Saturday, 8 June 2019

The Ethiopians

Engine 54 (1968)

Engine 54/My Love/You Got The Dough/Train To Skaville/Give Me Your Love/Train To Glory/Long Time Now/Woman's World/Unchanged Love/Come On Now   
By 1968 the exciting, upbeat sounds of Ska and Bluebeat had begun to be replaced in the often-changing musical tapestry of Jamaica by Rock Steady. This, The Ethiopians' debut alum, was much more n the Rock Steady genre than ska, although Engine54 is often considered to be ska, it isn't, really. It is considerably slower.

My Love is actually a fifties-style rock'n'roll ballad with precious little Rock Steady in it at all, if any. The Ethiopians merged sixties rock/soul with Jamaican rhythms very successfully, and people around the release of this album started to take notice of this type of Jamaican music. Reggae, of course, had yet to be coined as a phrase or a genre. Toots & The MaytalsDo The Reggay came out in the same year.

That said, listen to You Got The Dough. It is full of reggae skanking rhythms. It was just that nobody had given it a name. Well, they had I guess - Rock Steady. Train To Skaville is classic slow tempo ska, however and it possibly the best known track on the album, dominated by its horn riffs. Woman's World is almost calypso and sounds like something from the late fifties.

Train To Glory was later covered by Bunny Wailer and a variation of Long Time Now was done by Johnny Nash. This was a far more influential album than the actual sum of its parts. For an album dating from Jamaica in 1968 the sound quality on the latest Trojan Records remaster is pretty good.

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