Friday, November 1, 2013


It's kind of routine. I'll hoof it a few blocks to the local record store to pick up something, ostensibly as impetus, a soundtrack to cleaning my apartment. Yeeah, no. I always end up putting it on and then just continue my flaking off. Nevertheless, my purported purpose for buying music on these outings usually results in non-rock 'n' roll choices, almost always something old. Over the course of the past few years, like most other record stores, the local guys have been bringing in a higher percentage of vinyl reissues, most of them the pricey 180 gram this or that. But recently they've been bringing in more reggae titles, including Studio One stuff. And that's the stuff I go for. Not just because I happen to love the label, buy because the pressings are every bit as crude as they were in the original release, crappy printing, primitive layouts, pops in the vinly and all. But, if you have any original reggae LPs, you know that's part of the appeal.

The last trip was a doozy, highlighted by The Best of Don Drummond (with a beautiful tear on the back cover). Drummond was a trombonist, best known for his work with the Skatalites. Besides playing with them, he also wrote a big chunk of their songs, and was their primary arranger. He attended the Alpha Boys School, a school for underprivileged kids that specialized in music education and churned out a number of reggae notables, including four founding members of the Skatalites. He later tutored at the school. Sadly, Drummond's career was cut short due to mental illness. In 1965, he was convicted of murder after killing his girlfriend, and was later ruled criminally insane. But before his real gnarly troubles began, even while he was being treated for mental illness, he laid a template for ska and reggae, and put out some iconic sides. He died in a mental institution in 1965, "under suspicious circumstances" as they say.

Check the tunes below, but definitely check out the other links as well. One is to Tribute to Don Drummond, a special that aired on Jamaican radio in 1969, with Prince Buster, Coxsone Dodd, Tommy McCook, and other acquaintances. The other one you should check out, besides the incredibly thourough bio at the Jamaican Gleaner, is Alpha Boys School Radio, 24/7 online streaming of early reggae. That might get me to clean.

Don Drummond - Aliphang mp3 at Hearsay 1964
Don Drummond - Cornerstone mp3 at Domino Slow download but worth it 
Don Drummond and the Skatalites - Knockout Punch mp3 at Reggae Top Site
Don Drummond - Man In the Street mp3 at Dinosaur Gardens 1965
Don Drummond - Nanny's Corner at Aquarium Drunkard Go there to get it.
Don Drummond Tribute - Radio Jamaica 1969
Alpha Boys School Radio
A Thin Line Between Genius and Insanity at Jamaican Gleaner

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