Critical Look At JA Album Art

Posted on August 28th, 2011 by JJ Loy

I really like this social examination of Jamaican Album art, from a design point-of-view from Smashing Magazine.  Blogger, Dan Mayer, takes an in-depth look at the early chapters of JA albums from Ska to Dancehall and right up to contemporary reissues:

“…while many covers evidence a conscious Afro-centric opposition to Western society, many others adopt, mimic or are swallowed up by the conventions of American music and movies. You can see every chapter of Jamaica’s modern social history?—?the burden of colonialism, the optimism surrounding political independence, the social and economic problems that greeted self-rule?—?reflected in the typographic, illustrative and photographic choices made by its album cover artists over the last fifty years.”

Sound like something you’d like to read?  I thought so.  You can read the whole Social History of Jamaican Album Covers over at Smashing Magazine.

Comments (0) Aug 28 2011

Finally, A Good Specials Vid

Posted on April 11th, 2009 by JJ Loy

I’ve been talking a lot about the new Specials reunion, but have yet to post a truly great video of it. Luckily, The Specials have performed on the Jools Holland show and it’s hit YouTube.

Sounds like they’re still amazing, even if they do play the songs fairly straightforward.

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Comments (1) Apr 11 2009

Dub Online: A Big Day For Dub

Posted on March 4th, 2009 by JJ Loy

Well if you’re in the mood for Dub then I’ve got the links for ya:

First things first, The Drastics have released another digital 7″  This time, hairstyles are the target of our favorite dub killers- in the new cut, Vibes, Love Music + Jheri Curl feat MC Zulu.  You can check it out on their MySpace page.  But you should also take a gander at their new blog, which is very pleasing to the eyes- and ears.

Next up, I’ve got a video of Dubmatix remixing John Brown’s Body, which was created by numerous animators from around the world.  John Brown’s Body is an Easy Star Records project that is getting the full remix treatment.  You can read more here.

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Finally, a site that applies Dub and Remix techniques to the art of YouTubing. creates music videos by chopping and splicing existing musical pieces on YouTube.  I think of it as “found dub.”  You’ll think of it as “neato.”

Click here to see What It Became on

PS Sorry for any spelling mistakes this time through… my spell checker is wonky.

Comments (1) Mar 04 2009

Cadence St. John Makes Skin Sexy

Posted on February 26th, 2009 by JJ Loy

I was surprised, yesterday, when I was contacted by Cadence St. John, an “erotic, print and fetish model,” asking for a link exchange.  St. John’s site, (NSFW) is her blog covering her carreer in Alt Porn and modeling in general. Here’s a bit from her description:

…I am a skinhead girl and being in this subculture you here a lot of shit and stereotypes that just suck. Skinhead girls are supposedly all fat, butch and ugly, or so the stereotype suggests. I don’t believe this and I want to change that. You can be tough, able to care of yourself  and still be a beautiful, sexual individual. That is what this site is about and giving something that you don’t see a lot of- a skingirl proud of her sexuality and not afraid to show it.

Rude Girl Cadence St. John

I realized quickly that I shouldn’t be surprised that she contacted me at all- this skingirl loves Ska:

To this day Ska is my favorite music. It’s how I came in the company of Skinheads when I was a young teen. Ska can be amazingly happy or majorly depressing but it always got to my emotions. I have a tattoo around my belly button “Celebrate the Bullet” it’s a song by The Selecter. Pauline Black has the most amazing, soulful voice. I could not get over that song for a long time. “Fu Man chu” by Desmond Dekker, “One Cup of Coffee” by Bob Marley (before the reggae), all are just amazing songs. I love this genre of music.

Cadence fights racial and extreemist stereotypes that are often applied to Skinheads while also using fetish and sub culture in a non-exploitive fashion.  You can check out OiTomBoy here NSFW.

Comments (8) Feb 26 2009

Guest Blogger, Marco Werman: Notes From a Sound System

Posted on December 8th, 2008 by Marco Werman

I just came back from ten days in Kingston, Jamaica where I was collecting program material on the Alpha Boys School, an orphanage that was founded in the 19th century by the Catholic Sisters of Mercy (to be aired on Frontline/WORLD later this Spring). Hard to believe for me, but it was my first time on the island. I got an amazing overview of where Jamaican music is at in 2008.

But I write to share a sublime musical experience I had in the Kingston working-class neighborhood of Rae Town. As you may know, Sound System-style street parties (with massive banks of loudspeakers that are more comfortingly bassy than ear-splittingly treble) happen pretty much every night of the week around Kingston, starting with Uptown Mondays at a shopping plaza in New Kingston with current dancehall hits, and going right through the week.

The neighborhood of Rae Town has, for the past 20 plus years there, thrown a Sunday night dance and party. The local paper the Gleaner describes it as an oldies night, and the people reflect that, sort of. There are 70 year-olds, all the way down to much younger people. Classes mix: doctors and lawyers from uptown mingle with an array of characters out of Fellini. The crowd shows up around midnight. The people slowly line up along both sides of the main street running through Rae Town, almost like a dance showdown, and everyone begins a slow groove to the music. Grillers with jerk chicken, fish and pork are common, as are sellers of ganja who wander around with small bouquets of the herb still on the stem. As the crowd builds, so does the music.

It’s the music that really drew me in that night: mostly old school reggae and dub and anything ska: “Fiddler on the Roof” ska by the Soul Brothers, “Norwegian Wood” ska by Jackie Mittoo, you name it. There was also a seductive selection of oldies like Dionne Warwick’s “Wishin and Hopin,” Sam Cooke’s “Cupid” and “A Change Is Gonna Come” (a kind of plea to the hood that crime and poverty can be licked), Dionne Warwick’s et al “That’s What Friends Are For” (a neighborhood anthem, in which the DJ dropped the sound right before the chorus, leaving the entire block singing out loud), Maxine Brown’s “Oh No Not My Baby.” And the walls of speakers sent all this great music vibrating through my bones and making me feel inspired and happy, and isn’t that what music’s supposed to do? It was the best party I’ve ever been to. I find dancehall monotonous with a capital M. And maybe Rae Town put me in a time warp, a flashback to the great old days of this music that is disconnected in many ways to the fast and furious business of dancehall. But what a great scene and sound that was last Sunday in Rae Town. It’s wonderful to be reminded that the Loudest Island in the World isn’t just about the size of the sound system. It’s also about some of the coolest music ever made and the whole world of sound that boomeranged into it.

-Marco Werman, Music Editor, PRI’s The World

Editor’s note:  I’m a big fan of all things NPR- and for world news from your NPR affiliate, there’s none better than PRI’s The World.  It is an honor to include Marco’s piece (written a few months back) in our new Guest Blogger series.  Here’s an older post I did, linking you to several of the stories Marco did from the above mentioned trip to Jamaica. Ska Online: The World Loves JA Music


Comments (1) Dec 08 2008