Ska Online: Story of Jamaican Music Documentary

Posted on June 28th, 2007 by JJ Loy

A few years back, the BBC made a great documentary, Reggae: The Story of Jamaican Music. It was fantastic, covering the birth of Ska during Jamaica’s independence and all the way up to Dance Hall.

I was most interested in the first episode which dealt mostly with the early ska days. The film takes us to the Alpha Boys School, and introduces us to the nun that helped raise the Skatalites, as well as many other notable Jamaican musicians. The cameras travel down the neighborhoods of Kingston where the original studios and clubs have been left to rot. We hear from likes of Lord Creator, and the then Prime Minister of Jamaica, before the film follows ska’s path to the UK, where we are privy to interviews with UB40, Paul Simonon, and many others.

If you have friends that need a good primer on Jamaican Roots music, I highly recomend this show. My only complaint is that the narrator states outright that Ska is Jamaica’s first type of music, even though the guests anecdotally refer to both Mento and Nyahbinghi in the interviews.

Here now, is the first episode of this great series, broken into four parts (as per Daily Motion rules)

UPDATE 05/10/08: DailyMotion is not cooperating with my embed plugin, but the links are still active:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

P.S. DailyMotion is a great site. They let you upload longer segments than YouTube, and I love the way they display their tags, making the more popular tags more prominent than the others. Try searching for obvious tags: Ska, Reggae, or your favorite band. But given their constant embedding issues and increasingly limited content, I don’t really advocate the site any longer.

Comments (2) Jun 28 2007

Ska Oddity: Ska vs Acid House and Hip Hop

Posted on June 22nd, 2007 by JJ Loy

Here’s another Rarity/Oddity from the archives of Soul Seek. The album I downloaded was called Ska Rap, although I can’t find any evidence of this compilation having existed at all. The individual artists are easy to find with a quick Google search, but most of what’s available are in vinyl singles. In fact, from the sound of the mp3′s, I’d say the album itself is a vinyl rip.

It seems that in the late 1980′s, while Acid House was blowing up, several DJ’s attempted to add a little ska influence into the mix. The result is very silly as is most house and techno from that era. But it’s very catchy in places, and recognizing familiar hooks is always fun for me. You can also hear how the ground is being laid for Jungle and Drum & Bass which would dominate the scene, 10 years later. A couple of the DJ’s featured on the Ska Rap album would go on to change their names and become huge in the Jungle world.

Some of the Tracks:

Videos of Interst:

Longsy D’s static video, This is Ska:


Wyclef Jean and the Rock lay down some Ska Rap:

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I’m not posting this as an endorsement of this music. I’m a big believer that Ska can mix well with almost any kind of music, but this is an interesting failure.

I have some more Ska Rap/Ska Electronica tracks that I will post in the near future, so check back. Also, if anyone has more info on these DJ’s or the music, I’d love to hear from you.

Comments (0) Jun 22 2007

Ska Online: Swift River Jamaica

Posted on June 14th, 2007 by JJ Loy

Swift River, Jamaica, located at the foot of the Blue Mountains has had a string of bad luck stretching as far back as the late 1930′s. Massive floods and hurricanes brought the once busseling village to the brink of extinction several times since 1937. But things have been looking up for Swift River lately, according to Greenstar, a US non-profit that helps rebuild poverty stricken towns around the world.

Greenstar is very cool, as far as I can tell. They have a very keen take on promoting culture, as well as commerce, education and agriculture. They find towns that are down on their luck and bring in Portable Community Centers:

“Using solar power generated by large photovoltaic panels, the center can drive a water purifier, a small clinic, a vaccine cooler, a classroom, a digital studio and a satellite or wireless link to the Internet. We work with the people of each village to develop an ecommerce website, employing local musicians, teachers and art professionals to record the voice of the community. Greenstar packages the materials for various markets, both direct to the consumer, and through licensing to businesses.”

This helps bring in money for the town, and gives them a way to show their cultural distinctiveness to the whole world.Greenstar has photos, art and music posted on their site. In fact the main reason I’m posting this is to point a few of you to the great collection of mp3′s. The people of Swift River have passed on the musical traditions of Mento and Nyahbinghi music through the generations. Here are a few from the Greenstar mp3 page:

- Mento tune, Banana
- Nyahbinghi version of Nobody’s Business
- Swift River child gives some solid advice, No Drugs
- A capella toasting from a local man, Skatel

Check out these and others at the Swift River, Greenstar site.

If you want to support this town, bring your business to it. Not far from Swift River is the Rio Vista Resort. An alternative to the sheltering Club Med style resort, Rio Vista is locally run, with authentic cooking and proximity to rural Jamaican life.

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Comments (0) Jun 14 2007

Shout out to my German listeners!

Posted on June 10th, 2007 by JJ Loy

…and to Jammin at AllSka Forums. This astute listener wrote, what I took to be, a very favorable review of my show. I don’t read German, so I used my handy translator program to lead me to the heart of the post.

grade die seite entdeckt, ist wahrscheinlich hier schon bekannt..
aber hammer interviews z.b. mit dave hillyard von den slackers

degrees the page discovered, is probably here already well-known.
however hammer interview e.g. with Dave hillyard of slackers

I couldn’t agree more. I’d love to read a more accurate translation, if anyone’s up to the task.

Thanks again, to everyone in non-English speaking countries, that has enjoyed my show. I never expected so much support from so many places.

Comments (0) Jun 10 2007

Tim Armstrong: A Step in the Right Direction

Posted on June 7th, 2007 by JJ Loy

Tim Armstrong has always given nods to Jamaican Music, from Operation Ivy, thru Dance Hall Crashers, and all the way up to Rancid and the Transplants. But he’s always kept his sound on the Punk side of things, relegating the Ska and Reggae to a mere influential role.

It took a band like The Aggrolites to help Armstrong realize his Reggae dreams. This Hellcat team-up has just released, A Poet’s Life, evidence that Armstrong is capable of making the big leap from Ska influenced Punk to Punk influenced Reggae. The Aggro’s hard rhythms and grease bubbling organ are a nice compliment to Tim’s, mouth-full-of-marbles vocals.

The CD itself comes with a ton of music videos, they made one for every track.
- Buy A Poet’s Life from Amazon

I found a few of the above mentioned videos on YouTube:
- Hold On
- Translator
- Take This City
- Inner City Violence
- Among the Dead
- Oh No
- Cold Blooded

And while I’m on a recommendation roll, don’t forget to check out The Aggrolites new (Armstrong Free) album, Reggae Hit LA.
- Buy Reggae Hit LA from Amazon

Links of Interest:
- A collection of officially recorded Rancid Live Sets – dead link
- A video of The Aggrolites Live in the Studio

Comments (0) Jun 07 2007