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Definition:

Jamaica's Ska music emerged in the early 1960s, re-accenting American Rhythm n Blues with motifs from Jamaican mento. Ska is neatly described on Wikipedia as being “characterized by a walking bass line accented with rhythms on the off beat”. So tightly knit was the music-making community in Jamaica that, when the tempo slowed down in 1966, almost everyone's records switched from the old Ska style to the new Rocksteady beat. Wikipedia notes: “Rocksteady, even more so the early reggae that followed, was built around the 'one drop' drum beat, characterized by a heavy accent on the third beat of every bar.” The Rocksteady beat had its heyday between 1966 and 1968, before making way for Reggae. I join Ska and Rocksteady together as one for convenience, but would note that, by 1968, the ever-slowing Rocksteady beat was closer to Reggae than Ska.


The Jukebox Pick (of 1,822):

 707

 (Henry Mancini)

 Prince Buster and his All Stars

 10 out of 10 “Utterly perfect” Ska / Rocksteady

 It's extremely difficult to be exact about the first release / first billing for this magnificent reading of Henry Mancini's “Peter Gunn”, but I'd be inclined to believe that the first issue would be on Buster's own Wildbell label, and that it would be first released in Jamaica, probably in 1963, though possibly in 1964. The 45 I'm talking about was paired with “Faith”, both sides billed as Prince Buster and his All Stars, though the Prince himself would almost certainly have played no part in the instrumental “707”. The entrepreneurial music-lover had little trouble in attracting the best players to his stable; although cast members of his All Stars would come and go, the brand name stayed strong always. The legendary Don Drummond (as confirmed by Heather Augustyn in her 2013 bio “The Genius and Tragedy of the World's Greatest Trombonist”) was at the heart of the blazing horns in this one. It's sheer dynamite. Also, I love how the bass continually revs up, but never quite goes full throttle, leaving the horn players in full charge of the record's mighty dynamic. Did you know Mancini built “Peter Gunn” from the bassline of “Down The Road Apiece”? Gotta love a bit of Pop trivia!


Some favourite artists:

Prince Buster, Desmond Dekker, Madness, The Specials

The Jukebox pick:

 

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