Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Byron Lee’s Dragon’s Breath Label 9-6-16

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Keith Lyn on Lee’s Dragon’s Breath

 

Howdy Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

Firstly, thank you to everyone how was kind enough to let us know how much they appreciated our Deadly Headly Bennett Memorial show.  Generoso was fortunate enough to have met Deadly back in 1999, when Headley and trombonist, Vin Gordon were performing with Justin Hinds.  Generoso and Headley got a chance to speak that night as Generoso was introducing the show at the Ocean Mist in Rhode Island.  All three men were very kind and exceptional musicians.  Thank you and respect to Vin, who is still with us and much respect to Justin and Headley for their kindness and great contribution to Jamaican music.

The September 6th, 2016 Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady began with the to sets of rare rocksteady, starting with Stranger and Patsy with a lovely cut they did for Tip Top in 1967, Don’t Want To Be Hurt.  The second set began with The Wrigglers and their song, You Cannot Know, which they recorded for Giant in 1968 and that set ended with the King Of Rocksteady, Alton Ellis and My Time Is The Right Time.  Our weekly mento set featured another cut from our favorite mento, Count Lasher on Stanley Motta’s MRS label, Perfect Love.  We ended the first hour with a set of ska to get you ready for the sounds of the Dragon’s Breath label,    A standout during that ska set was from Joe White, a solo ska from him produced by Prince Buster for the Voice Of The People label in 1964, Nite Club!  That set ended with another Buster production, this time it’s the Maytals and their hit, Domino!  We then went right into our spotlight of the Dragon’s Breath label…

By 1956, Byron Lee and the Dragonaires had established themselves as a professional working band that toured the hotel and nightclub circuit. Before these touring years, the Dragonaires performed mento, but in order to play professionally, like so many other bands, they performed versions of American soul and R&B hits. Within three years, the group decided to take a shot at recording, and in 1959, they visited Edward Seaga at WIRL’s studios to record their first single, “Dumplins.” This single was released on the band’s label, Dragon’s Breath, appropriately named in the tradition of the group’s name and, this is the label of our spotlight tonight, which will exclusively contains Jamaican Rhythm and Blues and Ska. We kicked our label spotlight off with three tracks from the Dragonaires that were produced by Byron Lee himself, starting with “Dumplins,” the group’s recording debut.

Dragon’s Breath was pretty short lived, with releases stopping in 1964. Interestingly, there was a bit of a gap in the label; no recordings were released in 1962. We do not know of the reason, but one could be that the label changed hands because by 1963, Prince Buster was the producer for the label and  from that moment on out, we heard those Buster productions as he took the helm of the music released by Dragon’s Breath, including two from Eric Monty Morris which began the second set of the spotlight.

XO Generoso and Lily

This is the September 6, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady and our spotlight on the Dragon’s Breath label:

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Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Happy Jamaica Independence Day! 8-2-16

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Derrick Morgan’s Hails Independence!

Happy Jamaica Independence Day Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

Saturday, August 6th, 2016, was Jamaican Independence Day! In honor of this momentous occasion, we presented a special Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Radio Show on August 2nd, 2016 that featured two hours of the best Jamaican rhythm and blues recordings released in the year of Jamaica’s Independence,1962! Joyous songs of freedom from Prince Buster, Owen Gray, Laurel Aitken, Don Drummond and many many more!

From 1934-1939, Jamaica would experience the British West Indian labour unrest due to the the severe inequalities between British settlers and native Jamaicans. This protest for equality for native Jamaicans would galvanize the beliefs for Jamaican autonomy, with Alexander Bustamante emerging as the thought leader for the protest and a founder of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union.  Alongside the Union, Norman Manley, Bustamante’s cousin, formed the People’s National Party. Originally, Bustamente approved the party and was a member, but he disagreed with parts of the party’s platform.  As a result, he founded the Jamaica Labour Party in 1943.  The JLP and PNP would dominate the politics in these years leading up to independence.

In 1944, Jamaica got Universal Adult Suffrage whereby each adult had the right to vote irrespective of gender, race or financial status, beginning to raise further thoughts around independence.  In 1955, a new constitution was ratified and put in place a two-chamber legislature and organized an Executive Council made up of ten members of the legislature and chaired by the new position of Premier, the head of government. It also set a foundation for a system of checks and balances.

In 1958, Jamaica gained more authority when the nation became independently accountable for all internal affairs and in 1958,  Jamaica became a province in the Federation of the West Indies. Immediately, the political parties in power were weary of the federation because the capital was chosen to be in Trinidad
On May 30, 1960 Bustamante, pulled himself and the members of the JLP from the West Indies Parliament. Then, on September 19, 1961,  Manley, who was the Premier at the time, demanded a referendum vote to see if Jamaica’s residents wanted to participate in the federation or not. Jamaica sought to secede from the federation in 1962, igniting another spark to begin seeking independence from Britain. In February 1962 marked a major success line for the movement for Jamaican autonomy; both Manley and Bustamante traveled to meet with the British Parliament to discuss independence and a new Constitution, and the independence date.

Immediately after the meeting, April 10th was set as the voting day to elect the first Prime Minister of Jamaica.  Alexander Bustamante won the election in April, becoming Jamaica’s first Prime Minister and then, on July 19th, 1962, the British Parliament passed the Jamaica Independence Act, granting independence on August 6th, 1962.   On that independence day, Princess Margaret traveled to Jamaica to represent the Queen in the opening session of Jamaica’s Parliament.  Across the island, celebrations began with the exchange of the British flag with Jamaica’s black, gold, and green flag. The inaugural Jamaica Independence festival occurred on independence day with the event initiated by Edward Seaga featuring many music performances, including one from Lynn Taitt’s own band from Trinidad, who had been invited by Byron Lee.  Furthermore, Eric Coverly, the man behind the floats of the Jamaica Bandwagon and the husband of Louise Bennett, designed floats and arranged for additional arts celebrations for the momentous day.

Happy Jamaica Independence Day! Please enjoy our tribute:

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Gilmore Grant Memorial and The Starline Label 4-5-16

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R.I.P. Gilmore Grant Of The Silvertones


It’s been a tough year for entertainment, and we are sad to pass on the news of Gilmore Grant’s of The Silvertones passing. He went to the hospital with severe stomach pains on March 28th and passed away two days later, just a couple of weeks after The Silvertones performed in St. Elizabeth.

Originally a duo of Gilmore Grant and Keith Coley, the Silvertones became a trio with the addition of Delroy Denton. The group saw early success with Duke Reid, and then proceeded to work with Sonia Pottinger, Clancy Eccles, and Coxsone Dodd. In the late sixties, Denton moved to America, and he was replaced by Clinton “Tennessee” Brown, and the group would continue to record together until Brown’s passing in 1999. In 2013, Grant and Coley added Joel Brown, and the group recorded again and performed live as well.

We send many condolences and respect to Gilmore Grant’s family.  We honored Gilmore with our opening set of the group he helped form, The Silvertones. 

Starline is a subsidiary of Melodisc that produced Jamaican rhythm and blues and ska. The label predominantly released Byron Lee productions along with a few from Laurel Aitken, who produced and performed his own tracks for the label.
It is no surprise that Laurel Aitken has recordings on Starline. As an artist whose work was readily distributed on the well known Melodisc subsidiary Blue Beat in England, Laurel Aitken naturally had the ability to record and produce at Starline. Born in Cuba, Laurel began his career in music as a mento performer for the Jamaican Tourist Board and as a performer in plenty of Jamaica’s talent shows. He first recorded for Stanley Motta and then LR DePass, a businessman who released and sold a few mento and calypso records from his shop which also sold furniture, music instruments, records, and appliances. After he made the move to England in 1960, he continued to record, and when he returned to Jamaica in 1963, Laurel was still productive, recording the body of work that would earn him the nickname and title of the Godfather of Ska.

For news on the upcoming spotlights and fun discoveries tied to early Jamaican music, join the group for the Bovine Ska and Rocksteady on Facebook.

XOXO,
Lily and Generoso

Here is our April 5th, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady which featured a memorial for Gilmore Grant and a spotlight on the Starline Label.

 

 

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Byron Lee’s SOUL Label 2-23-16

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A Jolly Ska From Llans Thelwell on SOUL

Welcome Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

The February 23rd, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady began with two sets of smooth rare rocksteady beginning with a fine release on Buster’s Olive Blossom imprint that featured a duet between Buster and Larry Marshall from 1967 entitled Broken Heart.  After our weekly mento set that included woeful Rent Worries from Chin’s Calypso Sextet we launched into the ska to get ready for the spotlight on Byron Lee’s SOUL Label.

In looking for this week’s spotlight, we realized that while we still have more ground to cover with Duke Reid, Coxsone Dodd, Prince Buster, and the Pottingers, we have missed one other major and prolific producers of Jamaican music: Byron Lee.

Born in Christiana in Manchester Parish, Byron Lee received his first introduction to music from the Jonkunoo and Bruckins dances which his family practiced, being that though his father was from Hong Kong, his mother was from Auchtembeddie in the same parish. At the age of eight, the Lee family moved to Kingston, and he attended the Mount St. Joseph’s Catholic school. Here, he was introduced to music in a more formal way; he took music lessons and learned piano from a nun who offered them as a deterrent from teasing and giving the girls at school a hard time.  

By the time college came around, Lee’s music took a backburner to football, where he thrived. But, after a win, the college had a dance and needed a band, and music returned into his life when he formed a band to perform at the event. A year after this fortuitous reacquaintance with music, the Dragonaires formed with Byron playing bass and serving as band leader.  

They first worked with Edward Seaga for their recordings and with Ronnie Nasralla, the future owner of BMN records which the Dragonaires would record at later, as the manager of the group. During these years, Lee quickly emerged as a producer and arranger. Over the course of his prolific career, Lee would have many labels including our favorites, Tiger and Jaguar.

One of the earlier labels in Lee’s recording stable was Soul, a ska label, and the subject of our spotlight tonight. We kicked off the spotlight with Keith Lyn and Ken Lazarus backed up by the Dragonaires on “I Don’t Love You Anymore,” a track off of the original Come Fly With Lee LP.

In addition to Byron Lee and The Dragonaires, there was another backing band for the Soul label: Llans Thelwell and his Celestials. The line up for the Celestials was:

  1. Bass Guitar – Llans Thelwell
  2. Congas [Tumba] – Francis Dennis
  3. Cover [Design] – Ronnie Nasralla
  4. Directed By [Musical Director] – Llans Thelwell
  5. Drums – Dennis Robinson 
  6. Guitar – Jack Hurst, Neville Headley
  7. Lead Vocals – Busty Brown
  8. Tenor Saxophone – Stanley Notice
  9. Trombone – Barry Hayles
  10. Trumpet – Joe Bennett*, Tony Wong

Vocals, Percussion – Barry Malcolm, Junior Chambers

For news on the upcoming spotlights and fun discoveries tied to early Jamaican music, join the group for the Bovine Ska and Rocksteady on Facebook.

XOXO,
Generoso and Lily

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Ken Khouri’s Kentone Label 11-10-15

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A Top Instrumental By Byron On Kentone

 

Welcome Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

After two weeks where Lily and I covered both Comikaze and the amazing films of AFI Fest for Forces of Geek, we had a blast playing programming tunes we love on the radio show!  Thanks for listening in…If you missed it, check out the November 10th Bovine Ska and Rocksteady on Mixcloud!

We started this week off with a massive version to version to version to version excursion that we always send out to our dear departed friend Magnus.  We versioned the 1971 hit by Count Prince Miller, “Mule Train” with covers from Roland Alphonso, Dennis Alcapone, and Derrick Morgan!  Our second set began with The Bassies on Studio One in 1969 with “Things A Come Up To Bump” and the version, on Coxsone in 1969, “More Scorcha” from Count Machuki and Sound Dimension.  We then gave you our weekly mento set and to get you ready for the Kentone Label spotlight, we began a long set of rare ska with the Federal Singers and their 1965 cut for Khouri’s Federal label, “My Love.”  We ended that ska set with Bongo Man Byfield doing a borderline nonsensical cover of Sam Cooke’s pop hit “History” that he called “Bongo Man” which was good fun.  We then immediately went into the Kentone spotlight…


Kentone comes from a major lineage in Jamaican music history. Owned by Ken Khouri, it is an example of Khouri’s own evolution of the record industry in Jamaica. 
Born in Kingston, Khouri’s father owned dry goods and furniture shops in Kingston. A family friend also owned a dry goods store, and, after the sons inherited the shop, Ken would work for them. This family owned jukeboxes that were placed across Jamaica, igniting Ken’s interesting in the record business. Consequently, when he found a disc recorder in Miami, he purchased it and brought it back to Jamaica and started to record mento. With the recorder, Khouri would send tapes to London, and they would send back 78s. After working with this method for some time, Khouri realized that it would be helpful to have his own pressing plant, so he purchased the equipment from California and setup a recording studio and pressing plant to his studio, Records Limited, in the late 40s. And with this record pressing plant and recording studio in place, he started Time Records, his first label that was distributed by Alec Durie’s Times Variety Store.

By the mid 50s, Khouri created Pioneer Company, which pressed Jamaican recordings and distributed foreign records as well. When the Pioneer Company moved to the Industrial Estate at Marcus Garvey Drive in the late 50s, Pioneer became a subsidiary of the mighty Federal Records. At Federal Records, plenty of the major soundsystem operators and producers used the studio to record tracks for their labels. Khouri also used his studio for his own record label, Kentone, where Byron Lee and the Dragonaires produced many recordings and also served as the house backing band. We kicked off the spotlight with one of the earliest Kentone releases from The Techniques, “No One,” which was originally recorded for Curtis Mayfield for Columbia Records and only released in the UK. It is unclear if the Kentone release is a Jamaican distribution of that Columbia track, or if The Techniques re-recorded the track for Khouri. A clue could be that the Byron Lee and the Dragonaires were listed as the backing band on the Kentone release, but the answer is not clear.  

As stated earlier,  many of the Kentone releases featured Byron Lee and the Dragonaires.  Circa 1963-1965, the members were Ken Lazarus on Guitar, Byron Lee on Bass, Tommy Ismay on Saxophone, Chester Power on Trumpet, Barry Lloyd on Drums, Victor Chung on Bongos and Percussion, Carl Brady on Bongos and Percussion, Leslie Butler on Organ, Vernon Muller on Trombone, Frank Anderson on Trumpet.

Again, can hear our full show from November 10, 2015 HERE. Subscribe to our show on Mixcloud, it’s FREE and you’ll get an email every Tuesday when our new show goes up.

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Join the group for the Bovine Ska and Rocksteady on Facebook.

Love,

Generoso and Lily