Bovine Ska and Rocksteady 7/21/15: Alvin Ranglin’s GG Label

GG Label A

A great early hit for the GG Label

Hello Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

This week’s program which aired on Tuesday, July 21st, started with two sets of fantastic ska beginning with one of the most unheralded singer/songwriters in Jamaica music history, Wilburn “Stranger” Cole’s 1963 cut for Duke Reid’s Dutchess label, “Boy Blue.”  Gaylad, BB Seaton, ended the first set with a fierce solo cut, “Power” produced by Coxsone in 1963.  After another, mostly instrumental ska set, we charged into our mento set with The Tower Islander’s informative tune, “Advice To Men.”  We ended our first hour with an unusually long rocksteady set, beginning with The Originators, “Red Hot Iron” for Gayfeet in 1967 and ending with Junior Smith flute-infused rocksteady, “Cool Down Your Temper.”  At the end of the first hour it was time to spotlight Alvin Ranglin’s GG Label.

Born in the rural district of Eden in Clarendon in Alvin Ranglin’s interest in music began when he was a child as a choir member in the Adventist church. As a teenager, he moved to May Pen for a better school. In May Pen, Ranglin began to sing publicly in concerts. Music, however, was not his original industry of choice. Ranglin first attempted to become a carpenter, then mason, and then a welder, with no luck. At that point, his mother suggested going to England, but Ranglin stayed and became an electrician, emerging after training as a radio and television technician. Given his skills, Ranglin built tube amplifiers that were sold to musicians, and in the hope to get more music to people beyond the amplifiers, Ranglin opened up his GG’s sound system, named after family members, Gloria, her sister, and a cousin nicknamed Girlfriend. With the soundsystem open and connections to the jukebox industry, Ranglin was ready to record his own singles. The earliest to his label were the Maytones and his singing partner Emmanuel Flowers. With the duo Flowers & Alvin, the label scored a hit with Howdy & Tenky, which was further promoted by Ranglin’s own jukebox circulation.  A major entrepreneur with hands in many businesses ranging from TV repair to gaming machines, Ranglin also opened a record store in May Pen, then Kingston, then Halfway Tree, Old Harbour, and eventually in London and Brooklyn.

The Maytones, Vernon Buckley and Gladstone Grant, were early stars on the GG’s label. Buckley was doing book work and Grant was a mini-bus driver, and the two formed the Mighty Maytones and auditioned for Alvin Ranglin when they heard about his record store in Maypen. The Maytones would see great success with Ranglin until Buckley left Jamaica for Canada in 1980. The house band for the label was the GG All Stars and amongst the rotating musicians who played for GG’s All Stars are: Winston Wright or Glen Adams on keyboards.  On trumpet Bobby Ellis and on sax Roy Samuel or Felix Bennett.  On guitar Alva Lewis or Hux Brown. on Drums were Winston Grennan and Calrton Barrett. On bass Clifton Jackson or Aston Barrett and on piano Theo Beckford or Glady Anderson.

Listen to the 7/21/15 edition of Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady on Mixcloud HERE.

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