much of the more current disagreements center on Campbell's band using or promoting themselves with the UB40 name (his band is actually called the DEP Band after the band's original record label). Campbell performs a mix of UB40 classics as well as his own solo material and other covers he has recorded.

Campbell released 'Great British Songs', a Labour Of Love-like album of reggaefied covers of songs by iconic British acts like The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and others late last fall. He also recorded a cover of 'Purple Rain' for a reggae version of Prince's classic album that is being helmed by members of the Fun Lovin' Criminals (who are reported to be big reggae fans). UB40 who are currently recording an album of new material, toured the U.S. last fall and also reissued a 30th anniversary remixed version of their first album 'Signing Off' (read a review of their New York City show here). 

UB40 or Campbell?  I'm not choosing sides, but I may make the pilgrimage out to Westbury, NY this summer to see and hear the former singer for myself. 

Campbell's U.S. Tour Dates below:

Wednesday August 3, 2011: Wolf Trap, Vienna, VA
Thursday August 4, 2011: South Shore Music Circus, Cohasset, MA
Friday August 5, 2011: Northfork Theatre, Westbury, NY
Saturday August 6, 2011: Cape Cody Melody Tent, Hyannis, MA
Sunday August 7, 2011: Hampton Beach, Hampton, NH

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nirvana Goes Reggae!: Little Roy Records Impeccable Covers Of 'Incesticide' Classics 'Sliver' & 'Dive'

The summer of 2011 is shaping up quite nicely in terms of must hear reggae and ska recordings. However I think I may have already heard the winner. Little Roy is releasing a limited edition 7" single featuring both Nirvana's "Sliver" and "Dive" on June 20th 2011 through Ark Recordings.

With production help from Prince Fatty (A.K.A producer Mike Pelanconi who has been on a hot streak of late -- check out the Hollie Cook tune he produced -- 'That Very Night') Little Roy's versions are spectacularly amazing reworkings that peel back the layers of the Nirvana originals from the 'Incesticide' compilation LP, to reveal entirely new songs. I’ve probably listened to them both at least a dozen times in the last day or so on my iPod.

A little known figure outside of reggae's deep roots circles, Little Roy contributed a handful of undeniable classics to the genre during the 1970s. Though often overlooked in the pantheon of classic roots reggae singers, his recent collaborations with Prince Fatty may finally take him mainstream. (Read a recent interview with Little Roy here).

According to an interview Little Roy did recently, the single is part of a Nirvana cover album project that he has recorded:
“I’ve recorded a Nirvana album. It’s different from me. I have done covers of Stevie Wonder and Bruce Ruffin. But I didn’t stick on singing other people’s songs. I’ve always written my own songs,” he said. It was introduced to me. Mike Pelanconi was doing it. Mike told them that I could be the right artist and the album will be put out later this year.”
Word has it that his cover of 'Polly' may be even better than 'Sliver/Dive'. We'll see!  Below is the Little Roy version followed by the Nirvana originals. Enjoy and play them loud!

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Return Of Urban Blight!

During a moment in time in the 1980's Urban Blight was New York City's house band. Playing a mix of funk, reggae, pop and ska, they ruled the live club scene performing regularly at CBGB's, The Lone Star, SOBs, Tramps, Roseland and many others.  However it was at The Ritz (now known as Webster Hall) where they seemed most at home and where they returned last night for the first time in more than 20 years to perform at a benefit show to raise funds for The Children's Art Museum of New York City.

By late 1986 and 1987 what is now considered the core of the old school New York ska scene had quickly coalesced. Urban Blight along with The A-Kings, The Boilers, The Toasters, Second Step and Beat Brigade helped to create one of the most vibrant, creative and important ska scenes in the U.S. which in turn helped to galvanize scenes across the country. Urban Blight were unique in that the band had formed when many of the members were still in elementary school in the early 1970's and went on to become one of the most popular live bands in all of New York City throughout the 80's and early 90's.

Singer, songwriter and drummer/trombonist Keene Carse founded the downtown Manhattan group in the early '70s as "Urban Blight: a rock band of 12 year-olds".  In 1978, brother Jamie and friends Danny Lipman (guitar, trumpet and vocals), Paul Vercesi (alto sax) and Tony Orbach (tenor sax) joined Keene and Jere Faison - who would later be replaced by Wyatt Sprague (bass) - to form the line-up that went on to perform their original blend of Funky R&B and Reggae.

Urban Blight headlined all the major clubs in New York, regularly played throughout the Northeast and did well-received U.S and European tours. Winners of the WLIR-FM and K-Rock battles of the bands, and recipients of a New York Music Award, the band shared bills with dozens of groups including national headliners like The Red Hot Chili Peppers, UB40, Duran Duran, Cyndi Lauper and Kid Creole. The band even headlined a performance at The Ritz on October 26th, 1984 for which the Beastie Boys opened and with whom they remain close.

Though the band is no longer active, they played an incredibly tight, energetic and well received set of their best known tunes last night.  If you were a fan from back in the day it was almost like stepping into a time warp and being transported back to the heyday of the 1980's.  The songs sounded fresh and danceable and the band seemed road tested despite this being their first show in three years.

While I wasn't able to make it to the show last night, a few hardcore fans of the band did, and one of them was kind enough to film most of the show and post it on his blog.   Have a look at three of the band's most well known songs below.  Here's to hoping they consider playing out and about more often!

Get Closer

House Of Gold

Knock Me Out

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Jamaica All-Stars Record Japan Earthquake Relief Ska Single 'Starting Over'

There is a great story in the Jamaica Observer today about a musical collaboration featuring 18 reggae and dancehall artists, some of them legends, to help aid recovery efforts in earthquake-ravaged Japan. The group -- Jamaica All-Stars -- was pulled together by two ex-pat Japanese women living in Jamaica, Jun Tochino and Yumiko 'Yumi' Gabe.  The super group have recorded two ska songs -- 'Start Over' and 'Matsushima', a B-side instrumental. All the proceeds will go to the Japanese Red Cross.

The A-side 'Starting Over' is a classic early 60's style ska song written by Luciano and features several popular veteran reggae artists including Bunny Wailer, Coco Tea, John Holt, Josey Wales, Junior Reid, Half Pint, Ken Boothe, Marcia Griffiths, U-Roy, Yellowman among others. Matsushima is a ska instrumental inspired by Saitara-Bushi, a famous fishermen's song that originated in the devastated area of northeastern Japan.

Japanese interest and love for reggae music started in 1985 when Reggae Sunsplash started touring Japan giving many Jamaican artists a foothold in that country which has also developed its own reggae and dancehall acts.

Watch the official video of 'Start Over' below:

The song will be available for sale on iTunes shortly.

Big Youth & Blue Riddim Band Release 30th Anniversary Re-Mix Of 'Nancy Reagan'

America's original reggae band have linked up with reggae legend Big Youth to release a new version of the band's classic 80's track 'Nancy Reagan' which has been re-titled 'Nancy Reagan Remix 2011 - Voice Of The People'.  The original was a good natured poke at U.S. President Ronald Reagan and his wife and a statement about where the First Lady's (and our country's) misguided priorities lay during the 1980's.  It has been updated to reflect the state of the world in the 21st century and Big Youth delivers scorching lyrics describing today's geo-political situation at home and abroad breathing new life into the track.

Blue Riddim Band hold a very special place in the history of American reggae music. This all-white band from Kansas City, Missouri have the distinction of being the very first American reggae band to be invited to play at Reggae Sunsplash. Their blazing set of ska and reggae covers and originals as dawn was rising over Jarrett Park on August 8, 1982 is legendary. They earned two encores from the crowd of 20,000 Jamaicans who were mesmerized by their 'blue eyed reggae.' Their Sunsplash performance was recorded for the LP 'Alive In Jamaica' released in 1984 which was nominated for a Grammy for best reggae album in 1985. The record's highlight is a blistering live version of 'Nancy Reagan' (see video below).

Nearly three decades later I'm amazed at how well 'Nancy Reagan' has held up as an example of roots reggae from the golden era of rockers. The dub effects on the original 12" single of "Nancy Reagan" were as mind blowing as anything being produced by King Tubby, Scratch Perry or Mad Professor. Even now in the year 2011, the wry humor of 'Nancy Reagan' rings true in our contemporary era of corporate greed and relentless hyper-capitalism. With brilliant lyrics including, "All my clothes are from the best designers/All my china is a perfect match', the song may be one of the most overlooked reggae rhythms ever recorded. The track was originally recorded at the Channel One studio in Jamaica in 1982 while the band was on the island to perform at Reggae Sunsplash and was released as an EP along with five other songs.

This is not the first time the song has been versioned.  In 1985 the 'Nancy Reagan' track inspired a young fan of the band living in California to use the track to create a protest song that would be critical of the ongoing Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and his view that it was being perpetuated by Reagan. Calling in a few favors, he was able to land the help of reggae enthusiast David Lindley, who mixed the "Nancy Reagan Re-Election Remix" side, and of Ranking Roger of The English Beat and General Public , who featured on "America & Russia/Selective Service System" and a free-style toast over the basic 'Nancy Reagan' track. Read more about that story and have a listen to the Ranking Roger version below.

I recently connected with Blue Riddim Band bassist Todd "Bebop" Burd who filled me in on the how the band connected with Big Youth to record the update and to discuss the launch of Rougher Records which is behind the release of the track.  Read on!

How did you link up with Big Youth? He knew the band from back in the day right?
Yeah, he was dancing his ass off at Sunsplash! Every since then, he`s been an avid supporter of the band. We were his backing band for a U.S. tour in 2000. We've stayed in touch over the years and his council is HIGHLY valued in our camp. After we released "TRIBUTE", more than a few of the remaining old cats took notice including Big Youth. We also have a single in the works with Bob Andy. We've talked with others as well. Many of the veterans/originators of the music feel like much of what was great about the early days of rocksteady/reggae has been forgotten in Jamaica. We get the impression the old guys dig what we`re doing. We`re just humbled to be able to see this project materialize and to work with one of the true greats of reggae music.

What was it like working with Big Youth in the studio?
I`m tempted to describe having him fly to Kansas City, recording for days for stories sake.  But, we did everything over the Internet. That`s how we roll these days! Our engineer, Leonard Dstroy totally MASHED UP the mix on this track! All right here in Kansas City! We've always been proud to represent our home town and we keep all our production local. For old school reggae, the coasts ain't got nothing on K.C.! ( Laughing) Having worked with him before,  I can tell you he`s super easy going. Just one of the guys. Totally humble.

This is a remix of the Nancy Regan riddim right?
We remastered the original (which is the "B" side of the vinyl , soon to be released as a single in it`s own right, 30th anniversary) and Big Youth voiced over that. What you hear is the original mix remastered. It was originally mixed by Jack Nuber who also mixed several Bob Marley records (can`t recall at the moment). So it is his mix with us dubbing in Big Youth and working a little studio magic to make it all come together.

Any plans to tour/perform together?
It`s a lot easier to produce records than it is to put a band on the road! We have plans in the works. It`s complicated to put it all together. International travel ain't what it used to be and can present many
challenges. But we`re confident that we will be backing up Jah Youth (again) in the very near future. You`ll be the first to know, Marc!

Tell me a bit about Rougher Records?
The label was formed by myself and my partner, Emily 'Goldilocks' Madison. We both play in bands and have faced the same stigma of being reggae bands from the Midwest . We talked about how people around here tend to be ashamed to represent our area and always look elsewhere for "real music". We talked about the need to have an administrative body outside of our bands to handle the business end of the music. I realized that after 30 plus years of playing and producing this music that my skills combined with Emily s would present a formidable label that could compete on an international level. It is a full time job for two people but we feel that that the Internet has leveled the playing field and with hard work, anything is possible. We are pleased with the results thus far and intend to keep looking for artists to add to the roster.

Have a listen to the track below:

The song 'Nancy Reagan 2011 Remix - Voice Of The People' remix featuring Big Youth is now available from Rougher Records and the band has also released a limited edition 7" vinyl single featuring the 'Nancy Reagan 2011Remix - Voice Of The People/ version on the A side and a 'Remastered Original Nancy Reagan' on the B side. This is a limited first run pressing that will be numbered to 200 so be sure to get one soon before they are all gone!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Gig Alert: Reggae Meets Ska in Orange, NJ This Friday May 20th - Bigger Thomas & Pidgin Droppings In A Combination!

Here is a heads-up to any adventurous music fans looking to venture a little bit outside New York City this weekend to hear ska and reggae music and eat some amazing food. This Friday May 20th,  Hat City Kitchen in Orange, New Jersey is featuring a double-bill of the reggae/hip-hop sounds of Pidgin Droppings and the old school 2-Tone sound of my band Bigger Thomas (who will be joined by special guests Roy Radics of The Rudie Crew).

Hat City Kitchen is a relatively new venue anchoring an arts district that is helping revitalize the East Orange and Orange area (its name has historical roots -- a century ago, Orange was known as Hat City when the Stetson brothers, among more than 30 other firms, operated hat factories there).  It serves 'comfort food with soul' (the fried chicken, jambalaya and bread pudding get rave reviews!) along with a broad mix of bands and musical performers and has quickly established itself as an upcoming destination for music fans across the New York metropolitan area.

This is the first official Bigger Thomas show of the Summer of 2011, so here's to hoping all you Jersey folks who have trouble getting into New York City will come out and enjoy the food, vibes and music.  Here is a little taste of what you can expect if you do. The song 'Permanent Error' is on our new CD 'Steal My Sound' which is available as a 'pay-what-you-want' download.

Hope to see you at the show!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Clash Star in Long-Lost 1980′s Gangster Parody 'Hell W10' Directed By Joe Strummer

Behold fans of The Clash! The blogosphere has once again uncovered a rare gem!  I present for your viewing pleasure a very rare gangster parody film titled 'Hell W10' (named after the postcode of Notting Hill in London) that Clash frontman Joe Strummer wrote and directed during the summer of 1983 featuring his band mates, while the band was on a break from touring. Its bittersweet to watch, as this is the very last creative project the band worked  on together before Jones was ousted from the band in late 1983.

'Hell W10' is a 50 minute-long, Super-8 silent film that plays like Mean Streets made on a shoestring budget. A tale of gang warfare between a brigade of punks led by bassist Paul Simonon and a bunch of sharp-suited gangsters fronted by guitarist Mick Jones. The film is an amateurish, silly, funny, gory, and fascinating document of the time, made even more interesting as the film was thought lost until a pair of fans found a copy at a garage sale a few years back (the film was later released as part of the Essential Clash DVD collection).

While it's not exactly the kind of film you watch again and again, it's worth viewing at least once for the images of London in the early '80s and the gusto with which the band members throw themselves into their roles -- Jones camps it up like a pantomime villain as pornographer Mr. Socrates, Simonon plays his Jimmy Cliff-channeling rude boy nemesis Earl and Strummer puts in a cameo as a mustachioed crooked cop (prefiguring his later movie work in Alex Cox's 'Straight to Hell' and Jim Jarmusch's 'Mystery Train'). Tony James and Martin Degville who later went on to form Sigue Sigue Sputnik also feature in the film.

The plot surrounds a man named Earl (Simonon) and a drug-lord/porn director/crime lord named Socrates (Jones). Earl's girlfriend gets involved with Socrates and soon enough Earl becomes the man's number one enemy. Socrates tries to get his goons on Earl's case, especially after he sells a batch of Socrates' x-rated films, but Earl manages to wrangle up a group of his friends to rebel against them.  Hell W10 is no masterpiece. The camera work is sloppy at times and individual scenes last longer than they need to. Still, it’s hard not to enjoy any movie with an all-Clash soundtrack, and I got a huge kick out of watching Mick Jones scowl in his white tuxedo like a silent-film Scarface.

The soundtrack is a highpoint and worth the downsides and features excerpts from a mix of instrumentals of well known Clash songs, as well as a few rarities including in order "Version City", "Rudie Can't Fail", "First Night Back in London (Instrumental)", "Know Your Rights (Instrumental)", "Long Time Jerk (Instrumental)", "Cool Confusion (Instrumental)", "Ghetto Defendant (Instrumental)", "Junco Version (Instrumental)", "Atom Tam (Instrumental)", "Silicone on Sapphire", "Wrong 'Em Boyo", "Overpowered by Funk (Instrumental)", "The Call Up", "Red Angel Dragnet (Instrumental)", "Jimmy Jazz", "Mensforth Hill", "Junkie Slip", "Time Is Tight", "Armagideon Time", "Listen", "The Equaliser", "Police on My Back", "One More Dub" and "Rock the Casbah (Instrumental).

Without further ado I present in its entirety Hell W10:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

London International Ska Festival Announces 2012 Dates!

Ska fans around the world rejoice!  Following the huge success of the recent London International Ska Festival his past April, festival organizer Sean Flowerdew has just announced it will become an annual event and that the 2012 version of the four day festival will feature 30 bands and DJs from all over the world across three venues -- The Brixton Academy, The Sheperds Bush Empire and The Islington Academy -- from May 3-6, 2012 in London.  Believe it or not but early bird/discounted priced tickets are already on sale (£99.99 – at a cost savings of £40!). 

According to Flowerdew:
The line up details will start to follow shortly. If you enjoyed 2011′s festival, 2012 is going to raise the standard even higher! We are currently programming a truly exceptional lineup... so expect some more world exclusives and another world-beating 4 day celebration of SKA in all it's beautiful guises. I can't tell you how excited I am about this.
With a diverse mix of bands and performers, the 2011 edition was a ska lover's dream come true.  My hope is that the 2012 version spreads the love out a bit to include more bands from outside the U.K. and Europe.  I would love to see a few more U.S. bands invited to play (The Forthrights, Green Room Rockers, The Aggrolites) as well as a South American band or two  -- Desorden Publico from Venzuela and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs from Argentina -- come to mind.

In the meantime you can re-live the memories of the 2011 version via a variety of merchandise including a DVD, book and album which can be bought from the 2011 festival online shop (every sale helps towards next years festival!)

You can stay up-to-date with the goings on of the 2012 version via Facebook.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Get Ready For The Summer Of The Selecter!: Two Versions Of The Band To Tour & Release New Music

The summer of 2011 is quickly shaping up to be the summer of The Selecter! Thirty years after the band called it quits during the long, hot summer of 1981, not one, but two separate and competing versions of the band (one led by original vocalists Pauline Black and Arthur 'Gaps' Hendricksen and the other by original guitarist Neol Davies) are preparing to release new music and to kick off summer tours.

Black and Hendricksen's band is set to release a brand new digital single titled 'Big In The Body, Small In The Mind' (a cover of a folk song by Woody Guthrie) with cover art by original 2-Tone graphic designer John Sims (see above) and have launched a grassroots  Facebook campaign to help get the song into the U.K. pop charts when it is released on May 30th.  The band plans a series of releases this summer including another single 'Back To Black' (a cover of the Amy Winehouse song) and a new album 'Made In Britain'. The band has an ambitious tour schedule planned and will be in Italy this week followed by festival shows across the U.K. and Europe all summer. To that end, the band has been busy promoting online via a video as well as an interview they posted on YouTube that they conducted with Record Collector magazine. Watch below:

While Davies' version of The Selecter has been relatively quiet since a show in London in January of this year, he has also announced plans to release a new single 'Dolla Fe Dolla' and to play a number of festival shows across the U.K. this summer including an appearance at Bestival on the Isle of Wight on September 9th.  The band's next show is scheduled for June 19th at the Komedia in Brighton. Below is a live version of 'Dolla Fe Dolla':

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The LIfe & Times of Jimmy Scott: From Inspiring The Beatles 'Ob La Di Ob La Da' to Playing Percussion With Bad Manners

Love it or hate it, but The Beatles 'Ob La Di Ob La Da' was Paul McCartney's tribute to Jamaican ska music. Surrounded by the sound of rocksteady and early reggae that was all the rage in the U.K, in the late 60's, McCartney's tale features a character named Desmond (likely after Desmond Dekker who was enjoying a string of hits including 'The Israelites') and his wife Molly set to a ska like rhythm. Even more interesting is the story about the man who was the inspiration for the song -- Jimmy Scott -- and his fascinating connection from The Beatles to New York ska maestro Rob 'Bucket' Hingley of The Toasters and later 2-Tone ska heros Bad Manners.

But let's start at the beginning. 'Ob la di ob la da, life goes on, bra' was a phrase McCartney had heard from a Nigerian friend named Jimmy Anonmuogharan Scott Emuakpor (known as Jimmy Scott), who he met out in Soho night clubs in London. The phrase was Yoruban for 'Life goes on'. Scott was born in Nigeria, and came to England in the 1950's, where he found work as a jazz musician and became an in demand percussion player. He played with Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames in the Sixties, backed Stevie Wonder on his 1965 tour of Britain and later formed his own Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da Band. According to McCartney:
I had a friend called Jimmy Scott who was a Nigerian conga player, who I used to meet in the clubs in London. He had a few expressions, one of which was, 'Ob la di ob la da, life goes on, bra'. I used to love this expression... He sounded like a philosopher to me. He was a great guy anyway and I said to him, 'I really like that expression and I'm thinking of using it,' and I sent him a cheque in recognition of that fact later because even though I had written the whole song and he didn't help me, it was his expression. 
It's a very me song, in as much as it's a fantasy about a couple of people who don't really exist, Desmond and Molly. I'm keen on names too. Desmond is a very Caribbean name.
The fact that Paul used this catch phrase as the basis of a song later became a matter of real controversy with Scott.
"He got annoyed when I did a song of it because he wanted a cut," Paul told Playboy in 1984. "I said 'Come on, Jimmy. It's just an expression. If you'd written the song, you could have had the cut.'"
According to several Web sites dedicated to The Beatles, Scott actually played congas on the recording session for 'Ob la di Ob la da' in July 1968 - the one and only time he worked with the Beatles. Later that year, he was arrested and taken to Brixton prison to await trial on a charge of failing to pay alimony to his ex-wife. He asked the police to contact the Beatles' office to see if McCartney would foot his huge outstanding legal bill. McCartney did, on condition that Scott dropped his case against him over the song.

It took 42 hours to complete the recording of 'Ob La Di Ob La Da', mostly because of Paul's perfectionism. John Lennon was apparently sick of the song when he turned up in the studio. Allegedly under the influence of drugs, he sat down by the piano and smashed the keys at twice the speed of the more ska-like takes. Interestingly, this was the version the Beatles ended up using on the record. Below is one of the more ska-like versions of the song that The Beatles recorded which includes Scott's percussion:

Give a listen to Scott's percussion prowess on his band's hammond jazz funk track below:

Scott's brush with ska music did not end in the 60's with The Beatles. In fact, just as 2-Tone was exploding all over the U.K., Scott joined a short-lived ska and reggae band called I-Witness that had as one of its members Rob 'Bucket' Hingley, who would later move to New York City where he would found The Toasters. I Witness did achieve a small degree of commercial success with the song 'Portabella Cheryl' but the band didn't stick together. I spoke with Hingley who shared the following memories about Scott:
Jimmy Scott was quite a character to say the least. Originally from Nigeria, or Ghana, depending on who you asked or what time of the day it was, he was a virtuoso percussion player. I got to know him well whilst we were both playing in an ska/reggae outfit in London in 1979 called I-Witness and who had some minor success with a tune called Portabella Cheryl. He was on bongos in that band and for him everything was "high life" There really was an irrepressible good humour to the guy and he was fun to work with as he was always very excited about everything and had an incredible energy on stage where he would show up in full tribal regalia. When we were learning the tunes there weren't, according to him, any chords or notes, everything was "a goong-goong"
There was one day where my Jennings Music AC30 (which was pre Vox from 1959) got dropped down the stairs at Ronnie Scott's in London and Jimmy joked that the only thing there older than that was him!
Truly a great person and I was very sad to hear of his passing, but in true Jimmy fashion it was while he was gigging.

In 1983, Scott joined Bad Manners (he's sitting with his dog in the picture above) and toured with the band for three years (I was lucky enough to see him perform with the band at The Ritz in New York in 1984).  He is featured on the band's one American release 'Forging Ahead' on Portrait Records and 'Mental Notes' on Magnet Records and and was still with the band when he died in 1986. According to Doug 'Buster Bloodvessel' Trendle:
"We'd just done this tour of America and he caught pneumonia. When he got back to Britain he was strip-searched at the airport because he was Nigerian. They left him naked for two hours. The next day he was taken into hospital and he died. Nobody is too sure how old he was because he lied about his age when he got his first British passport. He was supposed to be around 64."
In July 1986, a concert featuring Bad Manners, Hi Life International, the Panic Brothers, Lee Perry and the Upsetters as well as many others was mounted at the Town and Country Club in London to raise money for the Jimmy Scott Benevolent Fund. He left a widow Lurcrezia and an estimated 12 children from two marriages. "Jimmy was essentially a rhythmic, charming, irresistible man with the gift of the gab," Lurcrezia Scott wrote in the benefit's program. "If life was sometimes dull, it shouldn't have been, for his stories of people, of places, of incidents, were an endless stream bubbling with fun."

Below are two videos of Bad Manners featuring Jimmy Scott on percussion.  The first is the promo video of the band performing a cover of Millie Small's classic 'My Girl Lollipop' and the other of the band performing their classic 'Special Brew'.  Enjoy and RIP Jimmy Scott!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Exclusive: Interview With Brendog Tween of Mephiskapheles: Satanic Ska? Why Not!

The sound of Mephiskapheles was unprecedented -- even today there really is nothing that compares to their unique take on ska. Along with The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Mephiskapheles was the look and sound of 90's American ska.  Eschewing the 2-Tone foundation of 80's ska, the original band line-up (Brendog Tween, Mikal Reich, Brian Martin, Alexander McCabe, Nubian Nightmare, Rick Sanford, Osho Endo, Dave Doris, Gina Latessa, MIke Berger and Vattel Cherry) took a devil worship concept and built it on top of traditional ska with liberal doses of punk, jazz, oi, alternative rock and metal. Visually the band's image and look were just as startling (it certainly didn't hurt that a few band members worked for a cutting edge New York ad agency), featuring a singer with the voice of a death metal screamer, trained jazz horn players and a motley crew of punk rockers who quickly took the 90's New York and American ska scenes by storm.

While their calling card may have been a jokey cover of 'The Bumble Bee Tuna Song' (ironically voted one of the worst ska songs of all time when the readers of Skatastrophy weighed in during the mid-90's) in true Mephiskapheles fashion the band agreed! As trombonist Greg Robinson said, 'It's a really annoying tune but we've got to play it'.  And play it they did, first in front of fervid hometown crowds and then around the U.S. and later Europe. I grabbed a copy of their first demo tape 'The DEMOn' at a show we played with the band and its those early songs that still resonate with me.  The song 'Eskamo' has a horn line The Skatalites could have written in the 60's. The title track 'Doomsday' is still my favorite, taking the gloom and dread of The Specials 'Ghost Town' and The Selecter's 'Celebrate The Bullet' and updating it for a 90's audience.  The soundtrack to the end of the world never sounded so damn good.

I have very clear memories of my band Bigger Thomas playing a few shows with Mephiskapheles.  One particularly memorable show was at The Court Tavern in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1990 or 1991 where they turned a initially passive audience who were unfamiliar with them into a heaving mass of thrashing bodies.  It was quite a sight and one that the band re-created night after night whereever they played.

Working with noted producer Bill Laswell, the band licensed their first album 'God Bless Satan' to Moon Ska Records and the LP was a hit for the label in 1995 (granted catalog number 666!).  It also marked the first time the label received complaints from the religious right and that it had a band with a video on MTV.   Mephiskapheles would go on to release two more albums 'Maximum Perversion' in 1997 (also licensed to Moon Ska) and 'Might-ay White-ay" in 1999.  I had the chance to re-connect with the band's original guitarist and co-founder Brendog Tween recently and he took a walk down memory lane with me about his days in the service of his satanic majesty.  Read on...

Where did you grow up and what bands or music influenced you the most?
I’m originally from the New York, the NYC burbs. It was a 15 minute bus ride to the end of the number 1 train, so I spent most of my errant youth in NYC.

Do you remember the first record or single that you ever bought?
I don’t, honestly. I have a brother who is three years older than me, most of the music I listened to came from his collection. He had broad tastes in music, and I latched onto the NYC punk records he had – particularly Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers.

What inspired you to pick up the guitar?
I decided I wanted to be Ace Frehley when I was about 9 years old. I mowed lawns and shoveled driveways for a year to buy my first shitty guitar and amp at the local music shop. If I only could have afforded lessons, I might have gotten good at it. In retrospect, it was worth doing it the way it was done!

Tell me about The Shaved Pigs? You recorded two albums of hardcore punk in the late 80’s right? Did you see any parallels between the NYC punk and ska scenes?
The Shaved Pigs evolved out of one of the first ‘originals’ bands I was ever in, called Social Insecurity. The lead singer Peter Niemi and I were BFFs and got together at his place on the upper west side to write some songs in about -1981 or so. Once we had a few, we added “Wailin’” Frank Maelan on drums and the beautiful Kanna Watanabe on bass and started to gig at shitholes in the east village. Kanna and Frank eventually quit, and we added Ron Papka on bass, Mike Berger on tenor sax and Andy Malm on drums. Eventually, Peter quit and was replaced by Roy Edroso. Roy and Andy later formed The Reverb Motherfuckers – an A+ band if you have the chance to check them out.

The Shaved Pigs recorded two LPs at NoiseNY, produced by Kramer, and a few EPs done by various labels, and we got lucky, cause the BBC radio host Jon Peel really liked us, and played our records often on his show. It’s like that old joke “we were popular in England”. We toured a couple times and really had a blast, but it all ended in about 1989 or 1990 after a European tour. We were just tired of it, I guess. (Have a listen to 'You Don't Wanna Know' from 1988).

The hardcore and ska scenes in NY were vastly different animals, really. The main difference that I noticed – cause there was definitely some crossover, was the drugs people did. In the ska scene, the kids drank beer and smoked weed. In the hardcore scene, they did harder drugs. There were a lot of junkies and cokeheads around. That never appealed to me about that scene. I’ll take a beer, thanks.

Tell me about Skatterbrains? The band was short lived but to my ears seemed to be a prototype of what would come later with Mephiskapheles.
Heh- if “Skatterbrains” hadn’t already been in use, we may never have changed our name to Mephiskapheles. That band consisted of the ORIGINAL original lineup of Meph. There were two lead singers – Nubian Nightmare and this Jamaican guy named Ray something, with Rick Sanford on trombone, an English guy named James something on trumpet. Dave Doris on tenor and baritone sax, Gina Latessa on percussion, Vattel Cherry on bass, Brian Martin on keys, me on guitar, Alexander McCabe on alto, and Mikal on drums and Stu Klinger (who later played in The Rakes Progress and is now in a Pogues cover band called Streams of Whiskey). We lost Stu, Ray and James and added Osho, then recorded The DEMOn with me, Mikal, Brian, Nightmare, Alexander, Osho, Rick, Dave, Gina and Vattel. This was the “original” Meph lineup – the ones who stuck around, anyway!

Where and when did you hatch plans to start Mephiskapheles? Was the satan concept already thought out?
Mikal and I were roommates and worked together, and after the Shaved Pigs called it quits, he got me listening to The Specials… he was good friends with Dave Doris and I was friends with Nightmare and thought he’d make a great front man. We recruited Brian, who was friends with a skinhead friend and we got together and started working on music. The satan concept was a natural fit – believe me!

I always loved that the band was a mix of music school jazzbo’s and self taught punk rockers. Was that by accident or design?
When you consider who wrote the music as it evolved, it makes sense. The music on the first album was written almost entirely by Brian, Mikal and I over many 12 packs of beer. The second album was written almost entirely by the horns and Mike Bitz. The influences are very evident on the respective albums.
It wasn’t by design, though, it just happened the way it did. We’d need a horn player, so the other horn players would recruit from among the people they liked and wanted to play with. I suppose if we’d had shitty players to begin with, we’d have ended up a shitty band. I’m glad it didn’t work out that way.

For the uninitiated, how would you describe the sound of the band?
I suppose I’d say we were a dark theme punk/ska band that evolved into an avant garde jazz ska band that evolved into a ska/growlcore band? I’m not sure, really. Mitay Whitay defies categorization!

The band started playing out in 1990 and released a great demo called 'Doomsday' (which I still have on cassette somewhere!). What are your memories of the NYC ska scene of the early 90's?
I have an audio cassette of our first show. Victor Rice played bass, actually. I have to digitize it some time. It was, as I recall, January 3rd, 1991. The date is written on it… It was at a place called Hugos on Long Island. That was the venue for our second gig, too. We were very lucky – people took to us at our very first gig, and I don’t think we ever had a really shitty gig in the US after that. Sure, it happened occasionally on tour that we’d play to an empty room on a Tuesday in Little Rock or something, but we were one of the luckiest bands ever. Deal with the devil? You tell me.

Have a listen to the 'Doomsday' demo below featuring a fantastic version of the classic 'Shame & Scandal':

You were originally signed to Moon Records right?
Actually, no, we never “signed” to any label until we signed with Koch Internation/Velvel in like 1999 – by which time Nightmare and Brian were the only remaining original members. Prior to that we had production & distribution deals only, and Moonska was our first P&D. God Bless Satan did really well on Moonska because Moonska did a good job supporting it.

How did you end up working with Bill Laswell on your first record 'God Bless Satan'? Any stories you can share about the process for recording that album?
It’s funny – Mikal cold-called Greenpoint Studios in Brooklyn and asked if he’d do it. He said “send me a tape”. We did and he said “sure, love to”. It was that easy. He transformed the album, really brought it out front and made it scream. We were very lucky.

I think Mephiskapheles may have been one of the first 3rd wave ska bands to have a video on MTV for the song 'Doomsday'. What was that whole experience like?
That was surreal. The making of the video itself was a trip – Mikal asked a friend, Constantine Limperis, who taught video production at NYC’s School of Visual Arts if he’d like to shoot a music video. Constantine had a great reel of commercial work and had never done a video, so he said “love to”. He got a production crew of students and 16mm film cameras from the school and we did the entire thing – editing included – for under $4000. We then proceeded to give it away to anybody that wanted it, and it found its way into Rancid’s hands. They were guest hosts on MTV’s 120 Minutes, and played it. MTV really liked it, and went on to use bits of the video in other shows – House of Style, Spring Break and the like, which then got it picked up into regular rotation. So it was on about 8 times a day for about 6 months and it really made a big difference in how we were perceived by clubs – and fans – as we went out on the road.  From about 1995 to 1998, we were playing 275 shows a year, constantly on the road.

Can you share any unusual stories about any live shows that were particularly memorable during the early days of the band?
We tried to make every live show unusual without being cheesy. Sometimes we were cheesy, but that’s inevitable in any performing art. As for stories, I could tell them for days, but I would say the most memorable came from the tour we did with GWAR – that was absolutely *epic*.

Below (in nine parts!) is one of the band's more memorable shows from The Wetlands in New York City recorded May 12, 1997.  Though very dark (and I mean in terms of poor lighting for the video camera) the sounds more than make up for it!

Mephiskapheles Live - Part 2
Mephiskapheles Live - Part 3
Mephiskapheles Live - Part 4
Mephiskapheles Live - Part 5 
Mephiskapheles Live - Part 6
Mephiskapheles Live - Part 7
Mephiskapheles Live - Part 8
Mephiskapheles Live - Part 9

You toured with The Buzzcocks? What kind of reception did you get from their fans?
We shared fans with them – a lot of the people who liked the Buzzcocks liked us, too. Unlike some bills where the bands are incompatible and fans suffer band A or band B, I think most of the people who came felt they got their money’s worth. And the Buzzcocks were fantastic guys – that was a really great time.

Why did the band break-up?
The band never actually “broke up” as it were. It sort of stalled. I left the band before 'Might-ay      White-ay' came out, so I can’t say specifically what ended it, but ya know, it’s the oldest story in rock and roll, isn’t it?

What are your lasting memories of performing with Mephiskapheles?
This is another topic I could bla-bla on for days, really. But when Meph was at our peak – back in 95-96, we were having the time of our lives. When you’re in it, it’s tough to keep a handle on it, to keep perspective, but really, having been a veteran of grueling tours with less popular bands, I don’t think we realized collectively how lucky we really were. The antipathy and anger people develop when they live on top of each other is a luxury that you don’t appreciate til you don’t have it anymore.

What are you up to musically these days?
A bit – I play in a rock band with the cringeworthy name There Be Dragons and I have recorded some imperfect covers of songs my kids like, I’m doing a sort of punk ska three piece that’s sort of like a cross between Sublime and The Pogues – for which I intend to recruit horns soon and in a weird coincidence, the guys from the Shaved Pigs are tossing around the idea of getting back together for laughs. Who knows??

As one last final diabolical treat, I present you with Episode 66 of The BoneBat Show, featuring their in-depth inveskagation into the diabolical history of Mephiskapheles with Brendog Tween, featuring a number of ultra rare cuts from the band's original 1991 demo with "Dansmenot", "Eskimo", and "Shame and Scandal", and "Satanic Debris" from God Bless Satan. Stream it HERE!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Lee 'Scratch' Perry Plays Pitchman For Guinness - The Story Behind The Dubbiest Beer Ads You Have Ever Seen

Fans of Lee 'Scratch' Perry are generally quite familiar with the iconic reggae producer/artist's creative output. However, chances are that if you lived outside of Ireland in the early 2000's (2001 to be exact) you might not have known that Perry appeared in a series of groundbreaking and utterly surreal television advertisements for Guinness. Shot in and around Dublin by Zak Ove (son of filmmaker Horace Ove whose 1971 documentary, "Reggae", was the first in depth film on reggae music to ever be produced), the campaign, which broke on July 14, 2001, attracted attention to Perry as much as it did the famous Irish stout.

According to an interview that Jay Pond-Jones the art director for the spot did, the entire process of creating the ad spots was not very different from the way Perry has approached producing and recording music-- completely improvised.
"I researched every interview he'd ever given so I knew his musical history and got into some of his areas. From what he calls outerviews, I saw who he spins out into the outer reaches of language and imagination," says Pond-Jones. "We turned these into areas for scripts and filmed around subjects. He wanted to do one on world peace, so we got him in the bar and set him off talking about world peace. We used the flower market and other simple visuals like the dove. The scripts were not written down."

"One thing I was keen to get within the mix was a balance where advertising can actually do something positive, so I was happy the world peace one got such a great reception from the client," says Pond-Jones.

"As an experience, it was interesting working with someone who is just so creative. He writes continuously and is always looking for things and seems very connected to nature. When we were down on the rocks filming, he was going off between takes and exploring. His mind wants to take stuff on board every time and at every turn over, we got a new take on everything. The scene with the dove flying away after he kisses it was the first one we did. It was like a magic moment that made the hair on the back of the neck stand up. You knew you'd witnessed something quite good."
Director Ove described the spots as surreal visual interpretations of Perry's words. For example, Perry told Ove he meditates while in his tub, so one spot finds him speaking from within his tub in a variety of locations, representing the dub originators mental travels.

The spots have to be seen to be really appreciated. They are a unique instance where I can truly say that art and commerce have merged with magnificent results. Watch and enjoy them all below (hopefully while you enjoy a pint of black gold!). Thanks to Dangerous Minds for the tip!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Return Of Urban Blight! - 80's NYC Funky Reggae Ska Band Reunite For One Night

Urban Blight are back! The original 7-piece funky ska/reggae band from New York City are reuniting to perform for one night at Webster Hall in New York City on Sunday May 22nd as part of a benefit to support the Children's Museum of the Arts. The show is being hosted by Adam 'Ad-Rock' Horowitz of the Beastie Boys. It will be Urban Blight's first show since they played a one-off to celebrate their 30th anniversary in 2008 and only their second show since the band stopped playing in 1998.

By late 1986 and 1987 what is now considered the core of the old school New York ska scene had quickly coalesced. Urban Blight along with The A-Kings, The Boilers, The Toasters, Second Step and Beat Brigade helped to create one of the most vibrant, creative and important ska scenes in the U.S. which in turn helped to galvanize scenes across the country. Urban Blight were unique in that the band had formed when many of the members were still in elementary school in the early 1970's and went on to become one of the most popular live bands in all of New York City throughout the 80's and early 90's.

I was always intrigued by Urban Blight and was a huge fan of their 'From The Westside To The Eastside' album (and their contribution to the NY Beat: Hit & Run compilation -- 'Escape From Reality' -- may be one of the best songs on the compilation) . While they were considered a part of the New York ska scene, they were also separate from it. They certainly incorporated elements of ska into their sound, but they also brought in more funk, jazz, pop and RnB than their NYC ska contemporaries and they sought to blaze their own trail which took them very close to being signed to a major label record deal. Sadly that opportunity eluded them. Nevertheless, their horn section was considered one of the best in New York City and they featured on several early Beastie Boys LPs including 'License To Ill' (hence the connection with Horowitz above).

My first introduction to Urban Blight was when I saw them open for UB40 at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City in March of 1984. I was immediately struck by the fact that the singer was playing the drums and that he was at the front of the stage. Next I was amazed at the pure energy and musicianship on display. What was even better was the band really seemed to be enjoying themselves. The fact that they were friends was clearly evident. This was a band who trusted one another and the performed like a well oiled machine. The crowd was behind the hometown boys and they gave UB40 a run for their money.

Urban Blight headlined all the major clubs in NYC, regularly played throughout the Northeast and did well-received U.S and European tours. Winners of the WLIR-FM and K-Rock battles of the bands, and recipients of a New York Music Award, Urban Blight shared bills with dozens of groups including national headliners like The Red Hot Chili Peppers, UB40, Duran Duran, Cyndi Lauper and Kid Creole.

According to an interview that bassist Wyatt Sprague did with the New York Daily News in 1995, Urban Blight had its origins in a band he started with elementary school classmate Keene Carse called Black Lightning. "We were the only 12-year-old band playing originals," he said. They were stars of block parties and regulars in their school auditorium. They spent one weekend being driven around the city, helping draw audiences for 1972 U.S. Presidential candidate George McGovern. "We'd get paid, maybe $50, and our parents were the roadies," he said.

Most of the band members, went to Stuyvesant High School and then New York University from which they based themselves in their early years. Weekday nights, Urban Blight rehearsed. According to the New York Daily News article, they weren't like other local bands whose members played in a number of groups or chased studio jobs. "Urban Blight," Sprague said, "we were obsessed by it, like a religion. We thought if we kept at it we'd get what we deserved."

All proceeds raised at the show will support the expansion of the Children's Museum of the Art's free programs for young artists in New York City, including building a new home for the museum in downtown New York City opening in Fall 2011. For more information visit the Facebook page the band has created for the show.

Below is the band's video for the song 'Tall N Lonely Buildings' and a few videos of the band performing at their 30th anniversary back in 2008:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bad Manners Kick-off 2011 North American Tour

The ska legend that is Buster Bloodvessel, famous for his bald head, big belly (now reduced by gastric by-pass surgery) and one of the largest tongues in the music business and Bad Manners have just kicked-off a 40-city coast-to-coast tour of the U.S. and Canada billed as 'The Alternative Royal Wedding North American Tour' that should bring the band to a hot and sweaty club somewhere near you this month. Though Buster is the only original member, he is backed by a crack band of talented musicians.

Buster and Bad Manners had 9 Top 40 UK hits in the early 80's including "Lip Up Fatty", "My Girl Lollipop", "The Can Can", "Special Brew" and "That'll Do Nicely" and they gave Madness a run for their money as the Kings of Ska comedy. The band's vast and diverse back catalog of albums (some which were out-of-print) is now finally available in both digital and vinyl formats. Earlier this year, Cherry Red Records re-issued the band's first four albums, Ska 'n' B, Loonee Tunes!, Gosh It's... Bad Manners and my personal favorite Forging Ahead on CD for the first time with added bonus tracks. The albums were issued on their Pressure Drop sister label.

My band Bigger Thomas has had the pleasure of performing with Buster and Bad Manners several times and he has always been a down-to-earth gentleman and fantastic story-teller. I was also able to personally witness his pre-gig head shaving routine that he has done since the early days of the band and got a chance to compare tongue size with him. It was no contest.

I'm working on an interview with Buster that will be posted here in the next week, so be sure to check back in.  In the meantime, please go out and support the band when they come through your hometown.

Monday, May 2, 2011

'Vintage Reggae Bash' Concert From 1983 Puts Brooklyn On The Reggae Map

New York has long been the mid-point for reggae up from Jamaica or over from England.  Brooklyn in particular has long been one of the key spiritual homes for reggae outside of Jamaica.  There has always been a large West Indian community in New York City's largest borough. As such, Brooklyn has been the site of many important reggae shows over the last 30 years but none may be as historically important than the 'Vintage Reggae Bash' in Brooklyn sometime in 1983.  The show featured a who's who of legendary reggae artists in their prime including Big Youth, Leroy Sibbles, Ken Boothe, The Blues Busters - Lloyd Campbell and Phillip James, and Max Romeo.

The show was held at the Empire Roller Skating rink in Crown Heights Brooklyn (which sadly was closed in 2007). The 30,000-square-foot venue was a go-to spot for skate-world renegades in the early 70s, and was a de facto community center where teenagers came after school and families spent the weekend. It was actually a perfect place --in the heart of the largest West Indian neighborhood in Brooklyn -- to host such a historically important music event such as this in the early 80's.

The show reveals the diverse artistry of reggae music at the dawn of the 80's and is a stark reminder of the role that New York and Brooklyn in particular played as the birthplace for hip hop and reggae's fertile cross-pollination. Just a few years later the rapper Just-Ice's 1987 single 'Going Way Back' traced the history of hip-hop in New York as far back as the Jamaica-born DJ Kool Herc whose sound system started the genre. Indeed, watching the 'Vintage Reggae Bash' begs the question: What would the musical landscape looked and sounded like if reggae and not hip-hop had become the next big musical wave out of New York? 

The concert opens with a true Jamaican veteran, Max Romeo (who moved to New York City in the late 70's). Although Romeo started his career in the ‘60s, he’s probably best known for the tracks 'Wet Dream' in the late 60's and 'War Inna Babylon' from the mid-‘70s. And while no live rendition can match Lee “Scratch” Perry’s original studio production, Romeo's version sounds great in concert. Romeo mixes it up a little bit, too, beginning with the chorus from John Lennon’s 'All We Are Saying Is Give Peace a Chance'.

Ken Boothe is also impressive (his recent appearance at the London International Ska Festival 28 years after this performance shows what a true performer he is). Wearing a sharp white suit, Boothe has a likeable Otis Redding rasp to his voice. He’s also a smooth dancer. He includes the social justice anthem 'Freedom Road' in his set, as well as 'Don’t Want to Say Goodbye', 'Moving Away', and one of his most well-known songs 'Everything I Own' which hit #1 in the UK in 1974.

The high-voiced Leroy Sibbles also makes an impression with his four selections. Sibbles started out with the vocal trio the The Heptones. And while he performs here without the harmonies of his two former mates, he still brings a lot of life to 'Party Time', an old Heptones tune.

The appearance of the Blues Busters reveals just how much history is covered by the entertainers on this stage. Lloyd Campbell and Phillip James got their start in the late-‘50s, (and performed at the 1964 New York World's Fair) and come off like a Jamaican version of Sam & Dave. Dressed in red and white suits, they offer a nice throwback to vintage soul days.

The highlight of the show though is Big Youth. He gets the most video time with six songs presenting the far tougher, more politically rooted sounds of reggae. This approach is exemplified by 'Every Nigger Is a Star', which takes Boris Gardiner's version and places it into an extremely confrontational stance.

Watch clips of Ken Boothe, Max Romeo, Delroy Wilson and Big Youth below and enjoy!