The Passing of a Reggae Legend - Alton Ellis Dies at 70
This is a special tribute episode for one of my all time favorite singers and Reggae legend Alton Ellis. Sadly he passed away October 11, 2008, inside London’s Hammersmith Hospital, after a year-long battle with lymphatic cancer. He collapsed during a club performance in London in August and never recovered his health.
My introduction to Alton Ellis came a few years back when a friend made me a mix tape with "Dance Crasher." I didn't know anything about Ellis at the time, except that he was know as the "Godfather of Rocksteady" but as I began to dig more into his catalog, the more enamored I became with it.
He was one of the most popular singers of the Rocksteady era before moving to England where he continued his career. Alton is best-known for the music he sang from 1966-1968. “Alton was a bigger artist in Jamaica than Bob Marley,” said Dennis Alcapone, another Jamaican recording artist working in Britain who often performed with Alton. “Everybody, even Bob, would love if he could sing like Alton Ellis. All of them would sit back and listen to Alton because Alton was the king.”
He continued to record and perform right into August of this year. The great Alton Ellis, a man who brought great joy through both is music and his presence, Rest In Peace.
The Dawning of a New Era
My second set is dedicated to the two tone music genre straight out of England. The genre that made me a reggae lover. The two tone is a music genre created in England in the late 1970s by fusing elements of Ska, Punk Rock, Rocksteady, Reggae and Pop.
The 2 Tone sound was developed by English musicians (mostly based in the West Midlands area) who grew up hearing 1960s Jamaican music and decided to play a similar style of music. They combined that style with influences from contemporary punk and pop music. The new music genre became known as 2 Tone because most of the bands were signed to the record label 2 Tone Records at some point.
So here's a collection of my favorite songs by MY favorite two tone artist.
Godfather of Rocksteady - Alton Ellis
Why Did You Leave Me To Cry
Remember That Sunday
Bad Boy Version
How Can I
The Picture Was You
Mouth A Massy
And I Love Her So
Whipping The Prince
I'll Be Waiting
The English Beat - Mirror in the Bathroom
The Selecter - Too Much Pressure
The Specials - Ghost Town
The Selecter - On My Radio
The Bodysnatchers - Easy Life
This set was inspired by these three 45's that i came across when i was trying to organize my records. The first one is Rehash - Number 4, starts with a inviting guitar loop and bass line that leads into a female vocal and one of the nicest piano samples. Second is Meaty Ogre - Bell of the Beast that was released in 2002 on Heardrums Records. This was a limited release where 500 copy's were pressed as well as the Rehash 45. The songs starts off with a gloomy piano riff that is accommodated with a steady drum and bass loop that leads into a flute sample that carries the song. Lastly is Sixtoo & Matt - Watchedusslowlydie released on Bully Records bassed out of Montreal. Another stellar instrumental project from Sixtoo, this time teamed up with Cali based producer Matt. Originally released in 2003 in a silver and black silkscreened sleeve and numbered. Only a 1000 were pressed untill 2004 when it was repressed in blue and black.
For my second set I gathered traditional Cumbia songs from Colombia, Panama, and Peru. Colombian and Panamanian Cumbia is just originally folk dance music. As Cumbia's popularity spread to the urban areas of Colombia, musicians began to adapt a more modern type of instrumentation and also simplified the rhythm, by reducing the number of drums. With the popularity of Cuban and other Latin American music being played on the radio, orchestras with horns, piano, bass and drums developed the Cumbia into a much simpler, more consistent version, catering to middle class tastes. By the 1950s and '60s, Cumbias were widely recorded not only in South America but in Central America and Mexico as well, giving the style a new adopted home; in countries such as El Salvador and Nicaragua, Cumbia is as prominent as the local music, and sometimes even more so.
You know, psychedelic Cumbias from Peru…The Roots of Chicha has been popular in Peru for many years but new to most, this compilation touches the surface of Chicha, a variation of Cumbia that is guitar heavy and uses vox organs rather than the accordion that is used in traditional Cumbia. The music has its western influences yet retains its Afro-Peruivan roots. The off beat post-modern combination of western psychedelia, Cuban and Colombian rhythms, Andean melodies and distinctive experimentation is close in spirit to the pop sound that Brazilian Tropicalia bands such as Os Mutantes imitate.
Chica also refers to a particular brand of Peruvian pop music that educated Peruvians usually looked down upon. The music is often labeled tropical, which means that it relies on a standard Afro-Cuban percussion section (mostly bongos, congas, bells, and timbales). Cumbia is so fresh and exciting that it is strange that it never managed to find an international audience.
Down Tempo/Hip Hop
DJ Cam - Dieu Reconnatra Les Siens
Rehash - Number Four
Meaty Ogre - Bell of the Beast
Sixtoo & Matt - Watchedusslowlydie
N20 - Ohmz
Special Herbs Vol. 2 - Mullein
Wax Tailor - Que Sera
Onra - Gotta have it
DJ Esu - Unwanted Love
Papi Brandao y Sus Ejecutivos - Viva Panama
Los Destellos - Elisa
Lucho Bermudez - Colombia Querida
Los Falcons - Cumbia de Sal
Henry Castro - Cumbia de Colombia
Alex Acosta - La Millionora
Cumbias y Gaitas Famosas de Colombia - Soledad
Edmundo Arias - Cumbia Sobre el Mar