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Northern Soul In Jamaica

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As we're on the subject too - I thought the following would be of interest to SS members. Most of the info is taken from John South's two-part article in issues 5 and 6 of 'Time Longer Than Rope' fanzine.


Northern Soul of Jamaica

Unless your taste in music extends no further than Beethoven or the latest plastic Boy Band, you'll probably be well aware that Jamaica's number one export musically is Reggae. So, if I was to tell you that some tasty Soul music came out of the island, you might think I was pulling one of your appendages.... but no. Not only is there great quantity of decent R&B/Soul music, there's even a sizeable number of titles that have been adopted by the Northern Soul brotherhood.

There's always been a strong link between Jamaican music and American R&B, from Ska versions of Rhythm & Blues hits, through Rocksteady cuts of US Soul tunes, to the many recent Lovers Rock resettings of Soul or Swingbeat numbers. I know - you're going to tell me that's only Jamaican versions of American songs. OK, but what about home-grown Jamaican Soul? Stop shaking your head - it DOES exist, and basically always has done. Jamaicans have often called their music "Jamaican Soul" - and not all of it has the expected Reggae flavour. Some is so damn close to Soul music that we might as well call it "Soul" - it just happened to be recorded by Jamaicans!

At the top of Jamaica's Most Wanted list is Wilfred "Jackie" Edwards, whose Feel So Bad, on UK Island is, according to Ska & Rare Soul collector John South "a fantastic slice of Northern Soul with loads of baritone sax thrown in." Also from the sadly-missed Mr Edwards are his original Come On Home (a hit for 60s popsters Herman's Hermits), Come Back Girl and Tell Me What It's All About. Speaking of original versions, let's not forget a song he passed on to Spencer Davis, the immortal Keep On Running. Maybe Spencer and Stevie's hit is better-known, but Jackie's original is a real stormer. And finally, in the company of the lollipop girl - Millie Small, Jackie cut a "furious stomper" called Ooh Ooh on his Jackie and Millie album - with a very formal production credit to Christopher Blackwell!

From the same era come the Marvels Five on a UK production by Don Charles, issued on the old HMV label. Forgive - another Jackie Edwards original - is "a prime example of the Jamaican Northern Soul connection" while its B-side Don't Play That Song will be instantly familiar to any Ben E King fan. Exactly who the 'Marvels Five' were is lost to the mists of time - I wonder if they were an earlier incarnation of 'the Marvels', a mixed group who recorded for Trojan in the early 70s...?

Hopping over to Jamaica for an obscure release on the oddly-named BRA label we find Ken Lazarus' cut of the H.B. Barnum classic The Record (Baby I Love You) recorded with Byron Lee's (usually lack-lustre) Dragonaires. A massive collector's item in the UK today, it's a 100% American-sounding Jamaican release! Phillip & Lloyd - aka the Blues Busters - had more Soul in their little fingers than the whole of Byron Lee's body, so it's no surprise to find them in a Jamaican Soul bag. Their biggest sound I Can't Believe That You're Gone (also on BRA) also appears on their Best Of album, on the seriously-collectable Doctor Bird label, along with a clutch other sure-fire Soul winners. Got To Get There is one, Happy Man is another, plus there's also a neat version of Eugene Church's Pretty Girls Everywhere for good measure.

The multi-talented Jimmy Cliff was another who tried his hand at Soul music, and not surprisingly made a damn good job of it! While all but ignored in the UK until Wonderful World Beautiful People, he scored heavily overseas with cuts like Give And Take, I've Got A Feeling and the Northern favourite Waterfall. (The latter was composed by a group called Nirvana, but fortunately, not that one!)

on the fringe of success...

OK, here's your starter for ten... name a famous UK-based Soul artist of the 60s and 70s who was born in Jamaica. No? Well it's the great Jimmy James! Almost a recording veteran by the time he joined Pye's Piccadilly label, he cut some fine UK Soul. His best and most sought-after release is a version of the Artistics' This Heart Of Mine. While we're on the subject, we shouldn't forget his definitive version of Neil Diamond's Red Red Wine. (UB40 eat your heart out..!) Over on Trojan he recorded Help Yourself, but you'd have to track down his rare US ATCO album Come Softly To Me to get your hands on his versions of Ain't No Big Thing and Gene Chandler's Windy City stormer Just A Fool For You. Back on UK vinyl, for EMI's legendary Stateside label, Jimmy cut the club favourite A Man Like Me, before returning to Pye for the beautiful Hey Girl - and a stonking version of Chuck Jackson's Chains Of Love.

So far all the artists here have been male - apart from Jackie Edwards' special guest Millie - so let's try and even the score a little. A well-remembered figure (and quite a tasty one if I remember correctly!) in the late 60s was Joyce Bond, whose Soul And Ska album on Island is well worth scouring the racks for. She cut a version of Jackie Edwards' Tell Me What It's All About, and Joe Tex's Sugar. And, if you've ever wondered who that silly, sexy song Do The Teasy was by - that was Joyce Bond too!

The name's Bond... Joyce Bond

Next up are two artists you wouldn't usually associate with Soul music... The Maytals and the Guv'nor of Ska, Laurel Aitken. (Actually, Frederick "Toots" Hibbert would have made a fantastic Soul singer if he'd been born in the US, but that's another story...) On an ancient Island compilation called Independent Jamaica Toots and the boys present a mellow version of the much-revived Wide Awake In A Dream. As for the godfather Mr Aitken, his Rainbow and Sweet Precious Love have recently attracted a lot of Northern attention, to add to his already massive skinhead following.

Perennial Pop/Reggae/Soul favourites were Sidney, George and Jackie, better known as the Pioneers. They cut many a Reggae version of top Soul tunes, but More Love just about slides into the 'Soul' bag. On Justin Yap's long-extinct Top Deck label are a number of Jamaican sides with a real 'Soul' feel. If you can find them, try these: Roland Alphonso's Tough Talk (also cut by the Crusaders) and Cleo's Mood (originally by Junior Walker), and the Skatalites' first version of El Pussy Cat. Despite the Caribbean origin, all have that distinct Motor City flavour.

Now, if I was to tell you there is an in-demand side by Glen Miller you'd probably think I'd finally flipped. But no, it's not the wartime favourite rediscovered on a rare unissued Northern cut, but a Jamaican who spelt his name with only one 'n' - and didn't play the trombone either. Glen Miller's hot side is Where Is The Love, on Doctor Bird, commanding high prices and filling dance floors. The only connection with his bandleading namesake is that this record definitely gets the crowd "in the mood"!

Finally, the UK-based Blue Rivers & the Maroons cut some Jamaican-style Ska tunes in the sixties, (not always too successfully in my opinion). However, their very rare Blue Beat In My Soul album on Columbia Blue Beat also includes a couple of Northern dancers. Amid the Ska and Rocksteady, Blue Rivers turns in a decent version of I Need Me Somebody, while his cut of Roscoe Robinson's classic is a very good tune to end this post on.... That's Enough!

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Forgot to say - "Time Longer Than Rope" is a fanzine by record collector John South. The publication ( 4 times a year since 1998) covers Jamaican music from early 1960s thru ska to early 1970s reggae.

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Some of the tracks mentioned were recently (couple of years ago?) released on a Trojan compilation.

Various Artists - Work Your Soul (Jamaican 60's & Northern Soul 1966-74) - Trojan Records

CD serial number: TJDCD069

Vinyl serial number: TJDDV069

Track listing (copied from Boo-ga-loo Records site) for CD:

Where Is The Love - Glen Miller / I Feel So Bad - Jackie Edwards/ Help Yourself - Jimmy James & The Vagabonds / Work Your Soul - Tommy McCook & The Supersonics / Mini Skirt & Go Go Boots - Lloyd & Glen / Make Me Yours - Phyllis Dillon / The Hoop - Errol Dixon / I've Got The Blues - Desmond Dekker & The Aces / Let's Dance - Jimmy Cliff / Girl I've Got A Date (Soul Version) - Alton Ellis & The Flames / Here Comes That Feeling (AKA That Lonely Feeling) - The Gaylets / Do It Right (Soul Version) - The Three Tops / Come On Home - Jackie Edwards / Never You Hurt - Laurel Aitken & The Soulmen / I Want To Know - Sugar Simone / Help Me - Own Gray / This Heart Of Mine - Jimmy James & The Vagabonds / Mama Didn't Lie - Derrick Harriott / Mellow Moonlight - Roy Docker / King Without A Throne - Sugar Simone / One Monkey Don't Stop No Show - The Marvels / I Don't Want - Errol Dixon / Leave It In The Hands Of Love - Phyllis Dillon / Baby Be My Girl - Eddie Thornton Outfit

Edited by Supercorsa

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Not really a new discovery Gene, was selling this for £15 2 years back...a nothing record, well he's made better anyway


Oops - sorry!!! Slapped wrist time for me again!! Do you mean the Oriole 45 "Give Me More Time", Pete?

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