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: Jamaican Artists’ First Recordings 12-29-15

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Baby I Love You by Carl Dawkins on JJ

Happy New Year Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners!

Another tradition fulfilled this week as we on The Bovine Ska have produced our nineteenth New Years show where we play the first recordings of many of your favorite Jamaican artists.  In some cases, the artist was part of a vocal group and we noted this when we backtracked each cut.  Here are some of the tracks we played during this show.

  • Alton Ellis – Alton and Eddy – Muriel
    • Alton teamed up with Eddy Parkins after winning a few contests to record for Coxone Dodd. Muriel is believed to be one of Coxone’s first recordings aimed at commercial, rather than sound system release. Beyond Alton’s debut, this was a special track because it was written by Alton himself while he was worker as a laborer on a construction site. 
  • Eric Monty Morris – My Nights Are Lonely
    • After seeing some success with his performances at Vere John’s talent shows, Eric Monty Morris teamed up with his neighborhood friend Derrick Morgan to record for Simeon Smith.
  • Winston Samuels – In Jail
    • The exact history of Winston Samuels is unclear, but we do know that his first single, released on Coxone’s All Stars label was a single that had opposite but connected titles: Paradise and In Jail 
  • John Holt – I Cried A Tear
    • Before John Holt ever entered a studio, lots of folks were already talking about him. Beginning at the age of 12, Holt performed at talent shows, including the Vere John’s Opportunity Knocks Talent Show, and in total, during his competition years, won 28 awards. Given this success, it is no surprise that Holt caught the eye of Leslie Kong, who would record and release his first song, I Cried a Tear, for the Beverley’s label in 1962 
  • Bob Marley – Judge Not
    • After moving to Trenchtown and gaining more experience with the growing Kingston music scene, Bob met Jimmy Cliff and Derrick Morgan, who together in 1962 would introduce the 17 year old Marley to Leslie Kong. Kong would record and release Marley’s first song, Judge Not, with Bob under the pseudonym Bobby Martell, a stage name given to Marley by Jimmy Cliff.  
  • Desmond Dekker – Honor Your Mother and Father
    • As a young man, Desmond Dekker was a welder in Kingston. Here, he would sing with his co-workers and eventually, given his voice and talent, his co-workers convinced him to pursue a career in the recording industry. Dekker auditioned for Coxone Dodd first without success, and then traveled over to Leslie Kong, who signed him to a record deal. In 1962, Dekker’s first recording, Honor Your Mother and Father, a song Dekker wrote himself and was the one he auditioned with for Kong, was released on the Beverley’s label. 
  • Jimmy Cliff – I’m Sorry
    • Cut as a dub plate for Sir Cavalier’s sound system, Jimmy Cliff recorded I’m Sorry a little before his formative years at Leslie Kong’s Beverley’s label.  
  • Hopeton Lewis – The Regals – Shammy Back
    • As a young man, Hopeton Lewis sang at the Burnt Savannah Holiness Church, which nurtured and encouraged his talent and passion for music. Upon entering the music industry, Hopeton Lewis joined the vocal group, The Regals, who first recorded for Coxone Dodd and his Wincox label.
  • Junior Soul – Miss Kushie
    • Junior Soul, born Murvin Junior Smith, learned how to sing from the phenomenally talented Eric Monty Morris and Derrick Harriot and gained his stage name when he would perform for people with Jackson Jones. When he first decided to record, he went over to Sonia Pottinger’s Gayfeet label to record Miss Kushie in 1966.

You can listen to our full Gladdy Anderson retrospective from December 29, 2015 HERE. Subscribe to our show on Mixcloud; it’s FREE, and you’ll get an email every Tuesday when we post a new show.

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Happy New Year!

Lily and Generoso