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

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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.

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XOXOXO Lily & Generoso



Bovine Ska and Rocksteady 6/30/15: Keith and Tex Interview and Spotlight

Keith and Tex and Generoso and Lily

Keith and Tex with Lily and Generoso June 28th, 2015

While living in Los Angeles these last two months, Lily and I have picked up some amazing vinyl and been the beneficiary of some truly great shows of the Jamaican oldies variety.  This week, after seeing Keith and Tex wow a crowd at Don The Beachcomber in Huntington Beach, we had the opportunity to get an interview with the dynamic duo of Derrick Harriott’s Crystal/Move and Groove Label.  That interview, along with a few selected cuts would be our spotlight for this week’s (June 30th, 2015) episode of the Bovine Ska and Rocksteady.

Before we got to the interview and music spotlight on Keith and Tex, we started off the program with two sets of red hot ska starting with one of our favorite ska-era cuts from Toots and The Maytals entitled “Peggy,” a fun record from BMN in 1965 that begins with some snappy guitar riffs.  After our mento set, we went version to version crazy, beginning with the Lee Perry produced Untouchables track, “Confusion” from 1970 and it’s version from Val Bennett and The Upsetters, “Big John Wayne.” After Ken Boothe’s sublime 1969 record, “Just Another Girl” and The Rudies 1970 classic, “The Split,” it was on to the Keith and Tex spot.

We learned much from our interview with Keith and Tex, especially their writing technique from now and then, their output for Derrick Harriott, and their feelings for Lynn Taitt, who played on many of their finest recordings from back in the day, including the iconic riffs present in their biggest and perennially covered classic, “Stop That Train.”  Thanks to Keith and Tex for taking the time out to speak with us.  Lovely gentlemen that you should see as they are currently on tour. And also thanks to Keith and Tex ‘s manager, Nathan Ranking, for setting up the interview on such short notice.

Check out the show for yourself HERE and do subscribe to our FREE podcast at:

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Bovine Ska and Rocksteady 6/23/15: The Torpedo Label

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A fine cut on Briscoe’s Torpedo Label


So, after last week’s misfire with Mixcloud (it sadly seems that the limit for tracks from a single artist is four) we decided to turn our attention this week to the thunderous and at times daffy early reggae sounds of England’s Torpedo Label.  That of course started at the midway point of the podcast.  We began the show with two sumptuous sets of rocksteady, beginning with a rare cut from Merritone that you must hear called “Fountain Bliss.”  After a mento set that featured a Lord Fly composition called “Mabel.”  After a long a frenzied ska set, we went right into our spotlight of the Torpedo Label.

Lambert Briscoe ran the Hot Rod sound system in Brixton, and from the popularity of his soundsystem, emerged the Torpedo record label, which was founded by Briscoe and Eddy Grant, yes the same Eddy Grant of The Equals and eventually Electric Avenue fame. Torpedo was founded in 1970 and was short lived; it folded in the same year but was eventually revived for a stint 1974. As a result of this, we will split this spotlight according to the birth year and the rebirth year of Torpedo, beginning with the very first single released on the label, Pussy Got Nine Life by the Hot Rod All Stars, the Torpedo label’s house band, consisting of Ardley White, Danny Smith, Earl Dunn, and Sonny Binns. Originally known as The Rudies, they were renamed after Lambert Briscoe’s soundsystem as the Hot Rod All Stars, and somewhere between the transformation from The Rudies to the Hot Rod All Stars, the group also spurred off and developed into The Cimarons, who would become the pre-eminent backing band for the English reggae scene. In addition to Lambert Briscoe himself, Larry Lawrence also produced for the Torpedo label, most notably, he was the producer of Errol English’s cover of The Small Faces, Sha La La La Lee.
With 1970 marking the height of the skinhead reggae movement, characterized by a fast, danceable rhythm, the English market was dominated by Trojan and Pama, two heavyweights that had many subsidiary arms and stables with major artists, making it difficult for a small label like Torpedo to survive past its first year, which it unfortunately did not. Then, by 1973, the skinhead reggae of the previous years began to lose traction, signed especially by the folding of reggae specialized music shops. But as the late 60s/early 70s fast reggae left the spotlight in 1973, roots reggae with its markedly slower skank took its place, particularly due to the release of Bob Marley’s To Catch a Fire. Consequently, with this resurged interest in reggae, Eddy Grant opened up the Torpedo label again in 1974, but now focused the releases on more of a roots reggae sound. We kicked off the highlights from the Torpedo revival with Johnny Jonas’s Happy Birthday, a track produced by Eddy Grant himself.

Check out the full 6-23-15 Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady podcast on Mixcloud HERE!

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Bovine Ska and Rocksteady 6/9/15: The Viceroys

The Viceroys

The pirate-themed rocksteady of “Ya Ho” on Studio One

We started off this past week’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady podcast, our second since leaving Boston with two sets of joyous fast ska beginning with The Checkmates “Invisible Ska.”  We ended our first hour with two version to version excursions, ending with Delroy Wilson’s ” I Want To Love You,” followed by Big Youth’s sublime version,”Not Long Ago.”   The second hour began with our spotlight on Studio One vocal group, The Viceroys.

The Viceroys began singing together after Wesley Tinglin, Daniel Bernard, and Bunny Gayle met in West Kingston near Spanishtown Road. Tinglin had been singing at Joe Higgs’ music classes in the company of Alton Ellis and Ken Boothe, and after picking up some guitar, he was ready to begin to record with a group. The Viceroys first auditioned for Duke Reid with two tracks written by Tinglin, but Duke Reid was not interested. Consequently, the group went over to Coxone Dodd, who recorded their first single, Lose & Gain, a track also written by Tinglin then arranged by Jackie Mittoo and backed by The Soul Vendors and this was the track that kicked off our spotlight on The Viceroys

Yo Ho was inspired by Tinglin’s interest in The Caribbean Reader, which contained stories about Morgan the pirate and other pirates. After their time with Coxone Dodd, which ended with dissatisfaction with the usually disappointing business practices of Studio One, The Viceroys went over to Derrick Morgan. Our second set began with their rocksteady recorded for Derrick Morgan, Lip and Tongue.

You may listen to this podcast on Mixcloud by clicking HERE! Please subscribe to our podcast series while you’re there.

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Bovine Ska and Rocksteady 6/2/2015: The Rulers

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Superb rocksteady from The Rulers prod by JJ

After a one month hiatus where we packed up and moved across the country, Lily and I are back this week to continue the Bovine Ska and Rocksteady as a weekly podcast through Mixcloud being uploaded every Tuesday at 9PM (PST) midnight (EST).  The show’s format will remain the same as it has since 1996, concentrating on early Jamaican music from 1955-1975,with a mento set and artist spotlight midway through the program.  What is new is that we will report out on live Jamaican music happening in the Southern California area as well as Boston area music updates.  We began this week with four versions of The Melodians “Everybody Bawling” that we always send to our friend, Magnus Johnstone.  We ended the first hour with a set of ska which fed directly into a spotlight on the JJ Johnson produced vocal group, The Rulers.

Surprisingly, there is not much known about The Rulers considering their track, Wrong Emboyo, which was originally produced by JJ in 1967, would become one of the many Jamaican songs that would gain notoriety by being covered by The Clash.  What we do know about The Rulers is that the aforementioned track and many of their others have a writing credit to Clyde Alphonso. We also know that JJ’s preferred house band was Bobby Aitken and the Carib Beats, who backed up all of The Rulers’ releases we will hear this evening, for they were all produced by JJ Johnson for his JJ label. Given that the preponderance of their releases are during the rocksteady era, it is no surprise that many of the tracks’’ lyrics are concerned about rude boys. Similar to Alton Ellis, the Rude Boy tracks cut by The Rulers condemn the actions of the rude boys, such as the first track on this evening’s podcast from 1966, Don’t Be a Rude Boy.

This week’s podcast which will remain up for one week, can be heard here:

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Lily and Generoso


Bovine Ska and Rocksteady 3/11/15: Horace Andy

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Horace Andy on Soul Sound in 1972

We started off this past week’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady with a Derrick and Patsy cover of a song that might go down as one of the most influential in Jamaican music history.  “Let The Good Times Roll” which was a huge hit for Shirley and Lee not only only in the States but in the early days of the Jamaican sound system.  So popular was this cut and Shirley’s childlike vocals that it inspired a generation of Jamaican female vocalists like Millie Small, and Millicent “Patsy” Todd who does a fine job on this cover.  It was followed by seven songs from the Jamaican Rhythm and Blues period including Bobby Aitken’s 1962 cut for the Blues Label, “Hello” and the Blues Busters “Lost My Baby” a beautiful side on the Starlite label in 1992 as well.  And after a set of mento and a pretty set of rocksteady that began with a rare one from Prince Buster from 1967 called “This Gun For Hire!”  We then started a long overdue spotlight of Horace Andy.

Born as Horace Keith Hinds, Horace Andy was born in Kingston in 1951. The cousin of Justin Hinds, he also had a very distinctive voice, so in order to delineate himself from his cousin, Coxone Dodd actually picked a different stage name for him. At the time of Horace’s arrival to the music scene in Kingston, Bob Andy’s career was rising, so Coxone gave Horace the same surname to gain some of the fame coming from Bob. Despite the similar name and the songwriting talent, Horace’s voice however was so different so that when he auditioned for Coxone at Studio One, the producer and label in which he would spend a large chunk of his career, he recalls all of the session musicians at the time dropping their instruments and laughing. Despite the reaction of Studio One’s musicians, another producer had actually heard and taken a chance on Horace Andy first. He actually began his music career with a producer very much adored on the BSR, Phil Pratt. We started with Black Man’s Country, his first recording, which was released on Caltone to kick off this spotlight.

Black Man’s Country did not see too much success, and consequently, Horace ended up at Studio One, where he would gain much of his popularity. His first single for Studio One “Got to Be Sure” was actually the song he auditioned on to the uproarious laughter of the session crew. And at Studio One, Horace would also record his highly regarded LP Skylarking. We heard his debut single for Studio One first and then some highlights from Skylarking next. As a child, Horace spent a lot of time in the library reading, which would end up influencing his songwriting.  A few notes on some of his finest tracks:

Every Tongue Shall Tell: Yes. Well for some Christian minded people and Rasta people it means any wrong you do you are going to have to talk when the time comes. Because that’s what they say the King James Version tells us. That’s what the Bible says and you must live by what the Bible says. But you know the people are not doing it. They only talk it. But that is the reason why [I sang it] because of the inspiration of the Bible. It was before I was even born – “Every tongue shall tell” that means everyone shall confess their wrongs when the right time comes.

See A Man’s Face Inspiration: See A Man was something that happened a long time ago. You see, when you speak the truth no one believes you. I learned that a long, long time ago. Even when you tell your mum “Mum, it’s not me do it” you get bap bap “A you do it!” That’s why more time you have to be close to the kids them and believe them when they tell you things. So I know from a long time ago that no one believes the truth when you talk the truth. That’s why I wrote that song. And because a young man broke my little sister’s heart. It had so much meaning that he broke my little sister’s heart and that’s why I wrote that song then.

You Are My Angel Inspiration: No. Those things just came natural. We love the woman and we look upon her as the mother of the earth. She multiplies and she creates so the father says life. Life is so important so we have to love and respect the woman. Don’t kick them, don’t box them, don’t rape them – no no no. I say it on stage and the ladies scream “We love you Horace!” You are my angel is the original source for the Massive Attack track Angel that Horace collaborated with them on

Money The Root of All Evil:Because I saw it. As a young man growing up I saw it. Because money, wow, it has its good and it has its bad. And because producers weren’t paying me – that’s why I wrote that song.

We hope you enjoy the show!  Love from Lily and Generoso

You can here the entire program: HERE

The archive of this show will be available until 3/25/15


Bovine Ska and Rocksteady 2/25/15: Roy and Millie

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The Wonderful Vocals of Roy and Millie from 1963 on WIRL

This was a fun show and we were more than thrilled to send it out to all of you.  Starting off with a deep cut from the late sister of Alton Ellis, Hortense Ellis gave us the superb 1970 track, “Love Is The Key.” We continues with two full sets of early fast reggae ending with Gladdy Anderson’s 1969 vocal cut for Duke Reid, “Dollars and Cents,” which was released in England on the might Trojan label. As this week was without major snow for the first time all month, we felt the need to have a joyous spotlight in the form of a Roy and Millie spotlight.

Born in Clarendon, Jamaica to a sugar plantation overseer, Millie Small began her music career on the Vere Johns Opportunity Hour. After winning the contest, Millie decided to move to Kingston for a greater opportunity to record and perform. As a young teenager, she first recorded Sugar Plum at Studio One with Owen Gray in 1962, which Roy Panton harmonized with her on because Coxone Dodd wanted a stronger voice on her part because Millie’s voice was much higher than other female voices. And after that initial collaboration, Coxone, seeing the success of the male-female duo through Derrick and Patsy, he suggested Roy and Millie sing as a duo, which was a good instinct; they would see so much local success and popularity together that Millie would eventually capture the attention of Chris Blackwell, who led her to her mega hit in England, My Boy Lollipop. We begun this spotlight on Roy and Millie, starting off with their first recording as a duo together, “We’ll Meet,” which was a debut hit for them that rose to the top ten of the Jamaican charts in 1962.

They would record many times afterwards Roy Panton would continue his recording career as a solo artist and with Yvonne Adams (Harrison) and they still perform to this day. Sadly, the whereabouts of Millie Small are unknown.  We know that she emigrated to England and has a daughter but little else is known. In 2011, Millie was awarded the Order of Distinction in Jamaica but the former Prime Minister, Edward Seaga, excepted it for her in her absence.

Listen to the full program: HERE.

Enjoy! The archive will be available until 3/9/2015




Bovine Ska and Rocksteady 2/18/15: The Twinkle Brothers

The Twinkle Brothers

This Week’s Spotlight Artist: The Twinkle Brothers

 Last week (2/11/15), the Bovine Ska and Rocksteady did its 19th Annual Anti-Valentine’s Day radio show but please never let it be known that Lily and I are against the concept of love.  We are just against the idea that we need a holiday to show that we have love for one another.  Sadly, we found out that on February 15th, Professor Irving Singer, a colleague of Generoso’s while he was at the CMS Program at MIT had passed away.  Irving was a great teacher, philosopher and writer, and a World War Two combat veteran. He wrote the celebrated three volume collection, “The Nature Of Love,” as he spent much of his later life thinking about why we love one another.  We dedicate this show to Irving and we started the show off with two positive sets about love, with tracks like Winston Samuel’s 1964 release for the SEP label, You Are The One (I Love).  And after a mento set and a set of gorgeous rocksteady cuts, we launched into our never before done on the show spotlight of The Twinkle Brothers.

Formed by Norman and Ralston Grant in Falmouth, Jamaica, the Twinkle Brothers began their musical careers, as many of their peers, performing in local festivals and contests. The original line up consisted of: Norman Grant (drums and vocals), Ralston Grant (vocals and guitar), Derrick Brown (bass), Karl Hyatt (percussions), Eric Bernard (Piano) and Bongo Asher (percussion). Shortly after their foundation in 1962, the Twinkle Brothers won the Trelawney Mento Festival, beginning their streak of festival success for the next 6 years, which culminated in gold medals for Norman as a solo artist and the Twinkle Brothers as a group in the all island contest in 1968. In the midst of these festival performances, The Twinkle Brothers caught the attention of Leslie Kong and recorded their first single, “Somebody Please Help Me” in 1966, which is the first track to kick off this spotlight on The Twinkle Brothers.  The name The Twinkle Brothers from an interview with Norman Grant in 2006: “We were rehearsing one day when a Rasta elder by the name of So-Me-Say heard us play and told us he was going to give us a name. He came up with the name Twinkle Brothers. I guess that because it was already nightfall, he got inspired by the stars in the sky. We’ve held that name ever since.”

1970 was a busy year for the Twinkle Brothers. By 1970, the Twinkle Brothers began recording for Bunny Lee, whom they would record about 14 tracks with, and who Norman Grant recalled as his favorite producer.  Bunny also introduced the group to Lee Scratch Perry, and they recorded only one single “Reggae For Days” with him, which is a rare and difficult track to find In 1973, the Twinkle Brothers moved to Phil Pratt and recorded for his Sunshot label. By the mid-70s Norman had begun to dedicate his work in other directions. He opened a record store in Falmouth, and in 1975, he joined the Sonny Bradshaw band. Eventually, Norman moved to the UK.

Listen to the full program: HERE.

Enjoy! The archive will be available until 3/2/2015


Bovine Ska and Rocksteady 2/11/15: The 19th Annual Anti-Valentine’s Day Show


A great sad cut by the late Freddie McKay

OK, I assume that after reading the title of this post, you completely understand where we are coming from with this special edition of The Bovine Ska and Rocksteady. People for varying reasons hate this holiday so we should give you ours: it is the greatest relationship destroying holiday of all time! Unlike other relationship crushing holidays like Christmas, Valentine’s Day sets itself apart in the area of emotional (and sometimes materialistic) expectations.  What to give and plan if the relationship is just a few weeks old could result in an a cataclysmic outcome.  So, what does this have to do with Jamaican music?  Well, like any songwriters and performers of ska, rocksteady and reggae are not exempt from the tortures of love gone awry and this show was packed with their miseries.

Our show began with an hour long tribute to the concept of loneliness featuring such tracks as: “I’ve Been Lonely” by Peter Tosh and Hortense Ellis (Studio One-1966) and “Sometimes I’m Lonely” by The Pioneers (Trojan-1972).  Followed by a second hour which featured tributes to “Tears” and “Sadness” featuring cuts like Errol English’s “Sad Girl” (Torpedo-1972) and “Tears From My Eyes” by the great Jackie Opel (Top Deck-1965).  Each break punctuated by our Anti-Valentine’s Day theme of “He/She Left Me for What?”  Real life excuses, read by Lily, written by couple who broke up over the most trivial of reasons.

Listen to the full program: HERE.

Enjoy! The archive will be available until 2/24/2015

Bovine Ska and Rocksteady 2/4/15: Bobby Aitken

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Our spotlight artist Bobby Aitken 

Coming to you from a frozen, snow-covered Cambridge, it’s the Bovine Ska and Rocksteady!  Wow, these last few weeks have been rough with bad weather.  We are also back this week, after missing last week’s show due to Generoso’s hospital stay.  He’s improving but that combined with the snow has made doing the show difficult but we were glad to be back.   Starting the show off this week were two sets of delicious early reggae, beginning with a massive tune from Sound Dimension, “Great Mu Gu Ra Ga” which was released on Bamboo in the UK in 1970.  Our spotlight would be on the early vocal tracks of Bobby Aitken.

Brother of the godfather of ska, Laurel Aitken, Bobby Aitken, was born in Havana in 1933 and was orphaned in Jamaica at the age of eight. As a boy, he became a mason when his uncle pulled him away from a street gang and introduced him to the masonry trade in order to survive on his own. However, music became a more reasonable means for Bobby, especially seeing that he had a natural gift for it. A precocious 11 year old Bobby built his first banjo from sardine cans and learned how to play guitar on his own. And, by his mid-20s, Bobby had built up his guitar skills and formed the Carib Beats with Charlie Organaire and a man named Morgan in late 1959/early 1960. Together, the group performed primarily calpyso with a few skas, but the trio broke up after the rest of the group did not show up for a performance at the Blue Ribbon Club in Kingston.  As a result, Bobby returned to masonry for a stint, only to make a comeback to music within a year as a solo artist with his single, Cracker’s Rush, which commented on a food shortage in Jamaica and was released in 1961 on the Blues label by Count P, an operator of a soundsystem on Spanishtown Road. We’ll began with this first solo recording of Bobby Aitken to kickoff tonight’s spotlight.

Eventually, after recording for a range of producers including Prince Buster, Coxone Dodd, Linden Pottinger, and King Edwards, Bobby Aitken formed The Carib Beats again with Charlie Organaire and Mike Williams. Other musicians including Bobby Kalphat, Vincent White, Conroy Cooper, Ansel Collins, Carlton Santa Davis, and Val Bennet would also rotate in and out of the group. The Carib Beats recorded for Joe Gibbs, Clancey Eccles, Bunny Lee, and most famously, JJ Johnson.  The second incarnation of The Carib Beats would eventually break up as Bobby decided to focus more on his faith and became who he is known as today: the Reverend Robert Simmonds.

Listen to the full program with our Bobby Aitken spotlight: HERE.

Enjoy! The archive will be available until 2/17/2015