|Sunday morning was the time for audition at Studio
One. The youths would gather early in the dusty yard outside the studio
at 13 Brentford Road, just north of Trenchtown, first of all to be
scrutinised, assessed and selected by Jackie Mittoo, Lee 'Scratch' Perry
- or maybe Leroy Sibbles. By the time Clement Dodd (more commonly known
as 'Sir Coxsone') arrived at around 10 o'clock there might be 100 or
more aspiring vocalists waiting for their opportunity to impress the
owner of Jamaica's number one recording studio. Singers might wait
for hours in the baking sun before they got their one chance to perform
their songs 'a cappella' under the temporary shade of the mango tree. If
they showed promise they were rewarded with a perfunctory "...come back
Strongly influenced by the US Soul groups that could be
heard via AM radio broadcasts from Miami and New Orleans throughout the
1960s and 1970s, the dominant vocal formation in Jamaica was the harmony
trio, best exemplified by The Heptones, The Gaylads, The Gladiators and
Carlton & The Shoes. Exceptions to this rule include, The Mad Lads
(duo), as well as The Royals, The Cables and The Wailing Souls (all
1. The Wailing Souls MR FIRE COAL MAN (1971)
The Wailing Souls were formed in 1968 (from the remnants of The
Renegades) and went on to become one of the most successful and prolific
reggae vocal groups in Jamaica. 'Mr Fire Coal Man' was first released in
1971 on a Supreme label (credited to The Classics). It was sub
sequentially issued in the UK on the Banana label (credited to Wailing
The group: Winston 'Pipe' Mathews, Lloyd McDonald, Oswald Downer and
2. Righteous Flames SOLID FOUNDATION (1978)
In the early 1960s, Winston Jarrett and Eggar Gordon were
recruited by Alton Ellis to form Alton And The flames. The group
achieved great success in Jamaica recording smash hits like 'Dance
Crasher' (1965) and 'Cry Tough' (1967) for Duke Reid, before defecting
to Coxsone Dodd's Studio One label in 1967. when Alton left for England
the same year (as a member of the groundbreaking Soul Vendors tour),
Winston and Eggar were joined by Junior Green to form Winston Jarrett &
The Righteous Flames. 'Solid Foundation' is a re-voiced outing over
Burning Spear's 'He Prayed' rhythm (snatches of the original Winston
Rodney vocals can still be heard deep in the mix).
The Group: Winston Jarrett (b.1940), Eggar Gordon and Junior Green.
3. The Gaylads GIVE A HELPING HAND (1966)
The Gaylads (sometimes known as The Gaylords) were formed in
1963 and began their career performing and recording Mento songs for the
tourist market. The group released at least 70 singles on a variety of
Studio One related labels throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, and two
LPs - 'Sunshine Is Golden' (mainly Mento standards) and 'Soul Beat' (one
of the best Rocksteady albums ever - believe me). The hard-to-find 'Give
A Helping Hand' was only released as a Coxsone 7" and has never been
compiled on album before.
The Group: Harris 'BB' Seaton (b.1944), Winston Delano Stewart
(b.1947) and Maurice Roberts (b.1945).
4. The Bassies THINGS A COME UP TO BUMP (1968/1969)
Originally issued as 'Things Come To Bump' by The Victors on a
Coxsone label in 1968, and featured on the 'Swing Easy' album of the
same year, it was subsequently released (this time credited to The
Bassies) on a Coxson (different spelling) label in 1969. The rhythm has
been much versioned since, including cuts by Jackie Mittoo ('More
Scorcher'), Roland Alphonso ('Bumpy Skank') and Lone Ranger ('Plant Up A
Vineyard'). The single can also be found credited (erroneously) to The
The Group: Clifford Charlie Morrison, Leroy Fischer and Da da Smith.
5. The Mad Lads YOU WILL NEVER KNOW (1969)
One of only three titles recorded by The Mad Lads (the other
two being 'Losing You' and 'Ten To One'), 'You Will Never Know' was
originally issued on a Coxsone 7" in 1969, and later remixed and
extended as a Studio One 12" credited to The Mad Lads & Soul Vendors. In
the UK the same track was issued as 'He'll Break Your Heart' on the
distinctive red and white Studio One 'hanging microphone' label (the B
side to Alton Ellis' Change Of Plans').
The Group: George Allison and Delroy Williams.
6. The Clarendonians YOU CAN'T BE HAPPY (1966)
Although only together for four years, The Clarendonians were
one of the most successful groups of the ska/rocksteady era in Jamaica.
Formed in 1965 by Ernest Wilson and Peter Austin, they were later to be
joined by a pre-teen Freddie McGregor (who allegedly had to stand on a
beer crate in order to reach the microphone). 'You Can't Be Happy',
their biggest hit, was released in Jamaica on a Studio One label in
1966, and in the UK on the Island label in 1967.
The Group: Fitzroy 'Ernest' Wilson, Peter Austin and Freddie
7. The Consummates WHAT IS IT (1968)
The Consummates were just one of the many anonymous vocal
groups who turned up at Coxsone's yard in the late 60s seeking fame, but
unlikely to find fortune. Only two titles were recorded and released
before the group disappeared without trace. 'What Is It' was issued on a
Coxsone 7" in 1968, while 'Do The Right Thing' only seems to have
appeared on the REGGAE IN THE GRASS LP from the same year.
Members of the group remain unknown.
8. Carlton And The Shoes HAPPY LAND (1968)
Carlton Manning, together with brothers Lynford and Donald,
formed one of the most outstanding sweet harmony groups of the
rocksteady era. 'Love Me Forever' b/w 'Happy Land' was the group's first
recording for Coxsone Dodd, released on a Supreme label in 1968. 'Happy
Land' is recognised as the template for roots classic 'Satta Massa Gana',
recorded independently at Studio One the following year by The
Abyssinians (led by Donald Manning and featuring Bernard Collins and
The Group: Carlton Manning, Lynford Manning and Donald Manning.
9. The Viceroys THE STRUGGLE (1978)
The Viceroys came together in 1967 to record their first titles
for Coxsone Dodd, including 'Maga Down' (on the Supreme label), and
'Shake Up' and 'Lose And Gain' (both on Coxsone). The group also
recorded for other producers as The Interns or The Brothers, and for
Coxsone Dodd as The Voiceroys (but the latter is probably a misprint).
'The Struggle' was first released on a Studio One 7" in 1978.
The Group: Wesley Tinglin, Linval Williams and Daniel Bernard.
10. The Maytals I'LL NEVER GROW OLD (1963)
one of Jamaica's seminal vocal groups, The Maytals (originally
known as The Vikings) were formed in 1962 and recorded the first of
their many hit singles for Studio One the following year. The group's
raucous vocal harmonies fused gospel with soul in a way that appealed to
Jamaica's burgeoning Rastafarian culture. 'I'll Never Grow Old' was
originally released on a Rolando & Powie 7" in Jamaica in 1963, and in
the UK on Island in the same year, backed by the Skatalites.
The Group: Frederick 'Toots' Hibbert (b.1945), Henry 'Raleigh'
Gordon (b.1945) and Nathaniel 'Gerry' McCarthy (b.1939).
11. The Heptones GET IN THE GROOVE (1968)
The Heptones were the most successful Jamaican vocal harmony
trio throughout the late 1960s / early 1970s. After changing their name
from The Hep Ones to The Heptones and joining Coxsone Dodd's studio One
stable in 1966, they scored an immediate hit with 'Fattie Fattie', a
celebration of the 'Fat Girl' that was initially banned in Jamaica.
Group leader Leroy Sibbles not only acted as staff songwriter, arranger,
assistant producer and talent scout at Studio One, but also played bass
with resident house band The Soul Vendors. 'Get In The Groove' was
initially included on the SWING EASY album from 1968 before being issued
on a Studio One 7" in 1971.
The Group: Leroy Sibbles (b.1949), Barry Llewellyn (b.1947) and Earl
12. The Royals PICK UP THE PIECES (1976)
The original recording was made in 1967, but release was
delayed until 1973 when it appeared on a Studio One label credited to
The Tempests. It was later re-recorded and reissued (in 1967, as The
Royals) with a more modern drum track. The distinctive lead vocal is by
Roy cousins, who subsequently founded the Tamoki/Wambesi labels as a
producer in his own right.
The Group: Roy Cousins, Bertram Johnson, Keith smith And Errol
13. The Gladiators JAH JAH GO BEFORE US (1974)
The Gladiators recorded for various producers throughout the
late 1960s and early 1970s, including Clive Chin, Lee Perry and Duke
Reid. They also worked for Coxsone Dodd during this time, mainly singing
back-up vocals, but occasionally releasing their own popular hits
(notably 'Hello Carol' in 1968). Self-contained bands were a rarity in
Jamaica and The Gladiators were accomplished instrumentalists as well as
gifted vocalists. By 1971 the group had developed their own distinctive
deep roots perspective and began recording a series of Rasta inspired
singles that saw release on the Studio One and Coxsone labels, of which
'Jah Jah Go Before Us' is a superlative example.
The Group: Albert Griffiths (b.1946), Clinton Fearon (b.1951) and
14. Bob Marley & The Wailers LOVE AND AFFECTION (1965)
When the Wailers made their first recordings at Studio One (in
1963) they were a six-piece group, with Junior Braithwaite, Beverley
Kelso and Cherry smith augmenting the more familiar line-up of Robert
Nesta Marley, Neville O'Reilly Livingstone and Winston Hubert McIntosh.
By 1965, Bob Marley & The Wailers, by now a trio, were the most popular
group in Jamaica. 'Love And Affection', written by Bob, and influenced
by US groups like The Temptations, The Moonglows and The Tams, was
originally released in Jamaica on a Coxsone 7", and in the UK on the Ska
Beat label. The saxophone solo is by Roland Alphonso.
The Group: Bob Marley (b.1945) on lead vocal, backed by Bunny Wailer
(b.1947) and Peter Tosh (b.1944).
15. The Stingers DOWN PRESSER INTERNATIONAL (c.1973)
Not much is known about The Stingers. they recorded titles for
Lee Perry and several other producers throughout the 1970s but released
only four tracks for Studio One - 'Rasta Don't Stop No-One' (on Bongo
Man), and, as El Tibby & The Stingers, 'Who Laughs Last' (on money Disc,
1972) and 'Stepping Into Zion' (Bongo Man, 1974). 'Down Presser
International' utilises the 'In Cold Blood' rhythm originally recorded
by Jackie Mittoo.
The Group: Members of the group remain unknown.
16 The Cables BABY WHY (1968)
Named after lead singer Keble (sometimes known as Kable)
Drummond, the group was formed in 1962 but didn't begin recording until
1966 (with 'You Lied' for producer Linden Pottinger). 'Baby Why' was the
first song they recorded at Studio One and features Leroy Sibbles on
Bass and Jackie Mittoo on Keyboards. 'Baby Why' was first released on a
Studio One 7" in 1968.
The Group: Keble Drummond (b.1947), Vincent Stoddart and Elbert
17. The Ethiopians OWE ME NO AY ME (1966)
Leonard Dillon made his first recording under the name Jack
Sparrow, including 'Ice Water' from 1965 when he was backed by The
Wailers. that same year he met street-corner duo Steven Taylor and Aston
Morris, and together they formed the fledgling Ethiopians. 'Owe Me No
Pay Me', one of several hits penned by Leonard Dillon for Studio One,
was released in 1966. Aston Morris left the group soon after, but Dillon
and Taylor continued as a duo, recording a series of hit singles and the
occasional album for a variety of producers until Steven Taylor's
untimely death in 1975.
The Group: Leonard 'Sparrow' Dillon (b.1942), Steven Taylor
(1944-1975) and Aston Morris.
18. The Inn-Keepers/The Purplelites ME FRIEND/THE PRESSURE IS
This one is a bit of a mystery. The track was originally
released on 1970 on a Jamaican Supreme label (backed with Dennis
Alcapone's 'El Paso'), but was issued again the following year in the
UK on the Banana label as 'Me Friend' and credited to The
Inn-Keepers. Just to confuse matters further, a later Studio One
repress also credits 'Me Friend' to The Inn-Keepers.
Members of The Purplelites (or The Inn-Keepers for that matter)
19. The Silvertones CHEATING AND LYING (1977)
The Silvertones were formed by lead singer Delroy Denton in
1964 and achieved initial success with hits like 'True Confession'
(1966) and 'Midnight Hour' (1968) for Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label.
Shortly after the group joined Studio One, Delroy Denton emigrated to
the USA. His place was taken by Clinton 'Tennessee' Brown, who can be
heard singing lead on this extended version of 'Cheating And Lying' from
1977. The same song can also be found on The Silvertones 'Young At
Heart' album where it is re-titled 'Be Thankful'.
The Group: Clinton 'Tennessee' Brown, Gilmour Grant (b.1943) and
Keith Coley (b.1944).