This is an excellent compilation put out by one of the leading reggae reissue companies in the world right now, Heartbeat Records. Its called "Ska After Ska After Ska" and is a collection of 20 songs recorded at Treasure Isle studio by producer Duke Reid.
The collection starts with a great instrumental by Don Drummond and the Skatalites called "Thoroghfare" and it is an excellent starting point as its a great taste of things to come. Don Drummond shines as usual on his trombone backed by the always delightful Skatalites. Don Drummond and the Skatalites also appear on the song "Street Corner" which is just as good of a instrumental.
Continuing on with the instrumental cuts of the album, there are two tracks by Lynn Taitt. The first (Magnificent Ska" shows Mr. Taitt backed by the Baba Brooks band and the other ("Storm Warning") shows him being backed by his own Comets band. "Storm Warning" is one of my favorite instrumental ska songs ever so it was obviously great to hear it on this compilation. One thing I don't understand though is that there is a song on this comp called "Alley Cat Ska" credited to the Treasure Isle All-Stars and it is the same exact song as "Storm Warning". Oh well, great song anyways. More instrumental cuts though are "Musical Storeroom" by Frank Anderson and the Skatalites. This is a great song by the usually "forgotten" memeber of the Skatalites. This shows Mr. Andersons top notch saxophone workouts. It also has solos by Tommy McCook and Don Drummond and according to the liner notes this song was a mambo adapted by Frank Anderson who then turned it into ska. Its a great song. The other isntrumentals include "Burial" (Duke Reid Group), "Guns Fever" (Derrick Morgan shouts "Guns Fever" here and there over a rhythm provided by the Baba Brooks band), and Nuclear Weapon" by the baba Brooks band. Theyre all just as good with maybe "Nuclear Weapon" being my least favorite.
The vocals on this album start with the third track on the album, the great Silvertones singing "Its Real". This song is reminiscent of early Wailers stuff and it even says in the liner notes that The Silvertones would often compete with The Wailers in those days. Another track by this group is the far superior "True Confession" with some nice organ work done on it. This is a great song and is one of the true highlights on the album.
Next up is Eric "Monty" Morris who also gets two cuts on this album with "Strongman Sampson" and "Get Your Feet Moving". Both of these songs are good but they are not as good as maybe some of his other songs (most notably "Penny Reel" and "Oil In My Lamp"). It seems that Monty Morris is on every ska compilation these days which is a pretty good thing. Hopefully one of these days someone will put together a compilation of his hits into a full length album as i dont think he ever released any LPs from this era.
The Techniques come on next and this shows in in great form with lead vocals handled by Slim Smith who became a legend in rock-steady and early reggae. The song here is "When You Are Wrong" and it is a true ska stomper and shows just how great of a harmony group these guys were. Their ska is probobly not as great as their rocksteady just because of the frantic ska beat (their vocals just seemed more suitible for the slowed down rock-steady era), but its great to hear just the same. This is another group who needs to have more of their ska released by someone.
"Carry Go Bring Come" which was the first major hit by Justin Hinds and the Dominoes is also on here. This is one of the most well known ska tracks ever it seems so I wont say too much about it. But there is a interesting story in the liner notes about how the unusual sound from the symbols of Lloyd Knibbs' drums came from a symbol that was in fact cracked. Also, Don Drummond shines again on trombone, blowing throughout the song.
Stranger Cole is on here twice, once as a duet with Patsy Todd with "When I Call Your Name". This song is great and shows off how popular the boy-girl duets were at the time in Jamiaca. The other song by Stranger is "Rough and Tough" which is a relaxed ska song and one of my favorites with a harmonica blowing through the whole song. The harmonica is provided by Charlie "Organaire" Cameron. Stranger is another one of Jamiacas artists who is only available on compilations and a collection of his early singles will be much appreciated by many, I know for sure.
The rest of the songs are "Words" by Leon and Owen Silvera and it is a great song. This is the first time i ever heard of these guys so any info on them would be much appreciated. There is also "Only Suffering" by another group Ive not heard of before, Funny Man and the Boys. Funny Man sounds very much like Toots Hibbert and theres a story about that in the liner notes. Another good song on this album is "Oh Little Girl" by Lloyd and Glen which is a good song but not really memorable.
All in all this is a great album and shows off the Treasure Isle sound of ska very well. Its topped off with the excellent liner notes Heartbeat has been known for (by Brian Keyo) with great little facts and stories about recording at Treasure Isle from the musicians and singers who were there. This album is definitly recommended.
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