TROJAN JAMAICA BOX SET (TJETD199) - During global sporting events madness prevails, with nationwide displays of unreserved loyalty, which is fine except when the enthusiasm leads to xenophobic headlines. Although not unique to Jamaica, this happened when the country's national football team, the Reggae Boyz, qualified for the 2002 Football World Cup tournament in France. In fact Jamaican patriotism led to support from outsiders who rejected those narrow-minded editorials for a sense of fair play. Football fans around the world joined in on the fun with the Reggae Boyz because everyone wanted a slice of Jamaica.

The island is the third largest in the Caribbean and was the original settlement of the Arawak Indians. These earliest inhabitants were the first tobacco smokers, who gave the plant its name and subsequently influenced their European captors to adopt the habit. So if you take a puff, remember what goes around comes around, as it was people from the outside world who completely wiped out the indigenous Jamaicans. Having destroyed a nation the Spanish began importing forced labour from Africa. When the British fought the Spaniards for control of the island, many of these slaves escaped to the hills until they achieved emancipation. The British continued to govern Jamaica until 1962, when the island was granted independence. In spite of all the struggles experienced in Jamaica, its inhabitants have proved resilient and have overcome these odds with a certain aplomb that excuses a little flag-waving.

The recordings:

Our first look at Jamaican pride is from the veteran Basil Gabbidon who claimed 'Jamaica Is Mine', lifted from the outstanding 'Trojan Battlefield' (TJCCD136). Basil was one of the first artists to record with Coxson Dodd when the aptly named Mellow Larks supported him.

Al T Joe, real name Trevor Aljoe, is a Fats Domino impersonator widely remembered for his version of 'Hitching A ride'. Sadly his status founding father of Jamaican music is largely unrecognised. His contribution on this set is the educational 'Rise Jamaica', from 1962, which cleverly spells out the benefits of independence.

As Jamaica celebrated independence, the Calypsonian, Lord Kitchener pointed the finger at a beautiful 'Jamaican Woman', while Jimmy Cliff celebrated 'Miss Jamaica'. Although it would be some time before a Jamaican girl actually won Miss World, Jimmy was happy to crown his girl, accompanied by a sublime horn section. Leslie Kong produced the hit and also worked with the legendary Jackie Opel who may not enjoy the same notoriety as some of his contemporaries, but none the less is revered for his unique Ska hits for Top Deck and Studio One, as well as our featured track, 'I Love Jamaica' - a tribute indeed, for Jackie was actually from Trinidad.

Stand up, sit down, because here come Keith & Ken with the new dance, 'Jamaican Ska', a song that is guaranteed to get the old timers pushing up their lighters. It is a classic boogie record, and the Hiltonaires maintain the pace with the suitably titled, 'Jamaica' that originally appeared on the album 'Meet Me In Jamaica With sunshine'. Moving on, we have some cool Caribbean sounds from the Calypso style of 'Count' Owen Emmanuel with 'Take Her To Jamaica' from his Calypso-gone-Ska album, the suitably titled 'Skalipso'. The happy-go-lucky vibe continues with Duke Harris who takes us down 'Jamaica Way', while Count Lasher celebrates the anniversary of the nation's independence with 'Jump Independently'. The flavour is maintained by Webb Ralston and the Drumbago Band, whose 'Jamaican Mento' keeps the up the celebratory pace.

Long before Jamaica celebrated their World Cup qualification, a young Byron Lee played for the national team before concentrating on a musical career. On this compilation we have the bassist/bandleader with his Dragonaires performing the uplifting 'Jamaica Jump Up' in fine style.

For anyone who doesn't know, the Paragons were the original performers of 'The Tide Is High' although that is just the tip of their musical iceberg as demonstrated their cool version of 'Island In The Sun'. Incidentally their lead singer John Holt also appears on the third disc in this set with a modern take on the traditional favourite, 'Jamaica Farewell'.

While we have concentrated on Jamaica as an island, the singers and players also 'bigged up' more local venues; Tommy McCook, for example, blows the jazzy 'Down On Bond Street', an accolade to the Treasure Isle recording studio at 33 Bond Street in Kingston. Just recently the Jamaican Government renamed Brentford Road 'Studio One Boulevard' in tribute to Coxson Dodd's studio, so maybe they may rename that other famous street in memory of Duke Reid. Treasure Isle was also where the Techniques recorded the festival hit 'Run Come Celebrate', confirming their allegiance to Jamaica as they do on our cut citing the nation's motto 'Out Of Many, One People'.

Although actually from Trinidad, Kentrick 'Lord Creator' Patrick recorded one of the most famous tributes to the island's capital. When the song 'Kingston Town' was covered by UK Reggae band, UB40 in 1989 as part of their 'Labour Of Love' project, it topped the UK pop chart and deserves a place in the Rock & Roll hall of fame.

The celebrated singer, producer and keyboardist, Lloyd Tyrell originally performed alongside Roy Willis in The Charmers. He subsequently adopted the name and proceeded to enjoy a long and fruitful career performing and producing notable 'Jamaica(n) Reggae' hits. He also appears as a performer on disc two with the melodious 'Jamaica Song'. However, disc two opens with the Studio One veteran, Clancy Eccles, whose song 'Freedom' was used as a political anthem in spite of his protestations. Mind you, the singer mellowed with age and began to appreciate his little island as on the wonderful 'Sweet Jamaica' that proved particularly popular in the early seventies. The Nicky Thomas hit 'Love Of The Common People' influenced Jackie Brown who, inspired by Clancy's hit, cleverly adapted the song as 'Living In Sweet Jamaica'.

Errol T. (Thompson) is best remembered as a studio engineer who worked with Joe Gibbs and, also significantly, Lee Perry alongside the Wailers. On this compilation he demonstrated his steadfast allegiance with 'Jamaican Born And Bred'. Another engineer who opted to perform in his own right was light-voiced Neville Willoughby who features with 'I Love Jamaica' and the more succinctly titled 'Jamaica'.

Like Clancy Eccles, Max Romeo did a U-turn, celebrating the island's diversity in the song 'We Love Jamaica' before going on to record 'I Man A African', on which he asked why he should give up a continent for an island. Whatever sentiments he chooses, one thing is certain, he is an unequivocally gifted singer.

Roy Shirley's appraisal of 'Jamaican Girls' rides a familiar rhythm, and was only available on pre for many years until the 2003 release of his acclaimed anthology 'Music Is The Key' (TJDDD 114). Popular toaster, Dennis Alcapone's chart-topping cover of the Joya Landis hit 'Moonlight Lover', 'Wake Up Jamaica' led the way for Dennis to join the host of contenders for U Roy's crown.

Hopeton Lewis is still active on the Caribbean promoting gospel music. His involvement in the music scene stretches as far back as the golden age of Rocksteady, although here he drops it inna Reggae style to celebrate the Jamaican capital in 'Funky Kingston', based on the Beginning Of The End's R&B favourite, 'Funky Nassau'. The singer also appears on our third disc with the inspiring 'Jamaica You Are Mine'. Another 'Funky Kingston' comes from Toots Hibbert, whose distinctive vocals helped this song to become one of the Maytals' all-time favourites that can still fill the dance floor.

Considering the tracks so far on this set you could be forgiven for thinking that Jamaican pride is man thing. So now let's hear it from the girls with Paulette Williams and Adina Edwards, who assert a dignified female perspective on the Land Of springs with 'My Island' and 'Jamaica My Isle', respectively.

Shenley Duffus is another veteran of the Jamaican music scene, recording his debut with Simeon 'Little Wonder' Smith in the early sixties before recording with legends such as Duke Reid, Lee Perry and Coxsone Dodd. On our featured track he links up with the band International Focus for the petitioning 'Help Jamaica'. Another sensitive issue concerning the island came from Leighton 'Pluto' Shervington who urged his fellow Jamaicans to stay a yard with the affirming 'I Man Born Ya'.

One-time singer, David 'Scotty' Scot began his career in vocal group, the Federals before enjoying a high profile as a DJ. On 'Salvation Train' he narrates a tour of the island, taking in Kingston, St. Catherine and Trelawney to name but a few. Meanwhile the Upsetters adapt 'Everything I Own' as their 'Jamaican Theme', while the Fabulous Five draw their influence from the Gaylads' classic for an extended version of 'My Jamaican Girl'.

The self-effacing Horace Andy is one of Jamaica's hardest-working performers who, while celebrating 'Our Jamaican National Heroes' should in reality be listed among them. Only time will tell. Eric Donaldson began his career in a group known as the West Indians alongside Leslie Burke and hector Brookes. However, he has since found success as a soloist particularly in the annual Jamaican Song Contest. Many festival songs celebrate Jamaica and being Jamaican, such as Eric's two successive winning contributions on this set, 'Sweet Jamaica' and 'Land Of My Birth' that were victorious in 1977 and 1978 respectively.

Keble Drummond and the Cables are best remembered for their work at Studio One, followed by sessions with Harry J. A little known fact is that the group also recorded a session for Dynamics that resulted in 'J.A.M.A.I.C.A.', a record that was woefully overlooked at the time of its release. Another unsung hero is the baritone singer Watty Burnett who is celebrated for having performed with the Congos on the revered 'Heart Of The Congos' album. The singer also recorded a fine interpretation of Brook Benton's 'Rainy Night In Georgia', adapted to fit in with the predominately rainy area of Portland in North East Jamaica.

In 1978, expatriate Trinidadian Joseph Gordon, known as Lord Tanamo, enjoyed resurgence through the revived fortunes of his hit 'I'm In The Mood For Ska'. The success resulted in him embarking on sessions with Bunny Lee who felt that as Tanamo had lived in Jamaica for most of his life, he should record 'My Sweet Jamaica'.

Trinity, whose 'Rocking Jamaica' features on this disc initially performed as Prince Glen and later opted for a singing career as Junior Brammer. The DJ found his greatest success with Joe Gibbs who coincidentally brought Floyd 'Kojak' Perch's unique style to the public eye when he featured the DJ performing 'Hole In My Bucket' over Dennis Brown's 'Ain't That Loving You'. Floyd was named after the television detective owing to his bald head and obligatory lollipop. He recorded a series of hits with a number of female DJs under the collective name of Lisa and relished particular success with 'Nice Up Jamaica'. Prince Far I also worked with Joe Gibbs who released the legendary Under Heavy Manners album. The DJ, who originally performed as King Cry Cry, gives us a gravelly-voiced tribute to 'Jamaican Heroes'.

DJ, Nkrumah 'Jah' Thomas was named after and inspired by President Kwame Nkrumah, the first leader of Ghana after it was free from colonial rule in 1957, also sought independence and embarked on a career as a producer in the late seventies. His productions led to a series of hits for upcoming Dancehall stars, while his Dub albums were highly sought after: one listen to 'Kingston Dub', featuring Sly & The Revolutionaries will explain why. Another example of Jah Thomas' productions is the wonderful 'Jamaica Land' performed by Dancehall singer, Michael Palmer from the 'Echo Tone Hi Fi' sound system.

The dance hall is noted for launching the careers of a number of child prodigies including Little John, Beenie Man and Billy Boyo. Billy's 'Sweet Jamaica' was produced by the leading light of the highly popular 'Volcano' sound, Henry 'Junjo' Lawes. While at the time the youth was one of the most successful child stars, sadly the novelty was short lived.

In contrast to this fleeting success, we close the set with the enduring Johnny Clarke who gives a wicked demonstration of the 'Sound From Jamaica', which leads us nicely in to taking a minute and fifteen seconds to salute the island that inspired so much patriotism.

So rise, Jamaica, rise, let is celebrate, remember the past and rock to the sounds of the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties in one magical box.

Stephen Nye




Jamaica Is Mine
Basil Gabbidon
Rise Jamaica (Independence Time Is Here)
Al T. Joe
Jamaica Woman
Lord Kitchener
Miss Jamaica
Jimmy Cliff
I Love Jamaica
Jackie Opel
Jamaica Ska
Keith & Ken
The Hiltonaires
Take Her To Jamaica
Count Owen
Jamaica Mento
Webb Ralston & The Drumbago Band
Jamaica Way
Duke Harris
Jump Independently
Count Lasher
Jamaica Jump Up
Byron Lee & The Dragonaires
Island In The Sun
The Paragons
Out Of Many, One
The Techniques
Down On Bond Street
Tommy McCook & The Supersonics
Kingston Town
Lord Creator
Jamaica Reggae
Lloyd Charmers

Sweet Jamaica
Clancy Eccles
I Love Jamaica
Neville Willoughby
Living In Sweet Jamaica
Jackie Brown
We Love Jamaica
Max Romeo
Jamaican Born And Bred
Errol T
Jamaican Girls
Roy Shirley
Jamaican Song
Lloyd Charmers
Wake Up Jamaica
Dennis Alcapone
Funky Kingston (aka Funky Nassau)
Hopeton Lewis
Funky Kingston
Toots & The Maytals
My Island
Paulette Williams
Jamaica, My Isle
Adina Edwards
Help Jamaica
Shenley Duffus & The International Focus
Salvation Army
Jamaican Theme
The Upsetters
I Man Born Ya
Pluto Shervington
My Jamaican Girl
The Fabulous Five Inc.

Our Jamaican National Heroes
Horace Andy
Sweet Jamaica
Eric Donaldson
The Cables
Rainy Night In Portland
Watty Burnett
Jamaica You Are Mine
Hopeton Lewis
My Sweet Jamaica
Lord Tanamo
Neville Willoughby
Jamaica Farewell
John Holt
Land Of My Birth
Eric Donaldson
Rocking Jamaica
Nice Up, Jamaica
Kingston Dub
Sly & The Revolutionaries
Jamaica's Heroes
Prince Far I
Hugh Griffiths
Sweet Jamaica
Billy Boyo
Jamaica Land
Michael Palmer
Sound From Jamaica
Johnny Clarke
The Jamaican National Anthem
Wilson Wright & The Supersonics

Time - 44:5

Time - 59:04

Time - 62:40

All material Copyright Trojan Records