Generoso and Lily’s Bovine Ska and Rocksteady: The 19th Annual Jamaican Christmas Show 12-20-15

Christmas Label A

Christmas Reggae From The Gable Hall School

Happy Holidays Bovine Ska and Rocksteady Listeners!

For the nineteenth year in a row, we have produced a show that not only features some of the best and rarest Jamaican Christmas tunes from 1955-1978 like Glen Adams’ 1974 cut for Straker’s Records Christmas Rock Reggae and Jackie Mittoo’s 1978 After Christmas, a dubby haunting organ driven version of Joy To The World, but also we gave you tidbits of Jamaican holiday traditions and foods as well.

Christmas across all cultures has a variety of traditions. Here in America, traditions are often focused on the food we share on the holiday, with staples including turkey, ham, eggnog, and gingerbread cookies. For Americans, you may wonder, what is Christmas like in Jamaica? Christmas time in Jamaica often means the creation of traditional items for the table, and one of those staples is Sorrel drink.  Sorrel is a cold, delicious, spicy and festively red-pink tea made from Sorrel, which is also known as roselle. The roselle is a plant in the hibiscus family, and after the flower blooms on the plant, the sepals of the flower become the source for the tea. The roselle grown in Jamaica was transported to Latin America in colonial times, thus creating the agua de Jamaica you see in Mexico and in taquerias in Los Angeles. The Sorrel drink in Jamaica is often spiced with pimento berries, the fruit that makes allspice, and ginger along with a wee bit of rum, making a festive drink that is perfect for celebrating Christmas, especially in the warm weather of Jamaica.

One of the other staples of Christmas is Christmas cake, a black rum cake made with dried fruit that makes American fruit cake look shameful.  Christmas cake is sometimes made for weddings as well, but it is most common around Christmas time. With origins from English Christmas Pudding, Jamaican Christmas cake uses rum and red wine to soak dried fruits such as prunes, raisins, cherries, and dates, which gives the dessert an intense brown color.  

Another major tradition of Christmas in Jamaica is the visit to the Grand Market on Christmas eve. The Grand Market opens in major towns, with vendors selling toys, sweets, fresh fruit, snacks, games, and clothes. Sound systems and bands also play music throughout the day, and families gather to celebrate the holiday together with some shopping, strolling, eating, and viewing of Christmas decorations on nearby buildings.

Jonkonnu bands were long ago a tradition of the Christmas season. The Jonkonnu bands would parade down the street in large, masquerade costumes. The traditional set of Jonkonnu characters include the horned Cow Head, Policeman, Horse Head, Wild Indian, Devil, Belly-woman, Pitchy-Patchy and sometimes a Bride and House Head who carried an image of a great house on his head. Today, these theatrical bands are not as common, but a few still perform around the holiday.

After Christmas Day, Boxing Day is celebrated, which is a day to further spend with family and to spread cheer. Boxing Day is often spent with extended family and is the time to thank people who provide a service to you throughout the year such as the postal or newspaper delivery or local businesses that you regularly frequent.

You can listen to our full Gladdy Anderson retrospective from December 20, 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


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

horace andy-you are my angel

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 1/21/2015: The Cables

cables what kind of world

The Cables superb LP, “What Kind of World,” on Studio One

This week’s program began with two sets of fantastic ska which started with a cut from the virtually unknown artist named “Pulus” with a track entitled “Sow To Reap” for Merritone in 1966. Thanks again to the good folks at Dub Store in Japan for finding and pressing these lost tapes from the Merritone vaults.  I hope that there is only more lurking somewhere to be released soon.  After a brisk mento set, we launched into the sounds of vocal group extraordinaire, The Cables.

The Cables are Vincent Stoddard, Elbert Stewart and Keble Drummond. Named after a modified spelling of Keble’s own name into The Cables, which he felt was a right name because cables could send a message to the world. Born in St. Elizabeth, The Cables’ frontman Keble Drummond moved to Kingston as a child and grew up in the dire neighborhoods that would produce some of Jamaica’s greatest talent. Spending most of his adolescent years in Ghost Town, Drummond interacted with some of Jamaica’s greatest talents including Rita Marley, who lived in Ghost Town as well. Drummond attended Chetola Park School and then Kingston Senior School, a school that produced the great talents of Earl Morgan from the Heptones and Marcia Griffiths, so music was not a surprising path for him. Growing up in neighborhoods where musicians were often performing, Keble began to interact and sing with local groups. Eventually, Kebel met Peter Austin of the Clarendonians who taught him his first guitar chords. Keble then saw a flyer for Herb Moral Song Studio Training, and he attended a song writing course. In this course, he wrote his first song, “You Lied,” which would be the first track he would record with The Cables for Linden Pottinger’s SEP label, the track that begun our hour long spotlight on this phenomenal vocal group.   It’s a bit of a coincidence that the last of the Cables is called “You Betrayed Me.” The Cables would stop working with the Pottingers because they did not receive payment for their recordings, which had gone directly to Bobby Aitken and his band, who was the backing band for many of the tracks on the SEP label. After leaving the Pottingers, The Cables traveled over to Coxone Dodd to record for his labels. At Studio One, The Cables had to audition for Jackie Mittoo, who at first pushed off the group, but after a bit of a yelling scuffle, finally gave the group a chance to record. We then played The Cables’ Studio One output next.

One of their most popular tracks, “Baby Why” was written about a failed relationship with one of his Keble’s girlfriends who moved from the country to the city to try to start a new life with him.  As with many Jamaican artists, The Cables did not have great financial success or luck with Coxsone. Consequently, when an up-and-coming Harry Johnson (Harry J) met The Cables as he was transitioning out of insurance sales and into the recording industry, the group took the opportunity to go over to the Harry J and show him how to record while they were still on contract with Coxone. With Harry J, Keble developed a friendship with him, and their closeness is definitely reflected in the music because the Harry J cuts are some of the strongest Cables’ recordings.  When Harry J did not have his own recording studio, his recording sessions happened at Dynamic, so it is natural that The Cables would also record for the Dynamic label, except with Syd Bucknor at the Producer helm.  In following the trend of befriending his producers, Keble and the Cables were also close to Hugh Madden, who Keble still visits in Jamaica .

Thankfully, the Cables perform to this day.

Listen to the full program with The Cables smooth vocals sounds: HERE.

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

Bovine Ska and Rocksteady 10/1/14: Bop and The Beltones


1968 Trojan Records release of “I’ll Follow You.”


A joyous week at the Bovine Ska and Rocksteady as we celebrated our first wedding anniversary as married peoples 🙂  Thus we began with two sets of killer Jamaican ska and a mento set of questionable virtues!  We also did as our spotlight, one that has never been done on this show, that of Bop and the Beltones!

Bop and The Beltones were originally Rudolph Simmonds (who was known as Bop the dancer), Keith Mitchell, and Owen Laing who first recorded with Coxsone at Studio One and were under contract with him for some time in their early career. Trevor Shields was a young musician who would practice with his guitar and sing at school when he would one day run into The Beltones who invited him to ‘jam’ with them.  This was a strange time for the group because they were frustrated with the lack of progress coming from Studio One, and at the same time Bop left the group in order to pursue a dancing career in the U.S.   In a moment of fate, Keble Drummond introduced the Beltones to Harry J, who at the time was only an insurance salesman looking to enter the music industry. Harry J heard the group and wanted the Beltones to be a part of his emerging label, and the group accepted.

After hearing the group rehearse No More Heartaches, a track written by the newly appointed Beltone, Trevor Shields, Harry J actually rearranged the harmonies in the group, making Trevor the Lead instead of Keith, who was the original lead for the track. After the rearrangement, the group recorded No More Heartaches with Harry J as the producer, but given that Harry did not have a studio yet, the single was actually physically recorded at the studio of Studio One. After No More Heartaches got the Beltones some popularity in Jamaica, the group performed at the Carib theater, toured the North Coast, and appeared on both  TV at JBC and radio at RJR.  Their recordings ended up doing well in England because they were distributed by Trojan, but the band did not see a ton of success, and eventually, they called it quits, with Owen moving to Canada and Keith moving to the U.S. Trevor would continue recording as a solo artist and with other groups.

On October 1st, 2014, we did our spotlight on Bop and the Beltones from the earliest recordings during the rocksteady era with Studio One through their time with Harry J.

Listen to the full spotlight and the show via the WMBR archives here: LISTEN HERE

This link will be active until 10/14/2014.