Ska Professor Dextor Campbell

Posted on April 24th, 2008 by JJ Loy

Tom sent me this Jamaican Gleaner story about Dextor Campbell, who’s record collection is one of the largest in the world.

Affectionately referred to as ‘The Ska Professor’ from his days as a sound system selector specialising in ska music, Campbell says his collection is valued at over $15 million.

“Right now mi have 20,000 albums and 15,000 seven-inch (45s) and mi know mi can safely get roughly $15 million for my collection without a doubt,” Campbell said.

But when he started collecting vinyl music it was not with the intention to one day become one of the largest collectors of his time. Instead, it was all for the love of the music.


Comments (0) Apr 24 2008

Ska Blah Blah: Small Talk Episode 01 – Victor Axelrod

Posted on April 15th, 2008 by JJ Loy

Your eyes have not deceived you- It is a new series for Ska Blah Blah. This time around, the interviews are a bit shorter and the artists are a bit newer. I’ve also broadened the focus from mere Ska Revivalism to a more encompassing umbrella of Jamaican Revivalism. This is to better fit with this millennium’s crop of bands and DJ’s.

I’m starting off strong with my interview with Victor Axelrod, but subscribe to the feed and you’ll automatically get interviews with The Impalers, Babylon Party Machine, The Aggrolites, and The Green Room Rockers as they become available.

Multi-instrumentalist, producer and Dub mixologist, Victor Axelrod isn’t quite a household name, even if you live in the hippest of households. He’s worked with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Antibalas, Easy Star All-Stars, Lily Allen, and even Amy Winehouse- so it isn’t like he’s shying away from the spotlight. However, Axelrod’s love of pseudonyms has at times prevented audiences from connecting the dots of his work. His newest solo record seeks to reconcile this by featuring a virtual soundclash between himself and his better known alias, Ticklah.

I spoke with Victor about making retro music, working with Victor Rice, and of course his newest solo record, Ticklah Vs. Axelrod.

Ticklah Vs. Axelrod is out now on Easy Star Records where you can purchase the cd or digital download LINK

National Geographic’s Podcast Interview with Ticklah LINK

Wishtank’s bit about Ticklah’s Don’t Trip Studio with lot’s of extra info LINK

Rock Paper Scissors bit about Ticklah with a great review and press pack goodies LINK

Be friends with the man himself at MySpace LINK

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Comments (0) Apr 15 2008

Get Comfortably Numb with The New Slackers Record

Posted on April 11th, 2008 by JJ Loy

The Slackers
Self Medication
2008 Indication Records

Self Medication isn’t just the title of the Slackers upcoming release, it’s a suggestion. Sample a heavy dose of your favorite remedy, and let your headphones do the rest. The Slackers have taken their recent affinity of Tropiclia and taken it one step further by adding strong US and Brazilian psychedelic elements to their already groovy ska and reggae.

The first truely stand-out track on the album is “Estranged”, with lyrics and vocals from Glen Pine. This foggy tune is as much reminiscent of Far East Reggae as it is The Fun Boy Three. Haunting is one way to put it, but haunted may be more appropriate. As with “Estranged”, the title track, “Self Medication,” reveals a side to Ruggiero’s keys that we haven’t heard before. Synthy and psychedelic, they push the skank rhythm to the dark and sinister sides of The Slackers’ psyches. But it’s the track, “Eviction” that finds the Slackers in theit most novel style of the record- this modern-day “In the Ghetto” recalls Blaxploitation soundtracks as well as classic Jamaican shanty songs.

“Stars” is arguably the most interesting track on the record. Ruggiero plays with vocal overdubs in this expansion of his solo style. However, this song reaches further than Vic’s one-man-band- until it’s dizzying climax fades into it’s lullaby denouement.

But the record isn’t experimental all over. In “Don’t You Want a Man,” Hillyard adds to his growing songbook of socially charged lyrics that sound like love songs. (Or is it a break-up tune that sounds like a protest song?) “Leave Me” and “Happy Song” are straight forward Ska with all the up-beat energy you’d expect, but in a classic Slackers move they have less-than-upbeat lyrical themes. “Happy Song,” in particular seems like a minor attempt, on Hillyard’s part, to simply cheer up.

Several songs on Self Medication explore the singing someone else’s song as a metaphor for standing up for the ideals of those you’ve allied yourself with. This idea of singing someone else’s “happy song” began in the song, “Close My Eyes,” and is now being echoed not only on “Happy Song” but on Sing Your Song”- and to a lesser degree, “Don’t Forget the Streets.” Take it or leave it, but I believe many of these tunes are an re-affirmation of commitment from the band. Nearly every member of the band contributed lyrics to The Slackers’ new album and I’ll keep listening for however long they decide to sing each other’s songs.

Look for it later this month.

Comments (0) Apr 11 2008

Dengue Fever Featured at

Posted on April 6th, 2008 by JJ Loy

Not a Ska Band, but not without a touch of Jamaican influence, Dengue Fever from LA play a different kind of revivalist music, Cambodian Pop. Sound interesting? Check out my review of their latest, Venus on Earth over at ReallyGoodMagazine.

The idea behind ReallyGood, as editor Liz tells it, will be something between a blog and a print mag. Blog as in, free and online, but with a broad and professional focus. I’ll be submitting a few things here and there so if you’re interested, give ReallyGood a shot and subscribe to their feed.

Comments (0) Apr 06 2008

Dave Hillyard Hits Jackpot

Posted on April 2nd, 2008 by JJ Loy

The concept of the newest release from The Slackers’ sax man, Dave Hillyard is nothing short of genius. We’ve heard his talent for composition, not only with The Slackers but also on The Rocksteady 7′s first two records. Anyone who’s seen him live can attest to the mind blowing effect his solos can produce, and that was captured on Way out East, Hillyard and the Rocksteady 7′s 2007 live record.

Now we have a new way to experience Hillyard’s Bop via Jamaica-style of Saxophone. Dave Hillyard Plays the Hits of Jackpot finds our hero riding the riddims of 13 classic reggae tracks from the Jackpot catalog. Like the DJ’s of the old sound systems, Hillyard improvises and reinterprets the songs on the fly, but instead of toasting with his voice… well you get the idea.

The idea was conceived by Glen Adams (original Upsetter, original Hippy Boy, original Augustus Pablo and sometimes Slacker). All of the original tracks are either produced by Bunny Lee or Lloyd Charmers, with the current production credits going to Glen Adams and King Django.

The whole record has a very familiar feel to it, and the new recordings fit seamlessly into these classic tracks.

Check out some of the cuts at Dave’s MySpace
And grab a copy of the disc over at JumpUp! -I did.

Comments (0) Apr 02 2008