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History of Ska, Rocksteady and Reggae

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History of Ska, Rocksteady and Reggae
History of Ska, Rocksteady and Reggae


This remarkable live album marks the last known recording of the founding members of legendary band, The Skatalites. Bursting with contagiously danceable tunes, the album is also a precious historical document, a musical charter that outlines with no mistake the inexorable journey of Jamaican popular music from local street style to a worldwide phenomenon.

The album is a time travelling snapshot of a Skatalites gig at Tempest Festival in Finland. It was recorded live in 1994 just four years before the passing of key players, Tommy McCook and Roland Alphonso, who died in the same year.

The Skatalites horns blast opens this album with their commanding "Freedom Sounds" riff. Throughout the brass section swing sideways, effortlessly stepping on and off the beat in tightly delivered yet perfectly unbound unison. Tommy McCook and Roland Alphonso blow tenor sax with Nathan Breedlove on trumpet and Will Clark on trombone. The rhythm section shimmer below: Lloyd Knibbs' in-the-pocket groove lilting against Devon James' light touch on guitar, Lloyd Brevett's bass and Bill Smith's Latin inflected keys. Doreen Shaffer's honeyed vocals sweeten the sounds.

The Skatalites first formed in 1964 and for a golden fourteen months recorded with the best Ska producers of the day; Lee Perry, Duke Reid, King Edwards and Prince Buster included. In 1964 the demise of founding member Don Drummond's mental health exerted a deep strain on the band. His conviction for murdering his wife, Anita Mahfood pushed the band to their limits, no doubt contributing to their subsequent disbandment. Without The Skatalites' shining star, the Ska scene soon faded to a quiet hum.

In the 1970s the Two Tone revival scene in the UK resuscitated Ska anew. Bands like The Specials and The Selector exhaled a fresh punky attitude back into the sound, and inspired Tommy and Roland to take up the Ska mantle once more. The band reformed in 1974 and their popularity soared.

Between 1993 and 1998 the band toured Africa, Japan and South America for the first time and continued to regularly tour Europe and the USA. It was during this era that this album, a never before released gem, was captured live. "Greetings and salutations" indeed to The Skatalites - the legend lives on.


  1. Name
  2. Freedom Sound
  3. Police Woman
  4. Man in the Street
  5. Vow
  6. Skafrica
  7. Guns of Navarone
  8. Don't Stay Away
  9. Rockfort Rock
  10. Phoenix City
  11. Freedom Sound
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