Failure, Success, and Life in Turkey: Özge Samanci’s Dare to Disappoint

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When Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis reached worldwide audiences, the book legitimized the graphic novel form as a medium for nonfiction, personal perspectives on historical events. With Persepolis, Satrapi materialized a subject we would expect more in literature than in cartooning, opening the floodgates for other autobiographical stories to emerge in graphic novels and to be taken with seriousness and read by audiences inside and outside of the comicbook world. But, despite this climate ripe for more “serious” graphic novels, few other autobiographical stories have received such broad appeal and even fewer have given glimpses into historical topics and cultural traditions bypassed by western media and schools.

Thankfully, within the last year, multiple graphic novels have risen to carry on the flame of history based stories told through a relatable narrator. Sonny Liew’s outstanding 2016 novel, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, employs a fictional memoir to recount an unbiased view of the modern history of Singapore, and Özge Samanci’s 2015 release, Dare to Disappoint, gives us insight into the cultural and political of landscape of Turkey during civil war, martial law, and afterward.  

When you open Dare to Disappoint, you may have the temptation to draw parallels between Samanci’s work and the seminal Persepolis, but let me prevent you from doing so. Do both document the effects of cultural and political turmoil on a person? Yes. Can both books be classified as a Bildungsroman for women? Yes. Do both look at the Islamic fundamentalism? Yes. Are both autobiographical? Yes.

The two books have a substantial amount of content in common, but Dare to Disappoint has four factors that distinguish it from Persepolis: its tone, its visual style, its setting, and its narrator’s journey of maturation. Consequently, silence any initial instincts to dismiss Dare to Disappoint as a Persepolis wannabe because if you do not, you will miss out on an intimate view into Turkey in the 1980s and an encouraging tale for adolescents to think for oneself.

Cover for the light-hearted and relevant Dare to Disappoint

In Dare to Disappoint, Samanci captures the familial and societal pressures for professional success in a culturally repressed world and how all of those forces can influence and shape growth from childhood to adulthood. In under 200 pages, we see Samanci transform herself based on her desire to please various people in her life. Her teacher, Atatürk, the first president of Turkey, her father, and her sister all impact Samanci’s decisions throughout childhood and adolescence; the satisfaction of others takes first priority during these formative years. Even though Samanci has a wildness in her spirit that stems from her mother’s side, she mostly represses her desires to see the world and sea like her idol Jacques Cousteau and to work in the arts. As a result, by the time Samanci prepares to attend the same prestigious college as her sister, she has little self-confidence and possesses almost no understanding for what she really wants in life.

After continuing to follow the standards of others into adulthood, Samanci finds herself with a math degree she has taken too long to complete and a failed attempt to get a drama degree. Doing what will garner oohs and ahhs from neighbors and extended family has led her to failure in multiple ways, and ultimately, no one is happy, especially Samanci herself. Fortunately, failure tends to awaken a person, and by the end of Dare to Disappoint, Samanci finally realizes that thinking for herself has more value than her current course of conforming to the expectations of others; even though making her own decisions may lead to failure and disappointment, the disappointment in herself weighs heavier than the disappointment of others, especially since they will most likely be disappointed regardless, which she sees through everyone’s disappointment in Pelin, Samanci’s sister who graduates with a praised degree in engineering from the best school in Turkey but does not succeed in the field and works instead in a bank.  

As Samanci progresses, we see the changes happening to the Turkish political and cultural climate woven into the story of growth. Samanci’s observations on the severity of Turkish government on the daily lives of the nation’s citizens grow in depth and acuteness as she develops, and through these comments, we receive a perspective into Turkish history delivered without an overburdening omniscient narrator or a cold, sterile textbook presentation. This personal approach makes the understanding of Turkish history richer and more enjoyable. Occasionally, Samanci’s visual and tonal playfulness borders on the edge of too light, making the illustration of some moments in Turkish history feel far too jovial to be considered as an example of irony (one glaring case is the silliness of the drawings of the killings of the civil war between the liberal left and conservative right and the resulting military coup), but overall, the style effectively conveys the self-effacing nature of Samanci’s reflection on her own life.

With its vivid and lively visual style that mixes cartooning and artwork synthesized from images of real objects, Dare to Disappoint will appeal the most to teenagers, but it also has value for adults in its perspective on Turkish history. If you look at Dare to Disappoint and expect to find Persepolis, you will not get what you hope for, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Samunci’s Dare to Disappoint centers itself more on the road to failure via the desires of others and the realization of this truth, making Samanci’s path to adulthood far different from that of the strong-willed and impassioned Satrapi. Both novels inspire; both inform; both offer complex views into cultural and political change. They just take different paths to get to their final messages of enlightenment.

Created by Özge Samanci, Dare to Disappoint is available via Margaret Ferguson Books.

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Ken Russell’s Woefully Misunderstood 1970 film, The Music Lovers

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The Real Tragedy Within The Music Lovers

Common sense would dictate that if it were the intention of Roy Baird, the producer of The Music Lovers, to make a concise reconstruction of the life of legendary Russian composer, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, he should’ve considered someone other than Ken Russell to direct the film. Being that Baird had produced Russell’s previous film, 1969’s Women In Love, a dazzling adaptation of the D.H. Lawrence novel, as well as Lindsay Anderson’s groundbreaking surrealistic film about youth rebellion, If…, I would think that he knew exactly what he was getting into, as should’ve anyone else who had seen Russell’s previous work, and therefore all should have expected that the film was going to be the flamboyant director selecting what he needed from the composer’s life to emphasize his central thesis, rather than the construction of a long biopic with painstaking (read: tedious) detail to Tchaikovsky’s life story.  So I ask, why were critics surprised and disappointed in 1970 with The Music Lovers?

Then a young critic for The Chicago Sun Times, Roger Ebert upon seeing the film during its original release wrote, “Tchaikovsky may not have been dealt with in the fairest possible manner,” adding that, “The Music Lovers is totally irresponsible, then, as a film about, or inspired by, or parallel to, or bearing a vague resemblance to, Tchaikovsky, his life and times.” I, for one, have always taken the line “based on a true story” very seriously, and if you have read my review of the 1976 horror film that was “based on a true story,” The Town That Dread Sundown, you would know that I came down rather hard on their use of the facts associated with the very real murders that occurred in Texarana, Arkansas in the 1940s, but with The Music Lovers, I feel that the facts were augmented for a greater purpose than just simply sensationalism. I truly feel that there is one necessary fact of the film that Russell wants to make abundantly clear: Tchaikovsky was indeed a homosexual who would’ve done anything, selfish or not, to disguise that fact during a time when his sexual preference would have cost him the one thing that he truly loved, his music.

The Music Lovers screened with Freud, John Huston’s superb, but equally unorthodox, biopic on the father of psychoanalysis, at The Egyptian Theater on May 7th as part of a double feature tribute to the late London-born cinematographer, Douglas Slocombe, who passed away at the age of 103 on February 22 of this year. The Music Lovers was Slocombe’s only effort with Russell, and the visuals, as they would be in many of the pair’s individually subsequent films, are truly stunning as are the performances of Richard Chamberlain as Tchaikovsky and Glenda Jackson as Antonina Milyukova, the mentally ill woman who suffered from nymphomania and who the composer married to cover up his true sexuality, and through his disdain of her, Tchaikovsky helped to end her life in an insane asylum. Here, Russell augments the timeline as to when her institutionalization occurs as compared to his demise to add drama to the story. Also, the character of  Count Anton Chiluvsky (Christopher Gable) never actually existed but serves as a composite of Tchaikovsky’s lovers over the years. The one pure fabrication in the film is that Tchaikovsky’s benefactor, Madame Nadedja von Meck (Izabella Telezynska), took away her beloved composer’s money upon hearing that he was a homosexual. So, now that we are armed with the knowledge of the fact changing (and unflattering) choices that Russell made in telling Tchaikovsky’s life story, does it reduce the impact of the film’s central message and make it a less successful film? For me, it now comes down to whether or not Russell put his style over substance.

Russell has always possessed this uncanny ability of presenting the most human affecting moments while creating a narrative that is frenetic to distraction at times. I don’t feel that The Music Lovers consistently achieves these moments in the same confident way that Russell would in his next film, The Devils. For example, I think of the quiet pastoral moments when Father Urbain Grandier marries his true love to exemplify his pure faith in the face of the aristocracy of the Catholic Church in between the grotesque exorcisms of the nunnery that give balance to the film, and this level of peace in chaos does not exist in The Music Lovers. The many scenes in The Music Lovers that are actually related to musical performance (yes, Russell does mention his compositions a few times more than critics would lead you to believe) are whimsical but ultimately purposeful in seeing into the composer’s thought process, which given the masquerade Peter was forced to live, are a tad ghastly (the 1812 Overture montage does have a lot of decapitation through cannon fires, which strikes me as about right). Though not given the same level of space in the madness as Oliver Reed’s performance as Father Urbain Grandier in The Devils,  the moments of genuine pain, illness and sadness that are experienced by Antonina Milyukova through Glenda Jackson’s bravura performance are not lost in the frenzy of music, ribbons, and cholera nightmares of The Music Lovers. Remember that the title of this film is The Music Lovers and not Tchaikovsky (although the title was actually changed from Tchaikovsky as to not complete with a Russian film released a year earlier with that title). I feel that Russell’s final intentions to show that the real victim of the composer’s decision to conceal his sexuality was less the composer himself but more of the woman he duped into marrying him. Russell concludes that Tchaikovsky’s agonizing death from cholera was a self-inflicted wound brought from drinking diseased water, but Antonina Milyukova’s death in the snake pit was due to believing in a man whom she genuinely admired who put his selfish needs above her no matter what the cost.

 Original 1970 Trailer For The Music Lovers


So, was Russell’s decision “unfair” as Ebert suggested? The facts do bear out that the real Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky destroyed another person so that he could continue doing what he loved, and although the film takes a heavy hand at times to drive this truth home, it is ultimately successful by painting a portrait of a man who was not only a great composer but also a man who was beneath contempt in his personal life. The Music Lovers is also the story of another very flawed person, Antonina Milyukova, who was led to believe that the person whom she admired for his music was as majestic as a human being as he was a creator. This isn’t a mindless musical biopic to get you humming tunes when leaving the theater, like Milos Forman’s Academy Award winning 1984 slop, AmadeusThe Music Lovers is a flawed but beautifully realized tragedy that is less about music and more about the evils of maintaining a false identity in the face of fame. 

 

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Prince Buster Memorial Part One-Buster’s Ska Productions 9-13-16

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Buster’s Group fierce R&B on Wild Bells

Hello Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

Just a few weeks ago, we memorialized saxophonist Deadly Headley Bennett, who would eventually play a role in Prince Buster’s history, and we’ll get to that in the middle of this program, but sadly, we have done many memorial shows these last few years, but this one has really impacted us in a very personal way.  Generoso has written a comprehensive and personal obituary on Buster which was published on Ink19 this week.

One of our favorite Jamaican artists of all time, Prince Buster, passed away on the morning of September 8th in Miami after complications from heart issues. Prince Buster had a stroke in 2009, but we had not heard anything about his health since then, so the announcement was extremely unexpected, and we’ve spent a lot of time mourning the loss of a music pioneer and a giant persona whose bravado brought even more to the iconic tracks that shaped Jamaican music history

Born as Cecil Bustamante Campbell, Prince Buster grew up with his grandmother in rural Jamaica. Here, he gained an interest in music after singing in churches.  When he was a teenager, he moved to Kingston and lived on Orange Street, and he naturally found an affinity for the sound system culture. Specifically, he spent a lot of time with Tom Wong, who is best known as Tom the Great Sebastian, who ran a sound system out of his shop and in the dancehalls of Kingston.

As the sound system culture further developed, each operator and their set of selectors would compete against each other. The big two were Coxsone Dodd’s Downbeat and Duke Reid’s the Trojan, and Prince Buster and his crew aligned himself with Coxsone, who was more of an underdog than Duke Reid. Buster provided Coxone’s dances with security, and eventually, he would become a selector for the Downbeat sound. With this experience, Buster was armed with plenty of knowledge on how to run a sound system, so he went to Tom Wong and asked him for a loan in order to create his own sound, which would become the renowned and popular Voice of the People.

With his sound system up and running, Buster was ready to begin recording his own singles. Before he would ever appear in front of the microphone, Buster produced tracks to be played at his sound system; you will hear a selection of these tracks in this first set in the spotlight. To start this show, we heard from Buster himself. Though he had already established himself as a producer, in 1961, for his own Wildbells label, Buster recorded his very first track as a vocalist, “Little Honey,” which will start off the first of a two week tribute to the mighty Prince Buster, the Voice of the People.

Due to Mixcloud’s policy (you can only play four songs per artist every show), we have primarily structured this show on Prince Buster’s magnificent productions during the Jamaican rhythm and blues and ska eras.  You will hear some of the greatest hits of that time from Derrick Morgan, Eric Monty Morris, Basil Gabbidon and more! Included in this show are segments of Generoso’s 2002 interview with Prince Buster that was conducted a week before Buster was to play a show that Generoso helped produce in Boston that featured Buster, Derrick Morgan, Eric Morris, and Millicent Patsy Todd with the excellent reggae group, The Pressure Cooker backing up the artists.

The interview segments describe in detail, the controversial recording of the Folkes Brothers, “Oh Carolina,” the Black Head Chinaman record war between Buster and Derrick Morgan, and Buster’s duet with the late great singer, Slim Smith.

Here is Part One of our two part Prince Buster Memorial from September 13, 2016:

 

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:

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Felix “Deadly” Headley Bennett Memorial Show 8-30-16

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“Deadly” Headley Bennett UK Unity 

Hello Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

It is with great sadness that we must report the passing of legendary saxophonist, Deadly Headley Bennett.

Deadly Headley passed away at his home on August 21st at the age of 85. He had been suffering from back and prostate issues since 2013, and two Sundays ago, he passed away suddenly after being up and about earlier in the day. We will pay tribute to Deadly Headley’s impressively prolific career for the full two hours of this week’s show.  Headley received the Order of Distinction in 2005 for all of his contributions to the progress of Jamaican music, and in this program, you’re going to hear some of the biggest tracks in Jamaican music because Deadly Headley was there for those history changing moments.

Born as Felix Bennett in Kingston, Deadly Headley started his music education at an exceptionally young age, enrolling in the Alpha Boys Catholic school at the age of five. With the education and support of the school’s music program, Deadly Headley emerged from the school ten years later, at the mere age of 15, as an accomplished saxophone player. 

As the fifties arrived, Bennett performed primarily in jazz, and as the sixties arrived, he had established himself as an excellent performer and session musician. Bennett’s recording career had a sudden and surprise beginning. Bennett performed and hung out with Rico, and when Rico was invited to play Coxsone’s sound system, Deadly Headley was part of the horn section. During this performance, Coxsone’s friend spotted him, and suggested that Bennett should be playing for Coxsone’s recordings.

Coxsone invited Bennett to Federal Studios, and Deadly Headley first recorded “Independence Blues” for him, with Lester Sterling also on the recording, which created a battle for solos between Lester and Deadly Headley. “Independence Blues” was cut for Coxsone’s D. Darling label and features the voice and guitar of Basil Gabbidon, and it is the track that would start Bennett’s many decade career in the recording industry. Consequently,  it is the track that will started tonight’s memorial on Deadly Headley Bennett.

In addition to recording in the studio in 1962, Deadly Headley also performed as a member of The Shieks in their performance to welcome Princess Margaret when she visited Jamaica to mark the nation’s independence. It is unclear as to what tracks Deadly Headley would play on for Coxsone in 1962, but his role was certain on recordings for a young producer named Leslie Kong and his Beverley’s label. It is well documented that Headley was a featured player for Leslie Kong, who insisted that Headley play a solo for the more prominent singles to come out on the label during its beginning  We then heard tracks on Beverley’s from not only a young Jimmy Cliff, Derrick Morgan and Eric Morris but also the very first recording of Bob Marley prior to his time with the Wailers.  Four tracks were cut at Beverley’s with Marley from that session with Headley in 1963, including “One Cup of Coffee,” “Do You Still Love Me,” “Terror”, and the track we will played on our tribute, “Judge Not”

In the early 1960s, Deadly Headley would play for a multitude of producers in the ska era and  Bennett would continue to record for Studio One during this time. Included in the tracks recorded for Coxsone Dodd is Wailer Peter Tosh’s “Maga Dog,” which features a wonderful solo from Headley Bennett. That was the track we played next on the show.

In 1966, rocksteady would become the preferred beat of the time, and Deadly Headley would play on some of the era’s finest tracks. Of course, during the rocksteady, the band that was most in demand bore the name of the man who invented the rhythm, Lyn Taitt. We then heard two instrumental tracks that feature Taitt’s guitar and Headley’s beautiful sax sound.

“Satta Massagana” was recorded at 7 am at Coxsone’s studio through Carlton Manning, who arranged for his brother Donald Manning and his group The Abyssinians to record in Coxsone’s studio without his approval or knowledge. “Satta Massagana” was the first recording of the session.   In the short session, three tracks were quickly recorded, and shortly thereafter, “Satta Massagana” became a hit rhythm that would get versions many many times

In 1969, Deadly Headley went to Canada and returned in 1977 and when Headley returned to Jamaica in ‘77, he was in as much demand as ever and performs on some of the most legendary albums of the era.  We went through album after album of his recordings from 1977 to 1979 and selected our favorite performances from Headley from those full length records.

Only one full length album bears Headley’s name in the title as the featured artist…35 Years From Alpha was produced in 1982 by the king of On-U Sound, Adrian Sherwood and featured Headley on alto sax, Bim Sherman on vocals, and fittingly his former horn section partner Rico on trombone. To end this two hour tribute to Headley, we played two selections from that amazing album.

Here is the August 30th, 2016 edition of Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady and our two hour tribute to the late, great Felix “Deadly” Headley Bennett:

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: King Edwards’ Giant Label 8-16-16

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Roy Panton and Cornell Campbell as The Bellstars

Hello Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

A triple version of Delano Stewart’s That’s Life, a pretty 1968 tune for Sonia Pottinger’s High Note is how we commenced the August 16th, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady.   We continued the with another set of early reggae that ended with Leonard Wilson’s 1975 track for Mighty Cloud, I Want To Thank You and the version by The Mighty Cloud Band, Thank You Instrumental.  We thought to go with an uptown mento sound for this week’s mento set…Baba Motta’s Jamaica Talk , Tony Johnson and His Carousel Band’s Give Her Banana, and  Clyde Hoyt and George Moxey Quartet’s Montego Calypso.   To end the first hour, a long set of rare ska to get you ready for the ska of King Edward’s Giant Label that ended with The Originators,  Chelip Chelip, which was released on SEP in 1966.  It was then off to the spotlight…

Vincent ‘King Edwards’ began his career as a sound system operator with his brother George. Vincent traveled to America in 1954 and brought back records and the equipment for a sound system. Upon his return to Jamaica, Vincent and George opened up the Rock and Roll soundsystem, but the first dance did not go well, and Vincent and his brother George took some time to improve the soundsystem. Rock and Roll returned to the scene in 1956, and immediately started to be called the Edwards Sound. Shortly thereafter, King was added to the sound system name, emerging as the King Edwards soundsystem. Vincent would get exclusive records from artists in America, specifically Philadelphia where his sister lived and from the south where, giving the King Edwards soundsystem an edge that would append ‘The Giant’ onto the name.

Like many other sound system operators, the Edwards brothers would play primarily American soul and R&B, but as the 60s arrived, they began recording acetates in Jamaica customized for his soundsystem, and that led to a natural transition into recording and releasing records for the public in the early 1960s. There is of course the flagship label that many know of: The King Edwards label, but here on the Bovine Ska, we wanted to spotlight a label that was the other part of the soundsystem name, and that is The Giant label.

Vin and George Edwards were extremely active throughout ska, but the label stopped releasing records as rocksteady and by the early 70s the soundsystem completely closed it doors. A few factors played into this: Vin’s interest shifted toward on politics; he served as a Councillor and then became a member of parliament. He was also getting into horse training, which is something he still does today. George moved to the countryside of Jamaica, away from the city and the music scene. Furthermore, Vin was not a marijuana smoker (nor an alcohol drinker), and after a while the rampant smoking that would occur in the studios made the music business difficult for Vin.

Please let us know if you enjoy the August 16th, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady:

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Wizz-Dom Label 8-9-16

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The Ethiopians Soar on Perry’s Wizz-dom Label

Hello Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners!

We spent the bread that we would’ve used to buy food to get records for the August 9th, 2016 Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Radio Show, but please don’t let the guilt that you should feel influence you in any way to listen to the this week’s show! Midway through the show, we have a spotlight on Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Wizz-dom label (1972-1973) which is so good that we have almost forgotten how satisfying a square meal feels like when you get to eat one. Amazing cuts from The Heptones, Melodians, Junior Byles and of course, The Upsetters! As the Wizz-dom label is so thick with the reggae, we decided to start off this show the ska, beginning with Joe White’s festive 1965 cut for Duke Reid’s Treasure Isle label, Irene.    Our mento set featured the title cut from Percy Dixon’s Scandal In Montego Bay LP which was released on Sue in 1964.  After that set, we launched into a long set of rocksteady with a real rarity being The Minstrels 1968 tune for Coxsone on Studio One, Giving Up On Love.  We then went right into the Wizz-dom label spotlight.

We are thrilled to present a spotlight on a label from one of the most inventive producers, engineers, and all-around performers tonight….Lee Scratch Perry.  Over the course of his career, Perry founded many labels. Upsetters, Goodies, and Justice League are just a few, but this week we decided to focus in on the Wizz-dom label. Believed to be born in Kendal as Rainford Hugh Perry, Scratch got his recording first name from his mom’s nickname for him, Leeburn.  Perry’s path to music began in Negril. On moving to Negril from Clarendon, where Lee had built up a reputation as a great dancer, Lee worked on construction as a part of Jamaica’s development of the region as a tourist site.  During his days spent moving rocks on construction sites, the sounds of the shifting and the clashing of stones spoke to Lee and pointed him toward Kingston to make music. In the Kingston music scene, Lee wore many hats for Coxsone Dodd and Studio One writing and arranging songs and appearing in front of the microphone as a recording artist. After spending a lot of time with Coxsone, Perry moved over to Joe Gibbs before eventually venturing out and creating his iconic Upsetter label, giving him his own avenue to flourish as a producer and arranger.

At Wizz-dom, we see Scratch as the mastermind for all goings-on for the music being recorded and the distribution of his recordings.   In the early days of Wizz-dom, Pat Francis approached Scratch with “King of Kings,” and after recording it, Scratch felt that Francis would be a good salesman for Wizz-dom and the other labels he had, so Francis became a salesman for Scratch, a position he held for three years. We kicked off the spotlight with this track that started the Pat Francis and Scratch business relationship, King of Kings, a majestic track that set the tone for this Wizz-dom spotlight.

The Upsetters, the house band for Lee Scratch Perry productions, had three distinct line ups. By 1972, when the Wizz-dom label was launched, the Upsetters had a fluctuating lineup, but Perry would always insist on using the best musicians he could find for each recording.   By 1974, the band membership became more stable with Boris Gardiner on bass, Earl “Chinna” Smith on guitar,  Winston Wright & Keith Sterling on keyboards, and  Sly Dunbar or Benbow Creary on drums.

Enjoy the August 9th, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady

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: Lloyd Charmers’ Splash Label 7-26-16

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Lloyd Charmers 1970 soul cover on Splash

Howdy Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Friends,

This weekend prior to the July  26th, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady, Lily and I had an awesome visit from our old friend Jeff and our new friend Lodrina, we saw a ton of Pialat movies at UCLA and pulled one beast of a Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Radio Show for you! For our spotlight this week, we put together a special ONE HOUR look at Lloyd Charmers’ SPLASH label which features some of the best Jamaican covers of American soul and pop cuts that we have ever heard. BB Seaton covering The Persuaders, Alton Ellis covering The Spinners, The Now Generation covering Bobby Womack..This label is truly special! The spotlight starts midway through the show.

Leading up to the Splash label spotlight which started midway through the show we began the program with two sets of ska which had a very short but tasty Maytals track that Toots and the band cut for the ND label in 1964, Hey Hey Girl.  We played another short, but spectacular ska during these two sets with The Charmers on Prince Buster’s Voice Of The People,  It’s A Dream.   We started our mento set with The Diggers take on Peanut Vendor for Top Sounds in 1964 and ended that set with our favorite mento artist, Count Lasher on Caribou in 1956 with Calypso Cha Cha.  We ended the first hour with a long set of reggae and Sir Harry on Carib-Dis-Co in 1972 with My Time Now.   We then went deep into the special one-hour spotlight on the Splash Label…

The Fierro household adores Lloyd Charmers.

We love him as a member of The Charmers. We love him as a member of The Uniques. And we really love him for his wildly salacious recordings as Lloydie and the Lowbites, so much so that we are always on the lookout at for any Lloydie records wherever we go.

Born in Kingston as Lloyd Tyrell, Lloyd Charmers began his career as a singer in the duo known as The Charmers with Roy Willis. The two competed, like so many wonderful Jamaican musicians did, on the Vere Johns Opportunity Hour, and caught the attention of producers in the music scene. The Charmers would record with heavy hitters Prince Buster and Coxsone Dodd, and they would appear in the film This is Ska, but the two would part ways, with Lloyd recording as a soloist and then joining Slim Smith and Jimmy Riley as a member of the second reincarnation of The Uniques.

At the close of the sixties and the beginning of 70s, Charmers starting working on his other musical talents. He established a reputation as an excellent keyboardist, and he opened up the Splash label to work on his own productions, bringing in phenomenal talent and his own great love for American soul of the 1970s. We’re thrilled to present you this hour long spotlight on Splash because there are outstanding productions and some covers of soul tracks that challenge the originals. We began  with Lloyd himself and the 1969 classic, Birth Control, which was later adapted by The Specials on Two Much Too Young.

Charmers house backing band of choice was the Now Generation Band. The seed that started the group was planted when Mikey Chung and Val Douglas were students at the College of Arts and Sciences Technology. The two both went to the same high school together, but they did not begin practicing and recording together until later. They began using the equipment of the disbanded group, Ti & the Titans, and they formed the band the Mighty Mystics. Then the Mighty Mystics broke up and joined an existing band known as Now Generation, creating the house band that people would come to know well throughout reggae. The members of the group were brothers Mikey and Geoffrey Chung on guitar, Val Douglas on bass, Mikey Boo and Martin Sinclair (who was only a member for early recordings) on drums, Robbie Lyn and Wire Lindo on keyboards.

We hope you enjoy the July 26th, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady:

Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: Comic Books Go Reggae! 7-19-16

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          Jughead Meet Augustus Pablo

Hello Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners,

The July 19th, 2016 Bovine Ska and Rocksteady may go down as one of the silliest shows that we have done in the twenty year history of the radio show.   It seems that the heroes of comic strips and comic books were firmly in the minds of some of Jamaican greatest recording artists as we have comic book inspired tunes about Batman, Superman, Popeye, Spider-Man, Jungle Jim being performed by everyone from Hopeton Lewis to The Upsetters to Big Youth! Here’s a bit of background on comic books and their relation to Jamaican music to help you prepare for this show!

Golden Age of Comics – approximately from the late 1930s to the beginning of the 1950s.  Era that introduced to world to Superman, Batman, and Captain America and marked the foundations of the Marvel and DC dynasties

Silver Age of Comics – approximately from the mid 1950s to the early 1970s.
In the Silver Age, the superheroes of the Golden Age continued to exist, but the era also introduced the world to two other superheroes: Hulk and Spider-man

These superheroes of the Golden and Silver Ages would make their way all over the world, and Jamaica was not an exception. In Jamaica, comic books would be sold alongside general goods sold at Chiney shops. In addition to the superheroes, comic strips and comics from other genres would also gain popularity, especially the Western comics such as Kid Colt, Lone Ranger, and Roy Roger whose title characters would become the performing names for many artists in reggae.

This may be one of the silliest shows we’ve ever done, but theme shows are some of our favorites to put together, and we think you’ll have a lot of fun with this one. In addition to the tracks that all reference comics, you’ll hear lots of comicbook fun, including chidren’s recordings involving some of your favorite cmics and some comicbook disco as well

  • Dick Tracy – The strip premiered on October 4, 1931 in the Detroit Mirror and what we now know as Tribune Media Services picked it up and nationally distributed the strip. Created by Chester Gould, who drew the series until the late 1970s, Dick Tracy followed the investigative cases of the title character. A police detective, Dick Tracy lives in a noir world, and over time, his look and his cases would evolve to match the times, taking him to space in the 60s and putting him in the company of a hippy in the 1970s 
  • Jungle Jim debuted on January 7, 1934. Created by Alex Raymond, Jungle Jim was focused on the story of the hunter Jim Bradley. Raymond also created Flash Gordon, one of Generoso’s favorites, and Jungle Jim was intended to compete with the successful Tarzan stip and to sit above Flash Gordon. As a result, both Jungle Jim and Flash Gordon reached the public eye for the first time on the same day. 
  • Andy Capp is a British comic strip that first appeared in the Daily Mirror in 1957. Andy is a working class man from Hartlepool, and for decades, readers have seen Andy at his home, local pub, and about town. Though a bit gruffer than gruff, Andy has had a strong following through the years, and the strip is still going strong to this day.

    Of all of the comicbook characters we found for this show, there was none more popular than Jughead. Interestingly, Jughead Jones made his debut in 1941 in
    Pep Comics, and he has continued to exist in the Archie universe since. Known for being a little bit of an outsider, Jughead has a signature humor and an S on his shirt, which is believed to be from an abbreviation of Skunk Hill in Haverhill, MA.

We hope that you enjoy this very special Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: