Various Artists

Ska Ra Van: Top Sounds From Top Deck, Vol. 1

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During the ska years of the early '60s, producers Duke Reid, Clement Dodd, and Prince Buster dominated the Jamaican record industry. Unfortunately, these pioneers didn't always pay their musicians or singers very well. Producer Phillip Yap, though, often paid double the going rate, allowing for extra takes and supplying the players with herb, drink, and food as well. Cut at Federal studios and Dodd's Studio One, many of the tracks recorded for Yap's Top Deck label featured the Skatalites band. In fact, tenor saxophonists Roland Alphonso and Tommy McCook and trumpeters Johnny Moore and Baba Brooks made some of their best sides for Yap, with their fellow Skatalites backing them up. This fine disc includes some, but not all, of the prime material the group recorded for Yap (unfortunately, none of trombonist Don Drummond's sides are here). Also included are other Yap-produced tracks by the early DJ King Sporty and vocal groups like the Avalons and the Angelic Brothers. Hopefully, with this release as a start, more Top Deck material will emerge soon.

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