ReggaeTV knows their Ska

Posted on October 8th, 2009 by JJ Loy

I just discovered ReggaeTV.

Is it a video podcast?  An online TV show?  A collection of Reggae and Ska interviews?  I don’t know exactly, but it’s something like that.  In addition to interviews with such Reggae headliners, Owen Grey, Ras Michael and Steel Pulse- ReggaeTV also has a share of Ska coverage.

Two videos should be of particular interest to Ska Blah Blah readers, Vic Ruggiero and Chris Murray:

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I love Vic’s explanation of what he sees in Ska.  Plus, he makes a few comments about his father that add an interesting follow-up to the 2001 video I posted last week.

I’m also looking forward to checking out the episodes featuring Reggae historian, Roger Steffens and Heartbeat Records’ Chris Wilson.  Keep your eyes peeled for future episodes featuring Lee Perry and Tippa Irie.

Comments (0) Oct 08 2009

Roots Online: Dub Echoes Documentary

Posted on June 19th, 2009 by JJ Loy

Documentaries about Jamaican music are popping up all over the place.  Here’s one that I can’t wait to check out.  Dub Echoes promises to form a direct connection from contemporary electronic music all the way back to 70′s Dub Reggae.  It’s surely not the first time these connections have been pointed out, but it looks like a pretty solid film none-the-less.

It features DJ Spooky, Theivery Corporation, Bunny Lee, Dub Pistols, King Jammy, Lee Perry, Ticklah, Mad Professor and many more.  But don’t take my word for it… check the trailer:

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Comments (1) Jun 19 2009

A Look Back at The Skatalites Middle Period

Posted on May 3rd, 2008 by JJ Loy

Officially speaking, The Skatalites were only together from 1963 thru 1965. Since 1989, the surviving members have stayed together (to varying degrees) in response to their then growing worldwide audience. But the years between ’65 and ’89 weren’t completely Skatalites free. Here’s the scoop on The Skatalites’ middle period recordings.

In 1973, The Skatalites put aside their differences for at least on recording session at Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s Black Ark Studio. This session has been the basis for several records, all of which share duplicate tracks in various stages of remix. In a rare move by the founders, this session is not a ska set. Instead, they opted to prove that their proficiency in Roots Reggae is as unparalleled as the style they are famous for. Mittoo’s switch from piano to organ and harpsichord are a stand-out change of vibe for these releases.

Lloyd Brevett and The SkatalitesAfrican Roots – This record features the straight-ahead, unadulterated tracks from the Black Ark sessions.
The Skatalites meet King TubbyHeros of Reggae in Dub – The Black Ark tapes were quickly sent off to King Tubby for a Dub Version-ization.
The Skatalites meet King TubbyLegandary Skatalites in Dub – Same idea as above, and even has some of the same cuts, but this disc is packed with even more dub reworkings at the hands of King Tubby.

Ten years later (1983) found each living member of the original band being convinced that a full scale reunion would be worth the trip back to Jamaica. Reggae Sunsplash was the main impetus behind the reformation, but several great recordings were produced in the few days leading up to the big show. Not young men, anymore, but not quite the senior citizens they are today, these middle-aged Ska legends displayed huge amounts of mastery and energy.

Stretching Out – To prepare for the Sunsplash set, The Skatalites played a small club gig to shake off any rust that might have built up in the 18 year interim. Released from their previously strict recording session limitations, and allowed to “stretch out”, this live set proves that there was no little rust to shake off in the first place. (note: The Skatalites were never paid for this recording, feel free to bootleg it)
Rolling Steady – Recorded in ’83 but released just last year, this record features the band in Music Mountain Studios, playing mostly new and lesser known compositions. Even Lord Tanamo shows up to sing Big Trombone. Absolutely great stuff.
Return of the Big Guns – The official ’84 album represents this iteration of The Skatalites sound. Like Rolling Steady, many of the compositions are original to the record, not retreads of their 60′s classics.
Live at Reggae Sunsplash – This is the main event- the reason for the early 80′s reunion. The full time reunion would still be six years away, but this is the show that proved how vital and necessary The Skatalites were. This was when they took their place as the founders of Ska, Rocksteady and Reggae.

If anyone knows of any more recordings from their middle period, please alert me to them.

Update: on 05/07/08 castBot 8.6 created this podcast, using only AI and an ipod.

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Comments (1) May 03 2008

Ska Oddity: The Terrorists (NYC)

Posted on February 19th, 2008 by JJ Loy

Here’s another of those “bands that time forgot”. When we tell the story of Ska we tell how the Two Tone movement revolved around the UK in the late 70′s- we say that the US had very little interest in the sound until years later, when the likes of The Toasters and Fishbone hit the scene- we tell a story that isn’t inaccurate, just incomplete.

What would you say if you learned that a New York band was playing Traddy Ska and Roots Reggae before anyone had even heard of The Specials? They were called The Terrorists and you can still hear their original material compiled by ROIR records.


The number one band playing reggae, ska, dub and punk on the East Coast, particularly New York City, were Terrorists. They were regularly gigging in N.Y.C. at Max’s Kansas City, CBGBs, Irving Plaza, Mudd Club, Hurrah, Tramps, the 80′s. Their unique punky, reggae, dub, ska were in great demand….

Because of the involvement of Lee “Scratch” Perry, who traveled with and fronted the Terrorists over 20 years ago, and the many tracks with Roland Alphonso of the Skatalites, also from 20 years ago, this is an important slice of reggae, ska, punk, dub from Manhattan in the late ’70′s. This is an historic document with material that is absolutely marvelous and unique. It puts a totally new perspective on reggae in Manhattan evenings during that period just before Marley was breaking through internationally with “Exodus” and brought reggae to a new tidal wave.

You can get the CD at Amazon, CD Baby and eMusic.

Comments (0) Feb 19 2008