Take Me To Jamaica - The Story Of Jamaican Mento

Ten Penny Nail - Hubert Porter
Samfi Man - Count Lasher & His Quintet
Monkey - Lord Messam & His Calypsonians
Mussu And John Tom - Alerth Bedasse
Medley: - Lord Tickler
Gal A Gully-Matilda - Lord Composer
Reap What You Sow - Everart Williams
Mas Charley Bell - Hubert Porter
Jamaican Medley #5 - Lord Lickler
Guzoo Doctor - Chin's Calypso Sextet
I Don't Know - Lord Fly
Green Guava - Lord Tickler
Monkey's Opinion - Chin's Calypso Sextet
The Naughty Little Flea - Boysie Grant
Names Of Funny Places - Hubert Porter
Industrial Fair - Chin's Calypso Sextet
Parish Gal - Harold Richardson & The Ticklers
Limbo - Lord Tickler
Wheel And Tun Me - Lord Flea
Big Boy Instrumental - Chin's Calypso Sextet
Tracer Gal - Hubert Porter
Come To Jamaica - Chin's Calypso Sextet
Medley - Lord Fly
Let's Play Ring Jamaican Style - Chin's Calypso Sextet

"The careful preservation of its folk music is to a nation a matter of the highest import."
Cecil Sharp

These recordings represent the beginnings of a musical phenomenon whose incredible influence would eventually reach all around the world and back again but before Stanley Motta opened his recording studio at 43 Hanover Street in downtown Kingston in 1950 and began cutting Mento sides by local artists there was no indigenous Jamaican recording business.

Mention Jamaican music and people immediately think of Reggae. Anyone with more than a passing interest in the subject will know that the roots of Reggae lie in the USA through Jamaican Rhythm & Blues and on from Ska to Rock Steady. Previously a knowledge of the influence of the music known as Mento has been the sole preserve of musical scholars although a handful of recent releases have belatedly begun to redress this imbalance. Mento's origins are, naturally enough. of African descent but the music also demonstrates considerable European influence.

"In the opinion of such students of folk music... the tunes of most of the Jamaican songs derive ultimately from Europe and mainly from the British Isles; the rhythm. however, is African in origin, while the blend is essentially Jamaican."
Hugh Paget

The European quadrille dance was originally introduced to Jamaica by the plantation owners who would use African slaves to play the music on fifes and fiddles (or violins). After emancipation in 1838 the Quadrille split into the more formal Ballroom style that was favoured by high society and what became known as the Camp style which had begun to incorporate African elements. Both styles of Quadrille consisted of five 'figures' beginning slowly with the first figure and gradually quickening the pace until the fifth and fastest figure. Anthropologists have claimed that it was the appropriation of the Quadrille by the emancipated Jamaican slaves in the far freer Camp style, and the fifth figure in particular, that eventually gave birth to mento.

Usually performed by small groups of musicians playing banjo, guitar, fife, maracas, a 'rumba box' occasionally augmented by a bamboo saxophone and violin and, in its later urban based context, violin, clarinet, saxophone and piano Mento began as a simple rural dance music. It moved to the cities in the forties following the migration of country people to Kingston where it became the backing for highly erotic dance performances in Kingston's bars and nightclubs. Its lyrical content was never as innuendo ridden as Trinidadian Calypso although sex was, naturally enough, a favourite topic. The lyrics tended to concentrate on wry, often humorous, accounts of everyday life in both the countryside and the town.

"Calypso can be gay, mischievous, critical and honestly naughty and has always served as a means of communication in the West Indies 'reporting' on every aspect of life imaginable from the weather, to world affairs; the latest births and deaths to the current trend in politics..."
Independence Jump Up Calypso

Mento was essentially a live music and the city musicians would add more 'modern' instruments to fill out the sound as they played in the hotels and nightclubs. In the late forties most Jamaican nightclubs were only open on Saturday nights and there were limited opportunities for musicians to play live. Consequently many of the island's top Jazz musicians such as Wilton Gaynair, Joe Harriott, Bertie King and Dizzy Reece left the island for the UK and the USA. Those that remained played the sort od music that positively encouraged lascivious dancing and their approach was a million miles away from the more restrained traditional rural forms of the music.

The dance company formed by Harold 'Harry Biggs' Holness and Daisy Riley became the leading dance act in nightclubs such as the  Wickie Wackie Beach Club or the Midway Club. They would often perform at several different venues a night. Holness & Riley and their troupe would entertain the crowds at establishments such as the Stony Hill Club where the resident band, George Moxey with Ben Bowers as Master of Ceremonies, played a mixture of Swing, Jive and Mento. It was this band that formed the nucleus of Stanley Motta's house band for his pioneering Jamaican recording company. They would play alongside outfits formed by the legendary Babba Motta (no relation to Stanley Motta) a piano playing luminary of the Kingston Jazz and Dance Band scene who, over the years, employed guitarist Ernest Ranglin and saxophonists Roland Alphonso and Lester Sterling in his band. Roland Alphonso would go on to play on some of the later Stanley Motta sessions.

"I played with Babba Motta for a while. We were the first people to open Montego Beach Hotel."
Ernest Ranglin

Sam Manning, the Trinidadian bandleader, had covered traditional Jamaican songs such as 'Hold 'Im Joe' for Columbia records in the twenties. These 'Calypso' records were sold in Jamaica at the time through outlets such as Campbell's Record Shop on King Street but the music of Jamaica remained largely unrecorded until folklorist and Jamaican national treasure 'Miss Lou' (Louise Bennett) recorded a handful of sides for the London based Melodisc label in late 1950 that included her interpretations of 'Linstead Market' and 'Wheel And Turn Me'. In direct contrast the music of Trinidad had enjoyed considerable international success from as early as 1912 and was directly responsible for the USA 'Calypso Craze' of the fifties.

By the time Stanley Motta began to make his first recordings in Kingston an incredibly wide variety of differing influences had already been assimilated by Jamaican musicians. The popularity of Dance Bands had meant that instruments such as clarinets, saxophones, drums and pianos were incorporated into the line up of local bands. Other factors exerted varying degrees of influence: the omnipresent radio beaming in from the USA, the increasing availability of imported records, the presence of the USA military in the Caribbean and the steady two way flow of Jamaican seasonal migrant labour to the USA, Cuba, Panama and Nicaragua all helped to contribute to the cultural melting pot. Throughout the proud history of the island it is important never to forget the Jamaican motto 'Out Of Many We Are One' and that the population of Jamaica has always consisted of many different races and classes of people.

"Jamaicans are proud of their music. they are proud because in the distinctive beat of their music lies all their own history. Here is the musical meeting ground of the African, the Indian and Chinese, the English, Welsh, Irish, Scots. the Portuguese and Spanish, in fact, all the varied people who are hidden behind the designation 'Jamaican'."
Authentic Jamaican Calypso

"I believe in freedom for everyone, not just the black man."
Bob Marley

Sephardic Jews, originally from Spain and Portugal had lived in Jamaica since the time the Spanish had occupied the island and the Mottas were a very old, established and highly regarded family of Sephardic Jews. Stanley Beresford Brandon Motta (5th October 1915 to 22nd March 1993) was a member of the Kingston Chamber Of Commerce, The Jamaican Tourist Board, The Board Of The Bank Of Jamaica and President & Director of The United Congregation of Israelites on Duke Street in Kingston.

"My father was known as 'Fifty Cycle Motta' as he was a driving force in getting the cycle changed from the forty cycle current and, because of the proximity of the USA, the government finally went to fifty cycles."
Brian Motta

This pillar of the Jamaican establishment devoted much of his life to promoting and marketing the music of Jamaica both at home and abroad. Stanley Motta had four sons: David now living in Australia, Philip and Robert both now living in the USA and Brian now living in Canada without whose patience, insight and powers of recall the following could not have been written. A very special thank you to Brain Motta.

Brian Motta was born in 1937 and he remembers his father having the recording machine at his Bar Mitzvah (the Jewish traditional coming of age ceremony) in 1950/51 and that all the children present were singing into it.

"The recordings were made by cutting on to blank acetates. They could only be played back once using a light pick up head. If you played them more than a couple of times they began to wear out."
Brian Motta

From as far back as Brian could remember his father's hobbies were photography and music (both popular and classical) and he was a hi-fi fanatic. "A real gadget man." He sold Leak amplifiers, Wharfedale speakers and Garrard record decks in his stores and when he obtained his first stereo amplifier he invited all his friends round to listen to it. Stanley Motta had started work as an apprentice in his uncle's garage business before he opened his first electrical spares and appliance shop in 1933 at 10C East Street in Kingston. He later moved premises to the north side of Harbour Street in the heart of Kingston's downtown commercial district.

"The main store was at 109 Harbour Street (this was the third location) and my father was the distributor for Kodak for umpteen years. There was a big photographic department; firstly stocked with cameras from Europe and then cameras from japan. he was the distributor for Sony when Sony only made two transistor radios! Hoover was another big product... we sold all their products."
Brian Motta

Music was always important to the Mottas and Brian recalled that "two of the major things that carried the business through the war years" from 1939 to 1945 when nothing could be imported were the eight or ten jukeboxes that his father owned and that were sited at various clubs round Kingston and his P.A. (Public Address) equipment. Stanley Motta sold and operated P.A. equipment and would rent turntables, amplifiers, speakers and even records for parties. He ran the P.A. at Knutsford Park (now Caymanas Park) horse races every Saturday: "I remember going with him to check if it was working, political rallies and private home parties. It all helped..."

The record department in Motta's sold records imported from North America and England and, although he advertised 'USA Rhythm & Blues', Stanley Motta was always a serious supporter of local music. When he sold P.A. systems to the hotels "a lot of the time he would go round to install the equipment himself". It was while working on the P.A. installations that he heard the hotel bands and this was where the idea came to him for "recording these fellows" and the bands he had met while working in the hotels were the ones he first reorded.

"That's what the tourists wanted! A good Mento singer would stand in front and while he was singing he would make up words to fit the people in the crowd. I was so impressed with these guys singing about the people in the audience."
Brian Motta

In 1951 Stanley Motta built a small recording studio at 93 Hanover Street around the corner from his shop on Harbour Street. The credit for the first Jamaican record ever goes to a medley of Mento songs by Lord Fly (Bertie Lyons) although guitar supremo Ernest Ranglin remembers recording Hawaiian style guitar music directly to wax cylinders for an unnamed entrepreneur at some time before this.

"Our recording studio was not what you'd call a recording studio now. It was a back room in the woodwork factory, twelve or fourteen feet square, with insulated soft ceiling boards. The band and the recording equipment were all in the same room and there was one microphone, All there was on the cutting machine was one volume control knob."
Brian Motta

The woodwork factory on Hanover Street, "woodwork was another one of dad's hobbies", originally manufactured "gifts in wood" such as picture frames and cigarette boxes for the tourist market. "All kind of different designs were made and sold in the shop." Later on Stanley Motta would import components such as Ecko radios, Garrard decks and speakers and build radiograms with local wood in which to house them. this was when radios and record players were still regarded primarily as pieces of furniture. In 1956 the woodwork factory was sold to the Polio Rehabilitation Centre at Mona as a teaching and fund raising project for the centre.

"I can remember quite vividly on one of Winston Churchill's visits to Jamaica that my father was given the job of making a presentation cigar box for him using different coloured woods to make the Union Jack on the lid. but when we went down to deliver it the people said 'I'm sorry to tell you that the flag is wrong'. Apparently the diagonal cross lined up. 'That's alright' said Stanley Motta 'You can pick it up in the morning'. And the woodworking men spent the night changing it."

the music was cut directly on to acetate lacquers and, as there were no manufacturing facilities on the island, the lacquers were then sent to England for mastering and pressing by Decca Records in London. The finished fragile shellac 78rpm records would then be shipped back to Jamaica.

"At first we used the cutting lathe and an aluminium disc coated (with acetate) on one side only. You needed a special cutting needle to fit into the head and the head cut the grooves. You also had to scroll across to make the intro and run out grooves and, if the band made a mistake you had to stop the machine, throw the acetate away and start again."
Brian Motta

The original musicians had come from the hotels but it soon became known throughout the musical fraternity that Stanley Motta was making recordings:

"Eventually local musicians would come to us saying 'I have a tune' and my father would have to decide whether to cut it or not depending on whether it could sell or not. We'd have to be careful that they'd written the songs as they were paid outright for the tunes. There were no royalties or publishing agreements."
Brian motta

Once the studio was properly established Frank Geoffrey was trained to run it. He would then make the decision if it was good enough and would decide whether to go ahead and press or not but "there were lots of things that never got past this stage". the cutter was later replaced with a mono reel to reel and the M.R.S. (Motta's Recording Studio) label would go on to release over fifty 78's, a handful of 45's, five ten inch LP's and three twelve inch albums between 1951 and 1957. Stanley Motta also licensed a selection of his material to Hart's in Montego Bay aimed directly at the tourist market.

Ivan Chin, Ken Khouri and Edward Seaga "before he got into his political career" all "got into it in a far bigger way" although by 1957 the popularity of Mento began to fade and "sales were not there anymore in Jamaica. All of the Motta's stores had record departments but I can't remember selling any Mento at all." Mento still continued to sell in England where Stanley Motta had set up a licensing deal with Emil Shallit's Melodisc label and, by the time the decade drew to a close, interest in Mento was almost non-existent in Jamaica. As the sixties opened Emil Shallit would go on to found the hugely influential Blue Beat label licensing Jamaican Rhythm & Blues and Ska recordings rot UK release.

"We pressed some on 33rpm albums and some 45's but by then we'd finished with the 78's. We made some long playing records but they were put together in England using our original masters. the last recording we did was a twelve inch LP of the Jamaican Military Band. there were far too many of them to fit in the Motta's Recording Studio so we rented the R.J.R. Studio and they did the recording. this was the last release on M.R.S... I'm pretty sure it's the last one we did."
Brian Motta

Ivan Chin opened his first radio repair business in Montego Bay in 1942 and briefly moved to New York in the winter of 1946. "I never knew what cold was until I felt my first winter and saw my first snow" and he returned to Jamaica the following year. In 1948 Ivan married Lily Chuck:

"That disc recorder that Ken Khouri bought in Miami was used to record our wedding ceremony. Ken took it to the church and set it up for the first time to do a wedding... even the Minister was confused."
Ivan Chin

Ivan opened Chin's Radio service at 48 Church Street in Kingston "a few years later". The shop started off doing repairs and "this was the main business". He also sold records and, after two years, went into the sale of radio: Grundig, Ecko and Pye, batteries and large electrical appliances. he later purchased Ken Khouri's disc recorder and began to make his own Mento recordings. These 78rpm releases on the Chin's label proudly boasted 'Pressed Exclusively For Chin's Radio Service' but, as well as records on his own label, the store also sold:

"Motta's and Khouri's records too. But there was not much money in it as the records sold at three shillings and sixpence (seventeen and a half pence) each. I never though they would still be selling now... the originals sell at very high prices."
Ivan Chin

Ivan recalls that Chin's was not in competition with Motta's because "we were all in it together" and, as the business expanded, he opened more stores ending up with eight in total "all round the island". He discovered two local musicians, Everart Williams and Alerth Bedasse, in 1955 and Ivan invited their quintet to record exclusively for Chin's.

"I changed their name from Calypso Quintet to Chin's Calypso Sextet. Alerth Bedasse was the song composer and singer and Everart Williams was the lyrics composer. Bedasse was the man who put the band together and directed the men. he also composed the melody for each of the songs with them. Williams was very intelligent and manager of the band. he was also a great and talented composer. Once I engaged the fellows exclusively I was committed to make two records a month."
Ivan Chin

Chin's Calypso Sextet rehearsed and recorded in "a section of the store at nights after the store was closed" and Ivan also recorded directly on to acetate lacquers. "The blank discs were not cheap so we had to use them sparingly'" The microphones he used were the "old ribbon types", RCA and Shure, and all of Chin's tunes were recorded in the shop on Church Street; there was no studio. "One track. One take. we had to rehearse a lot more to make sure we had it right before cutting'" Eventually Ivan bought a Grundig reel to reel tape recorder and his last set of tunes was recorded in stereo.

"Williams and Bedasse wrote most of their songs from personal experiences and stories they heard on the streets of Jamaica. Williams was the very best Calypso composer for that period and Bedasse was the best Calypso songwriter and also a very good singer. they both worked together on each song, line by line, until the words and songs came together in harmony. they were an excellent team. I was very proud of them."
Ivan Chin

Ivan recalled that his musicians were always very co-operative, very easy to get on with and "there was no cursing or quarrelling." Everart Williams was not only the composer, arranger and director but also played percussion: maracas and sticks. The Chin's Calypso Sextet's instruments consisted of a rumba box, a bamboo saxophone, a bamboo flute, a banjo, a guitar, a floor bass guitar with four strings, maracas and two heavy sticks called clave "which they knock together." All the instruments were made in Jamaica using local wood, bamboo "and other things." The saxophone player also played the bamboo flute and Alerth Bedasse sang and played guitar.

The lacquers and the tapes were sent to Decca in London for processing and manufacturing. "It would take about four weeks, or a little more, for the finished records to come back." The business relationship between Chin's Radio Service and Decca was a good one and, when Ivan contacted them a few years ago, he was amazed to discover that the company still held his original masters. "Copies of my orders and all the things from the time" that had been kept for half a century in the Decca Library were all then returned to Ivan. "They only usually kept classical records but they'd kept the Chin's records too! the only set they couldn't find was the originals of the later reel to reel recordings."

Some titles on the Chin's label were pressed in small quantities of only four hundred but some, such as the controversial 'Night Food Recipe', were very big sellers. "The government wanted to ban it because it was bad for the children." Ivan eventually stopped making records in 1957.

"I said goodbye to all the members of the band in June 1957 especially Williams and Bedasse. It was a sad time for everyone because the band was breaking up. There was no work for the band as a complete unit as Ska had just come in and Calypso was going out..."
Ivan Chin

Ivan also ran a Sound System for hire to play at parties and functions and he played out at stage shows at the Ward Theatre. His influence did not stop here however. Chin's Radio Service would prove to be the starting point for the careers of many lifelong music lovers and electronics experts including some notable figures in the history of Jamaican music.

Lloyd 'King Jammy' James' mother obtained his first job for him at Chin's Radio Service and, although Jammy considered that his musical education was with King Tubby, the electronics skills that he was taught at Chin's were invaluable to his subsequent career:

"The first amplifier I ever built was while I was at Chin's Radio service but I didn't get the experience from being at Chin's... I got the experience from being around Tubby's but we had the facilities to build it at Chin's."
King Jammy

Another lifelong electronics expert and music lover, Don Gangadeen, recalled the time he worked at the Church Street shop:

"I worked in the shop from 1958 to 1959 and left in 1960 to come to the UK. I left school and began the 'Learn Radio By Correspondence Course' and then Ivan apprenticed me as a radio engineer. We used to sell emergency lighting units, radios and amplifiers in the shop. Ivan was still doing his Calypso thing on the side but we looked on it as old-fashioned! We sold a mix of Calypso and Rhythm & Blues in the shops. The country people wanted Calypso while the more middle class people would ask for Classical.

My big thing was amplifiers. This was the driving force behind my love of music. I wanted to create my own Sound but I couldn't afford it so we ordered the chassis and Ivan paid for it. I agreed to pay him back on a weekly basis and I began to build amplifiers for myself. the first was 150 watts using the legendary KT88 valves. Being with Ivan gave me a good background and being the sort of person he was I benefited tremendously.

Today I'm still into music. First thing in the morning I turn on the amplifier. music helps to create my mood."
Don Gangadeen

A young Pat Kelly, one of the best singers Jamaica has ever produced, also served his electronics apprenticeship at Chin's. It is not widely known that Pat is also a highly accomplished recording engineer who worked the board at King Tubby's Studio and Randy's Studio 17 when he was not exercising his considerable vocal talents.

Ivan left Jamaica in 1974 and started Chin's Radio Service in Canada. This move proved to be highly successful and the family ran four shops "spread out around the city" based in the town of Scarborough in Toronto City. Two of his sons ran stores under the Chin's name while another two, Gary and Cliff, operated under their own names. The revival of interest in Mento since the turn of the century "came as a surprise" to Ivan and when it was discovered that "Chin is alive in Toronto" Ivan came out of retirement to "hand make" CDR's of his Mento recordings and sell them online. "People only knew about some of the records. Nobody knew that eighty tracks had been recorded." each set of Chin's CD's comes complete with Ivan's certificates stating that the buyers "are proud owners of original and genuine Chin Cd's and not copies" and complete history of the Chin label.

Many of Ivan Chin's recordings were issued in the UK on the Melodisc subsidiary label Kalypso which was originally an outlet for Trinidadian Calypsos. this UK based label carried the same name as Ken Khouri's Kalypso label which was based in Jamaica.

Ken Khouri was born in 1917 in the rural parish of St. Mary and grew up in Kingston. His mother was born in Jamaica of Cuban parents and his father was born in Lebanon. He was the youngest child and had three older sisters. Mr. Khouri senior owned drapery and haberdashery stores in the rural areas and furniture stores in Kingston and Ken began work for a friend of the family, Mr. Issa, who owned drapers shops and, perhaps more importantly, jukeboxes situated all over Jamaica.

Vincent Chin of Randy's Records also began his career working with Mr. Issa's jukeboxes. Although he was always musically inclined Ken Khouri actually became involved in the business "by accident" when he purchased a 'disc recorder' in Miami in 1949. he had taken his father to Miami "for his illness." On their return to Jamaica he began to use the system based in his home to record people's voices for thirty shillings (£1.50) a time but the demand for musical recordings became overwhelming and so he moved into a club at Red Gal Ring in the parish of St. Andrew which had the space required to record a band.

At first Ken Khouri also established a connection with Decca Records in London to manufacture 78rpm records from his acetates. Alec Durie of the Times Variety Store on King Street distributed and advertised the records and the pair started the Times Record label. The records sold "for between four and five shillings" (20 and 25 pence). But the success of his Mento recordings encouraged Ken Khouri to start actually manufacturing his own records and in late 1954. together with his wife Gloria, he opened Records Limited at 129 King Street with equipment brought down from California. In November of that year he began to manufacture "the first locally pressed records on the island." Some of Ivan Chin's later recordings were actually pressed at Records Limited.

Ken Khouri's first studio, built with the assistance with Australian recording engineer Graeme Goodall, was a "small wooden building with a zinc roof. Recordings were mainly done at night to avoid the daily noise of traffic." This was the first commercial studio in Jamaica and Graeme Goodall was employed as its first engineer. From these humble beginnings Ken Khouri moved to 220 Foreshore Road (later Marcus Garvey Drive) in the Hagley Park district of Kingston and Records Limited became a subsidiary of Federal Records. Over the next twenty years Federal continued to expand and would eventually be known as "the centre of Jamaica's music business" until Ken Khouri sold the studio and the pressing plant to Bob Marley's Tuff Gong organisation in 1981 and left the music business.

In August 2003 Ken Khouri was belatedly honoured ay Kingston's annual Tributes To The Greats ceremony and in September the Institute Of Jamaica Historical Society awarded Ken Khouri its Musgrave medal. He died on the 20th September 2003. The proud father of six children his musical legacy continues through KK Mastering in Kingston and Florida run by his son Paul.

Another significant contribution came from an Indian, only known as 'Dada' Tuari who opened the Caribbean Recording Company (C.R.C.) in the mid fifties. His pressing plant was located on Orange Street and he released both Mento and Rhythm & Blues recordings on his Caribou and Down Beat labels. His productions were sometimes more upmarket than those of his contemporaries and included the superb 'Chico Chico' from Count Sticky (not Uziah 'Cool Stick' Thompson aka Count Sticky) and the first recordings of Laurel Aitken. Laurel Aitken had moved from Cuba to Jamaica in 1938 and started his musical career performing Mento and Calypso songs to visitors as they alighted from the cruise ships moored in Kingston Harbour. He would go on to play a highly important, if still undervalued, role in the development of Jamaican music both in Jamaica and the UK. C.R.C. also licensed USA masters for manufacture and release in Jamaica and provided mastering facilities. With both C.R.C. and Federal now operating in Kingston the cost of making and manufacturing records dropped considerably and this consequently helped pave the way for the Ska explosion of the early sixties.

As the fifties drew to a close the shift in popularity towards the harder, more abrasive sounds of USA Rhythm & Blues signalled the beginning of the end for Jamaican Mento recordings. Even the tourists began to take home Ska records as a holiday souvenir. But Mento was never meant to be a music made strictly for the tourists "although it is not unreasonable to fear that the demand of the tourists may engender a spurious supply." It was played out on the Sound Systems of the fifties. It was local. It was topical, full of insight and fuelled by an approach that related directly to the Jamaican experience. Mento has a meaning, a life and a humanity all of its own apart from its obvious attraction of being the precursor to the entire Reggae phenomenon. That is why it is important but it does not start to begin to explain why this music is so wonderful.

Stanley Motta, Ivan Chin and Ken Khouri deserve far, far more than a footnote or two in the history of Jamaican music. They were the first Jamaicans to record local music and the first to realise the importance of releasing and promoting it internationally. By presenting this esoteric art form in a sophisticated and readily accessible way they enabled their music to reach an international audience outside the confines of Jamaica. These three pioneers established the template for the Jamaican recording business for the remainder of the century. It was directly due to their farsighted vision and their pride in their country that the inherent qualities in what was once sneeringly referred to as 'gardener boy music' would eventually become recognised and acknowledged worldwide.

"These CD's bring back things of the past from Jamaica and the words give you a feeling of what was going on in these days. It is hard to believe that these songs were originally recorded with a recorder that used a metal needle to cut grooves into a ten inch disc."
Ivan Chin

Noel Hawkes - April/May 2006

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