Long Live the King of Ska

Born Desmond Dacres, Desmond Dekker was the first artist, before Marley, to crack the US and UK markets with Jamaican music. Touted as his greatest achievement, it is in my opinion his least relevant. Dekker was a brilliant pop composer. His sense of catchiness- with- soul was unbeatable. If he didn't reach the wealth and superstar status that other of his peers did, perhaps it was because of poor business sense or bad management, or mere fate, but it had nothing to do with the quality of his work. His lyrics show a sensitivity and a sense of social and moral responsibility that matches the sweet funkiness and fun of his music. I was fortunate enough to see him in NYC in the 90's, all decked out in a shiny silver jacket. Like Toots Hibbert, of the Maytals, he was a fierce combo of religion, soul, showmanship and humanity.He passed away 3 days ago, on May 25, in his London home. Below, 5 of my favorite songs by DD, and one by Toots Hibbert, his friend, "Desmond Dekker Came First", referring to an annual song contest held in Jamaica:

Sing a song yeahreggae soul my brother
There is a right or a wrong wayJust to do everything There's a right or a wrong way Just to do everything
Desmond Dekker, he came first And The Techniques, they came thirdClancy Eccles, he runs fourth And Derrick Harriot, he came fifth So I came second....mmmmm mmm mmm...in the competition

Dekker was also the inspiration for the Beatle's feeble attempt at ska: "Obladi Oblada"

For your listening pleasure, ladies and gentlemen, I give you-


Rockstead Easy

Keeping with the reggae vibe from the last two songs on the Bad Brains' post, today's music comes from non other than Robert Nesta Marley, who left this mortal plane some 25 years ago (May 11, 1981 to be exact). They are from a grrreat 2 CD set released by Heartbeat Records called "One Love at Studio One 1964-1966" which documents the complete recording sessions of the Wailing Wailers at the legendary studio where so much excellent ska and rocksteady was recorded.

The songs are early ska versions of later reggae "hits", as well as other songs which belong only to this "phase", including the heartbreaking r'n'b croon "I'm still waiting", one of my very favorites by "Early Bob". I'll keep the writing short and sweet today, as its past eleven and i've got a 5 am wakeup call! I hope you like this.







Punky Reggae Party

A propos of nothing, here's my very first mp3 post (woo hoo!!). It's a punk rock/hardcore classic from wayback, The Bad Brain's "Pay to Cum". When i heard this lil tune (on the Alternative Tentacles record comp "Let them eat jellybeans") i was B-lown A-way. Checka checka check it out!

For those of you (everyone i think) who can't figure out the lyrics by ear alone, here are the lyrics so you can sing along. Below them, you will find three versions of said tune (beginning w the 1978 version), as well as two examples of their reggae stylee for good measure, so you can compare and contrast! Enjoy, boogie chillun!!!

"Pay To Cum"
"I make decision with precision
Lost inside this manned collision
Just to see that what is to be
Perfectly my fantasy

I came to know with now dismay
That in this world we all must pay
Pay to write, pay to play
Pay to cum, pay to fight

And all in time,
With just our minds
We soon will find
What's left behind

Not long ago when things were slow
We all got by with what we know
The end is near. Hearts filled with fear
Don't want to listen to what they hear

And so it's now we choose to fight
To stick up for our bloody right
The right to sing, the right to dance
The right is ours... We'll take the chance

A peace together
A piece apart
A piece of wisdom
From our hearts"