Musical Milestones

© Black Uhuru
Genre : Society news
Contact details The Jamaica Observer
Principal country concerned : Column : Music
Release/publication date : 2014
Published on : 23/03/2014
Source : The Jamaica Observer

THIS year marks the 50th anniversary of two momentous events in Jamaica's music history. Singer Millie Small's My Boy Lollipop was an international hit in 1964 while an all-star band named the Skatalites formed in east Kingston.

My Boy Lollipop was a ska cover of American singer Barbie Gaye's minor hit.

The song peaked at number two in the United Kingdom and the United States and made Small a star, especially in the UK. The Clarendon-born Small's version also broke ska big in the UK where it was embraced by working-class white youth called Skinheads.

The Skatalites

To hardcore music fans, My Boy Lollipop was considered ska lite.

The sound's greatest exponents were The Skatalites, a band that included Jamaica's best musicians. Saxophonists Tommy McCook, Roland Alphonso and Lester Sterling; trumpeter Johnny 'Dizzy' Moore; the gifted trombonist Don Drummond; bassist Lloyd Brevett; drummer Lloyd Knibb and guitarist Jerome 'Jah Jerry' Haines were a formidable unit weaned on American jazz.

Eastern Standard Time, Confucius, Guns of Navarone and Ball of Fire were some of the songs that made them, arguably, the greatest Jamaican band.

The Skatalites still tour, with Sterling the lone original and surviving member. Here are some other songs and albums celebrating milestones in 2014.

Oh Carolina (age 55)


The Ffolkes Brothers recorded this rocking traditional jam with Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari at the studios of the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation. Produced by Prince Buster, the song was covered with much success in 1993 by an emerging deejay named Shaggy.

Satta Masa Gana (age 45)

The Abyssinians (Bernard Collins, Lynford Manning and Carlton Manning) recorded this spiritual song (initially known as Far Far Away) at Studio One in 1969, but it was renamed and released two years later on the group's Clinch label. Reggae's unofficial anthem.

Curly Locks (age 40)

Singer Junior Byles linked with producer Lee 'Scratch' Perry for this classic about prejudice against Rastafari which was growing in Jamaica at the time.

Natty Dread (age 40)


Bob Marley's first Island Records album without Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. The set contained the title track, Talking Blues, No Woman No Cry, So Jah Seh and Rebel Music (3 O'Clock Roadblock).

Westbound Train (age 40)


A boy wonder comes of age. Dennis Brown was just 17 when he and the Soul Syndicate recorded this song, produced by Winston 'Niney' Holness.

Sleng Teng (age 30)


The computer beat that transformed Jamaican pop music and revolutionised recording techniques.

Produced by Lloyd 'King Jammy's' James, the Sleng Teng yielded countless hit songs, the most noted being Under Mi Sleng Teng by Wayne Smith, Pumpkin Belly by Tenor Saw and John Wayne's Call the Police.

Anthem (age 30)


The last Black Uhuru album featuring the classic line-up of Duckie Simpson, Michael Rose and Puma Jones. Won the first Grammy Award for Best Reggae Recording (as it was known then) in 1985.

Lift Up Your Head (age 20)


A modern classic from roots singer Everton Blender, this album and song of the same name was a statement of the 1990s rootsreggae revival. The song is an anthem while the album spawned other hits in Create a Sound and Family Man. Produced by Richard Bell of Startrail Records.


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