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The Skatalite!

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Album Review

Stacked up against many recent Skatalites reissues and compilations, this lean import doesn't really qualify as a viable collection of the band's prime work. However, the 12-tracks here do make for a tidy sampler of some of best sides the group cut for producer Duke Reid during the last days of Jamaican R&B and the early ska period. Featuring several players who would later people a number of Reid's rocksteady and early reggae studio bands — namely tenor saxophonist Tommy McCook — the material takes in such ska milestones as "Eastern Standard Time," "Don-De-Lion," and "Yard Broom." And besides some stellar shots by McCook, there are plenty of choice contributions from tenor saxophonist Roland Alphonso, pianist Jackie Mittoo, trombonist Don Drummond, and trumpeter Johnny "Dizzy" Moore. In lieu of finding this at a bargain rate, though, curious listeners should check out Trojan's Music Is My Occupation to get a really good taste of the Skatalites' work under Reid.


Formed: 1963

Genre: Reggae

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

More than a band, the Skatalites were and are an institution, an aggregation of top-notch musicians who didn't merely define the sound of Jamaica, they were the sound of Jamaica across the '50s and '60s. Although the group existed in its original incarnation for less than 18 months, members brought their signature styles to hundreds upon hundreds of the island's releases. The Skatalites officially lined up as guitarist Jerome "Jah Jerry" Hinds, bassist Lloyd Brevett, teenaged pianist Donat Roy "Jackie"...
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