An official release of one LP bringing together 15 great tracks from, and related to, The Blue Beat Label’s culture-shaping history.
Side one kicks off with Blue Beat Is Back In Town written and recorded specially by Marcus Upbeat during January 2020 for The Blue Beat Label’s 60 year celebrations. Marcus was largely responsible for the label’s revival after it closed in 1967. Teaming up with previous owner Siggy Jackson, the label was relaunched by the duo in 2004 prior to Siggy’s retirement in 2008.
Blue Beat Is Back In Town first appeared on the double A-side Sixty Year Celebration Single which was released as a limited edition 7″ single for Record Store Day Drop Day 1, 2020.
Track 2 is Laurel Aitken’s legendary Boogie Rock. The track was the other side of that double A-side 60-year celebration single and the first ever release on The Blue Beat Label in 1960. Laurel went on to have an amazing career and became known as “The Godfather Of Ska”.
Track 3. Oh Carolina from The Folkes Brothers with The Count Aussie Afro-Combo sounds as urgent and unique now as it did when it was first released on The Blue Beat Label. The first example of Rastafarian drumming on record, it is still inspired and loud! A dancehall remake of Oh Carolina became Shaggy’s first hit in 1983.
Track 4. In 1963 The Blue Beat Label began releasing some of the first examples of a new Jamaican beat called ska. Madness took their name from the Prince Buster (their idol) track released on The Blue Beat Label that year. The biggest selling record in The Blue Beat Label catalogue of that era was Prince Buster’s Al Capone c/w One Step Beyond which reached No.18 in the UK charts in February 1967. One Step Beyond was covered by Madness as the title track for their 1979 debut album. The album peaked in the UK charts at No 2 and remained in the charts for more than a year.
Two true living legends of The Blue Beat Label soundscapes are next as we enter the second half of side one.
Track 5. Derrick Morgan – Miss Lulu
A member of the classic first wave of Jamaican ska artists, by 1960 Derrick Morgan was the unrivaled king of ska. At the peak of his popularity he was the first and only Jamaican artist to date to hold down the top seven slots on the national pop singles chart during the same week, generating a string of smashes including Be Still In My Heart, Don’t Call Me Daddy, Moon Hop and Meekly Wait and Murmur Not. In 1961 he recorded his biggest hit, Housewives’ Choice and a year later — in celebration of Jamaica’s emancipation — he recorded the independence song Forward March. Miss Luluwas first released on The Blue Beat Label in 1964 and remains a firm favourite to this day. Derrick cut back on his performing schedule in the late ’70s but still performs occasional live dates and festival bookings and periodically returns to the recording studio.
Track 6. Owen Gray – Call Me My Pet
Owen Gray is one of Jamaica’s ‘Foundation’ singers whose work spans the R&B, ska, rocksteady and reggae eras of Jamaican music. He has been credited as Jamaica’s first home-grown singing star. Owen was one of the first artists to be produced by Chris Blackwell in 1960. His Patricia single was the first record released by Island Records. His first single, Please Let Me Go, reached the top of the charts in Jamaica. The single also sold well in the United Kingdom, as did subsequent releases, prompting Gray to emigrate there in 1962.
Owen recorded for The Blue Beat Label who had previously licensed some of his Jamacian sides. Call Me My Pet was released in 1963. Owen still records, tours and performs at festivals.
Ewan & Jerry Oh Babe (Sick & Tired with The Carib Beats) follows. It was originally released on The Blue Beat Label in 1967. The final track on Side A is Rough and Smooth (aka Rough and Tough) by one of the The Blue Beat Label’s best of all time, Stranger Cole.
Side two begins with Get Along Without You Now by Bad Manners Featuring Verona.
In 1987, Buster Bloodvessel (of the 2 tone ska revival band Bad Manners) and producer Ivan Healy Purvis started a brand new record label called Blue Beat Records and licensed The Blue Beat Label name and logo from Siggy Jackson for a series of releases. The label operated from a reclaimed riverboat named “The Bloodvessel” which was in Bloodvessel’s backyard! Between 1987 and 1990 the label released several records including this wonderfully produced version of Get Along Without You Now.
The second track on side two is The Beat’s Rough Rider.
In the late ‘70s/early ‘80s interest in The Blue Beat Label was once again rekindled when groups such as Bad Manners, Madness, The Specials, The Beat and The Selecter kicked off a ska revival by blending ska rhythms with a punk influence and filled the charts with hit record releases. The Beat covered Prince Buster’s version of Eddy Grant’s Rough Rider on their juggernaut debut album I Just Can’t Stop It, which became one of the best- selling and acclaimed albums of the era. The Blue Beat Label duly joined the success of this ska revival by reissuing some of those original classic tracks on 12″ singles.
The Marvels were formed back in 1962. The group’s original line up was Alexander Hinds aka Dimples along with his wife Ornell Hinds and Eddie Smith. The first single release was called Fleet Street written by Dimples and featuring Dimples and Eddie on vocals. The Marvels appeared on various UK TV shows including The Old Grey Whistle Test. They were the first Jamaican black group to appear on the Opportunity Knocks hosted by Huey Green and won the show several times. They worked with many performing artists including Dusty Springfield, Larry Grayson, Ken Dodd and many more. The Marvels toured all over the world, even performing in Iran for the King of Persia (The Shah). The group was later joined by Hazel McCauley and a South African singer called Temzie and became known as The Marvels 5 for a time. Jackie Edwards later joined The Marvels adding his essence to this great vocal group. Owen Gray has also performed with The Marvels.
Later Bobby D from the Sensations joined the group followed by songstress Tracy King and Donna Hinds, daughter of Alex and Ornell Hinds. Originally released by The Marvels on The Blue Beat Label in 1964, in 2012 Alex and his daughter Donna collaborated to produce this great duet version of We’ll Have a Ball.
Track 4 She’s so Sweet is another more recent release on The Blue Beat Label. Marcus & The Microdots describe their sound as “psychedelic reggae”. It’s vibrant, new age and hippyish producing a happy, uplifting Blue Beat influenced sound. The track is mixed by Rupert Cobb who has mixed for many great artists including Cat Stevens, The Killers, Primal Scream and Randy Crawford.
When The Blue Beat Label was relaunched in 2004 No.1 Station released six 7″ single (12 original tracks in total) on the label. These tracks included new songs featuring original Blue Beat artists The Marvels and Eddie “Tan Tan” Thornton – the trumpeter on all the No.1 Station releases. Laurel’s Boogie, a track written in Laurel Aitken’s memory came from those releases. It has since been updated and remixed and is a firm modern day Blue Beat favourite.
By the early 70’s John Holt was one of the biggest stars of reggae. In 1972 The Blue Beat Label reissued some of the earlier Prince Buster hits that were in huge demand at the time as well as some reggae songs from John Holt. Following The Blue Beat Label releases John Holt went on to release a compilation 1000 Volts of Holt in 1973. 1000 Volts of Holtspawned the UK Top 10 hit Help Me Make It Through the Night. Written by Kris Kristofferson, Holt’s take on the song remains one the classic versions.
No celebration would be complete without Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think)! The album concludes with a great summation from Jools Holland and the “King of Blue Beat” Prince Buster performing the classic track.
Sixty years, one legendary label and fifteen classic tracks.
Every record collection needs The Blue Beat Label 60 Year Celebration Album.
BLUE BEAT IS BACK IN TOWN.