Jamaican Skarama (3.5*)

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Jamaican Skarama.jpg

There are some who’ll baulk at the prospect of paying full price ($16.99, thank you very much at iTunes) for a dozen tracks, none of which run past two minutes and forty-five seconds, but as far as Hughesy’s concerned this small (Japanese) label collection of early ska sides that date right back to the early days of the Jamaican music industry delivers a rather good time vibe as it’s playing through. 

Recorded at Federal Studio in downtown Kingston, produced by Ken Khouri the highlights come from The Maytals, with My Daily Food offering a slice of prime Toots and One Look couldn’t really be anyone else. 

Apart from Toots and company there aren’t a whole lot of familiar names hereabouts and a quick scan of the reggae titles on Hughesy’s bookshelves failed to deliver much detail, but the Techniques bop along nicely on I Love You, Jamaican Gleaner salesman and proof-reader Dobby Dobson works more R&B related territory on Cry Another Cry and Tell Daddy. Eddie Perkins gets deep and meaningful on My Darling and may be the Eddie in Eddie & Patsy, who are out to Take These Chains From My Heart.

The Sneer-Towners deliver a Him Say You Say that bounces along merrily in a neighbouring postcode to Toots and the Maytals, complete with blaring trombone and Stranger & Patsy’s Word Is Wind has the characteristic infectious ska beat down pat. Big Brother took away the X-Rays’s girl, My Dream has one of the Group Singers reaching for the high notes over a doo wop background with some angular guitar cutting through the rather sparse backing and Eric Morris delivers There's A Place with familiar ska horns parping away in the background.

Hardly what you’d call essential unless you’re a ska/reggae completist, but an interesting slice of history that’ll add a bit of interest to your day to day shuffle playlist if this sort of thing floats your boat.

© Ian Hughes 2012