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-


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