« This is the collection to get » by Echoes

There’s a surfeit of albums compiling Jamaican rhythm and blues sides from the late fifties and early sixties, and even more devoted to music made by their American counterparts. Rarely do you find a triple CD set like this that combines both, and wich gives us a taste of how Jamaican audiences would have experienced the music back then so if you’ve always wondered what it must have been like in a dance when the likes of Coxsone and Duke Reid were slugging it out on rival sound-systems, this is the collection to get. Key names include Louis Jordan, T Bone Walker, Professor Longhair, Jimmy Witherspoon, Johnny Otis and Willis ‘Gator’ Jackson, whose Later For The Gator served as Coxsone’s secret weapon after he scratched the name off the label and spun it a Downbeat sessions. Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson is one of the star attractions on Disc Two – an honour shared with BB King, Lowell Fulson and Barbie Gaye, whose original cut of My Boy Lollipop has none of the fizz and exuberance of Millie’s version. You’ve got to hear it though, if only to appreciate what those early Jamaican artists and musicians brought to the table, and how they took the American influence and expanded upon it in their opwn unique way. Disc Three is entitled Jamaica 1956-1962 and whilst the names of the performers may prove a little more familiar to ska and early reggea fans, the selection includes many lesser-known sides. Personnal favourites include Eric « Monty  Morris » Me And My Forty Five, Count Ossie’s African Shuffle, the Angelic Brothers’ Ten Virgins, the Jiving Juniors’ Over The River and a catchy little ditty called One Cup Of Coffee, by the then relatively unknown Bob Marley. A 30 page booklet written in both English and French by compiler Bruno Blum will help guide you through how the music developped and tell you something about the principal characters, adding to the wealth of entertainment found on the actual discs. John MASOURI-ECHOES