Because it’s hot as hell and one “Jamaican Holiday” isn’t enough.
Because it’s hot as hell and one “Jamaican Holiday” isn’t enough.
The ’70’s were an exciting time in Jamaica, the island having attained full independence in 1962, there was a lot of optimism and hope mixed with some harsh reality. About two dozen musicians played on 90% of the records. There were about three rhythm sections and a handful of independent studios full of aspiring singers. Bob Marley among them. Not to mention some truly unique individuals, such as Lee “Scratch” Perry running the boards and making waves still felt today. Origins of DJ culture start here with artists like U-Roy, a local sound system DJ who began “toasting” over dub plates.
Side Two of is The Dub Sandwich.
Jamaican Holiday is the ultimate single cd collection. It has everything from sweet soul music to the deepest, darkest dub.
Give into the heat, move slowly, crack open a cold beverage (warm Red Stripe is terrible), and enjoy your Jamaican Holiday, wherever you are.
The doctor (Dr Alimantado) also recommends a nice big spliff to seal the deal.
This is soul music of the highest order.
Since all of these songs were originally released as vinyl records, and not a few of them ripped from vinyl by yours truly, this too begins with the “Needle Drop”.
Note: After going to the printer’s two errors were found:
On Side 3 L. Perry should be credited as producer of “To Be A Lover”.
On side 4 Sugar Minott’s name is misspelled.
A friend sent me a link to someone’s idea of the greatest rock guitar solos on record because “Baby’s On Fire”, one of my first posts, and a guitar solo I’d nominate for some kind of “best” list, was on it. I can’t remember what the other eleven tracks were, except I wasn’t familiar with most of them, or my response was, “What?!”. A brief email correspondence took place where I nominated a handful of solos that would be on my list, and got as far as promising it would be the theme for the next “Bullshit”. I started to jot down some ideas, a little disappointed that “Baby’s On Fire was already on Number Fifty when I realized I had no interest in compiling or listening to all that fretful wankery.
Also I’d collected the solo-less “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy” from Lux N Ivy’s Favorites and already earmarked it for Now That’s What I Call Bullshit 52.
All the Bullshits tend to follow the same pattern of eclecticism, so I lost the guitar solo theme. That said, a few of them made it onto the playlist. They are grouped together in a mini set consisting of “Old Pervert”, possibly my favorite Kimberly Rew solo from The Soft Boys Underwater Moonlight. Interesting because this version is not on the cd reissue, where it has been replaced by a vastly inferior rendition. This version is dubbed from a cassette copy I made in 1986 of the original vinyl release. Next up is “Lounge Lizard” from Ian Hunter’s first solo album featuring Mick Ronson on guitar. It’s really hard to narrow Mick down to a single solo, but I think this one stands out for all the right reasons. After that comes “Tit-Nan-Darag”, from Live, Love, Larf by French, Frith, Kaiser, and Thompson. Three out of four of those guys are well known for their guitar prowess. The other guy for the incredible drumming in Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band. I hear the album isn’t great, but this track smokes, and when Richard Thompson plays, I listen. It wasn’t destined for my list, but his solo on Fairport’s “Tale In Hard Time” is no laughing matter, either. It’s not a solo, but Blixa Bargeld’s guitar on “The Moon Is In The Gutter” is some of my favorite atmospheric noodling. Davy O’List plays some crazy shit on “The ‘In’ Crowd”, Mick Ronson shimmers tastefully on “Up To Me”, and the guitars on Acetone’s “No Need Swim” are as gorgeous as you-fill-in-the-blank.
Keef’s playing on “Honky Tonk Women” and Ron’s solo on “Twisting the Night Away” would have both made the cut, but I’ve heard them too many times, so here they are together on “Not Fade Away” from The Stones Stripped Deluxe, where no one in the band sounds like they plan on fading away any time soon. And then there’s Lou Reed on “You’re Driving Me Insane”, a song recorded by The Roughnecks shortly before forming The Velvet Underground, where he plays the practically same solo (if you can call it that) as “Run, Run, Run” from the “banana” album.
The Mekons always have good guitars, and are here because this song narrowly missed the cut on my post a few months back. One of the Mekons, Lu Edmonds, is currently playing guitar on tour with Public Image Ltd.
The Liquor Giants “I Don’t Mind” is a dead ringer for Big Star. Too bad it wasn’t covered by them on In Space.
Something by Chris Spedding would have found it’s way onto the guitar list, check out Roy Harper’s “The Game” on an earlier post, so I end the set with the Sharks hysterical “Kung Fu”, from Jab It In Yore Eye(1977). One of those albums that wouldn’t make it onto anyone’s all-time list, but for some reason I played to death way back when, largely due to Spedding’s incredible tone and economy coupled with Snip’s charismatic vocals.
There isn’t any guitar at all on Gene Krupa’s “Scandanavian Baby”, but it rocks nicely and comes from a history of Jazz record my parents bought at a supermarket when I was a toddler.
It’s really about the songs anyway.
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It’s amazing that so much great music came out of such a fucked up little island. For much of the ’70’s it was an epicenter of revolutionary soul. I’ve always thought the music covered a lot of ground. It’s angry and political, yet sweet; it’s rockin’ dance music, but relaxing; it has religious overtones, yet is secular humanist; It’s fun and serious. I’m hooked.
I hate what passes for music coming out of Jamaica these days, not that I’ve heard much of it, what little Dancehall I’ve been exposed to left me cold. Reggaeton? I don’t even care if I spelled it right. It’s monotonous and ugly music.
I’m not sure what happened, but I suspect it had to do with cocaine replacing weed as the drug of choice, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the CIA had something to do with it. Their adventures in Nicaragua and other regions have been well documented. I’m not into delving too deep into conspiracy theory as it is a road to madness.
I will admit to being a total sucker for the music of the ’70’s. I was, of course, turned on by Bob Marley when a roomate played “Rastaman Vibration” (1976) over and over, but it goes deeper than that. “Israelites”, Desmond Dekker’s 1969 US hit got a lot of airplay, and I was listening. I didn’t have the slightest idea he was Jamaican, black, or what the song was even about, but I liked it. “I Can See Clearly Now” (1972) by Johnny Nash is still a favorite of mine. I remember seeing him on the Mike Douglas Show talking about the great scene in Jamaica. I’m pretty sure the Wailers were his backing band on that lp (the credits are minimal, but half the songs were written or co-written with Bob Marley).
Johnny must not have spent too much time in Trenchtown, which by all accounts is a very dangerous place. I thought about making this post a tribute to murdered reggae stars. King Tubby, Jah Lion, and Jacob Miller are all unsolved homicides. My affection for this music runs so deep, the whole blog could easily turn into a Reggae site.
I’m still surprised that after actively collecting the music for over 30 years and 40 years since first hearing “Israelites”, I still find great songs I’ve never heard. What I’ve collected here are some of the songs I can’t live without and you shouldn’t either.
Some are old favorites, and some more recent discoveries. Some were hits, and some remain obscure. Regardless, it’s barely scratching the surface of this vital, important, and rockin’ music.
Dave and Ansel Collins
People Get Ready
I Man Bitter
I Killed The Barber