Bovine Ska and Rocksteady 8/18/2015: Saying Goodbye To Maurice Roberts And A Spotlight On Justin Yap’s Top Deck Label

top deck label A

BB Seaton Thrills On This Top Deck Cut

Hello Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

Unfortunately, we started off the show this week with some very sad news from BB Seaton of The Gaylads…He posted that his friend, bandmate and co-founder of The Gaylads, Maurice Roberts had passed away.  “Joe” as he was affectionately called by his friends, died after a long period of illness.  We first heard of Joe’s passing health when we interviewed BB Seaton back in the spring of 2012, but there was little information being released on the status of his health so this comes as a surprise.  We started off our program with a few of our favorite Gaylads tracks that were recorded in the early reggae period, including “Someday I Will Be Free,” “Wha She Do Now,” and “My Jamaican Girl” as well as the version of that tune recorded by the Conscious Minds, to which Joe also passed bass.  We send our love and respect to Maurice Robert’s family, and The Gaylads.  RIP Joe.  We ended the first hour with some rare Jamaican rhythm and blues tracks before going into the spotlight of Justin Yap’s Top Deck Label.

Born in 1944 as Phillip Yap, Justin Yap had an early entry into the music industry. As the son of ice cream parlour and restaurant owners, he had the opportunity to play music for his parents customers, setting up an in house sound system. Like so many other sound system operators, Yap realized that in order to stand out, especially to a girl he had a crush on, he had to record original music. Consequently, he began writing songs, and he recruited Ephraim Joe Henry to record  a few tracks for his emerging Top Deck label, including“There She Goes,” which is the track that kicked off our spotlight on the Top Deck label. After the first recordings of Joe Henry, Top Deck was not quite a successful label, but after the arrival of Fitzroy “Larry” Marshall, the label began to gain traction with his cover of Paul Martin’s “Snake in the Grass,” which reached the number one spot in the Jamaican charts.   After working with Baba Brooks and recording his hit of “Jungle Drums,” Yap began to search for more instrumentals. And as a result, he arrived to The Skatalites after finding out that they were not exclusive to Coxone Dodd through a friend. To make the most of his recording time with the Skatalites, which he offered a double rate for, Yap had one enormous session with them that resulted in Ska-Boo-Da-Ba. This outstanding record was recorded in an intense 18 hour session in November of 1964.

Yap moved to America in 1966, where he became a soldier and would eventually fight in the Vietnam War. Consequently, no Top Deck recordings exist in reggae, but thankfully, Yap brought his master tapes with him to America, and consequently, his tapes have been re-mastered and re-released over time. Sadly, Justin Yap passed away in 1999 in liver cancer, but the legaacy of his recordings have continued to live on.

You can listen to our show from August 18th, 2015 by clicking HERE.

Subscribe to the show on Mixcloud to get reminders when we post up the show, and join us on Facebook to get updates on upcoming spotlights, record discoveries, and upcoming Jamaican music performances and shows in the Southern California area!


XOXOXO Lily & Generoso



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