TROJAN SKA RARITIES BOX SET (TJETD238) - In the book Thirty One Songs, the author Nick Hornby states that participants at sťances in Victorian England used to burn phosphorus to reveal spiritual beings, and applies the analogy to undiscovered recordings. I had always thought that the smoky effect was purely theatrical, but apparently the mediums were convinced that this would help reveal a lost soul. In Jamaican music, the ever-increasingly popularity of foundation Ska echoes that analogy and our desire to reveal something from the past that we may have missed. However, technology has moved on from phosphorus to digital reproduction and we, like those present at a Victorian Sťance, can relive the thrill of discovering these lost soulful sounds, as Jamaican listeners did in the dancehalls of over forty years ago. In fact, if there is anybody there, they will confirm that many of the killer sounds featured on this set have, unbelievably, only seen the light of day in very limited numbers: indeed, many of them were only ever released in Jamaica and have therefore always been mega-rare in Britain. So here they are, back again with a special dispensation to rock all generation!

We open this collection with the Techniques NO ONE, suitably embellished with an amazing keyboard intro. The group also perform REMEMBER I TOLD YOU and I LOVE YOU, the latter of which I'm sure you'll agree demonstrates Slim Smith's sublime vocal style.

Desmond Dekker once sang that he was the King Of Ska, ably supported by the Cherry Pies who also performed in their own right and on this set they can be heard singing DO YOU KEEP ON DREAMING (when the lights are low), which was produced by Desmond's long-time mentor, Leslie Kong. Our next track, JUST ONE LITTLE GIRL is by the Aces under their original name of the Four Aces. Following a request from Desmond to join the group, they went on to back the singer through to and during his mainstream success. They are also featured performing their biggest pre-Desmond hit, HOOCHY-KOOCHY KAI-PO and a rocking version of that well-known spiritual SWING LOW SWEET CHARIOT, the song that has since become the anthem of the English rugby team.

Joe White's early career has generated a myriad of enquiries as to where further examples of his work can be found. Well look no further: our selecta has unearthed three tracks from this rediscovered talent. The mysterious Chuck joins him in enthusing over Jamaica's newly won independence in ONE NATION before passing judgement on LOW MINDED PEOPLE, while as a soloist Joe performs that resolute rendition, WANNA GO HOME. Frederick 'Toots' Hibbert is another singer who belatedly achieved legendary status, particularly from within the rock media. He was initially supported by Raleigh Gordon and Jerry Mathias who, as the Maytals, perform the succinct but energetic MY DAILY FOOD, a song that serves as a musical appetiser for the lesser-known Delkin' wonderful ISABELLE.

Owen and Leon Silvera are probably best remembered for their lively Ska collaboration with Wilburn 'Stranger' Cole, 'Koo Koo Do' although our featured track, HOW MANY TIMES 9must I tell you I love you) proves that there was more than one great song in their repertoire. The tracks leads nicely to another alliance from the Stranger who performs THE WORD IS WIND alongside his long-time associate, 'Patsy' Millicent Todd who later drops in as a soloist for the superbly crafted YOU TOOK MY LOVE. Stranger Cole also harmonises with Gladstone 'Gladdy' Anderson on MALLY SALLY and CHANCES. Both these tracks were produced by the recently honoured Mrs. Sonia Pottinger who also sat in on the Fugitives' eerie LIVING SOUL, which you'll find on disc three.

Although often confused with the Pioneers, the inimitable Slickers leave the listener in no doubt as to who is singing I WANT TO TAKE A CHANCE, recorded for Duke Reid in 1966. Lead singer Derrick Crooks and the boys give a fine example of the rousing good Ska sounds that came out of Bond Street - and check that guitar solo! The Sensations' wonderful LAST TIME, like the Slickers' hit, inexplicably saw release only in Jamaica, as did A ROCKIN' GOOD WAY, performed by the Silvertones who were led by the husky baritone of Delroy Denton. The latter can also be heard on RAINDROPS that saw issue in the UK on Graeme Goodall's highly collectable Doctor Bird imprint. These sides prove that although more widely feted for his Rocksteady productions, Duke Reid's Ska hits were equally as accomplished, whether it be with the aforementioned artists or the lesser known Dotty and Bonny, whose archetypal sixties rendition of WHY WORRY originally appeared on the flip-side of their celebration of 'Your Kisses'.

Freddie McLean is better known as Freddie McKay. The late lamented singer is revered among Reggae aficionados and FINE, FINE, FINE from the tail end of the Ska era perfectly illustrates his musical ability. This tingling tune was produced by Leslie Kong, who often confused the issue by persuading his performers to vary their stage names, the most common example being Bob Marley being credited as the kitsch Bobby Martell - but that's another story.

Byron Lee's manager and business associate, Ronnie Nasralla was a fine producer of top Ska tunes, but his works are often inexplicably overlooked when the movers and shakers from this period are discussed. One listen to his contributions to this box of delights should convert the uninitiated, as he demonstrates his production skills on the Virtues and the Ambassadors, who join forces on the thought provoking quandary YOUR WIFE AND MOTHER, and on Jester Hairston's AMEN (originally written for Sidney Poitier's film Lilies Of The Field), and clearly rocks the house!

Oswald 'Baba' Brooks is celebrated as one of Jamaica's top trumpet players and was occasionally credited as the leader of the island's resourceful session band on hits such as OPEN THE DOOR and CLOCK, alongside the captivating musical war style of ALCATRAZ. While Oswald sometimes led his own Baba Brooks Band, he also performed with drummer Arkland 'Drumbago' Parks in the sticks man's All Star band. However, here it's another top trumpeter, the distinguished Raymond Harper, who takes the lead role on the outstanding BREEZE OF THE WEST aka 'Sea Breeze'. Another prominent musician who often played with Drumbago and Baba was the famed tenor saxophonist, Tommy McCook, who needs no introduction. Here he performs WINDFALL and our closing track, the explosive ROCKET SHIP. The Baba Brooks connection does not end there, as the track WE AIN'T GOT NOTHING by Billy and Bobby was initially released in the UK as the flip side to the trumpeter and his band's Ska take of 'Three Blind Mice'.

Fans of the Trojan label will be interested to learn from Lloyd Briscoe that 'Trojan is a noun and also an adjective', while conversely 'Troy is a nation and they were all named Trojan!' The name is usually associated with Duke Reid, whose Trojan Sound System is celebrated in an inspired performance from Lloyd, although curiously the track was produced by Leslie Kong. The same singer pops up again as 'Lord' Briscoe for the wonderful neo-religious SPIRITUAL MAMBO that is sure to win a few converts.

A SAMPHEY MAN 9sometimes spelt 'samfie') is a uniquely Jamaican term for a con-man who had usually come from the country; they were often ridiculed by Kingston's music makers, such as The Rio Grandes whose tale of an unlucky experience with a samfie man inspired the aforementioned Pioneers, as well as Stanley Beckford, to pass musical comment on such wayward country bumpkins or rednecks.

The next track may surprise many followers of Lee Perry when they learn that the original Upsetters were not formed by 'Scratch', but by Roland Alphonso, and that the group initially recorded for Clement 'Coxson' Dodd at Studio One. Unlike the later incarnation of the group this band featured vocalists and worked on sessions for Leslie Kong, who produced COUNTRY GIRL, and Excel Records which issued the extremely scarce WILDCAT.

A number of the tracks introduced here initially appeared on Kentone's coveted various artists album Skalarama. This Jamaican-only release collected works from lesser-known acts such as the Steertowners, who perform the proverbial 'labrish' of HIM SAY YOU SAY, and the equally obscure X-Rays who offer a tale of justified sibling rivalry in BIG BROTHER.

The more familiar Clarendonians were formed by Ernest Wilson and Peter Austin in 1965, with the duo recording A DAY WILL COME for Leslie Kong and MEY BIEN (MY FRIEND) for Duke Reid soon after. Another Duke Reid number is YOU ARE THE ONE TO BLAME, an early effort by Alton Ellis that proves the singer was equally adept at tear-jerking Ska as he was acclaimed when the music evolved into Rocksteady. He had previously performed as half of the duo, Alton and Eddy (Perkins) and the latter appears on this collection in his own right, with the Jamaican-only release MY DARLING. Incidentally, Alton recently appeared on a Skatalites showcase alongside our next artist Winston Samuels, who contributes the vivacious and inviting YOU ARE THE ONE (I LOVE).

The obscure Lyn Carby and the originals ask WHEN YOUR LOVE WILL BE MINE, accompanied by those deep backing vocals that give this record a uniquely Jamaican Ska/Doo Wop feel. The better-known Three Tops featured Dion Cameron and Orville Robinson alongside Jimmy Riley. They perform twice on this anthology, with Dion being singled out for the lead vocals on LORD HAVE MERCY, a song that sounds remarkably similar to the Wailers' 'Put It On'. Dion, Orville and Jimmy combined to create breathtaking three-part harmonies, of which the original FEEL SO LONESOME is a prime example.

Alto saxophonist Lester Sterling is renowned for the original '(Woman A) Bangarang', a recording cited by Bunny Lee as the first Reggae tune to come out of Jamaica, although Harry J and Toots might dispute this claim. However, on this set, no one can dispute that Lester demonstrates a horny Ska style on the wonderful SO LONG.

As related in the Book Of The Blatantly Obvious, the horn section dominated the Ska sound and the celebrated trombonist Don Drummond is widely recognised for his crucial contribution to the genre. His story has been well documented and this ethereal tribute from a grassy knoll to JFK's (US president John F. Kennedy) MEMORY with the Skatalites is an ideal homage to both men. Speaking of an ideal homage, how could anyone fail to marvel at the pioneering Ska sounds on this collection, a set filled to the brim of rocking tracks that although rare, are all from the top drawer in terms of musical quality. There will be some who say that rare does not necessarily mean good, but this compilation is clearly an exception to that rule, with our selecta unearthing some extraordinary gems, as you will no doubt discover as soon as the discs hit the deck.

So, moving on from that little flash of phosphorus to the technical wizardry of the 21st century, let's test the analogy, relive the optimism of the new independent Jamaica and dig the Ska!

Stephen Nye




No One
The Techniques
Just One Little Girl
The Four Aces
One Nation
Joe White & Chuck
My Daily Food
The Maytals
The Delkins
How Many Times
Owen & Leon
The Word Is Wind
Stranger & Patsy
I Want To Take A Chance
The Slickers
Do You Keep On Dreaming
The Cherry Pies
Last Time
The Sensations
Fine, Fine, Fine
Freddie McLean
Your Wife And Mother
The Virtues & The Ambassadors
A Rockin' Good Way
The Silvertones
Open The Door
Baba Brooks & His Band
Hoochy-Koochy Kai-Po
The Four Aces
Tommy McCook & The Supersonics
Lloyd Briscoe

Samphey Man
The Rio Grandes
The Upsetters
I Love You
The Techniques
Baba Brooks & His Band
Him Say You Say
The Steer-Towners
Breeze Of The West
Raymond Harper & Drumbago's Orchestra
A Day Will Come
The Clarendonians
You Are The One To Blame
Alton Ellis
You Are The One (I Love)
Winston Samuels
Love Will Be Mine
Lyn Carby & The Originals
The Silvertones
Lord Have Mercy
Dion Cameron & The Three Tops
Low Minded People
Joe White & Chuck
So Long
Lester Sterling
We Ain't Got Nothing
Billy & Bobby
Mally Sally
Stranger & Gladdy

(Swing Low) Sweet Chariot
The Four Aces
My Darling
Eddie Perkins
J.F.K.'s Memory
Don Drummond & The Skatalites
You Took My Love
Patsy Millicent Todd
Mey Bien (My Friend)
The Clarendonians
Wanna Go Home
Joe White
The Clock
Baba Brooks & His Band
Feel So Lonesome
The Three Tops
Country Girl
The Upsetters
Why Worry
Dotty & Bonny
Living Soul
The Fugitives
Big Brother
The X-Rays
Spiritual Mambo
Lord Briscoe
The Virtues & The Ambassadors
Remember I Told You (aka Don't Do It)
The Techniques
Stranger & Gladdy
Rocket Ship
Tommy McCook

Time - 44:15

Time - 41:41

Time - 46:26

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