JAMAICA - MENTO 1951 - 1958

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JAMAICA - MENTO 1951 - 1958

The Kingston Recordings

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"Back in 1956, Harry Belafonte brought several mentos to the world's attention, calling them calypsos because the word was much in fashion. You can hear authentic versions of seven of those hits here, in this exquisite anthology with a detailed introduction by Bruno Blum (with the help of Fabrice Uriac): his notes reveal mento’s varying forms, from work-songs and rural mentos to more urban varieties, and songs with gospel and jazz influences (by Lord Fly, Winston Gaynair, Bertie King, Ernest Ranglin…). Lying at the heart of the real roots of reggae, neglected and impossibly hard to find for over half a century, this is Jamaica's original popular music. Its excellent seminal recordings are now revealed in these 36 titles accompanied by a 44-page booklet."
Patrick FRÉMEAUX

Format: CD Box

CD1 :
1. LOUISE BENNETT : DAY DAH LIGHT (DAY O) 1’28 • 2. HUBERT PORTER : NOT ME (MAN SMART, WOMAN SMARTER) 2’56 • 3. BEN BOWERS W/ THE BABA MOTTA ORCH. : BROWN SKIN GIRL 2’09 • 4. LOUISE BENNETT : HOSANNA 0’57 • 5. HUBERT PORTER : IRON BAR/MAS CHARLEY BELL (JAMAICA FAREWELL) 2’52 • 6. LORD FLEA : SOLAS MARKET/WATER COME A MI EYE (COME BACK LIZA) 3’19 • 7. LORD FLEA : DONKEY BRAY (THE JACK ASS SONG) 2’16 • 8. LORD FLY W / THE DAN WILLIAMS ORCH. : DONKEY CITY 2’53 • 9. LAUREL AITKEN : NEBUCHADNEZZAR 2’36 • 10. COUNT LASHER’S SEVEN : MANGO TIME 2’57 • 11. HAROLD RICHARDSON W / THE TICKLERS : DON’T FENCE HER IN 3’20 • 12. LORD MESSAM & HIS CALYPSONIANS : TAKE HER TO JAMAICA 3’09 • 13. BOYSIE GRANT W / THE REYNOLDS CALYPSO CLIPPERS : NOISY SPRING 3’13 • 14. COUNT LASHER : ISLAND GAL SALLY 3’09 • 15. THE WIGGLERS : LINSTEAD MARKET & DAY O 3’01 • 16. CECIL KNOT & HIS JOYBELL ORCH. : BANANA 2’26 • 17. CHIN’S CALYPSO SEXTET :WOMAN STYLE 2’33 • 18. LORD FLEA W / THE BLUE MOUNTAIN CAROLEERS : IRENE & YO’ FR’EN 3’20 •

CD2 :
• 1. THE WRIGGLERS (FEAT. ERNEST RANGLIN) : DON’T TOUCH ME TOMATO 3’16 • 2. THE WRIGGLERS (FEAT. ERNEST RANGLIN) : CALYPSO MEDLEY : SOLAS MARKET/WATER COME A MI EYE 3’39 • 3. LORD FLEA & HIS CALYPSONIANS : MAGIC COMPOSER 2’17 • 4. LORD FLY WITH THE DAN WILLIAMS ORCH. : DONKEY CITY (INSTRUMENTAL) 2’40 • 5. BABA MOTTA & HIS ORCHESTRA : JAMAICA TALK 2’42 • 6. HUBERT PORTER : OLD LADY YOU MASH ME TOE 2’50 • 7. COUNT LASHER W / GEORGE MOXEY AND HIS CALYPSO QUINTET : THE OLE MAN’S DRIVE 3’07 • 8. COUNT LASHER’S SEVEN : BREADFRUIT SEASON 3’07 • 9. LORD FLEA : IT ALL BEGAN WITH ADAM AND EVE 2’39 • 10. THE WRIGGLERS (FEAT. ERNEST RANGLIN) : LIMBO 2’11 • 11. THE WRIGGLERS (FEAT. ERNEST RANGLIN) : MARY ANN 2’39 • 12. HUBERT PORTER W / THE TOWER ISLANDERS : BARGIE 3’15 • 13. COUNT LASHER : DOCTOR 3’10 • 14. THE WRIGGLERS : BIGGEST MARACAS 2’04 • 15. COUNT LASHER : PERSEVERANCE 2’31 • 16. CHIN’S CALYPSO SEXTET : NIGHT FOOD RECIPE 3’01 • 17. COUNT LASHER : CALYPSO CHA CHA 3’10 • 18.LAUREL AITKEN : SWEET CHARIOT 3’23.

RIGHTS : DP / FREMEAUX & ASSOCIES
 
Press:
 
- "Reggae fans will also be delighted" by Caribbean Heat
"Outside of Jamaica, there has always been a lot of confusion about mento, the indigenous folk genre that ruled the island before the advent of electric forms such as ska, rock steady and reggae. The confusion stems from mento’s overseas marketing as calypso, to cash in on the craze stimulated by Harry Belafonte’s wide-ranging success. But mento has distinctive instrumentation that often makes use of homemade wind instruments, such as a bamboo saxophone, as well as the oversized thumb piano, known locally as a “rhumba box”. Mento must thus be seen as a distinctly Jamaican music, particularly as its lyrics often deal with political and social issues peculiar to Jamaica.
Thanks to websites such as mentomusic.com and popular acts such as the Blue Light and Blue Glaze mento bands, there has been a recent upsurge of interest in the form, making the arrival of this two-CD box-set all the more timely.
The compilation, which is split between the “country” and “urban” mento styles, features some of the earliest recordings made in Jamaica, and the accompanying 44-page booklet explains the significance of pioneering figures such as Lord Flea, Count Lasher, Harold Richardson, Hubert Porter, and Lord Fly, all of whom are featured here. Reggae fans will also be delighted by the inclusion of early efforts featuring guitarist Ernest Ranglin and singer Laurel Aitken, while the eminent Jamaican dialect folklorist Miss Lou provides a fascinating early take of “Day O”."
by Dave KATZ - CARIBBEAN HEAT

- * * * * and a half by Echoes (London)
"Mento is the folk music of Jamaica. It shares many similarities with Trinidadian calypso – chiefly the shuffling rhythms, catchy melodies and satirical lyrics, which offer a wealth of insights into the everyday life [and humour] of rural Jamaica in the fifties. Whilst largely ignored outside of the Caribbean in its purest form, there’s a charm about these early recordings that’s irresistible – both in terms of lyrics and delivery but also instrumentation, since where else would you find musicians playing guitars and banjos, rumba boxes, bamboo saxophones and maracas, and maybe even marimbas and clarinets? The vocals still sound fresh, and the sound quality’s surprisingly good given these songs were first voiced more than fifty years ago.
You’re highly unlikely to hear any of them at a dance or on the radio of course, except that doesn’t mean they’re without relevance, in fact far from it. The tracks included here provide the very definition of “foundation” and this double CD set is essential for anyone wishing to get a deeper understanding of where today’s reggae and dancehall is coming from, since you can trace mento influences in so many records dating from the sixties, seventies and eighties. For instance, the Meditations weren’t alone in borrowing from Hubert Porter’s Man Smart, Woman Smarter and let’s hope Josey Wales gave Lord Flea a co-writer’s credit for Water Come A Mi Eye because the lyrics are almost identical! Wigglers’ songs like Linstead Market and Don’t Touch Me Tomato have resonated down the generations too, whilst the opening track by Louise Bennett, Day Dah Light, is a revelation – not least because it’s a prototype version of Harry Belafonte’s Day O [The Banana Boat Song] and the album it spawned, released all of two years later, in 1956, became the first LP to sell a million copies. Other names that might also raise a flicker or two of recognition include Laurel Aitken, Count Lasher, Lord Messam & His Calypsonians, Baba Motta, Lord Fly and Chin’s Calypso Sextet… The songs and verses are as wonderful as the names who play them; Bruno Blum’s liner notes are marvellously informative, and if you can get to grips with the time factor – since this kind of music will sound ancient to some – then you’re in for a rare and rewarding treat."
by John MASOURI - ECHOES (LONDON)

- "... And of course lots of excellent music" By Blues & Rhythm
“There have been several mento reissues over the last decade or so, but, unlike its predecessors, this two CD set ranges across the repertoires of several labels, and divides (very roughly) into one CD of rural-styled performances and one of more sophisticated material. The notes make the telling point that Harry Belafonte recorded much mento material when he was at the height of his popularity in the fifties ( he made the first million selling album), but that the music received no real publicity as he labelled it “ calypso”. To emphasise this assertion, the first seven tracks of the 36 on this release are all earlier versions of songs that Belafonte recorded. The rural style tented to be played on banjo, guitar, rumba box (a home-made bass instrument) and percussion, whilst once it came into the city – or perhaps more specifically, into the tourist hotels where people such as Walt Disney and Princess Margaret stayed (not together, I hasten to add) – it became more polished, and in some cases, far more jazz-inflected. The confusion between Jamaican mento and Trinidadian calypso is perhaps not helped by the fact that sometimes the two forms would swap song, influence or techniques; so it is that here you can find Hubert Porter singing “Not Me”, a version of King Radio’s well-know 1936 hit “Man Smart, Woman Smarter”, The Wrigglers perform Roaring Lion’s “Mary Ann”, Count Lasher shouting “ Kaiso” ( an old name for calypso) on several of his tracks, and some groups referring to themselves as calypso outfits. The great Laurel Aitken has two religious numbers, both of which were also included on his recent Pressure Drop reissue, reviewed in B&R 248. That jazz influence is obvious on a number such as Baba Motta’s “Jamaica Talk”, with its definite supper-club styling and lyrics that comment on the tourist” inability to understand Jamaican English. A couple of numbers feature a young Ernest Ranglin on electric guitar (Melody Maker’s “New Jazz Star” in 1964, the same year he arranged Millie’s “My Boy Lollipop”), some may feature Bertie King on clarinet, and others saxman Lester Sterling, later a founder member of The Skatalites. To confuse things totally, Count Lasher offers us “Calypso Cha Cha”, where he also tells us he likes mambo and “certain types of blues”. Most of the material was recorded in Jamaica, though there are some titles laid down in America. Thematically, the bulk of the titles deal with the, er, earthier aspects of male-female relationships – so much so that an attack on mento material  “on moral grounds” was made in the Jamaican parliament in 1959. Don’t expect anything terribly salacious by today’s standards (Daisy’s got the biggest maracas from Jamaica down to Caracas” and you should see her shake them!) but there is plenty of double-entendre- and of course lots of excellent music.”
By Norman Darwen — BLUES & RHYTHM
 
Credits :
Traditionnel , Louise Bennett , Norman Span , Hubert Porter , Ben Bowers , Lord Fléa , Gérald Lyon , Laurel Aitken , Terence Perkins , Count Lasher , Harold Richardson , Lord Messam  , Boysie Grant , Brown Eddie , The Wigglers , Cecil Knott And His Joybell Orchestra  , Alerth Debasse , Chin's Calypso Sextet , Williams Everald , Norman Thomas , Flea Lord , Norman Thomas , B.g. Bargee , Gerald Lyon , Lord Fly , Ruby Thompson , Babba Motta , Thompson Ruby , Everald Williams , The Wrigglers , Charles Hubert Raphaël , Denzil Laingt

 
CDPisteTitreArtiste principalAuteurDuréeEnregistré en
11Day dah lightLouise BennettTraditionnel00:01:271954
12Not meHubert PorterNorman Span00:02:551952
13Brown skin girlBen BowersTraditionnel00:02:091952
14HosannaLouise BennettTraditionnel00:00:561954
15Iron bar/mas charley bellHubert PorterTraditionnel00:02:511953
16Solas market/water come a mi eyeLord FléaTraditionnel00:03:191954
17Donkey brayLord FléaTraditionnel00:02:161957
18Donkey cityLord FléaGérald Lyon00:02:521952
19NebuchadnezzarLaurel AitkenLaurel Aitken00:02:351957
110Mango timeCount LasherTerence Perkins00:02:561954
111Don't fence her inHarold RichardsonHarold Richardson00:03:191952
112Take her to jamaicaLord MessamTraditionnel00:03:081951
113Noisy springBoysie GrantEddie Brown00:03:131951
114Island gal sallyCount LasherTerence Perkins00:03:091953
115Linstead market and day oThe WigglersTraditionnel00:03:001956
116BananaCecil Knott And His Joybell OrchestraCecil Knott00:02:251951
117Woman styleChin's Calypso SextetAlerth Debasse00:02:321952
118Irene and yo'fr'enFlea LordNorman Thomas00:03:201955
21Don't touch me tomatoThe WigglersTraditionnel00:03:151958
22Calupso medleyThe WigglersTraditionnel00:03:391958
23Magic composerLord FléaAka B.g. Bargee00:02:171957
24Donkey cityLord FlyGerald Lyon00:02:391952
25Jamaica talkBabba MottaRuby Thompson00:02:411956
26Old lady you mash me toeHubert PorterTraditionnel00:02:501954
27The ole man's driveCount LasherEverald Williams00:03:071951
28Breadfruit seasonCount LasherTerence Perkins00:03:061957
29It all began with adam and eveLord FléaNorman Thomas00:02:391957
210LimboThe WrigglersTraditionnel00:02:111958
211Mary annThe WrigglersCharles Hubert Raphaël00:02:381958
212BargieHubert PorterAka B.g. Bargee00:03:151953
213DoctorCount LasherTerence Perkins00:03:101954
214Biggest maracasThe WrigglersDenzil Laingt00:02:041957
215PerseveranceCount LasherTerence Perkins00:02:301954
216Night food recipeChin's Calypso SextetAlerth Debasse00:03:091952
217Calypso cha chaCount LasherTerence Perkins00:03:001954
218Sweet chariotLaurel AitkenLaurel Aitken00:03:231957

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