June 16, 2011

The Skatalites :: Plus

As Motown had the Funk Brothers—the incredibly talented Detroit session band that played on the label's every hit, from "My Girl" to "Tears of a Clown"—Jamaica and ska music had The Skatalites. A group of extraordinary jazz musicians that included players like saxophonist Tommy McCook and trombonist Don Drummond, the Skatalites were one of Jamaica's first and finest ska bands, recording with vocalists like Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, and Toots & The Maytals.

Plus, also released as Skatalite!, is the fifth release by producer Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label (named after his family's liquor store) and contains 12 tracks culled from recordings he cut. Songs simply don't get better than the Justin Hinds sung "Carry Go Bring Home," which I gushed about separately a few months back, or the playful Stranger Cole and Queen Patsy duet "When You Call My Name." And the instrumentals here are just as compelling, if not more so. Take the cheerful jaunt "Yard Broom" with its walking bass line and dynamic trading solos by tenor saxophonists Rolando Alphonso and Bobby Gaynair and trombonist Rico Rodriguez. There's truly few genres of music this fun and celebratory, which some attribute to Jamaica's independence from the UK, achieved in 1962 just as the ska sound was taking off. It's tough to find this on vinyl, but do yourself a favor and pick it up digitally via Amazon or iTunes.

The Skatalites Feat. Stranger Cole & Queen Patsy - "When You Call My Name" (from Plus)
The Skatalites - "Yard Broom" (from Plus)

And if you haven't heard Bob Marley's first hit, "Simmer Down"—written in 1963 to quell the violence in Kingston—you're in for a treat. Hear that beautiful brass? That's the Skatalites.

The Wailers feat. The Skatalites - "Simmer Down"

The Skatalite - The Skatalites

No comments:

Post a Comment