Saturday, 23 November 2019

More Monkey Business: More Skinhead Reggae


This is the follow up to the compilation of "skinhead reggae" from the late sixties/early seventies, also known as "boss reggae" or sometimes "original reggae". As I said in the review of Monkey Business, the relationship between the white working class, often violent and racist skinhead culture and the sound of Jamaica was a perplexing one. Taken away from its sometimes unsavoury context, though, it was a thoroughly exciting, vibrant thing and one worthy of celebration, strangely. You simply can't argue with the music, its vitality and its atmosphere.

The sound, as on its sibling release, is varied from track to track, something that cannot be avoided - if the original track was recorded in a shack with a couple of cheap microphones then not too much can be done about it.

Highlights are the prototype roots of John Holt's Ali Baba; Theo Beckford's catchy Easy Snappin' (which was covered by UB40); Toots & The Maytals' Do The Reggay (often credited as the first reggae track); The Ethiopians' Train To Skaville; Jackpot by The Pioneers (covered by The Beat); the early dub rhythms of The Upsetters' For A Few Dollars More; the embryonic "toasting" from King Stitt on Vigerton 2; the wonderful, singalong Sweet Sensation from The Melodians (also covered by UB40); the equally uplifting gospelly tones of Toots & The Maytals' Sweet & Dandy; Desmond Dekker's skanking It Mek and Derrick Harriott's thumping, boot stomping Moon Hop.

It is also good to have tracks from often unheralded, but impressive artists such as Delano Stewart, Pat Kelly, Slim Smith and Dave Barker (of Dave & Ansil Collins fame).

There are 56 tracks in all, many of them are, as you would expect, skinhead stompers, but there are also the early shots of dub, roots, toasting, dub and dancehall to be found on here.