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Scandal In a Brixton Market

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Album Review

This reissue of Laurel Aitken's 1969 classic of ska/reggae is a major overhaul, adding 12 more rare cuts to double the original in size. What's remarkable is that these extra tracks aren't just filler, but every bit as good as the official releases. Aitken was a man who drew from all facets of West Indian music and put them in a framework that suited his style. So both the title cut and "Pussy Got Thirteen Life" have their genesis in calypso (the latter in double entendre), while there are generous helpings of original ska and even a dip or two into the skinhead reggae that was so popular in England at the time (Aitken had moved to Britain in the early '60s). Although very much an entertainer, Aitken could also be political (witness "Stop the War in Vietnam") and conscious in his lyrics. He was someone who grew better with experience, adding more soul to his brashness and energy. Although the vinyl original of this album is definitely collectable these days, spend your money on this reissue. There's far more music, and it's all good — literally.


Born: 22 April 1927 in Havana, Cuba

Genre: Reggae

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Known as "the Godfather of Ska," Laurel Aitken was Jamaica's first real recording star. He was a pioneer in many other respects as well: he was one of the first artists ever to release a ska record, the first to work at promoting his music in the U.K., and one of the first to record for the seminal Island label, itself a major force in the international popularity of Jamaican music. Cutting his teeth on the sort of jump blues and boogie shuffles popular during the early days of American R&B,...
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