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You Got Me Rockin': The Best of the Blue Beat Years 1960 - 1964

Laurel Aitken

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Album Review

Cuba-born and Jamaica-bred singer Laurel Aitken would eventually become known as "the Godfather of Ska," but first paid his dues as a Jamaican folksinger and nightclub entertainer who played a blend of early rock & roll, jump blues, and boogie. By the time he was signed to London's Blue Beat label in 1960 — his "Boogie Rock" was their first-ever release — he had started to shape the sound that would later make him famous. Although "Boogie Rock" is inexplicably missing here, this generous compilation contains heaping helpings of straight R&B and proto-rock amidst tasty ska tracks like "Brother David," "You Got Me Rockin'," and a blue-beat version of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." It's on the spiritual numbers — "Zion," "Mighty Redeemer" — that Aitken's soulful voice really soars, although he is equally capable of getting down and dirty. Newcomers to Aitken's music might be better served by Pressure Drop's more comprehensive two-disc anthology The Godfather of Ska, which showcases the ska and pre-reggae island sound for which he was renowned, but fans of early R&B, rock, and soul, or Laurel Aitken completists, will have much to celebrate and enjoy here.

Biography

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,...
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You Got Me Rockin': The Best of the Blue Beat Years 1960 - 1964, Laurel Aitken
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