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14th Anniversary Mix

14th Anniversary Mix

Playing tracks by

Bobby Aitken, Laurel Aitken, Lord Rose & The Beachcombers, The Viceroys, Big Youth and more.

Join us on June 24 at 10 pm at Marx Cafe as we celebrate the 14th anniversary of DC's best night of Jamaican Golden Oldies. No cover.

Check the liner notes for the mix in the comments.


DC Soundclash

Mix Liners, part 1:

Bobby Aitken
Swan UK 7" (1964)
There is much to relate about the great and under-heralded Bobby Aitken, but the track we have chosen here affords us a stroll down the revivalist avenue. I have Ken Bilby to thank for drawing my attention to this tune's religious roots within Jamaica, and also for pointing out many other versions, including "roots" reggae ones done by both the Mighty Diamonds and the African Brothers. This cut from ska's heyday features the inimitable Charlie Organaire on harmonica, harmonizing on Baba Brook's melody line. There is a simple genuineness in a song like this that is absolutely irreplaceable. — The Kaiser

Laurel Aitken
“Haile Selassie"
Nu-Beat UK 7" (1969)
There’s a handful of figures who encapsulate DC Soundclash’s tag “Jamaican Golden Oldies” — and Laurel Aitken is a giant among even those rarified few. Aitken had a string of mento and R&B hits in Jamaica and in the UK (notably “Boogie in my Bones, produced by newbie Chris Blackwell) before earning his title of “Godfather of Ska.” Aitken’s permanent move to England in 1960 in no small part helped lay the foundation for the popularity of Jamaican music in the UK — as can be attested by the scores of singles released on Kalypso, Blue Beat, Pama and its many subsidiaries (like Nu-Beat), and more than a few other labels. He stayed active through the ’60s and ’70s as a singer, producer and even toaster, and enjoyed resurgences during the 2 Tone and Third Wave eras. He died in 2005. His importance cannot be overstated. This scorcher finds Aitken with the Rudies: Earl Dunn (guitar), Sonny Binns (organ), Ardley White (bass) and Danny Smith (drums), as well Jamaican ex-pat Tan Tan Thornton on trumpet. — Sammy Gong

DC Soundclash

Liners, part 2:

Lord Rose and the Beachcombers
“Twistin' Uncle”
Kalypso 7” (1962)
Whereas there is an abundance of information on Laurel Aitken, there is jack nada on Lord Rose and the Beachcombers, who released “Independent Jamaica” b/w “Twisting’ Uncle.” in 1962. Rose shares a writing credit on both cuts with “Abrahams,” who is more than likely Horace Abrahams of Sir Horace & His Merry Knights (they released one single: the killer “Mambo Jamaica” in 1958). Regardless, “Twistin’ Uncle” reminds us all of a valuable lesson: Ask your girl if she has a brother early and often, lest you find yourself learning about him from the kids, whose “uncle” is locked in a room with her, eh, twisting. — Sammy Gong

The Viceroys
“Maga Down”
Coxsone blank (1967)
That 1967 Studio One rocksteady sound could give off an extra jolt of hormonal swagger, and that's just on the musical side alone. If the vocals added sugar and spice to the delivery (you see what I did there, Viceroys fans??), you have yourself a rather sought-after tune, not unlike this one. Lead Viceroy was/is Wesley Tinglin, and on these earliest recordings by them, the harmonies achieved by Daniel Bernard and Bunny Gayle set the blue-print for that rude-boy harmonizing that was the counterpoint to all the lover boy soulsters. Spice trumped sugar here, which is how more cakes should be made, frankly. — The Kaiser

Big Youth
"Phil Pratt Thing"
Phil Pratt Thing
Pressure Sounds (early ’70s, re2000)
Riding a tortuously slow skank version of Delroy Wilson’s ‘Riding For A Fall’, this early shot from the great Big Youth has to be one of the more musical and melodious from the formative DJ period on record. The natural starts and stops baked into the original tune create ample space for Jah Youth to play and chat as we want him to, and the moody little trombone licks throughout give the thing an almost sensual vibe. It’s unclear who the vocalist is on this take, as I’ve kept an eye out for many years to see if a vocal version crops up, but nothing yet. It’s been suggested it might be Phil Pratt himself, and I have no evidence to the contrary. Lovely little tune. “Man when you hold this!” — Rice & Peas

DC Soundclash

Liners, part 3:

Sound Dimension
“Congo Rock"
Studio One Roots
Soul Jazz (1972, re2001)
I recall the initial thought I had upon hearing this song for the first time was that I felt like I had just gone on a journey. Listening again, my opinion is unchanged. The song has Cedric ‘Im Brooks’ name all over it, teaming up here with the boys in the Sound Dimension house band of the time. The result is one of the more atmospheric tunes to come out of Studio One – and that’s saying something – as this song really goes into a vibe far, far away, and achieves it easily. The slowly building intro leads into a reggae abstraction that totally succeeds with jazz like phrasing not really heard since the days of ska. The monkey shrills and elephant horn blasts only support the story. Music with meaning, and not a word is uttered. Cool shit. —Rice & Peas

Signing Off
Graduate Records (1980)
There was a time at Soundclash HQ where bandying about the Birmingham band's name was a perennial jab in the direction of reggae-lite. 'Oh, you like UB40? Of course you do…' Well… there's a time and place for everything, and right here and right now we pay respect to one of the great reggae albums recorded in the UK, and specifically a track that is as hauntingly rich and beautiful as they come. They were so young here, but Ali Campbell's lyrics about Martin Luther King and what became of his movement reveal such a serene sense of the poetic. There is nothing about this song that fails to hit you where music and art should. — The Kaiser