Hello Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners!
We did a splendid show for you this past week with a spotlight of the rare Jamaican label, Little Willie. About midway through the show, you can check out a the thirty minute Little Willie spotlight of top flight reggae from 1971-1974.
Our show started with two sets of rare ska beginning with Llans Thelwell and His Celestials and their 1964 cut for Federal, Mughead Ska! We ended the second set with a classic from the trombone of Don Drummond on Beverleys, Dragon Weapon. After a mento set featuring a tune from the queen of mento, Louise Bennett Hol’ M Joe on Folkways. We ended the first hour with a reggae set that contained a version to version of the Curtis Mayfield classic, Give Me Your Love from the Superfly soundtrack. 1973’s Super Soul from Junior Soul and Superfly from I-Roy from 1974. We then went into our Little Willie label spotlight.
Born in South Manchester, Jamaica, Willie Francis began his career in the Jamaican music industry as a singer in ska. After recording for Prince Buster in the late 60s under the name of Francis, by the time early reggae arrived, Willie opened up the Little Willie Record Label, where he released his own recordings as an artist and as a producer for other musicians. Operating from Francis’s record store on Orange Street, the Little Willie Records label, sometimes called Little Willie Karate Dance Records for the dancer on the label art, released quite a few great reggae cuts that we’re excited to share with you tonight.
Of the artists who stopped by Little Willie, Max Romeo went to the label to record Maccabee Version, which indeed uses the melody of “Good King Wenceslas” and intended to criticize the King James translation of the bible. Searching in the Hills was the debut recording for Calvin Scott, who Willie discovered as a teenager. Willie traveled to Rocky Point, Clarendon to record a group named the Rockydonians. Calvin was the brother-in-law of one of the members, so he hung around them. When the group arrived to the studio, they did not record for Willie; instead Calvin did. Almost ten years later, Calvin would emerge as the artist Cocoa Tea, who has continued to record reggae and has also been quite an influence on dancehall.
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See you here next week!
Lily and Generoso