Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Live, damn it! Live!

Most of the tracks compiled on the seemingly infinite volumes of Bubblegum Motherf***er are ridiculously obscure. Nearly all are digitized from vinyl - and somewhere out there is an incredibly obsessive collector with an unbelievably extensive collection of rare bubblegum 45s. Buried towards the end of BM Vol. 13, however, I noticed a somewhat out-of-place cover: the Merry-Go-Round's classic "Live" as recorded by fellow Californians the E-Types. Both bands were included on the Nuggets box set in 1998 and to this day are known mostly for those selections - "Live" and "Put the Clock Back on the Wall," respectively.

I know the garage/bubblegum divide can get pretty hazy, but I wouldn't really classify "Live" (in either version) as sickly sweet - at least not in the same way as, say, an Ohio Express track. It's really just a great example of mid-60s pop songcraft.

Here's the Merry-Go-Round's hit version (by way of a cheesy Youtube video):

"Live" - the Merry-Go-Round

And here's the E-Types' cover:

"Live" - the E-Types

As you'll hear, the E-Types drop the song's trademark jangling guitar and add a heavier backbeat. It isn't a huge departure from the original, but the cover definitely differentiates itself just enough to stand out.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Linstead Markets.

Ernest Ranglin's contributions to ska, rocksteady, and reggae are widely known and praised (rightly), but few people are aware of his jazz recordings for Merrifield in the mid-60s. Ranglin traveled to London in 1964, staying for 9 months as the resident guitarist at Ronnie Scott's. While there, he backed a number of jazz greats and recorded two LPs: Wranglin' and Reflections. Wranglin' opens with a fantastic jazz arrangement of the Jamaican folk song "Linstead Market," a tune dating back at least 100 years (and likely longer). Here is Ranglin's version:

"Linstead Market" - the Ernest Ranglin Trio

Now to give you some idea of the traditional approach to the song, here's a mento recording from the mid-50s:

"Linstead Market" - Lord Messam & his Calypsonians

Obviously Ranglin's version is much more harmonically dense, but (as you'll hear) it pretty successfully preserves the lilting, breezy feel of mento within a modern jazz arrangement.


P.S. You can find more info on Lord Messam here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


So I thought I'd piggyback on Gavin's post and share a mix that I picked up during my recent trip to Jamaica. The conference in Kingston was technically four days long, but I snuck out early (in the middle of Seaga's speech!) and headed to the northeastern part of the island. Anna and I spent two relaxing nights a few miles east of Port Antonio in the tiny community of Fairy Hill. During a day trip to P.A., we visited a few music vendors and I picked up the following mix. It's labeled "Studio 1/Old School Reggae," which is a fairly accurate description of the contents. Whoever mixed it did an excellent job - most of the stuff here is pretty obviously taken from a personal vinyl collection. The tracks were labeled (miraculously), so I've included the playlist at the bottom of the post.


The mind-bending fuzz guitar lead in Dennis Brown's cover of the standard "Perhaps."

The Heptones' version of "Why Did You Leave?" (as opposed to the more familiar Alton Ellis/Phyllis Dillon duet).

An alternate mix of "Dancing Mood" with some additional instrumentation (Harmonica maybe? I can't really tell what it is.).

The somewhat jarringly "stringsed-up" Bob and Marcia cut in the middle of the mix.

Sugar Minott's "This Old Man" followed by two toasts (Dillinger's "Dub Them Rasta" and Michigan & Smiley's "Rub A Dub Style") over the same riddim.

The use of Sound Dimension's "Real Rock" as an extended intro to a version of Willie Williams' "Armagideon Time" filled with laser-blast synth effects.


Click here to download the mix.


1. "Rain from the Sky" - Delroy Wilson
2. "I Don't Know Why" - Delroy Wilson
3. "Moving Away" - Ken Boothe
4. "Baby Why" - the Cables
5. "Perhaps" - Dennis Brown
6. "First Cut is the Deepest" - Norma Fraser
7. "Till I Kiss You" - Nana McLean
8. "Tell Me Now" - Marcia Griffiths
9. "Always Together" - Bob and Marcia
10. "Why Did You Leave" - the Heptones
11. "Little Green Apples" - Dennis Brown
12. "Dancing Mood" - Delroy Wilson
13. "Throw Me Corn" - Larry Marshall
14. "Party Time" - the Heptones
15. "Smile" - the Silvertones
16. "Wanna Be Free" - Horace Andy
17. "Come On Home" - Sugar Minott
18. "Way of Life" - Dennis Brown
19. "Hang On Natty" - Sugar Minott
20. "This Old Man" - Sugar Minott
21. "Dub Them Rasta" - Dillinger
22. "Rub A Dub Style" - Michigan & Smiley
23. "Jamaican Collie" - Dillinger
24. "Oh Mr. D.C." - Sugar Minott
25. "Conquer Me" - Delroy Wilson
26. "Real Rock" - Sound Dimension
27. "Armagideon Time" - Willie Williams
28. "Love Bump" - Lone Ranger
29. "Far East" - Barry Brown
30. "Swell Head" - Burning Spear
31. "Outro" - (Uncredited)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


(This is actually a re-post in honor of Caribbean-American Month.)

I went to an estate sale a while back and found a really strange album called Steel & Brass buried in a stack of (mostly) worthless records. I was moderately intrigued and it was in decent shape, so I bought the album, brought it home, and absolutely loved it. Turns out that the Steel and Brass Band was directed by this guy, an influential steel drum player from Trinidad. As you'll hear, the record contains steel drum versions of popular songs from the late sixties and early seventies. The tracks are both bizarre and really, really awesome. Enjoy:

"Everybody's Talkin'" - the Steel and Brass Band (Yes, the Fred Neil song.)

"Aquarius" - the Steel and Brass Band (from the musical "Hair")

"Those Were the Days" - the Steel and Brass Band (A cover of the Mary Hopkin's 1969 hit.)

And if you dig those, I'm guessing you'll enjoy this. I sampled the intro to "Everybody's Talkin'," combined it with a few other things, and built a funky little piece out of it:

"Everybody's Talkin'" - John Crayon


P.S. Head over to Unfashionably Late to download a free mix straight from the streets of Mexico City.