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The Godfather of Ska Anthology

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A remarkable 52-track survey of Laurel Aitken’s early career, Godfather of Ska Anthology captures the soon-to-be-bustling Jamaican recording industry in its infancy. Though Jamaican singers like Lord Fly, Harold Williams, and Lord Composer had some success recording calypso and mento in the early '50s, Laurel Aitken was the island’s first real recording star. He started out cutting jaunty mento numbers like “Nebuchenezer,” but his career really took off when he began incorporating his love of American R&B into his recordings. Aitken was particularly enamored of the music of Memphis-based Rosco Gordon, whose distinctive piano style laid a heavy emphasis upon the upbeat. Aitken and his backing musicians mimicked Gordon’s rhythmic accents on early hits like “Boogie in My Bones” and “Drinkin’ Whiskey,” effectively laying the foundations of ska, rocksteady, and reggae in the process. The importance of these influential recordings can't be overstated. But more to the point: they’re an absolute blast to listen to, and their bubbling conviviality effortlessly evokes the heady atmosphere of the earliest days of Jamaican music.


Born: April 22, 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, Aitken...
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The Godfather of Ska Anthology, Laurel Aitken
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